Why and How Brands are Amplifying the Voices of Creators with HubSpot's Alanah Joseph
Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to our new show, The Amplified Marketing Podcast, where we get into challenges that content marketers face, and look to the brands who are already knocking down obstacles and raising the quality of their content with a little something called amplified marketing. It's what we've preached here at Casted from the very beginning, how to create the most meaningful content and then get the most traction from that content by ringing it out across multiple channels. These interviews from our first season were recorded as part of a special event where we officially kick started this new approach to content marketing. We dive into the components of amplified marketing, the strategies that work best and reveal just how much of an impact that this new approach can really, truly have on your brand and your business. We also explore the ways that amplified marketing makes life easier and more efficient for the content marketers out there who are struggling to be creative and relevant, you're not alone, and to cut through the noise. This is where the change begins. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the first and the only amplified marketing platform made specifically for B2B marketers, and this is our new podcast. What if you could curate content for your customers by harnessing the power of expert voices? What if those expert voices also happened to already be amazing creators? Would you lean into working with these outside experts, those who are not a part of your brand, to launch an entire podcast network for your brand? Well, that's exactly what HubSpot did in 2021. They launched an entire podcast network full of amazing and already established podcasts. They were outside of the HubSpot brand, but why lean into a podcast network full of content creators over starting your own, especially when you're a brand like HubSpot that has a history of creating some pretty incredible audio and video content, not to mention just the power of your brand alone? In this special session, from our Amplify event, Alanah Joseph, senior marketing manager of the HubSpot Podcast Network, breaks down why HubSpot chose to undertake this initiative, how they curated and worked with these creators, and how you can take some of the pages from their playbook and work with creators and experts in your own space. Learn how HubSpot is leaning into amplified marketing and amplifying the voices of experts and creators and their content in really, really unique and untraditional ways.
Alanah Joseph: Hello everyone. Welcome to my session. I'm so excited to be a part of Amplify 2021. I've been working with the Casted team for a while now, and it's been such a pleasure doing so. Thank you to Casted for asking us to be a part of your incredible event. Let's get started, shall we? First of all, before we get started, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Alanah Joseph. I am a senior marketing manager at HubSpot, and I manage the marketing and operations for the HubSpot Podcast Network. Before we get into how brands are amplifying creative voices, there's one question I think we really need to ask, which is why is there a shift where brands are creating more in depth relationships with creators and why, specifically, has HubSpot decided to create a network like the Podcast Network. Let's get a little into that. First, we have to go all the way back, well, not so far, to January 2021. During this time, leadership and our content teams, we came together and really decided that we wanted to enrich our experience for our community in terms of audio. How could we scale our audio offerings and continue to deliver incredible content to our audiences? Let's talk a little bit what happened in May 2021. On the 11th, we launched the HubSpot Podcast Network. We launched, I think, with about five shows. Just to give you an idea, today, we have 14, so we've had a lot of exciting growth. I think when we announced that we were creating a network, we got some varied responses. It makes sense. Of course, HubSpot is a CRM platform and we are a software company, and we have a ton of different products from Sales Hub to Marketing Hub, et cetera. When we announced that we were creating the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals looking for education and inspiration, certainly, we got a variety of responses. Most of them were incredibly positive, but I think that this was the spectrum that I saw. I think a lot of people were in the middle, myself included where I really had to think about why is HubSpot, a CRM platform, launching a podcast network? What benefits does that bring? How will we be working with creators? Why are we deciding to make such an innovative, big move? I think as the process continued, I got towards that makes total sense where HubSpot having a podcast network is an extension of HubSpot's inbound marketing techniques and which we'll cover in a little bit. Right now, if you are watching this and you are more towards the left where you're like," Why would a CRM platform launch a podcast network? I'm not quite sure why they would do that." Then that's totally valid. That's okay. If you're towards the middle, like me, that's also okay. My goal is to help you get closer to the right, where when you walk away from this presentation, you'll feel like, okay, this makes total sense. If you're already at that place where you think that it makes total sense, I hope to provide you with some actionable takeaways so that you can recreate what we've done at your business. Let's talk about HubSpot for a second. HubSpot was founded in 2006 by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. HubSpot, really, was the leader in creating this term called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a set of strategies, essentially, that are very different from the way that we thought about marketing prior, and sales. Instead of doing cold calls and outbound sailing... Selling, sorry. Inbound marketing had the idea that if you create truly valuable content and be of value to your customer base and your audience and your buyer persona, you will attract customers to you. HubSpot has this foundation that is built on the belief that you earn attention, you earn customers by truly being of value to them. Since 2006, just as people's product requirements have changed, and our CRM platform has evolved, our consumer, their content needs have changed. We are evolving how we create content and how we provide and distribute content to our community. Just on that, this graph explains it all. In 2006, the number of people going to social media platforms to find content was nowhere near as high as it is now. As we can see, there is a large number of people that are gravitating to platforms like YouTube and Facebook to find content that really resonates with them. It's an incredible thing, but just as people have, the usership has really increased on social media platforms, so have the number of creators. There are currently 50 million content creators. Two million of those who are professional. We're really going to be talking about that professional group right now. That is a very large number. This large number has really shifted the landscape in terms of right now, we are in, what is called, the creator economy. That is a class of businesses that are owned by content creators and include the creator themselves, as well as the people that they staff like video editors, photographers, graphic designers, as well as the software and finance tools that they use for growth and monetization. We want to be a part of this creator economy. The creators, themselves, have also evolved over time. In the beginning, a long time ago, I think this is what we all thought. The stereotype of a creator was, you have the ring light, she's taking a selfie. There's probably a duck face happening here. At least, that's probably what I thought of an influencer, maybe, five years ago. Well, now influencers look a little bit more like this. They have businesses and they are business owners. In fact, creatorship is the fastest growing type of small business, which is incredible. The reason that we think of creators as businesses are for the following reasons. They have brands with core values. They have target audiences and buyer personas. This is how they create content for their user base and for their community. They have operations that help them monetize their content. They have teams and staff. They have products like webinars, content offers, events. Then they have their own distribution channels as well, like email newsletters, their website, their blog. These are places where they can continue to engage their community outside of social media or podcasting. The most interesting thing, at least to me, is that creatorship and this whole segment of businesses really extracts from inbound marketing techniques. In 2006, when Brian and Dharmesh thought about inbound marketing, I wonder if they knew that there would be this incredible group of entrepreneurs that would use inbound marketing to create their business. Their business was, basically, one large inbound marketing strategy. With that being said, there are a lot of similarities between the marketing and operations of these modern creator businesses and HubSpot itself. Of course, we love creators. Creators are our friends. They are people that we bring on board, and as creators are making this incredible content for their audiences, instead of going out and creating all this content ourselves, there are so many benefits in working with the already successful creators out there. Hopefully, that answers why brands are partnering with creators. Brands are partnering with creators in the same way that brands are partnering with other brands and other businesses. This is truly co- marketing at its finest, and in a very tangible way to enrich a content experience for your consumer and for your customer. Now that we've talked about why, so hopefully, you're more towards that makes sense side of the spectrum. Let's talk a little bit about how. How are we doing this? How are we executing the finding of the creators and then building those relationships and distributing their content through our channels? Let's talk about that. Step one is finding the right creators. This is something that is incredibly important and will really dictate how effective your relationship is with the creator. You have to find the right creators for your brand. With 50 million creators, there's certainly no shortage. You can really be intentional about who you bring into your fold. In order to do this, I think the biggest thing is to find value alignment. The HubSpot Podcast Network is, as I repeat, the audio destination for business professionals seeking education and inspiration on how to grow a business. The whole mission is important, but the part I'd like us to focus on is the latter part of the mission, which is to inspire and educate people on how to grow business. There are people that are already doing that and their content lies within those values. Finding value alignment is going to be very important and also allow the brand and the creator to really make content together. That makes sense for both the brand's audiences and community, and the creator's audience and community. This is important because we... Not we. I didn't do the research. IBM found that 40% of people that responded to their survey said that they bought products and interacted with businesses and services that align to their values. Why this is important because as a brand, when you're finding a creator to collaborate with, you want to ensure that you both have the same values. At the end of the day, the person listening to that content or engaging with that content, consuming it, is doing so because they also find value alignment to that content. When the consumer, the creator and the brand are all on the same page, I think that's really where the magic happens. Also, HubSpot is a brand that has products. Part of bringing some of these shows into the fold, has been to align their content to our products. The way that I think about this is, I don't know, they work so well together, like peanut butter and jelly. The content creator, during a YouTube video or a podcast episode, is telling its listeners and watchers, consumers, a strategy on how to grow business, giving them actionable takeaways. Well, HubSpot can provide the tool so that you can execute that strategy. That's why the brand and product and the content itself go together like peanut butter and jelly. The more that we can express and connect the dots for the listener that the creator, the podcaster, is giving them strategies, and HubSpot is providing a tool and they will, essentially, need both in order to grow and scale their business, the more that our advertisements within the podcast just make complete sense, and don't necessarily feel like a random ad that you have to listen to. Also, this ad is there to truly be helpful and to provide the resources that you need to be successful. With that, here on this slide, you can see, for example, we have a Marketing Podcast. Here, with our Marketing Podcast, we can go a little bit deeper into the features of our Marketing Hub. It just works really, really well as an advertiser. As we are amplifying the voices of creators, we're also able to amplify our brand message. That's a win- win. That's great. We love that. We love that. Okay. After you find your creators, taking into account your values, your mission, the things that your brand stands for and your product, and you find your creators, let's talk about how you can build solid relationships with your creators and really create a collaboration that meets everyone's business objectives. The second step, excuse me, is to build flexible workflows. One thing that I have learned by working with now 14 shows is that every production team, every show has a wildly different workflow and production schedule and cadence. As a network, we have to be really agile and flexible and create operational systems that allow us to adapt to each production team. In order to do that and make it a little easy for you, here are the things that you'll need. The first thing that you'll need is a collaboration tool. As we create ads for our podcasts, we deliver these scripts on Google Docs. This allows us to be very collaborative with our creators. We're not just handing them a script and saying," Read this word for word." We are asking for their input, asking for their feedback, and we're able to do so on a collaboration tool like Google Docs. You need a project management tool with all these different production teams and all these different creators. You need a way to keep everyone on the same page. We use Asana, and it's been incredible for us to basically run the entire network on Asana. Here, we have all of our deadlines for the ads. We can work on marketing initiatives. Everything is adaptable to each team's workflow and allows us to better understand what's coming up and what we need to do, so a must- have. The next is you need to distribute the content that you're creating alongside the creator on your own domain. We worked with Casted to create really incredible landing pages that allow us to amplify the voices of our creators. Here, you can see the HubSpot Podcast Network branding, just alongside that content. Creating that brand is incredibly important, and creating a space for your customers to interact with this content is very important. Shout out to Casted for our landing pages. I would encourage you to go to hubspot. com/ podcastnetwork to check out all of our landing pages and our content there. The, let's see, fourth thing that you'll need is a content creation tool. Here, you'll be able to create your social media posts to promote new episodes that come out, to do social media collaborations with your creators to distribute your social media content on everyone's account, so the creator's account and the brand's account. You get me. Also, we use Cascade to create our audiograms. The last thing that you'll need is tracking software. I know this is a bit more difficult in the podcasting space, but we use a variety of software in order to be able to track the effectiveness of our collaborations with our creators. Some of those tools are Podsights where we can see how many people listen to the ad on the podcast, and then came to hubspot. com. We can see impressions and leads there. That's great. We also use Chartable to track our social media promotions and to see the effectiveness of how we're promoting our podcast content. Then, we use Casted, of course. As we promote our podcast, we are driving traffic to those landing pages. Once we get there, we can then see how they're interacting with our content. All of these things are very important, and I would say, are must- haves if you're looking to work with a large number... Not even a large number. If you're looking to work with creators. I hope that's helpful. The third step is once you have your creators, you've onboarded them. Everyone is on the tools using them. You're a well- oiled machine. Now it's truly time to mobilize your creator community, amplify their voices and amplify the brand as a whole. This section's called Sharing Is Caring, because sharing has everything to do with operating a network, and the benefits of being in a network. The first thing is we want to share the brand. As we are amplifying these voices, we also want to amplify HubSpot. We want to bring our products to the forefront and share with more people that we have these resources, so they can grow and scale their business. In order to do that, we create these custom and contextual ads. Once again, this goes back to working on Google Docs and having monthly meetings where we are collaborating with our creators to learn more about their target audience, because you don't know a creator's target audience like they do, really working with them to figure out what kind of ad is going to resonate for their audience, and how can we create that? We also do a lot of experiments which comes down to my next point. We are constantly iterating, and that really is a result of great collaboration. We are always doing experiments to test different ad formats and links. With that, we're able to design what we feel is a better listening experience. We are all business professionals. If you're watching this, you're probably a business professional, but we're also all consumers. I consume a lot of podcast content. I consume a lot of YouTube content. I just consume a lot of content. As a consumer, I know that some ads, you don't want to listen to them. I don't want my ads to be those ads. I want my ads to feel organic and to feel like they are supposed to be there. Then we want to ensure that as we create this amazing listening experience, as we collaborate with creators and use their target audience to create this amazing ad, these ads are now very, very targeted, which is exceptional. I think you can only, well, not only, but a great way to create an ad experience that is contextual and custom and feels like a part of the content, is to ensure that... Wait, I lost my train of thought. I'm too deep into this presentation. I'm not restarting. Anyways, these are the four things that you need in order to create a great ad experience. How did that happen? What time is it? I need more coffee. Okay. All right. Now that we've shared the brand, created this amazing ad experience, the best part about a network is that you can share audiences. We are always looking to expand our reach, but as a network, we're also looking to leverage the audiences that we already have. How can we do that and inspire audience growth of our shows through these collaborations? Here's a list of ways that we drive audience growth and share audiences amongst the shows. The first one is editorial collaboration, so guest swaps. This is when one host is the guest on another show, vice versa. That seems to work very well. Audio ads. Our 32nd, or our pre- roll ad, is actually not an ad for the network itself. It's an ad for another show in the network. This cross promotion strategy that we have, allows us to expose audience days to other shows within the network. Then you have social media collaborations. This is when either the brand HubSpot does a collaboration with a show, or two shows work together to create content on social media together. Then we have promotions through our own channel. That could be the HubSpot blog, our newsletters, et cetera. We are also sharing the HubSpot community in our audiences with our podcast shows. These are a few things that we do to drive growth without necessarily looking to share knowledge. I would say this is one of the largest benefits of working with a large number of creators. A lot of these creators, as you saw in previous slides, they started off as a one- woman show, a one- man show. Sorry. They started off so low, there we go, as an entrepreneur and really built this content, really built their community and have made it work. Now, they're part of this community of other podcasters, other creators, where we, as a team, can collaborate and talk and share knowledge amongst each other so that we are all learning really quickly. Here are some of the questions that we're looking to answer. What marketing initiatives are most effective in building podcast audiences? We look at all of the marketing initiatives across 14 shows, and we think about what's working and what's not working? How can we do more of what's working, and less of what's not? We figure that out as a network. What advertisement placements are most effective? As we're collaborating with each of our creators, we're thinking about what ads are resonating best. The more that we learn that, the more that we can iterate across the network and create better ad experiences. Then that comes to our next one, which is how can we create the best listening experience for our audience and collaboration with our creators? All in all, I would say that building a community of creators is incredibly beneficial, not only just to the creator, but to the brand. Amplifying the voices of creators, it's great for the brand. It's great for the brand. There are already so many talented creators that, going out and finding someone who already has community, whose target audience is aligned to yours, they have the same values, they've already built up this content and platform, working with them instead of trying to replicate what they're doing, is a great way to scale not just your audio offerings, but any content offerings really fast. We are just so much better working together. Yeah, I hope that I answered some of your questions. I hope you got some takeaways here. I'm still getting used to presenting into my Zoom camera. Thank you for bearing with me. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to answer any questions or share any more insights. Have a wonderful day, and thank you so much to the Casted team for this opportunity. Bye.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Thanks so much for listening and watching and consuming this content. To learn more about HubSpot and the insights Alanah shared with us today, make sure to visit hubspot.com and check out any and all of their amazing shows on the HubSpot Podcast Network. To learn more about Casted and how we can help you, visit casted. us and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest insights on all things and provide marketing, maybe podcasting, maybe audio and video content, and so much more.
What if you could curate content for your customers by harnessing the power of expert voices? What if those expert voices also happened to be amazing creators? Would you lean into working with these outside experts to launch an entire podcasting network? That’s exactly what HubSpot did in 2021 — they launched a podcast network full of amazing (and already established) podcasts.
But why lean into a podcast network full of content creators over starting your own? Especially when you’re a brand, like HubSpot, that has a history of creating some pretty amazing audio and video content.
In this special session from our Amplify event, Alanah Joseph, Senior Marketing Manager of the HubSpot Podcast Network, breaks down why HubSpot chose to undertake this initiative, how they curated and worked with these creators, and how you can take some pages from their book and work with creators and experts in your own space. Learn how Hubspot is leaning into Amplified Marketing and amplifying the voices of experts and creators in their content in really unique and untraditional ways.