FIR B2B podcast episode #156: Time to talk about the Twitter

Paul and I have been on Twitter for 15 years. While we were some of the first business tech journalists to use it, we have also spent a considerable amount of time investing in the care and cultivation of our accounts, and Paul has written several books about social media marketing. Even before the circus called Elon came to the Twittersphere, we had planned to devote a podcast to discussing whether Twitter can thrive in the era of constant outrage or whether it is destined to be another Myspace.

A couple of interesting sources informed this discussion, including Jon Faverau’s interview with Twitter Co- founder Ev Williams, in which Williams recounts some of the early decisions that drove Twitter’s architecture and news orientation. There was also this piece by Jonathan Haidt in the Atlantic on how the past decade of our lives have been influenced by social media and especially how the retweet function has driven misinformation and disinformation. Haidt believes social media has weakened the intrinsic trust that we place in each other.

While Elon’s dreams of a truly open source and “inclusive arena for free speech” might be taking Twitter down the wrong path, there are still many reasons for B2B marketers to use the network as long as they are authentic, can stick to their knitting and promote longer forms of content such as blogs and, yes, podcasts and videos. Just remember to stay in your swim lane.

You can listen to our 17-minute podcast here:

Podcast: How to do effective SEO (this is not a scam)

Over the years I have received numerous emails from people trying to sell me how I can transform my website to become #1 on Google searches. The promises always have a hollow ring, because while they might work at a particular moment in time (if at all), they miss the longer-term implications of how search engine rankings work. Usually, they are just scammers designed to separate you from your cash.

The field of search engine optimization or SEO is fraught with these charlatans, and I have been reluctant to write about this because I am not really an expert. Over the years I have adopted a very simple SEO strategy: just provide the best possible content, try to keep the links on my website as fresh as possible, and fix broken or outdated links whenever I can. I realize this is a far cry from “real” SEO, I know.

I remember when I first put up my website back in the early 1990s when I thought, I won’t have any broken links. Well, that wasn’t a sustainable strategy and I think it wasn’t long before I couldn’t keep up. I was reminded of them when I spent the better part of a few hours last week trying to fix the various broken links that Techtarget created for my content when I was searching for an article that I wrote back in 2006. I have written a ton of things for their various websites (such as and there is a lot of repair work on broken links, tracing down outdated content and finding that many of my original work has been updated by someone else.

Tony PatrickAnyway, my point is that SEO can be more of one of the dark arts of magic than science. I was delighted to come across Influence&Co., a content marketing firm here in St. Louis that understands these issues and has tried to help their clients with their SEO strategies. For our latest FIR B2B podcast, Paul Gillin and I interviewed Tony Patrick, who directs digital marketing for the firm.

One of Tony’s colleagues wrote this piece in Sales & on SEO tactics. The piece mentions several tips, including

  • Doing keyword research and then implementing them in your content and metadata,
  • Why inbound links matter and how to go about placing them effectively,
  • Placing content in external publications and then doing back links on your site, and also
  • Posting both textual pieces with video and podcasts to exploit different learning styles of site visitors.

We explore some of the suggestions mentioned in that piece to help B2B marketers become better SEO practitioners. The basics behind the SEO industry haven’t changed much in the past decade, but it helps to hire someone like Influence&Co. that specializes in this area to make sure your website gets traction and well, influence. We also discus how to vet potential content marketing partners to deliver the best and most useful content, and avoid those “make money fast” scammers with their “guarantees.” Tony also gives his suggestions on the best tools to use to track your search results, including Semrush, Hubspot, Ahrefs, and

You can listen to the 19 minute podcast here:

If you like this episode and want to subscribe to the series (Paul and I produce two a month), you can go here to get email alerts, listen to them on Apple Podcasts, or use your favorite podcast app with this feed link.

FIR B2B podcast #154: SMS Texting for B2B With Barbara Casey

Earlier this month, Nate Nead wrote this screed on ReadWrite (a site where David once managed an editorial team) about how marketing is getting more difficult. We both think that this isn’t true and that with the right automation and tools it is getting easier to target audiences. Nead says, “Effectively persuading and reaching customers in the modern world requires a more nuanced, organic approach.” Did he miss that memo about 10 years ago? If you aren’t already doing that you’re out of a job. Nate also wrote that “It’s incredibly tough to stand out and you’ll probably have to spend a lot of money to do it.” Again, we don’t think money is the answer. Being more effective at telling a compelling story is.

Let’s move on to our conversation with our guest. With social media proving less and less effective at generating and converting leads, small business owners, in particular, are looking for better ways to create dialogues with their customers. Well, have you thought about SMS text marketing? Barbara Casey is CEO of Mobile High 5 and she says a text campaign, combined with a loyalty program, can yield three- to five-fold traffic spikes when a text goes out. The company works with retailers, restaurateurs and service providers to build custom mobile marketing programs that drive customers to shop or dine more frequently. We spoke to her about how to be effective at integrating SMS with loyalty programs, ways to mix online and bricks and mortar retailing, and why you should know the text code 7726.

FIR B2B podcast episode #153: How to Build Your “Voice Brand”

David CiccarelliPaul Gillin and I talk with David Ciccarelli, the CEO of about how to build a stable of voice and sonic branding for your business. David C. has created an online marketplace for voice actors and believes audio is the most underused asset B2B marketers have. 

We discuss how to build a brand with the voice actors. This means deciding on what your organization “sounds like” and how you want to connect with your customers. The choice of a voice actor matters. Should you go with a commanding narrator or an approachable expert guide? Your sonic brand is the unique soundscape that drives home the tone and personality of your brand voice,” he says. The company has created a guide to becoming a voice actor and also produces an annual “State of the Voice Over” report.

David says visual media has become crowded and notes that nearly one-third of people are primarily audio learners. “Marketers have saturated the eyes and we have to move on to the ears,” he says. “They have found that audio presents an opportunity to tell their story in a deeper, more meaningful way.”

He shares several podcast tips for B2B marketers. Commit to a small number of initial episodes or set a threshold and evaluate, but once you commit, stick with it. Decide if you want to primarily be a guest on other podcasts or host one of your own; those are very different strategies. Prepare show notes in advance, and make sure to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. He has found that 20 minutes is the ideal podcast length as it’s the average duration of a commute, walking the dog or a daily exercise routine.

David has appeared in numerous media outlets, including Business News Network and The Globe and Mail TV, and is a frequent guest speaker at industry conferences.  He is also a great resource for all things audio, such as this online recording studio and this streaming production service.

You can listen to the 24 min. podcast here.

Podcast: Let’s talk about passwordless

I am back on Shaun St. Hill’s Tech and Main podcast, this time talking about the benefits and frustrations of using passwordless technologies. There are some signs of hope, particularly with new tools that don’t require you to type in one-time codes but can recognize your smartphone’s intrinsic hardware to help authenticate you. Of course, this means you need a smartphone for every employee.

The Verge: How to recover when your Facebook account is hacked

Hopefully the day will never come when you find your Facebook account has been hacked or taken over. It is an awful feeling, and I feel for you for the world of hurt that you will experience in time and perhaps money to return your account to your rightful control. Let me take you through the recovery process and provide some proactive security pointers that you should follow to prevent this awful moment from happening, or at least reduce the chances that it will.

In this post for The Verge, I explain the three different scenarios (a friend borrows your account, someone uses your photo on a new account, or you truly have been hacked) and how you can try to get your social life back. It isn’t easy, it could cost you a lot of time and a bit of money, and there are steps you should take to protect yourself now that will reduce the chances that your account will become compromised — such as removing any payment methods that you may have forgotten about, as shown above.

And if you would rather listen to my descriptions, my podcasting partner Paul Gillin interviewed me on this subject in a recent 16-minute episode.

FIR podcast episode #151: How Akamai rebuilt its website and drove customer engagement

Few of us get to have as much influence over a more public website than Annalisa Church, VP Digital Technology, Insights & Operations for Akamai.  She has built a career on converging marketing and technology to drive better experiences for customers and build long-term value for enterprises. She is devoted to transforming marketing into a data-driven organization through actionable insights and ensuring the voice of the customer. Prior to Akamai, she worked for eight years in Dell’s marketing department.

Annalisa recently led a massive overhaul of the Akamai website, which is available in nine different languages, with more than 1,200 pages in English covering 18 different products.  The site has tremendous customer engagement, with one million monthly visitors, and almost two-thirds of them become customers after visiting the site.

The diagram below shows some of the changes that Church implemented during her redesign to make it more effective and more relevant to visitors. These efforts have paid off in terms of more engagement, more conversions from visitors to customers, and wider impact.

Listen to our podcast here:

FIR B2B podcast episode #150: Marketing truths from Ruth Stevens

Ruth StevensThis episode brought us together with Ruth Stevens, whose consulting firm, eMarketing Strategy, helps clients build customer acquisition and retention strategies along with other marketing programs. Ruth has had a distinguished career. She has taught marketing at the NYU Stern School, the Columbia Business School and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Before that  she held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, IBM and other firms.

Back in the early 1990s Ruth headed up marketing for the Ziff Davis Computer Library, an early – and highly profitable – business that repackaged content from Ziff-Davis’ portfolio of publications and delivered it on a CD-ROM, if you can believe it. Ruth is an unabashed fan of B2B marketing with a wide scope of interests. As a blogger on, she has lamented the often toxic relationship between sales and marketing organizations and described tools for connecting with your website visitors that even our hosts were unaware of.

Ruth is past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York and was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine. She has written a number of books, the most recent being B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results, which was co-authored Theresa Kushner. In a recent presentation, she talked about ways to plan your content marketing library.

Among the topics we touch on in this interview is the value of account-based marketing, the importance of understanding the difference between lead quantity and quality, the mistakes that B2B marketers make that still drive her crazy and why B2B marketing is more complex, difficult and fun than B2C marketing. You can listen to our 20 min. podcast recording below.

FIR B2B podcast episode #149: Cutting out the middleman in B2B PR

For years Paul and I have used Help A Reporter Out. The service — now owned by Cision —  aims to eliminate the gatekeeping middleman role of corporate PR, and put sources directly in touch with the journalists that want to quote them. HARO, as it is known, has been less useful as of late, but there is a new, venture-backed startup called Qwoted that is making some important inroads. We spoke to its CEO and co-founder, Dan Simon. He told us Qwoted had close to a thousand inquires last month and is growing. The service has a free tier (individuals can make three monthly requests, agencies five) and a paid tier.

Qwoted flips the PR paradigm on its head by letting journalists initiate the conversation and cutting out the need for pitches.

Simon has lots of pointers to help PR and marketing staff get the most out of his service. He is deeply steeped in the field, having been president of Cognito, a New York financial services agency, among other roles. Simon recommends that you use the tools he provides to search on previous successful match-ups and examine the job titles more carefully, as well as to fill out the profiles to make your expertise more transparent and compelling.

You can listen to our 16 min. podcast here: