Dave Murrow: Matt, you founded Mint Social to help businesses looking for more results with their online marketing strategy. Your tag line says, “Accelerated Marketing, Refreshing Results.” Maybe this is a good place to start.
Matt O’Brien: OK. Our model is, we create an associated press for a business, their own content syndication engine. We know that three out of four people online are on portal sites that are content rich like YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, MSNBC, CNN.
Our goal and role for our business partners is to deliver all forms of media; PowerPoints, articles, videos, press releases, photos and relevant content that can help to educate, inform and engage a prospect by market to them where they are online. This content syndication model is very effective for search and viral market because is increases links and hooks back to the most relevant landing pages, so we can monetize and convert that traffic into some sort of measurable response.
Dave: Right. Do all of your clients, when they come to you seeking help with either social media or online marketing, understand all that? Do they get the idea behind the syndication?
Matt: Well, not at first, because they come to us looking for help with social media marketing and help developing a content marketing strategy. As a result of this and one of the things that makes us unique is our ability to leverage over 600 or 700 different sites online that will be the most relevant and effective marketing channels for their growing their business. For example, if you could be visible online on 10 sites or 1,000 sites, what would you rather be on?
Dave: Most people would say 1,000 sites.
Matt: Most people would say 1,000. The other might say, well, I want to be on the 10 best sites. Well, you’ll also be on those.
Dave: Yes. [laughs] That’s what we’ve had through our PR circles for years. “I want to be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.” “Well, we’ll get you everywhere else, as well.”
”Well, I want to make sure I’m on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.” [laughs]
Let me ask you a little bit about the sort of processes you go to when a new client comes to you. If a company wants to refresh their branding somehow and they’re looking to you for counsel and maybe a strategy and then implementation, how do you go about that?
Matt: Well, we do what we call a conversation relevancy match, where we look at what’s being searched in search engines and what’s being discussed in social networks and Web 2.0, interactive dialogue websites. We then we look at how they’re positioning their company, from the terms they use to describe themselves and we see if there’s a match. Are they speaking to their prospective audience in the best light and usually, there’s a disconnect there.
So, part of our model in rolling out social media for our clients is to really make sure that we’re matching what people are looking for, searching for, and talking about with the way they position their business online.
So, that becomes the basis of building out what we call a social media footprint; their online visibility for their brand. From this we develop their content strategy for publishing to those different avenues and tracking what’s getting engagement, see what’s falling on deaf ears.
We have a very robust ability to track engagement and see what’s working so that we can modify the content strategy on the fly. We know that marketing is never 100 percent right. It’s just a migration to the best, most effective strategy.
Dave: Right. You have a blog at your site and it’s called Blog Mint. What are your own company’s viewpoint of the blog and what sort of ideas do you like to get across on that? And do you syndicate from blog, as well?
Matt: We’re big into syndication of our blog. Our blog is the first point where we launch all of our content from, and from there, we use, we try to practice what we preach. We syndicate this content out for social media channels and extended blog networks. If it’s a video, we’ll get those on video sites, and so forth. And the blog is really a basis of education and information where we’re typically less about pitching Mint Social and more about sharing trending aspects in online marketing with content that businesses should be aware of. If they want to learn more, they can certainly contact us.
But, our goal is to create content that fit on other sites to maximize our syndication potential. So, if we focus on sharing nuggets of wisdom from our main blog and push this out, we’re going to fit in all the other marketing channels where our prospects are. We see social media profiles as gaining publishing rights to a website.
If we publish the right content with this syndication model, we get a lot more visibility and results.
Dave: Right. Do you have a number of clients that just come to you for just strictly getting better results with their social media marketing? For example, they did their social media set up a year or two ago and now they need someone to just work it. Do you tend to try to make it much more than that?
Matt: We tend to make it more than that. We most likely would not take that client on if they’re just looking for someone to take over and manage what they have in place. If they’re doing the basics and they’re not getting the results then they need something more. So, we’ll qualify them at that point. If they understand the importance of creating good content and bringing that to where people are online and tracking and monitoring and doing things that are best practices for marketing a business online, then typically, they’ll change their perspective and they’ll consider a company like Mint Social.
And then, there’s engagement or customer service type of components that are really sales opportunities, that’s represent potential sales that a business needs to be involved with. You don’t want to just hire an agency and let them do everything for a long period of time because your business will not be learning anything about what your brand is and how to make it better.
Dave: Sure. So, we’re now in 2012. What sort of things have you seen change over the last year? What are clients looking for in a bigger picture thing for social media for branding and marketing? What are the top three areas in which you’re seeing a lot of interest right now? Is it mobile? Are people asking you about branding for tablets yet? Are people still happy with websites and social media at this point?
Matt: Well, with social media and blog marketing, many businesses are going through the motions and they’re looking to get more engagement and better results, because they’re investing time and money to it. So overall, if they have social media in their marketing plan, they’re looking to improve this and get better results. I would say if they’re a business that is regional or localized, they should be looking at becoming more relevant with social media and mobile are ideal for that.
We’ve developed a process and a terminology we call “Geo‑SoMo,” (geographically targeted social mobile marketing) which is a way to get end users, consumers, customers to help with the engagement and content creation side so that we can then from a business perspective, leverage this information. We geo‑tag content and we target certain regions of a country where they are present to help them become the most relevant local search.
So if you take a photo or video, you publish it, you geo-tag it right, and you optimize it properly, when someone is on their mobile device or on their tablet or even on the web, this business can become the most relevant local search because mobile devices are automatically knowing where these people are. They’re going to serve up results based on location.
So that’s huge right now. It’s a big strategy that people are trying to figure out. We have a good solution for this.
Dave: Nice. With some of the work that you’re doing across the U.S., are you seeing particular industries that are showing much more interest in your services? Perhaps the manufacturing industry, services industry, professional services like law firms and other things? Are you seeing any particular interest from one area?
Matt: Definitely not for manufacturing. That’s still an unknown market. Medical and financial businesses are being less hand‑tied, and they’re starting to realize that there’s been a lot of regulation and stipulations on banner advertising and communications and stuff. So we’re seeing more interest on that level and bringing more business opportunities into the pipeline. Niche industries that are typically laggers, like law firms, are starting to get on board.
There’s a lot of companies out there that are creating hype, and that’s creating interest. But most of these applications and apps the companies are selling, the predecessor is you have to have a community to market to. So the strategy of becoming most relevant in social networks and in search engines, especially if you’re a local business, is key. All of it comes back to content.
So coming around full circle, content marketing is huge right now. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to solve the content problem, and Dave, you know specifically because you’ve been run through our program and are working with our clients and it does take time for some companies to get into the content marketing mindset.
Dave: Yup, absolutely. Are there other firms that you’re finding are doing good work in this area that you’re aware of that you see yourself being in competition with? You’ve said all of it. We don’t have to talk about that.
Matt: You know, not as much about competition. What we’re finding is, and this is our model. You’ve heard of SAS software as a service?
Matt: So our model in Mint Social is to leverage either technology that we’ve helped develop or technology that’s available, either a premium or change it up and make it a little proprietary based on developing custom applications. We’re calling the software that’s out there…there’s a lot of companies that are trying to get critical mass. We’ve come up with the terminology called “SWS” (SWISS), which is Software With Services. So we’re finding best‑in‑class technology, and we’re wrapping services around it. We’re providing that value‑add directly to the customer. So it’s like buying Oracle software, which will not do what you need unless you know how to use it and make it work for your company.
We’re that company that finds the best tools, and technology, and software applications, wrap services around it, and then leverages that to make the client the most relevant result or the most vocal voice or the leading expert in their space. We see that as a huge opportunity with this.
We’ve just formed a partnership with a company that has one of the most powerful global listening engines which identifies the main influencers globally in how their content gets distributed and where they’re pulling their content from.
By simply identifying the top decision makers and influencers, a brand can accelerate their results out of the gate and immediately become one of the top voices in their space if they’re not already.
Dave: Wow! That’s great. That sounds fantastic. I’d love to learn more about that down the line.
Matt: That’s part of the Mint Social suite of dashboards. We have listening engines, pull strategies. We have publishing engines, which are the push strategy, and then we have the tracking tools dialed in with Google Analytics. It’s as advanced as you are with your campaign tracking. We see what is working, what is not working, and where we should be focusing because this is where the thought leaders are hanging out.
Dave: Yup, absolutely. Those are the key influencers online who are writing and they’re engaging out there. Are there any other points you want to make before you have to jump off this call? What you see Mint heading into in the next several months or anything coming up? Any top trends you’re seeing forming for 2012 yet?
Matt: We’re rolling out for our clients right now a strategy on how to partner with businesses in their ecosystem or customers to rapidly accelerate their online reach whenever they publish through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, their blog to drive traffic to the pages that they care about, their landing pages, their websites, etc. So this is a methodology that some of our clients are beginning to engage us with, and we’re seeing extremely effective results, very targeted solutions. So this is something you’ll see coming more from Mint Social when we officially release it in 2012.
Dave: Fantastic, Matt. Hey, thanks for a great interview and good luck to you and Mint Social in 2012!
Matt: Hey, thanks a lot, Dave.