Expert Interview with Aaron Strout, VP of Marketing in Austin, Texas.
Aaron has recently joined Austin, TX based, Powered as the VP of marketing. As the head of marketing at Powered, Aaron focuses not only on day to day marketing activities but also provides a social voice for the company. In this role, Aaron continues with his speaking, blogging, podcasting and social networking activities with an eye toward creating awareness and lead generation for the company. Prior to joining Powered, Aaron was the Vice President of Social Media at Mzinga, and focused on tapping into the power of social media for business. In addition to his knowledge of the interactive and new media landscape, Aaron has more than 15 years of online marketing and advertising experience, with a strong background in integrated and online marketing.
"At the end of the day, companies will enjoy the greatest success when they are coordinating all of their efforts and driving their customers to their online communities and/or social outposts..."
What should the role of social media be in a company’s marketing mix?
I like how you worded your question. It implies that social media SHOULD be in a company’s marketing mix vs. being a standalone solution. At the end of the day, companies will enjoy the greatest success when they are coordinating all of their efforts and driving their customers to their online communities and/or social outposts on places like LinkedIn and Facebook. In those places, customers and prospects alike can interact with a company’s employees, talk to one another, interact with content that company has created to provide a learning experience and ultimately, feel more a part of the company’s brand.
How would you differentiate between social media and online community?
Social media in its truest form is really any content – text, video or audio – that allows people to comment on, discuss or interact with. The most common examples of social media in my mind are blogs, Twitter, podcasts, and video sites like Youtube. Online community requires both content, tools like forums, ratings/reviews, tagging AND social profiles. It’s the latter that creates “community” because members are able to connect to one another moving from a “what you know” to a “who you know” model.
There has been a lot of noise recently about the "death of corporate blogging". What is your take, are corporate blogs still important? What makes a successful corporate blog?
Corporate blogs are far from dead. In fact, I think they are just getting started. However, you are correct when you mention that corporate blogs are getting a bad rap. There was a recent Forrester report by Josh Bernoff that stated that only 16% of Americans trust corporate blogs. To be honest, I’m surprised that number is as high as it is. Many of the corporate blogs I’ve browsed are not that good. Most are very inward focused and only want to talk about how great the company is or how great it’s employees are. Unfortunately, this isn’t what its readers want. They are looking for value, insights and a way to better connect with the brand. Until companies can better deliver on that promise, corporate blogs will continue to struggle.
I (and others) have commented on your expert use of twitter. What do you feel the core values of twitter are to a business, and what advice would you have for burgeoning twitter users?
Let me start by saying that you are too kind. I’ve been at the “Twitter” thing for a while now and I’ve learned a lot over that time. For one, it’s very important to be authentic. People appreciate other folks that are comfortable in their own skin. Even more important is understanding the value of “give before you get.” This is probably the hardest one for anyone to abide by. That’s mainly because when Twitter asks, “What are you doing,” it feels like you should talk about yourself. WRONG. Talk about other smart people you’re meeting. Point to good articles or blog posts. Comment on how funny someone’s last tweet was. At the end of the day, if you do those things, the benefits will come back to you in spades.
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