Just when we think we’ve got social media dialed, it changes on us. Unlike the internet, which often feels like a utility, social media platforms are living, breathing entities. They are run by people, respond to market changes, and are constantly evolving their functionality and algorithms. The Social Media Marketing World conference, held in San Diego, California, brings together over 100 social and digital marketing experts and really punched above its weight this year. In this podcast, we riff on what we learned AND the patterns we’re hearing. So much good stuff!

Our key takeaways:

  • Less than half of marketers report they’re using live video or Instagram/ Facebook stories in their content strategy, yet this is where organic reach and engagement are still alive and well. Do video now. Ephemeral is the new black! Huge opportunity here.

  • Vanity metrics are meaningless. Stop counting likes. Start listening (and participating) in conversations about your brand and focus on your core KPIs.

  • Show, don’t tell. Demonstrate your product or service visually. Then let your audience tell the story - on your behalf. Everyone is a reporter now. The power is in the hands of your customers. Make it easy.

  • Relationships are marketing. Focus on “micro-interactions.” Less is more, if it is meaningful. We explain the CARE model.

  • Craft your LinkedIn profile for the reader, not you. Don’t be myopic. What are you and/or your brand offering your audience?

  • Lastly, no one gave us an operating manualfor how to live in the era we do. This digital era. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to start today. It’s not too late. We are all figuring it out together!

Links  and people we reference in the show:













There is one constant in digital marketing. And it is change. In episode #30, we discuss three topics that all revolve around this ongoing pattern of change, growth and consolidation.

Up first is TikTok. If you haven’t heard of it, you will soon. The short video sharing app just reached 1 billion installs across iOS and Android, globally. In fact, in 2018, TikTok was the 4th most downloaded non-game app worldwide and the most downloaded non-game app in the US as of January 2019.

TikTok is owned by China-based company, ByteDance, who bought and consolidated lip-syncing app Musical.ly into TikTok. It’s demographic is largely gen Z with a large growing user base in India. While TikTok may not have yet made it into your annual digital strategy, it is one to watch.

Next, we discuss Amazon’s return to video as a content format aimed to sell` more product. Back in 2016, Amazon dabbled in video with their “Style Code Live” effort and now they return to video as a content strategy. Live video, reality show and celebrity guests like Heidi Klum and potentially Blake Lively will up the ante for the over 100 million Prime members offering exclusive content. 90% of Amazon’s product views result from searches within Amazon. Adding in this element of video is, no doubt, going to increase time on site and average spend per transaction. Amazon is on fire!

Last, we comment on how fast digital marketing spend has grown. In 2019, it will surpass traditional marketing spend for the first time (per eMarketer’s forecast) topping out at $129.3 billion in the US. We both recall when digital spend was lucky to earn a seat at the table, perhaps comprising 10 or 15% of the marketing budget. If spend is any measure of where attention is going, all eyes should be on digital marketing.

Key takeaways:

  1. Digital channels continue to grow, evolve and reinvent themselves. If you have a dollar to spend, put it on digital marketing.

  2. The connective tissue between content (video, in particular) and commerce grows tighter and we’ll see e-commerce players reap the rewards first.

  3. Keep your eyes on new platforms. TikTok is on the rise, and it is heavily influencing the under 25 demographic.

Links we reference in the show:

TikTok Surpasses One Billion Installs on the App Store and Google Play

Tik Tok settles with FTC on children’s data

Amazon launching a live-streaming video version of a home shopping network

US Digital Marketing Spend Beats Traditional For The First Time


In episode #29 of the Social Currency podcast, we interview Michael Stelzner. Michael is a digital marketing leader and social media expert. He is the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers, and the man behind Social Media Marketing World–the industry’s largest conference. He’s also host of the Social Media Marketing podcast, founder of the Social Media Marketing Society, and the central character in The Journey, an episodic YouTube documentary.

It’s so refreshing to hear the perspective of someone who has studied and practiced content/ digital marketing for decades. Things change in this space at a fast clip and it’s tough to maintain perspective. Our discussion with Michael delves into his passion around video and the powerful tool inside our phones to capture footage and tell a story. He makes no bones about the fact that every company and brand should have a video strategy and if it’s not part of your mix, it needs to be. Not just because we can but because it draws our audiences closer to us as people. This is evidenced by his evolution from blogging to podcasting to video-based episodic storytelling as seen in The Journey.

Next, we delve into podcasting, why Spotify is making a big play here, and the length of time people are spending in this (not so new, but exploding) medium. Followed up by the green field opportunities that exist within Instagram- one of the final frontiers of “free” organic reach. That leads us into a discussion on social influencer marketing and his thoughts on finding influencers inside a company.

Be sure to check out the full interview.

Links to connect with Michael Stelzner are below:


So much news in the digital marketing world these days. In episode #28, we cover three topics: Reddit, Pinterest and Spotify.

Reddit is clearly making moves to “professionalize” their platform of 13 years with a fresh look at how they market themselves to advertisers. The community-based forum has received $300 million in funding of late and is touring the agency world touting their new ad targeting, reporting capabilities and adding new cost per click ad units. Reddit has also made some user experience changes to improve overall design of the platform and is tackling “brand safety” issues head on. We are intrigued. In fact, Reddit may be the next social platform to watch as their ability to reach topic-based audiences within subreddits is a trend across digital marketing. This audience is also not always found in the “traditional” social properties so perhaps less duplication. If you’re not dabbling in Reddit, if even simply for social listening reasons, now is the time to check them out.

Pinterest, long known as the place you go to find interior design ideas and birthday party themes, is also repositioning themselves as  what they call a “discovery engine.” Not a social media platform, they say. Although, we’ve heard Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter) say Twitter isn’t a social media platform either- so this just might be a massive trend to not compete with the likes of Facebook and Instagram. Oy vey! Meanwhile, Pinterest plans to go public this year and wants to be known for inspirational images that drive sales. With around 250 monthly active users, could Pinterest possibly compete against Google or Amazon? We shall see...

Lastly, one of our favorite topics, podcasting. We share some arresting statistics about average listen time and the power of being “in someone’s head.” With Spotify acquiring Gimlet and Anchor, there is a clear move to expand beyond music and dominate the audio space. Podcast apps are still very fragmented on Android-based devices (unlike Apple podcasts for iOS). We predict Spotify will own this space in short order. All in all, podcasting is exploding and there is still much more to come.

Links to all of the articles we reference are below. Listen to the full episode to hear more.







Spotify & Podcasting:





In episode #27 of the Social Currency podcast, we tackle one of our favorite topics - storytelling. Like many of us, we' ve always been drawn to people who were good storytellers. The core of content marketing, which supports a brand's connection with the consumer, is a compelling brand narrative.

From Jess after the interview:

Like a moth to a flame, I’d find myself at parties wedged into a tight kitchen with a group of others hovering around the one guy who could tell a story. It could be about anything. What mattered is the way he told the story. It seemed like magic to me. Like a magnetism that some people just had innately.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn that good storytelling isn’t just magic. There is actual structure around a good story. In fact, that story structure is repeated again and again across many of our favorite books and movies. I may be the last one to this party, but realizing that stories could be crafted using a framework and, better yet, applying this framework into the world of marketing was a big breakthrough moment.

In this episode, we interview Naomi Beaty. A long-time friend of mine and writing expert. Naomi founded Write & Co. where she coaches screenplay writers, directors and producers at all levels. She got her start working for Madonna’s production company, Maverick films, and has worked in the entertainment industry now for over a decade.

Naomi teaches me about the hero’s journey, a commonly used architecture where we are introduced to character as he/she battles a problem or faces a journey ahead. We discuss how a brand or product can often act as the mentor or savior for this hero, ultimately leading him/her to success or resolution.

I also learned about the idea of high concept. Often used in entertainment to pitch a script or film idea, it can be applied in the business world as well. Essentially, high concept is an idea that is very easy to understand from the mere name of it. Easy to grasp, repeatable by others and instantly relatable. It got me thinking about how I could package my own ideas in this way too.

Another facet of my interview with Naomi gets at the very root of why stories resonate so much more with us than statistics or facts. It is this: Stories elicit emotion. Often we make decisions first based on emotion (often this is subconscious), then we look to validate those decisions with data or evidence. This is sometimes referred to as confirmation bias.

How can we apply this to digital marketing? I think it’s this simple: First make your audience care about you, then tell them the benefits and features. If they don’t identify with you or your product/service, they ultimately won’t buy. Brand value in a nutshell.


Here's our three takeaways:

  1. The hero's journey is a commonly used architecture of writing stories in the entertainment industry. It can also be utilized in marketing where the brand or product is the "mentor" who helps the "hero" or customer find his/her way to success and happiness.

  2. The idea of high concept is pitching a story that is very easy to understand and one you instantly get. An example would be the old Tom Hanks movie, Big. A movie about a kid who wishes to be big and wakes up in a grown man's body. This can be used in the internal selling of an idea. Simple, repeatable and easy to grasp.

  3. Stories matter because they elicit emotion. We make decisions first on emotion and then seek out the data to justify those decisions. Utilize this when marketing a product. Before anything else, make them care about you.


Mentioned in the show: