Speaking of Influence

Genetically Modified Marketing with guest John Espirian

June 11, 2020 John Ball Season 1 Episode 28
Speaking of Influence
Genetically Modified Marketing with guest John Espirian
Chapters
Speaking of Influence
Genetically Modified Marketing with guest John Espirian
Jun 11, 2020 Season 1 Episode 28
John Ball

In this relentlessly helpful episode, I talk with Linked In content marketing expert John Espirian about content marketing and making the most out of the new and improved Linked In platform.

John Espirian is the relentlessly helpful technical copywriter and author of Content DNA.

John writes B2B web content to help his clients explain how their products and services work. He also helps people to build a better presence on LinkedIn.

Find John at espirian.co.uk or on LinkedIn.
Want to know more about John? Check out his 20 things about me article on LinkedIn.

It contains 19 truths and 1 lie.

John's book recommendation is 'Known' by Mark Schaefer.

Find out more about your host John Ball by going to PresentInfluence.com or email me john@presentinfluence.com. You can nearly always find me on Linked In too.





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Show Notes Transcript

In this relentlessly helpful episode, I talk with Linked In content marketing expert John Espirian about content marketing and making the most out of the new and improved Linked In platform.

John Espirian is the relentlessly helpful technical copywriter and author of Content DNA.

John writes B2B web content to help his clients explain how their products and services work. He also helps people to build a better presence on LinkedIn.

Find John at espirian.co.uk or on LinkedIn.
Want to know more about John? Check out his 20 things about me article on LinkedIn.

It contains 19 truths and 1 lie.

John's book recommendation is 'Known' by Mark Schaefer.

Find out more about your host John Ball by going to PresentInfluence.com or email me john@presentinfluence.com. You can nearly always find me on Linked In too.





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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Genetically Engineered Marketing on Linked In with guest John Espirian 

John Ball  

Today on the show, I am very happy to introduce to you a guest. He has probably the most interesting LinkedIn bio I think I've ever seen. Let me read his bio first and I'll introduce our guest is Byron says relentlessly helpful technical copywriting for b2b websites LinkedIn, author of Content DNA, not a douche canoe. Please welcome to the show, John Espirian. Hi, John.

John Espirian  

Fantastic. Thanks for having me, John. Really looking forward to our chat today. And yeah, I'm glad you liked my LinkedIn headline. It took a bit of crafting that one, it stands out it definitely does make a statement until you work essentially in copywriting. I know you've specialised a lot in LinkedIn. How did you end up going into this field and getting into being a copywriter or realising that was something you had a talent or aspiration for right? Well, the short version of that is that I used to be a software and hardware tester for the internet service provider industry, so I was that guy who used to try and work out why things weren't working, how they could be worked, how they could work better. And then when I was made redundant, I thought that I would take my skill of poking and prodding things and explaining how they work, and turn it into a copywriting service where I could explain how products and services and processes work. And so I've been doing that for more than 10 years. And it got to the point where my organic leads weren't really kind of doing enough for me. So I thought, let me invest some time in social media. So I did that and failed miserably at doing so. And eventually, I came to the realisation that I work in b2b. LinkedIn is full of b2b potential clients. Rather than dabbling here and there and tasting the buffet. Why don't I just dive into the one dish restaurant and just be an expert in that place? So that's what I've been doing for the last three years and now people know me as the guy who's sharing helpful tips on LinkedIn. So that's where I am right now.

John Ball  

And indeed you are. And I'm finding it. And just quickly, I'll share that I'm finding LinkedIn is the place where I'm connecting mostly with people more than other social media platforms. And maybe a lot of that, because we're targeting business people, business owners who want to be better at presenting better influencing people. And so this is the platform like that, that has been working the best for me and doing that as well. And I've seen I've been on LinkedIn since early days is not the same website that it used to be right

John Espirian  

No, that's right. I was fortunate in that I kind of got deep into LinkedIn, roughly the same time that Microsoft's buyout of LinkedIn happened, which was late 2016. And just after there was a big change to the user interface to make it more friendly to us. And a whole raft of new features came in And I think the LinkedIn algorithm itself changed to, to, you know, start promoting organic content better. And so it's just now the perfect platform for having enriching conversations. And compared with the other social media platforms, it's still a bit of an uncontested space really, because LinkedIn figures for May 2020 say that they've got 690 million members. Well, that's a lot. But compared with Facebook, which is well over 2 billion by now, it's just a different ballgame altogether. And another thing that people don't realise, I think, is that LinkedIn business model is different from all of the other social media platforms. So whereas everyone else wants to monetize content, so pay for an ad, get some exposure on Facebook, it's the same everywhere really. Right. LinkedIn earnings come from, you know, getting people to subscribe to their premium product, so they don't need to mention content in the same way. And so it's a great opportunity to have conversations and build an organic following based on helpful content. I think.

John Ball  

That makes a lot of sense. Although paid advertising on LinkedIn seems quite expensive in comparison to some other platforms.

John Espirian  

Yeah, it does. And I've experimented with a load of free credit I got a while ago, and it did absolutely nothing for me, which might say that I just write terrible ads, perhaps but it wasn't. Ad ads are not my thing. And

John Ball  

that's because you don't like them? I was reading in your book last night, how much you hate ads.

John Espirian  

Well, I do really I wouldn't be my book if I didn't make that really, really clear. But I think we're becoming a society that is more and more immune to advertising. You know, if you think about, we've all got a net Well, most of us have got a Netflix subscription, so we don't have to sit there through ads. We look at YouTube videos and look in the bottom right corner for the skip ad link. We don't focus on what's being shown to us. We not receptive in the same way that we used to be where we were a captive audience with four channels, and we all read the newspaper and the full page ads every day. It's just a different society these days, I think. So we need to try and reach people as organically as possible. And that means thinking content first, rather than ads first.

John Ball  

And to me, that makes a lot of sense. And if you think commercials are bad in the UK, here in Spain, where I live, you'll be getting to the climax, the denouement of a film and then, you know, they'll come up back in 15 minutes, and there's nothing but commercials, which drove me up the wall. So yes, of course, commercials are an irritant to most people. And, and I think people are also may be immune to a lot of the messaging now and the influencing. And I don't know if that's just because of overexposure or if there is maybe a greater understanding about how these things try to influence and some of the methodology about that but I suspect it's more to do with exposure, though.

John Espirian  

Yeah, well, it's probably a bit of everything. But I think really, we're just better tuned to being sold to. And it comes back to what some people will say is that our attention spans are going down. And I don't believe that at all. Actually, I think that we'll, we'll binge watch something for 48 hours if we think it's good enough. So the attention is there, people still buy and read books, and they take a while to consume, believe it or not. And so I think the attention possibilities there, it's just that we're better tuned to listening to or spotting crap content, you know, so so we want to filter that out. And very often, if someone is just trying to sell to you, it's no good the adverts that actually tend to do well, the ones that where there's kind of a story built around it, and it's an event, you know, so the john lewis ad comes out at Christmas and everyone wants to watch it and isn't it brilliant and it tells a story, but the average age Just just turns people off because it's his last stuff by our stuff. It's not for us.

John Ball  

It's interesting people, people in the UK get very excited about the John Lewis Christmas ads, generally, and I understand while often very, very cute and nice story, the nice little story contained within that. But yes, it's the stories and that's been a big part of a lot of the things that I focus on in my, in my speaking work about wanting people to tell better stories. And I'm very lucky that I have a very professional, highly-prized author coming on next month, who has won the month story slam 48 times and there he is. He's an incredible storyteller. And I think that I want to see the world telling better stories and he's a guy who really is helping the world to tell better stories in general but I think that's also important in this content marketing business side as well. Where it where he's not using it. He's just telling stories, but The professional side of life is really valuable. And more and more people are recognising that one of the reasons why I started by particular just reading out your LinkedIn profile is because it stands out so much. And I was saying to you just before we started recording about how differentiation in the marketplace can be a real challenge, and I love I'm not reading a chapter in your book about whether relentlessly helpful stuff comes from I love that I mean, relentlessly helpful. It really says something, it says something very specific about who you are and what your values are. Where did that come from it? I know the story because I've read it, but for our audience...

John Espirian  

Yeah. So it's a moment of serendipity really. I was on stage at a conference in 2017 with my marketing mentor, Mark Schaefer, and we had a load of unscripted questions at the end of our session. And his final question to me was, how are you going to remain relevant in a market full of options and without thinking, somehow, my mouth produced I'm going to produce relentlessly helpful content and that moment just stopped With me, and when I went home, I started just pondering that idea of being relentlessly helpful. And I started using it in my marketing, and then something really magical happened, which is, I started saying it, and people started echoing it back to me. So it was like the hook of a song, call and response, you say something, they accurate. And when you can get into that arrangement with your audience, you know that something good is happening. And I kind of thought about my brand a little bit longer. And I came up with these building blocks that I thought defined me there was a lot of kind of introspection going on at that point in my life. And I defined my shape. My shape is made of these four building blocks of my brand. And the reason I called the book content DNA is because DNA is made of four basic things in these weird permutations that mean that we get earthworms and bananas and humans and every other living organism But foundational things are relatively simple. It's just the combination that you put them in, that makes them special. And so I thought well, rather than my audience just relying on luck, or maybe never discovering what their brand identity is, why not come up with something that would give them some guidance, some lessons in how they can define their own shape in the world. And then to remind them that the shape is all well and good, but you need to just turn up with real consistency so that you become known over a period of time. It's one of the big mistakes that I see when I do copywriting consultations is that people come to hire me for to write some words for them. They don't have a clear idea of what their true tone of voice should be, because they don't have that brand identity really seared into their brain. And also they just don't want to stick at it long enough. They think that commissioning six blog posts is going to get them to the top of Google and rainbows and unicorns, and everyone will want to buy from them immediately. And the truth is that building that that know like and trust factor takes time you need repeated exposure to an idea before it will really captivate you and before that person will be top of mind in their industry. So it's taken me a few years to actually drill this message into people that I'm being known for one thing known in one space known for just a few branding blocks. And you do need a lot of patience for that to pay of

John Ball  

You really do. I had a chat last week with a marketer for speakers, for people who do public speaking work particularly and also I've been speaking, I’m about to put out a recorded chat with a lady called Li Hayes who's a speaker agent, and she represents people like Mike Michalowicz and so, she's very good at her job. And they've been saying similar things in terms of that you need to be known for one thing. And this isn't just true for people who are speakers this is anyone who is presenting themselves online in some way business owners, especially entrepreneurs, people who are working by themselves or are the star of their company their brands of the company and the face of it. It's important to be known for that for just one thing. And for you that one thing is your relentlessly helpful. And when I was talking with Li she was talking about people like Dana Pharant, who I just put out an episode with and she's known really for having been a dominatrix in the past and using that in part of what she does and one of these people is the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River. That's pretty big thing, right? And that those are big things. So what can anyone find there things like yeah, so she's going to share that but I think you have some really good insight on that as well because your profile status out there relentlessly helpful things stays in the mind your right people are going to come back to you and say that, and how can someone get to understanding what their thing is then to, to maybe help them stand out and differentiate themselves

John Espirian  

Well, you know what one of the people I interviewed for the book and you'll get to it in chapter 31, I've interviewed a lot of clever people. One of them was a chap called Steve Woodruff, and he's known as the King of clarity and he helps people find their why if you like, and one of his one of the things that he's popularised, is this idea that you can't read the label of the job you're in, you know, so you need some kind of external influence to try and really get to the bottom of what it is that you are what who you are for in this world. So you need to relate rely on your close friends who know you to try and tell you their impressions. 

You Know that they're kind of one sentence, one-word impressions of what value you put into the world, you need to inspect every email that your customers have ever sent you and get to the get to the common questions and get to the get to the things that they say to you in response to the way you help them to try and kind of work out what it is that you're really doing what's special about this service or the product that you're providing. And also you need to match that up with doing your own kind of introspection. So look, in an ideal world, you book a long weekend away in a secluded cottage, and you just go and think about what it is that's important to you and what value you're actually wanting and trying to put into the world. And then you need to codify that into a small handful of building blocks. One of the methods that I give in the book is what I call the X-Factor word list method where I've listed a load of potential traits, behaviours, beliefs. And for you to pick a shortlist of 25 things from there, and then to just gradually round by round, remove the things that are not important enough until you get to this core set of things that will always be true for you. 

And it's important to have something that is always true for you because it needs to come out not only in your content but actually in the way that you run your business as well. So, this, this DNA is really a thread that goes through everything you do. The way that you employ your staff, the way you train your staff, the way you talk to your customers. The way your invoices Look, the way your voicemail sounds. Everything needs to be in service of this, these branding blocks that you've built up. It should not be what a lot of businesses do, which is they have a weekend away at some fancy boot camp. They come away with these brand values on this glossy PDF, and then it gets lost on a SharePoint drive, or printed out and then lost in the drawer. And people think, you know, we've done it, we've done branding, it's done. But actually, it should be a daily practice of making sure that you're staying faithful to this thing. 

So I say to my audience, I'm claiming to be relentlessly helpful if I'm not, call me out because I'm a fraud. Yeah. And so it's a big thing to claim that and you need to really live the brand if you're if you're going to be trusted, because otherwise, anyone could say anything couldn't that you've actually got to, to walk the walk. So it's really important to get that nailed down. And once you've got it nailed down, you can create you know, you mentioned a LinkedIn headline earlier, you can create the first part of your LinkedIn headline, and I recommended the book that you think of any actually any social media headline, but LinkedIn specifically, let's talk about in terms of three sections, okay. 

So on LinkedIn, you've got a budget of 120 characters for your headline, every character counts, right? And so I suggest breaking it into three chunks, which is the three eyes. So you've got interesting, informative and intriguing. And so the interesting section of your headline should be about 40 characters long. It should be your content DNA statement, it should be the value that you're providing. In just a few words, that really, really sums up what you're trying to do that's a little bit different and interesting, the informative section, which adds some keywords and some context to what you do. And your intriguing section, which I also call a bravery badge, which is where you say something a little bit odd, a little bit different, something that could be a conversation starter, and so you can kind of see that going on in my headline. And you know, my bravery badge is not a douche canoe. And that relates to another part of my book where I define who my, my anti persona is. 

So, you know, we talk a lot in marketing about, you know, know who you want to speak to map out your ideal audience, and I talked about that as well. It's really important. Yeah, but another important thing is to avoid headaches as much as possible and you can avoid headaches by knowing who it is that you don't want to serve. So you can look for the signals of, Oh, this person's going to be a nightmare. I don't want to work with him or her. And that that anti version, what I call a poison portrayed, I have characterised as this guy who's a salesy, douche canoe, you know, the fake tan, an oversized gold watch. It smells too much of his odour Cologne, and arrives late to meetings and maybe doesn't really care about anything other than getting money in his pocket. 

And it's just all of those signals that you're kind of looking for that you just want to avoid because as maximising income is one thing, but avoiding headaches is just so, so important. Because then you can just focus your energy on the people who really elevate you. And, yeah, that's what it's all about. So I've got that three-part formula for creating LinkedIn taglines. And I think it's just a really good way of thinking about it, because it's, it's structured, but there's a lot of room for manoeuvre in each bit. And mine leads to people wanting to start conversations with me. And I think that's just the most powerful thing you can do on LinkedIn is to start more public and private conversations.

John Ball  

I think I've done some LinkedIn webinars and things before with people where they is saying about essentially making your profile, very searchable, but when you're talking about having an interesting while still having your keywords in there that are going to make it highly searchable as well for the stuff That's important.

John Espirian  

Yeah, I mean, you've got space for both because LinkedIn about statements, which is like the longer text that accompanies your headline was not that long ago extended from 2000 to 2600 characters. So that's a quite a bit of space to actually put some keywords in if that's the way you want to play it. But really, what you want to do is, is try and get someone hooked into wanting to have a conversation with you in a non-salesy way. 

So, for example, another one of the things that I do on my LinkedIn profile is in my about statement, I include a secret word and I say, if you've read this far include this word when you invite me to connect. Because what that does, is it shows me that the person's actually read my profile, rather than me being a number to them, where they're just gone, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect because I don't want to be that guy. And also, it's a conversation starter. They'll give me what they're, you know, they'll mention it, they'll give me their opinion on that thing that I Put in there. 

And it's just another way of making a personal connection with people. And that is, I think the route to being remembered is to make that first good first impression. Rather than just being Yeah, I connected with that guy never spoken to him don't know anything about him. But that's not the route to doing good business. You need to start a conversation if you want to be remembered, I think.

John Ball  

Yeah, I don't think that when I don't think I used it when I first messaged you, but then we were introduced by mutual friends. Maybe a bit.

John Espirian  

Yeah, I mean, it depends. A lot of people don't, and that's fine. But it's the ones who do that's an immediate signal to me that they've at least, you know, gone through the profile and a bit of detail and that's always a good sign. And then what I do is I'll probably follow up with those people and send them a video message. And that video message also just gives 30 seconds of me being animated, and it just gives that kind of memorable impression. You know, it's not a salesy message. 

It's just essentially me saying thank you for connecting and Hello and this is me and that's about it but it's just another good kind of solid tactic for being putting yourself in their feed in a memorable and different way because think about it How many times have you connected with someone on LinkedIn and not heard a peep back from them? versus how many times have has someone sent you a video once they've connected with you that's a bit of a different experience, isn't it? It is as long as you play it the right way because the worst thing you can do is just bomb someone with a salesy message that's not me at all. Sure, if you can, if you can just make a good impression with people just put a little bit of yourself in their feed in a non-salesy way that really is powerful.

John Ball  

It's also a way for you to help differentiate, you know, who you're going to prioritise as well, which I like. For you it's a priority that people do their due diligence and, and actually read some information before reaching out and contacting, which is a good way to help separate people.

John Espirian  

Yeah, but that's actually you've touched on another important point there because my LinkedIn profile is now getting reasonably busy, you know, I used to get loads of connection requests every day. What I did about a year and a half ago is I switched from displaying the connect button on my profile to displaying the Follow button. Okay. Now, if you're a regular content creator, and you've got a critical mass of connections, let's say 1000 connections already, then really what you want to do is reduce the friction to growing your follower base. Now, by default, the connect button is shown and whenever someone clicks the connect button, maybe they'll send you a message maybe they won't you as the recipient of that have to do something. 

You have to read the introduction note, if there is one, which that 90% of key occasions there isn't. And you need to decide who is this person who are they connected with? Why Why do they want access to my network? I haven't said anything. How am I To know whether they're a spammer, or actually, they'd be a brilliant connection for me because they know someone else I really want to know or something like that there's a decision tree that goes on. And if you get that 50 times a day, well, that's a lot of mental burden on you, right. So you can remove that friction if you're a content created by switching the connect button to the Follow button. So there's a setting in LinkedIn that will let you do that. And all that happens is the buttons switch place. So when someone who isn't connected with you visit your LinkedIn profile, they see the Follow button. And if they click the More button with a few extra options, then connect is hidden in there. But by default, the prompt is to follow and that makes it more like Twitter where you can just go onto someone's profile, click follow, and the other person doesn't need to do anything. 

They don't even need to be notified that it's happened. They just grow their following. And of course, once you start exposing more people to your content, a proportion of those will be engaged and will start liking and commenting. Commenting on your content, which is the most powerful way of getting your stuff seen is to get engagement from others. And a proportion of those people will want to visit your profile and actually connect with you. And that's where, you know, that's where the business comes from. But they'd be more apt to do that once they've had a flavour of your content. So switching to follow first has had a dramatic effect on my following. 

I've gone I now have just over 6000 connections and just over 21,000 followers, so there's been a massive divergence between my connection count my follower count because the way that LinkedIn works is that when you connect with someone, you immediately become mutual followers. But you can accrue followers without them being connections of yours. And because I'm prompting people to follow me in the first instance, the rate of increase of followers that but there's been a divergence between the two and therefore I've got a lot more followers now than I would have had, and consequently, more eyeballs on my stuff. And as a content creator, that's fantastic. Because essentially, that's free exposure. And given that you don't know exactly who's going to be looking at your content, you know, you might get referrals from people who never contact you. But they'll go God, I know this bloke is producing this stuff, take a look at this, and then that person becomes a client, they would never have known about you if it weren't for that increased exposure. So, follow first, it is a very, very good method for regular content creators.

John Ball  

Is that available to anyone? Do you have to have a certain amount of followers

John Espirian  

No, anyone can do that from day one, if they wanted to. I don't recommend it from day one, because I think you need to have a kind of critical mass of exposure in the first instance before a ball will really get rolling. So I recommend about 1000 connections before you make the switch. But you also do need to have a reason for people to follow you. So you To be a content creator as well, you know, rather than just someone who sits there and reads all the time, you know, it doesn't really interact. Yeah. But yeah, it's been really powerful for me.

John Ball  

That makes a lot of sense and especially if you are looking for if you are putting out content, you really do want to be seen as well as the perception of being seen more as an authority, someone who isn't just a regular LinkedIn person who you can ask to connect with, you have to follow them. So I mean, it does, it does sort of set you apart a little bit to perhaps other people are, but the fact that anyone can do that is very interesting.

John Espirian  

Yeah. So most people don't know. So it's probably there's probably still a bit of cachet around it and think you've got to follow them.

John Ball  

Yeah, like me, I was today years old. And I found this out. Yes.

John Espirian  

There you go. There you go. But yes, anyone can do it.

John Ball  

Yeah, that's really good. And so that, I mean, that's a very powerful bit of information that you're sharing already amongst many other bits here as well. And it isn't just a LinkedIn profile that's going to get eyes you share a lot of really valuable content on LinkedIn. I've reached out to a few people like yourself who just share really good content. And I'm bringing them on as guests because my focus is on presentation and influence. And there are different ways of doing that. I mean, I'm primarily around the public speaking presentation, online presentation kind of thing. 

However, how you present yourself, in total, your wrap your whole branding level up, which is exactly what you're talking about in your book, the core values that need to be shining through and what you stand for, and what you stand against as well. That stuff is really, really powerful. But the content you put out is is really, relentlessly helpful. And what, in your opinion, makes great content and what should people be aiming for, in terms of what they're putting out as content may depend on the business but yeah, people should be aiming for.

John Espirian  

Okay, so I've got a couple of answers to that. The ultimate goal is to discover what your content DNA is so that you can produce content that is faithful to that. But I'm, I appreciate that not everyone will be at that stage when they're reading the book. So what I suggest is a kind of safety net framework so that until you've discovered what this thing is, and what values you want to put out, do this instead. And that this instead is what I call the chair framework. So it's an acronym C.H.A.I.R. and it stands for content that is challenging, helpful, amusing, interesting and relevant. If you can hit a couple of those high-level pillars, if you like, in each piece of content you put out then you've got a chance of increasing your engagement and engagement is the name of the game on LinkedIn and on any other social media platform. 

Comments are the gold that drives visibility. So you want to create content, that that encourages conversations. Okay, so So challenging means that you may be put out something that not everyone believes in something that will divide the room, something that will show a bit of your personality of what you think is okay or not. Okay? That kind of thing drives discussion. Everything else I think is pretty self-explanatory something that is helpful, something that's amusing, something's interesting and always something that is relevant to your core industry. And if you can create content that hits those, those that brief. That's the way to get engagement. 

So you think of your content as a campfire, and everyone else is crowding around to start the discussion. So you're the fire starter, but everyone who sits around the campfire talking, that's what you want to get because you become the hub. And that my second answer to your question, really is to try and think in terms of what is best practice for content marketing. So this is something I studied all throughout 2016 and that that helped me to leave me kind of develop my branding as well. But that it's answering, it's being the best possible teacher in your industry. Right? So answering every possible customer question and objection, so that you build the most educated audience in your industry. And those people will then trust you. So peep, everyone likes to know questions about money. Everyone likes to know, you know, what's going to go wrong. If I hire this guy, well, you know, am I gonna get a better price? Should I get a better price by going somewhere else? What if this product goes wrong? What risk Am I taking, you need to try and create content that knocks out as many objections as possible, so that people have essentially no option, but to have a flat track all the way through to working with you. 

So if you can talk about the price, you can talk about problems in the industry. You can compare one service with another. You can do reviews and comparisons. You can do How to explain as that kind of content is valuable to people who are in the decision-making point of, you know, possibly hiring you or buying from you. All of that content helps to get people over the line. And one of the best things that you can do is, again, inspect your email inbox, see what questions you're being asked one to one by customers, and answer those at scale. And if you've done that, if you've done that, with every single question you've received, you'll be in a really, really good place, you'll have a bank of content and a state of content, where the next person who comes and asks you that question, and you can go, oh, here's one I made earlier. That gives a very, very strong signal to that person because they'll go, Oh, this guy's done all this before. You know, he knows it. He's done it. He's answered every question. Where do I sign? You know, so that's where you want to get to?

John Ball  

What if someone is just starting out and doesn't have that audience yet and doesn't have people ask him questions? about their industry yet, can they just presuppose that or look at what sort of questions are being asked to others? Yeah?

John Espirian  

Well, I suppose if you're just starting out, you still need to do some kind of customer research. Even if you haven't got customers yourself, you need to think about who it is that you're serving comes back to kind of building this, this ideal picture of the person that you want to serve and what their problems are. Because whether you're selling a product or whether you're providing a service, what you want to do is give people and this is kind of copywriting one on one here, but you want to give people a transformation of some kind. 

You want them to, they start in a problem state, they discover you, you sell them something or you give them something that takes them to a higher level somehow. And you go with them on that journey and life's better as a result of it. And it might be a very simple product or service that you've got, but you need to think about what problem what's keeping that person awake. what problem are they having right now? And in what way? Can I help that person that I want to serve? I've built my business to serve this person? How can I best serve them? What would help them right now to make a buying decision or just be a little bit more educated so that they can, they can do the right thing, and not waste their money and spend loads of time making loads of mistakes, but just be that helpful person who gives people those answers. So it does come back to understanding the mindset of your potential buyers. 

So yes, that that does take a little bit of time to, to kind of think about that. But if you can create content that helps people first rather than trying to sell to them, that that will be really useful. But what a lot of people do on LinkedIn is they create very me me me content that doesn't fly. And they, you know, well, I mean, for the big names, it kind of works, doesn't it because you bought into the celebrity and I think that's what a lot of people mistake that they'll see someone with millions of followers, you know, posting photos of themselves on a Caribbean island or something and they get millions of likes, and they'll think Well, alright, well, that's what I should be, I should be posting selfies all over the place and, and people will care about me then it doesn't work like that, you know, they've already invested in you is they're just buying into a lifestyle for that for the big names. 

But for the average Joe, it's just a case of working out what problems that you want to solve and then solving them as clearly as possible without selling to them. And without putting out low-level boring stuff that people do so often, you know, here we are at a trade show. Who cares? we've just taken on a new admin temp. Yeah. This does not matter does not matter. You know, it doesn't matter at all. What people care about is what matters to them. Yeah. So so so give them more of that. So give them something that helps them make a better buying decision. Always,

John Ball  

that's always really the first thing. I mean, you talked about the objections and stuff before and that's always the first thing you have to deal with, then any content or any in any public speaking website in mostly public speaking and things. You have to give people the what's in it for me, why should I care? Why should I listen to you? Well, what's, what's this got to do with me. And if you can't get past that you've already lost them. So there's no point in carrying on. So that is a really critical element. 

Come back to a lot of people may not be putting out a lot, very much content right now. And so if they're looking to build up their content, actually get into some value content marketing, and really serving their audience on LinkedIn, meticulously, what are the kinds of content and formats of content that work well, and what can people do to get eyes on their content?

John Espirian  

Right, so there are a few tips for that. LinkedIn must be one of the few networks where text-only contents Still is pretty much the king. So whereas on other platforms, you know, you're told well, an image, including an image will increase your engagement rate by, you know, 22 times or whatever. That's not really true for LinkedIn. And part of that is the way that LinkedIn actually display the content in their feet. So if you put out a text post, then only a few lines of that will be displayed. And the rest of it is kind of concertina underneath this See More link, what it means is that LinkedIn can fit more of that content into the same vertical space, and therefore they've got more chances of hooking you into staying on the platform. 

Whereas if you post a square video or an image post that takes up more vertical space in the feed, and if the reader doesn't happen to like that there's more chance of them clicking away so that text content has a better chance of keeping people engaged. And I think there's a psychology thing as well about this, which is that mostly, I mean, during Corona time, this is probably not true. But in most cases, people are consuming the thing while they're at work. And it's easier, I think, to sell someone on the idea of consuming text content that doesn't look dodgy over the over someone's shoulder while you're in a shared space with sharing some crazy video or some image or whatever, and people would feel probably feel more professional in responding to that kind of content. 

And of course, LinkedIn will display more of what gets engagement. So text-only posts is a great way of getting engagement on your content. Document only posts are also a great way so you can share Word document on PDFs natively inside LinkedIn posts now have been able to for a while when these were first released, LinkedIn actually gave them an extra boost, you know, push them out even more than normal, so that they're an excellent way of getting your message out into the world. So

John Ball  

the question is for you, and then so let's say I'm gonna do a transcript of the conversation and was going to be the best way to put that on LinkedIn, or document or map or clip? 

John Espirian  

So, yeah, if you, if you create it in text format, you'll be limited to 1300 characters. So that's, that's not gonna be able to get you very much of the content. So what you could do instead is create a document post, and then put the content into there. And that will get good visibility. And I think one of the reasons why document posts get good visibility is because they have these controls in them where you can go next page, previous page, full screen, and LinkedIn is able to track those clicks. And that gives them useful data about people's behaviour. And they don't get that with any other kind of content really, that those controls aren't there. 

So I think one of the reasons why LinkedIn want people to be engaging more and document posts is because it tells them more about their members. So that's, that's an important psychological thing as well, I think. So that's one way of doing it. You could also publish your own intent is a LinkedIn article. Now, my big tip for this is that if you create anything as a LinkedIn article, I'd recommend publishing it on your website first. So I've talked about this in the book as well, you want to get the domain or authority to say, I published this thing, it belongs to my domain in the first instance. And then you use a tool called Google Search Console and tell it, this is my content, and it will index that thing within a few hours. And once Google has indexed the thing on your domain, you are free to republish it wherever you want. And there won't be any kind of algorithmic penalty, there won't be all that duplicate content, we're going to shut this guy down and have that Google is much smarter than that these days. 

So if you publish something on your, on your website, index it through Google Search Console and then republish it as a LinkedIn article, that's a good way of getting essentially free, extra visibility. The thing I'd say about this is if you want to get better engagement, better visibility, there is a trick for sharing links to external content. So let's say you put that transcript on your website, or you put it on YouTube or something like that. And you want to share that with your LinkedIn audience. Now naturally, you'll write the post, you'll insert that link and click Post and job done. That content will go nowhere. Okay, that will content will have almost zero visibility on LinkedIn. And why is that? Because LinkedIn is running its own party, and you're essentially coming along and saying, hey, come to my party, instead, leave this party, come to my party and LinkedIn, the bouncers are not going to tolerate that. 

But there is a workaround. And the workaround is to make the post without including any search link to an external resource, such as a blog or a YouTube video, post it wait a few seconds, and then edit them. Post, add the link in and you think well, that can't possibly work. But the way actually works is that LinkedIn seems to make a snapshot of the state of the post when it's first published. And it says this thing hasn't got a link. all well and good, spread, let it spread. You then come along and edit it and add the link in and it doesn't update its index. And it just thinks it's still that same original thing. And when I made that dislike, I didn't make that discovery. Someone else told me about this. And I tested it a couple of years ago, my exposure for my content that had links in it went up tenfold. And that method still works today, which I'm surprised that LinkedIn would allow it to be the case they must know that this is happening, but hey,

John Ball  

that'll pay for things like YouTube links as well. And I share a lot of my content through YouTube. 

John Espirian  

Yes, it is true that this method comes with a couple of caveats which Is that when you edit and add a link that does not put the preview of that content into the feed. So if you are posting, let's say a blog post, which normally comes with an image and a little bit of descriptive text to go with the link, the way to get around that would be to make the original post an image post where you share that image that you would want to appear, post the thing, edit it and add that link in with YouTube. 

A better way of doing this would be to post a native video clip. So in other words, a video that you upload directly to LinkedIn because that will get you better visibility because it's, it's content that exists on the platform rather than coming from somewhere else. And I would share a short clip that is between 30 and 90 seconds natively. post that, edit the post and then add in the link to the full version on YouTube and maybe give the player a But the time that you know, so here's 30 seconds, you want to see 12 minutes 32 here's the link to YouTube. And that gets you the best of both worlds. It gives you something immediately a taster and looks out to the full resource. And there's no algorithmic penalty in doing that. So that's a

John Ball  

nice workaround. Yeah, because I think, you know, LinkedIn limits you to 10 minutes for a video anyway, I think

John Espirian  

it does. And I found that the best engagement comes from videos that no longer than 90 seconds, so it's a good idea to keep them short. I personally find anything that's more than about three minutes. I'm thinking this is running long now. Yeah. And the other thing to bear in mind also is whenever you can add captions to your video because you know, more than 80% of all social media video is played with the sound off. And so you really want to include captions otherwise, you're potentially alienating four out of five potential viewers.

John Ball  

It's one of the reasons why I've started doing transcripts for from my podcast. Now is and might have to go back and do transcripts for the older ones as well in there for the very same reason. But yeah, is the fact that people can actually get the content without having to pay audio to particularly if they are accessing it. 

John Espirian  

And yeah, this is traditionally the case because you know, people would look at something while they're on the commute, and maybe they're in a shared space, and therefore, they can't turn the sound on or maybe they're in the office on LinkedIn. And they haven't got any speakers or they wouldn't actually want anyone else to hear the sound. So they just mute everything. 

But even it's true at home. And I've had people telling me as well, you know, I don't get time to look at LinkedIn until the kids are asleep. And then I've got to watch things on silent because they're just going to wake up and I'm feeling so tired and I want to listen to this thing, but I can't, but I can watch it. But it hasn't got captions. I can't watch it actually. It's a real concern. And people just expect That kind of content now they expect things to be captioned. I think, you know, you watch things on Netflix, you can have the captions on all the time, sky and so forth. And it, I find it, it makes me more engaged with the content, even if I can listen to it, you know, sometimes you don't understand someone's accent, or you're just reading to the next line and waiting for the next one. It's it keeps you engaged. So it's a really good thing to do.

John Ball  

Yeah, and there, there are many reasons for and we also have the captions on at home. And one reason being that if we have our windows open, we live in a busy street. So there's a lot of outside noise from from from traffic, and here in Spain, motorbikes, particularly in the long term, they're very, very noisy. But another reason is, you know, my husband's Spanish and so it helps him to understand the English and some words that come up that he's not familiar with, or if somebody speaking very fast, he can still follow the conversation. I find the same thing when we're watching content in Spanish with subtitles, I understand more. So it is Yeah, there are many reasons. Yeah, many good reasons for doing that. I really appreciate it, John.

And then I also want to respect your time today, because you shared so much great content with us. I definitely recommend that people go and get your book. I'm still reading through it. And I'm really enjoying it. And you said today that it's also going to be available on Audible very soon as well, the audiobook version, which is fantastic because I love audiobooks. And what would you say just to sort of start wrapping things up, what you say is probably the most important thing somebody should do either something we've already talked about or something, haven't yet that they could do to improve that online presence right now.

John Espirian  

Well, the easiest way to get started is trying to contribute towards other people's content if you're the kind of person who's maybe a little bit nervous about putting your own stuff out there because so much of this is mindset. You know, you think I haven't got anything to say, What if people don't like me, it's much easier to dip a toe into the water by commenting on other people's stuff in the First Instance. And you will start to see people engaging with you as a result of that. And then that can lead you to the confidence to actually put your own thoughts out into the world. So that's a good stepping stone. 

So I recommend everyone starts that way actually. But the very most important thing you can do, I think, is to have a very clear idea of who you are and who you're for so that you can start becoming known for one thing in one space, and commit. Once you've got your identity, just commit to showing up on a regular basis because, over time, you'll find that people will notice you remember you and prefer you and that's what it's all about. So if you want social media to get results for you, be known for one thing in one place for a long enough period, and that is the route to success.

John Ball  

And that is done. This has been relentlessly helpful as you would expect, and certainly the content DNA but everything I've read so far and everything you said about that. I've got so many things to look forward to still with it, I'm very excited about. So I really appreciate that. And this is all stuff that isn't just relevant to me, anyone who's on LinkedIn, anyone who has a brand needs to know this stuff and needs to be thinking about what you're talking about. So it has huge value. I really appreciate it. 

One thing I do like to ask people have been asking regularly and just before we wrap up completely is other than your own book. What other books would you recommend people to read may not be about content marketing, maybe about something else entirely. But what's one book that you would always recommend to people?

John Espirian  

Well, I actually mentioned it in my own book, and it's one that really inspired me, which is Mark Sheafer's book 'Known', which is the personal branding Handbook, and I was really honoured that mark wrote my forward and when he read my book, he said that it was a perfect companion to his which was just about the highest accolade I could ever imagine getting from someone who's a marketing Legend so known, it's called. And it's a step by step process about answering the question Can anyone become known. So if you want to develop your personal brand and stand out in business, that is a brilliant book to read. And that one, I highly recommend.

John Ball  

Always that to get a good book recommendation. And so thank you for that. And on top of that, so I encourage people to come and follow you on LinkedIn and check out your profile is there anywhere else where you'd like people to connect with you?

John Espirian  

Well, I've just released my new website, which has been in plan for more than a year now. So if you go to Esperian.co.uk you can see all of my free content there and I do put out a lot of free stuff about LinkedIn, which is that's just servicing my relentlessly helpful brand. So by all means, connect with me there I do a little dabble a little bit on Twitter, but LinkedIn is really my that's my place to be. So if you want to have a chat, send me a personalised note and send me your questions. Let's get cracking.

John Ball  

JOHN, I'm incredibly happy that mutual friend of mine turn introduced us and, and that was it has been a powerful introduction for me. I've really enjoyed the conversation you have been all the way through in our interactions relentlessly helpful. And your book from everything I've read so far and everything you've explained is fantastic and incredibly helpful. Thank you so much, john is Baron and I hope we get to have you back again as a guest in the future.

John Espirian  

Good man. Thanks for having me, john. Speak to you soon. Cheers.