How to create big rock content – with Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader at LinkedIn

My name is Jason Miller I lead global content and social for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and I’ve been with the company for about three-and-a-half years. They hired me.. they brought me on board to build up a global content engine to drive brand awareness and lead generation. So it’s interesting three-and-a-half years ago when I started with LinkedIn we had just launched sponsored content so it was a really interesting time to come on board. My job is to tell the story of the marketer on LinkedIn and how they can use the platform to meet their marketing goals, to expand the reach of their content, to connect with what we call the professional mindset so that’s kind of what I do and the focus.. the focus is around the world.. So I have.. my team is in Dublin but there’s also a team in North America that I kind of left and came over here so I’m here to.. I just moved to London so I’m here to be a true global market and actually you know understand the different nuances between the markets because it’s kind of the next step in the evolution of my career. We have a concept we call ‘the big rock’ and what the big rock is it’s a substantial piece of content that you’re creating with a purpose to own a conversation. So for example at LinkedIn when I started years ago you would type into the search engine; how do I market effectively on LinkedIn and you know.. there was lots of competition there so my job was to own that conversation create content that map back to that but also use our platform to amplify it. And the big rock is how we attack that. So how do you find that conversation? Well you do a little keyword research and you look for the conversations, look for the search queries that are driving traffic on the conversations, on the topics that are important to your brand. It’s really quite simple if you think about what is that number one question that you.. that your product or service answers or can solve? And then you create content around that. You create a big rock and you map this empire back to that. The role of native advertising is important to me because it helps amplify the content and reach new audiences. I think there’s a lot of folks who think that the inbound marketing alone is enough and I think that’s crazy because you just.. you’re only reaching that audience that’s following you. If you want to break through and get beyond that you need native advertising to break through just the folks that follow you and expand your reach beyond that. I would say just just the opportunity to amplify their content in the feed, right? Using both sponsored content, direct sponsored content which goes directly to that audience and that audience only but to take your content and amplify it in the feed is.. I think that’s the real opportunity; just expand on that audience, get to the professional mindset and connect with a professional audience. I used to work in the music business and I love the music business but I watched it kind of fight digital. Instead of embracing digital it fought it and it just kind of crumbled in on itself so I just finally got fed up and quit back in 2009 and I had to kind of reinvent myself but I didn’t want to lose my connection to music so I’ve always been a fan of music and it turns out that I can take these very complex marketing stories and distill them down using rock’n’roll analogies. It just makes sense to me and it’s kind of a fun and entertaining way to deliver it. So you’ll always see a little bit of.. there’s always a reference to Guns n’ Roses or Kiss or Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. There’s always a heavy metal references in almost everything I do sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not so.. It’s important for marketers to differentiate themselves, right? Because it’s a very crowded space, there’s lots of smart marketers out there but how do you stand out? So I think if you find your passion and you can infuse that into your content then you’re going to be able to stand out. I love heavy metal, I love Seinfeld and I always kind of weave that into my content and it’s just my personality coming through and if you find a company I used to work at Marketo and they you know empowered us to bring our personality to work. LinkedIn is the same way so if you have that environment that fosters creativity, true creativity, and you can bring in that personal element at the same time that’s where you hit a home run, that’s where you differentiate yourself and that’s where you stand out as a marketer. It’s forcing us to be better marketers, it’s forcing our content to be more relevant, it’s forcing us to understand our audiences better so I think marketers have a challenge to do better, to be better markerters and I think native advertising is that kind of litmus test where we can test and measure our efforts and I think if we do well then maybe this ad blocking thing won’t make sense anymore. Native Advertising is fuelled by content, powered by content. Without good, remarkable content you don’t have a strategy. But having a source of good content that is consistent and relevant and looks.. you know it has a purpose. That’s the owned media empire and it powers native advertising so you can’t have one without the other but why would you not have — in the era of you know brands thinking like publishers or the newsroom — why would you not want to create this kind of owned media empire where you’re not renting space for your content any more.. you’re owning your own content. I think there’s a big.. there’s a movement to go back to kind of your own channels. So the blog, the website, your app and so that’s kind of the the idea behind the concept of this owned media empire; I own the space, I own the content, I use native advertising to amplify it. I think that brands as publishers is a new idea and I think it’s still a new idea and I think we have a lot of work to do. I think some folks have figured it out — the usual suspects — but the rest of us just need to try a little bit harder. But the opportunity is to just be more relevant and be smart about your audience and your targeting. Focus on quality over quantity which I think is a pretty hot topic here. We don’t force ourselves to post something everyday or write an article every day and like you just do it.. you say something when you have something to say and then you just be smart about the angle that you go to put out to the world. It goes back.. for me it goes back to just are you an interesting person? Do you have something interesting to say? How can you take your personalities, combine them and make it into something that someone wants to read? I don’t know if there’s lessons that publishers could take from me I mean I think I take a lot of lessons from publishers just on a much smaller scale. But yes certainly I’m my own audience I guess so I market to marketers so maybe I have it little bit easier than other folks do.. I don’t know. It’s easy you should think like a search engine right? The search engine’s job is to deliver the most relevant content based on the query. Your job as a content marketer is simply to be that best answer so through all those those tactics, through all the disciplines coming together; SEO, PR, social, content all these things coming together that’s where the sweet spot is. But if you have these different disciplines working in silos then it’s a fragmented disaster but all these coming together; if you do the keyword research, if you know the conversations, if you understand your audience and you just basically answer their questions and supplement that with som editorial thoughts and some inspirational ideas and a little bit of entertainment but you just want to be that best answer. That’s what remarkable content does. That’s where all this is moving to and I think it’s really.. We overcomplicate this all the time. Answer a question and then have just some good content to back up the conversation along the way.

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