Are you trying to develop a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership for your organization?

Traditional marketing attribution is all about dashboards and metrics and how inbound affects the bottom line. But thought leadership, says Ashley Faus, is a different beast. It can't be measured using traditional methods.

"Thought leadership is about trust and affinity," says Ashley on the latest episode of Marketing Smarts. "You can drive those and measure those in different ways, depending on the audience, the platforms, the person. But if the ultimate outcome that you are measuring in the short term is some sort of revenue or sale, you’re not doing thought leadership."

But if you can't measure thought leadership using traditional attribution and it's not focused on making a sale, how do you know your content is having an effect at all?

Host George B. Thomas relates an anecdote in which he sent what he thought was a "ho-hum" New Year's email only to have someone reply and convert for a huge amount of money.

Ashley talks about someone who took the time to screenshot, download, link, and put all of the content that she had created into a folder so it would be easily accessible. "Where does that show up in the dashboard?" Ashley quips.

Sometimes rabid fans come out of the woodwork. And it's thought leadership that creates them.  

Watch the entire episode for more insights: 

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Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 38

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Full Transcript | MarketingProfs Live Show Episode 38 | Developing a Content and Social Strategy to Foster Thought Leadership

This rough transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas: I have to ask. Do you have a thought leader content strategy in place for your organization?

What does that mean pertaining to the type of content you should be creating? Well then stick around because today's show is going to be entertaining and educational. If you've ever wondered that—and by the way, educational and entertaining at the same time—welcome to the Marketing Smarts Live show by Marketing Profs and The Marketing Smarts podcast, where we dive into B2B news, resources, valuable guest content, and much, much more each and every week.

If you're a B2B marketer looking for a place to learn, keep up to date, and have some fun along the way, well grab a beverage, a notepad, or at least some style of writing utensil, and welcome to the show. Today I'm super excited to bring you episode 38 of The Marketing Smarts Live Show.

This week's topic is all about developing a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership and business growth. So if you're ready to get your learn on, buckle up and let's get ready to rock and roll. I'm your boy George B. Thomas, speaker, trainer, catalyst, and the host of this here show The Marketing Smarts Live show, as well as the Marketing Smarts podcast—found on your favorite podcast app.

Our guest clips today are brought to you by none other than the fabulous Ashley Faus. Ashley Faus is a marketer, writer, and speaker by day, and singer, actor and fitness fiend by night. Her work has been featured in Time, Forbes, and the Journal of Brand Strategy, and she's shared insights with audiences at Harvard Business Review, Inbound, and MarketingProfs.

Also, the B2B Forum... definitely check that out. October 4th. Go to the website, get your tickets; hopefully I see you there.

Ashley works at Atlassian, a calibration software maker on a mission to unleash the power of every team. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @AshleyFaus.

Now remember, the clips of Ashley today are pulled from the Full MarketingProfs podcast episode, and if you wanna listen to the full interview with Ashley Faus and myself, make sure to tune into the Marketing Smarts Podcast. Link to the full show will be in the description below after the live show ends. That's right. All the right links in all the right places at just the right time.

Now in this episode, again, I'm talking with Ashley Faus about developing a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership for your business growth.

Traditional marketing attribution is all about dashboards and metrics and how inbound affects the bottom line, but thought leadership, says Ashley Faus, is a different beast. It can't be measured using traditional methods. I hope you heard that part. So to get us started, I wanted to pick Ashley's brain about why is slowing down long enough to create a strategy around thought-leader content iz so important for organizations, and this is what she had to share.

Ashley Faus: The big thing, two big things. One, uh, humans are lazy and platforms are greedy, right?

Most people, they wanna get—they don't, they don't come to you for the heck of it and to like, make you feel good— they come to you to get something for themselves. And so if you become that destination that they go to, to get something for themselves, then eventually there's gonna be some sort of reciprocity. And so building that trust, building that affinity, that is the foundation. And so if you don't step back and know the value that you're giving to them. If you're just churning, churning, churning, you're only doing things for yourself and your audience is too lazy for that.

The second piece of this is that the platforms are greedy. The platforms don't want you to go anywhere else. LinkedIn wants you to stay on LinkedIn. Even your own website, you know, you want people to stay on your website. You don't want them to go off and go somewhere else, unless the going somewhere else is to talk to a sales rep.

But again, you still wanna keep them in your own little ecosystem, right? So when you start to realize, okay, I'm gonna have to fight for attention, not only from the humans that are consuming my content but also from the platforms that are hosting or serving my content, you start to realize: You need to suit up for that.

You don't, you know, you don't, you don't go into a battle with just your shorts and T-shirtl you gotta put on some armor. You gotta bring your weapons. And that requires some training. It requires some skills and it requires some thinking. And that's where you start thinking about that strategy.

So first is focus on that audience. What do they want? What do they need? How can you serve them? And then second is okay, how am I gonna win against all of the other things on the platform that are gonna basically, keep their attention on the platform, not even on my content.

George B. Thomas: Omg. Most people are lazy and all platforms are greedy. Did you hear the important words, infinity, trust, and reciprocity? Can you start to feel the importance of the fight for attention?

I also love how Ashley talked about you have to suit up, get your cap and boots and your gloves ready. And again, the important words, training, skills, and thinking. Do you have a strategy in place that gains affinity, trust, and reciprocity?

Put the answer to that in the chat pan or let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #MPb2b and of course, tag me using at George B. Thomas. Now we'll get back to Ashley Faus and her thoughts on developing a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership and business growth.

But first, I have to ask. Are you part of the MarketingProfs community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to today. That's right, today.

Now it's time for one of my favorite sections, in the B2B news, where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important news tips that we find on the Google News tab related to you and your b2b.

The title is How to Do B2B Content Marketing The Right Way, with Five Examples, by Julia McCoy. Here we are over two decades into the two thousands, but bad B2B content marketing still exists. Digital content marketing has existed for at least 10 years, but some businesses still make elementary mistakes that wreck their potential for results.

That's a shame because most content marketers, 71%, by the way, will tell you that content has only become more important over time. Ready to see what content success and failure looks like? Read the article. Check out the link below when the live show is over. That's right, all the right links in all the right places at just the right time.

So let's go and return to Ashley Faus and Her Marketing Smarts podcast episode. Now that we know how important it is to have a strategy. How the heck do you get started? That is exactly what I wanted to ask Ashley next. And so as far as getting started, here you go.

Ashley Faus: That is a hard question, particularly for thought leadership, because so many people go to the goals. And usually those goals are around revenue. And I think that in many cases for thought leadership, you're gonna have to abstract it a little bit away from revenue. My sense is that thought leadership is not meant to drive short-term sales. That's sales and that's marketing, and that's product marketing. And that is by intent. Content.

That is not what thought leadership is meant to do. Thought leadership is meant to attract the right people to the brand and the company. And that could be talent, that could be strategic partners, that could be for co-marketing opportunities, that could be for investor relations or to improve, you know, analyst relations.

There are a variety of things that you need to build from a trust perspective. And so when you look at your thought leadership, you need to be cognizant of which of those audiences are going to result in the short-term and long-term outcomes. Yes. Ultimately, being a thought leader in your industry, being trusted, having that affinity across a variety of different audiences—that will ultimately lead to long-term business growth.

But that is very different than short-term revenue. And I think that that mindset shift is the big piece because everybody keeps, I hear this all the time. Oh, we're gonna do thought leadership for a founder. Oh, are you? Well, what are they gonna talk about? Well, they're gonna talk about why our product is the best. And I'm like, oh, oh, so they're gonna, they're gonna do sales enablement? No, I mean, it's a founder, therefore it's thought leadership. And I'm like, okay, let's go. Let's go back here. Thought leadership is about trust and affinity, and you can drive those and measure those in different ways depending on the audience, the platforms, the person, but. If the ultimate outcome that you are measuring in the short term is some sort of revenue or sale, you're not doing thought leadership, that's a different kind of content. It should also be quality. It's also in your strategy. But it is not thought leadership.

George B. Thomas: So many people go to the goals and often those go around revenue. Did you hear Ashley say that thought leadership is not designed to create short-term sales? It is meant to attract the right people to the brand and the company—and this could be more than leads, it could be talent, it could be a ton of folks. So much good stuff in that last clip.

Now we'll get back to Ashley Faus in a few minutes, but first it's time for some dope. B2B learnings from the vault of MarketingProfs articles. That's right. It's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer.

Article number one this week is So you wanna be a thought leader? A Framework and Guide for Your Thought Leadership Strategym by none other than Ashley Faus.

Thought leadership is not a new topic. In fact, the term was coined by Joel Kurtzman back in 1994. In the two and a half decade since, we've seen the rise of YouTube experts, Instagram influencers, and well the Kardashians, but are all of those people thought leaders? Are any of them thought leaders? Find out more by reading this article after the live show ends.

Article two this week is how online thought leadership can transform you and your company into a trusted resource. This one by a dear friend of mine, David Meerman Scott. An effective online content strategy, artfully executed, drives action. Organizations that use online content well have a clearly defined goal to sell products, generate leads, or get people to join a community, vote, or donate money, and they deploy a content strategy that directly contributes to reaching that or those goals. Often people ask me—not me, David Meerman Scott—do you recommend that I create an effective blank, blank, blank, blank, fill in the blank with blog, post, podcast, whitepaper, e-book, email, newsletter, webinar. I could keep going. While the technologies for each form of online content are a little different, the common aspect is that though all of these, or through all of these media types, your organization can exercise thought leadership rather than simple advertising and product promotion.

A well-crafted blog, podcast, e-book, or Webinar contributes to an organization's positive reputation by setting it apart in the marketplace of ideas. This form of content brands, a company and the people that work there as experts and as a trusted resource to turn to again and again. That's where you want to be.

Don't talk about your company at all. Okay? So what is your thought leadership and how do I do it might be the question you ask yourself. Well, to keep learning more. If so, check the links in the description below after the live show to get access to both amazing MarketingProfs articles.

Okay. Back to Ashley Faus. Let's dive back into this conversation of developing a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership and business growth. One of the things I always like to ask the guest that I interview is what type of hurdles are going to get in the way. What will be the stopper to the success? And here's what Ashley had to say about the hurdles and today's topic of conversation.

Ashley Faus: I think the biggest thing is we are still stuck in a lot of the attribution mindset from 10 years ago. So before social media really became a place that individuals could own, and that businesses could partner with individuals to improve and share and grow that audience. Everything came back to—uh, you know, and again, this, it, it was brilliant when it came out—when inbound, the methodology of fill out the form, be able to track it, nurture it, that sense that you wanted to bring people in, educate them, nurture them, and then sell to them.

Um, after you had built that, that was super smart. You know, a decade ago HubSpot has, you know, continued to evolve their own model, but a lot of marketers are still trying to implement that same measurement strategy and therefore the approach. In their creation and their tactics from 10 years ago. And it's hard, right?

Like your comment about you sent out that newsletter and you got a $12,000 engagement, you can see that that one click is worth $12,000, right? That, but I don't actually know what the clickthrough rate overall in the email was. And so if you were to send me that dashboard, it would not surprise me if it potentially had a lower click-through rate just cuz it was the holidays.

Right? A lower open rate and potentially a lower click to open rate. And so me as an outsider, without that context, I might look at that and say, Hmm, George, clearly this content didn't resonate or clearly this was not your best email, but for you, you're like, no: Literally it generated this much revenue.

Right. It's the same thing on social media. So I actually had somebody, um, very kindly comment: You know, I think I should make a folder on my desktop for all the things that, all the posts that you've made that I think are valuable. And I was like, I jokingly said, I mean if you can make that public, that would be amazing, right? It helps me so I don't have to do it.

An hour later, he sends me a link to a Google Drive of all of this content that I've created that he has saved. I don't know how that gets—how, how do you measure that somebody has taken the time to screenshot or download or you know, link or whatever and put all of the content that I created into a folder so that it's easily accessible for themselves.

Where does that show up in the dashboard?

George B. Thomas: Are you stuck in the attribution mindset? Are you still doing historical inbound marketing, which sounds weird to call that historical, or have you been able to evolve your measurement strategy?

We're gonna get some words of wisdom from Ashley Fause here in a few minutes, but right now it's time to turn the spotlight on you, the MarketingProfs community.

Yep. Time for some dope? Nope. Nope. Not dope. Nope. Time for some from the #MBB2B community. That's right. We search far and wide in the hashtag MPB2B universe to find amazing information and conversations to bring to you the masses. So first, make sure that you are using the hashtag, and second, make sure you have fun and add value to the community along the way.

Then we'll spotlight you or your crew on the show this week. It's Ian Jackson. That's right. Ian Jackson. You're on the show. Designer. Coder. Marketer. Dare I say Pokemon Master. Ian's LinkedIn Post went like... This last week, I made a post showing off Adobe's new AI hashtag generative fill feature. Well, today I'm here to let you know that if you want more AI content, that MarketingProfs is putting on an eight week online event focused on AI and content creation.

Oh, it's gonna be so good. It's so good. It's so good. You gotta check it out. Find out—that wasn't, by the way, in this post, I added that part—find out how, this is his post that I'm going back into, find out how you can use AI to boost your productivity, your creativity, and something we all want to do your career.

#ai, #contentcreation #marketingprompts hashtag oh, there's the magic one, #MPb2b, but you need to check out the description and click that link to check out the post and also the link to the page Ian shared to learn more.

Marketing Smarts viewers, I have to ask, are you going to be next to get the spotlight?

Remember, community use the hashtag mpB2B on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, and get the light shined on your awesomeness in the next episode or a future episode of The Marketing Smarts Live show. Pro tip, it won't hurt if you tag me in your post as well. I'm at George B. Thomas on LinkedIn and Twitter.

All right, let's kick it back to Ashley Faus and some words of wisdom around this topic of developing a content and social media strategy to foster thought leadership and your business growth. Here's what Ashley Faus wanted to leave us with pertaining to her words of wisdom.

Ashley Faus: I think the crux of this whole conversation and for my practice of marketing is to fall in love with the humans, and that is the humans that are consuming the content, the humans that are using your offerings, and the humans that are enabling.

The humans behind the screen for me, if you can fall in love with the audience and fall in love with the humans behind the screen, that's where you really start to get the magic. Yes, there's numbers, yes there's revenue, all the things, right? But if you can fall in love with the humans, you're gonna continue to see those other outcomes for years to come.

George B. Thomas: Can we just drop the mic? No, seriously, drop the mic. Fall in love with the humans. Have you fallen in love with the humans? You are here on this planet to serve. Woo. Magic things happen when the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Ladies and gentlemen, have you enjoyed today's journey? Let us know.

Remember, these were just a few clips of the original Marketing Smarts podcast interview. If you got value from today's show, hit that like and better yet, share with a friend to keep learning more. Hit subscribe or watch Additional MarketingProfs videos on your favorite social channel, or head over to our YouTube channel if you're not there yet, or you can go tune into the Original Marketing Smarts podcast episode on your favorite podcast app, whichever one that is.

Don't forget to become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to today. And as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. And we'll see you on the next episode of The Marketing Smarts Live Show next week.

That's right. Next week, ladies and gentlemen, that's what we're gonna do.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas