Creating the Right Content for the Right Channel with ZoomInfo’s Sam Balter
Recorded: Welcome to The Casted Podcast. Over the last two seasons we've been exclusively talking to our customers about how they use audio and video to fuel their content marketing and grow their business. And for this season we're doubling down on the voice of the customer and focusing solely on our partners, using the Casted platform to deliver content to all their audiences. Content marketing is still one of the hardest jobs out there and we love sharing our customers unique experiences, which in turn helps our audience find ways to succeed by digging deeper into the challenges they face and the solutions they're discovering. My guest today is a data expert who turned to content to tell the amazing stories behind the numbers. As the director of media content at ZoomInfo, Sam Balter is a podcast veteran and constantly looking at how content performs and making the necessary strategic tweaks to up the quality of the message the brand wants to get out and the topics audiences want to hear about. Today he's going to share his views on the shift from audio to video podcasting, how YouTube has become a strategic channel for Sam and how his'social- first' approach is strengthening ZoomInfo's authority across multiple platforms. I'm Katie Nehrenz, Senior customer Success Manager at Casted, the first and only amplified marketing platform for B2B marketers, and I'll be your guide on this episode of The Casted Podcast.
Katie Nehrenz: Hello, how are you?
Sam Balter: I'm doing great. How are you?
Katie Nehrenz: I am doing good. So thank you for jumping on this with me- crosstalk
Sam Balter: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.
Katie Nehrenz: Absolutely. And I'm going to kick this off with just a little bit of an ice breaker, and I'm sure this is something everybody really wants to know, and it's very, very important information. If you were in the Zombies Apocalypse, what role would you play?
Sam Balter: This is something I sadly think about a lot. I would probably just be in the first wave of dead people, I'm not really that faster a runner and I'm very easily scared by anything that jumps out at me so I would probably be done with pretty quick. If I made it through I think I'd be one of those small people living off in the woods and just gathering berries and things like that for a little while. I don't think I would be a major, big role player. I don't know how to use any weapons, I'm not a particularly great nature person, but I think I could get by on my own for a little bit.
Katie Nehrenz: You would just be- crosstalk
Sam Balter: What about you? Who would you be?
Katie Nehrenz: I think I would definitely be the person that had a very tragic and stupid death. I would make it through, but I would trip and fall and get swarmed by a crowd of zombies, or just something really, really silly like that. It wouldn't be epic, it wouldn't be heroic. It would just be like," Did she really just do that after all of this?" That's my look.
Sam Balter: Yeah, it'd be like you're crossing maybe a bridge and then the bridge collapses, and you're like," Well, bye, Katie."
Katie Nehrenz: Aw, darn. Another one bites the dust.( music) Could you just start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your role at ZoomInfo?
Sam Balter: Yeah, sure. I'm the Director of Media Content at ZoomInfo. So basically the way I think about that is all of the content that happens offsite. So our goals are around things on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, all the major social networks, and then building up some of the content there. So usually there's about two sides of it that one side is amplifying existing company news and amplifying existing content. And then the other side of it is building and developing'social first' content like podcast, video series, things like that.
Katie Nehrenz: Awesome. And podcasting, you're no stranger to podcasting. You hosted Weird Work, which highlights folks who are able to turn their passion into their job. And frankly, all of the topics listed in that series are just fascinating to me. And it won a Shorty Award, right?
Sam Balter: Yes, it did win a Shorty Award for best branded podcast, so really, really proud of that.
Katie Nehrenz: That's awesome, that's wonderful. So how did you get into podcasting to begin with?
Sam Balter: Yeah, I was really, really lucky. I was working at HubSpot and I was managing Sales Enablement for North America at the time, they had a show that they were trying to work out and find a host for Weird Work, they wanted to try a mass appeal podcast. I was really lucky in that there a company event a of couple weeks before their deadline of finding a host, where I met Matt Brown, who's the producer, and we talked for a little while. I think I was just generally loud and obnoxious and it was just a good, loud, obnoxious, chatty evening, and it was really, really fun. And then he messaged me the next day and was like," You should apply for this thing. I think you might be a good fit." So I was like," Okay, great." I had no idea about podcasting, no experience in interviewing, nothing, but I took the opportunity. He gave me the shot and then I started hosting the first couple episodes of the show and it went off with a really, really good success. And so I moved, over time, from Sales Enablement into managing podcast marketing for HubSpot. So that was working on the marketing and promotion for other shows that they had at the time, like The Grow Show or Skill Up or Culture Happens, as well as Weird Work. So it was a fortuitous opportunity, and then once I was working on the show it was a definitely very interesting challenge, because I feel like a lot of people within B2B are used to interviewing other people within B2B. So this was a lot larger of a difference, to interview people like'I'm the top ASMR person' or'I write dinosaur erotica' or- crosstalk
Katie Nehrenz: That's my favorite, I think.
Sam Balter: ...Or'I'm the Head Knight at Medieval Times'. There's a lot of those that I think I got a lot of really good experience of a lot of good practice interviewing, and it was really good to get it in a very different context, which I think has been really helpful.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely. You also did some audio podcasting with Talk Data To Me at ZoomInfo, and this year you're shifting a little more over towards the video aspect of podcasting. So I would love to hear more about why the shift, why video podcasting?
Sam Balter: I think for me, at first, I'll be honest, I found video to be a distraction towards podcasting in terms of production. Considering video would often be tough because the way you edit podcasts together, you're often moving something from the beginning to the end, and the end to the beginning, and you're cutting and rearranging around and you might be cutting things where you're removing the uh's and the um's of what people are saying. So it always felt too hard for me to translate an edited podcast into a video, unless you were doing something with multiple cameras so that you could cut away more effectively. But what I noticed is, a lot of the value of podcasts and a lot of the value is the snippets to people, like on social media the snippets often perform well. And if you think about the things that sound really good in terms of audio, it's when somebody has one clear coherent unedited thought. And so it's like that one clear coherent edited thought is also likely going to be one clear video moment, and then from there you can use that. And so the other thing I was noticing is we would do a lot with audiograms, and audiograms are good and they help but they weren't performing as well as just a slightly edited version of a video where you can see the person's face. So for me it was, one, the first part of it was getting over the idea that we should be collecting this footage anyways and if we could find opportunities to use it in promotion, we should do that. And then the second part of it was just basically like, okay, what do we actually know about social? Faces perform really well, things like the production quality does not have to be in the same spot as in other channels. The production quality can be lower, you can have somebody chop to one side or the other and people are not that thrown off by it on social because it's so common. So I think we started doing it where we'd take these moments from most recently this show, Pretty Big Deal, where we take these moments of sales reps telling stories or use it to promote things, and those were actually performing quite well. And so it's like, great, now we have this thing, we should be collecting this, we should be figuring it out and we could use it more effectively for promotion. So the idea was there was a solid amount of evidence both on the side of performance for social and me just getting over a'why not do this?'.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, that makes absolute sense. And so much of what you're saying resonating to my own thoughts and feelings about the things I see on social, so it's definitely interesting. You've mentioned that YouTube is an important part of that strategy, having a presence on YouTube. Can you tell me a little bit about why, why is that so important to this video component?
Sam Balter: Yeah. YouTube's really interesting, and I'm pretty new to investing a ton of time into YouTube, but the thing is like anything else, like your channel is an asset and its audience can grow and its value can grow over time. And one of the things of just stepping back and looking at our own YouTube channel we were able to see some really interesting insights, where 25% of our traffic was coming from within the search of YouTube and then another 25% or so, these are very rough numbers, was coming from externally. So people searching something and then they would end up on our page because they see the video, they click through from Google and go. Okay, so now you have a sizable amount of traffic that is going straight from'I have a question' to YouTube, or you're in YouTube and you have a question and you ask it directly within YouTube. So it's like, okay, this is a great audience that is underinvested in, so we should be doing things to go after that. Then the question is like, what does YouTube value? And I think YouTube, as far as I can tell, values consistent posting, it likes when you're consistently posting things, which is good. The other thing that YouTube likes is watch time, so it wants to know that you're spending time watching the videos. This is really good because working at a company you get a lot of request for videos of all types, and all length, and all sizes. And traditionally you could look at what performs well on social, and it's 90 seconds, basically you have 2 minutes, 2 minutes and 30 seconds or so, where something is going to perform well before you have a huge drop off. But there's a real value for a lot of people, especially in software, about wanting to learn a product, and that might not be accomplished in a two minute video. So it's like, great, we have these gaps where we have this 7 to 11 minutes worth of content. Great, we can use that to start talking about things about the product, use it for slightly longer form, and increase the watch time of the channel. So YouTube for us is, one, there's a big audience opportunity. There's something where, if we are continually investing and building it, the authority of our YouTube channel builds up, and then that means we're exposed to more people within the YouTube system, like related videos, we appear up higher on search. And then finally it's that last part where we're really servicing a need of the company, where a lot of it is like, how do you house, how do you store, where do you put this type of content. And YouTube's a good spot where we can be putting that content, making it available to people learning about our product or having it show up normally. So for us, it's like YouTube is just a big opportunity for audience. It's a big opportunity in terms of content and it's something that, if you're building it into your content motion you're building up the value of that channel, in the same way that if you think about blogging and you're building up the value of your blog, you want to be building up the authority of your YouTube channel as well. So that's what we're trying to accomplish, is that regular posting and content that is giving a good amount of time on the site.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely, and that all makes sense. You had mentioned earlier in your blog, how does YouTube and your blog and social media strategy all fit together into this perfect union, if you will?
Sam Balter: There's never a perfect union in content. In an ideal world it all works perfectly and everything is great, you build with something once, you distribute it across all channels and it works perfectly well. It rarely, I feel like, works like that in practice, but we're trying to, step by step, move towards it. I think what we're seeing is, for us right now one of the things we've brought in, in terms of hiring and talent, is a lot more journalists and people coming from The Boston Globe, and other areas, to ZoomInfo. And I think one of the things we're just trying to practice more and more is, okay, how do we take the longform interview, get the longform interview down to 7 or 11 minutes on here. Great, how do we post that? How do we then embed that into a blog post, then how do we get that out on social? So that's overall our goal process, is to take from one large interview or one large conversation and narrow it down into different sets of things. So that's hopefully how it all works together.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, fingers crossed, right?
Sam Balter: Yeah, fingers crossed. I definitely think we're able to get it... Sometimes news has to go out quickly, things have to be uploaded, there's product launches to consider. So it doesn't always work out perfectly, but I think with socially and with videos you always try the best you can to line everything up.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely. We've mentioned social a little bit, and I particularly am excited to spend a lot of area talking about this because you've had so many interesting things to say up to this point and I cannot wait to share it with everyone listening. You have mentioned that this year is also a'social first' approach, and that you're focusing on strengthening your presence on things like YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter. Can you tell me a little bit more about how that came to fruition and how you decided that was the approach you wanted to take?
Sam Balter: Yeah, I think one of the things that was really interesting is at the end of last year we did a good pullback and look at the data. And when I joined, I had a relatively simple thesis for the team and for social, which was that it wasn't spending enough time per post. We weren't spending enough time on the captions, the posting, the monitoring, the follow up and all of that. So if we looked at the course of the year, we ended up reducing the amount we post by about 50%, so 50% less post and we ended up getting about three times as much engagement. So half the post, three times as much engagement. The other thing is we also saw a really large rise in terms of our social referral traffic, so traffic from social channels to zoominfo. com. Those are the three metrics we always look at, followers, engagements and then social referral traffic. So when we looked at that the other thing that was noticeable was a lot of what we were posting weren't links to things. So if you think about the number of links that went to zoominfo.com, that is even less than 50%, because we started doing some text only posts, we started doing some meme post, other things along those lines. And so the main takeaway for me was that a lot of time what we really want to do is just drive engagement. And if engagement is good and people are engaging, and the referral traffic is good, meaning that you're building the right audience that is then going to your site, and audience growth is good, all of those things should line up really, really well. Then what came in that with'social first' content was this idea of, okay, if we're driving for engagement, we should start the process of content. A lot of the times in other organizations content is divided up where it's like, we're going to write an eBook, that eBook will split into 10 blog posts, those 10 blog posts will produce 30 social media posts. And that's a really good strategy, but I've never seen it work particularly well where every stage does good in its metrics. So it's like the eBook might do really well in terms of lead gen and all of that, the blog post will do okay, and then the social post will do not as great. And I think that that's the way a lot of companies organize their content. So part of what the thinking was, was if we are to think about getting a message across, how would we start that process from the media team? What blog would we produce? How would we show that blog? And how would we show podcast interviews, how would we put those into the blog versus the other way around? And so a lot of what it was was taking what we had learned in messaging, like what we could do to improve our messaging, how to engage other people, all that stuff, and then saying, we're going to start from our team, producing our own social media and'social first' content. So that's like video series that are meant to be consumed on LinkedIn, we're not trying to send somebody else, we're just trying to get the views right there. And by building up a steady amount of engagement where people are continuously seeing our stuff, they're continuously engaging, when we do give something that's like," Oh, go to this thing, register for this webinar, go check out our new product," people are much more likely to actually click on that stuff. And so I think overall it was this goal of creating the content in order to get engagement up, but because we were looking at engagement as that core metric that drove other good things like followers and referral traffic. I know that's a very longwinded explanation on it, but that's where we started in terms of'social first'.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, no, it makes sense. I like how you were just like," You know what, let's do it in reverse. Let's get that a try." crosstalk
Sam Balter: Yeah, because it's crazy, the way I think content is is there's basically three groups. There's the group that is working on lead gen, demand gen, they're writing eBooks, the conversions, there's SEO, which is hugely important to everything within the blog. That's a great opportunity, you have everything in search volume, you have everything at paid opportunities, but social doesn't always have a team. Social is often, for a lot of content teams, they just take stuff from other teams and then get it out there and they don't have the opportunity to be like," Oh, based on what's happening on social, we really think this type of content would perform better." Most social teams are at the other end of the spectrum. Whereas it seems to be a lot more productive if you're like, what do you think you should write for SEO? Write that. What do you think you need to write for demand gen? Write that. And then, what do you need to think you need to write for social? Write that. Instead of trying to make one thing that serves everything.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely. And I know one of the things that you had said was, matching the voice and the tone of these different social media channels. Is that something that you're able to dig into a little bit with us just to tell everybody about that?
Sam Balter: Yeah. It's- crosstalk
Katie Nehrenz: Don't want to give away trade secrets or anything.
Sam Balter: There's no trade secrets, I think the thing is people inherently, a lot of the times, are fighting against their intuition. They have the intuition and the knowledge that the channels are different, the vibe on Twitter is just fundamentally different than LinkedIn. And you can see it, like when LinkedIn goes down they go on Twitter and everybody's making fun of people on LinkedIn, like,"Oh, what are they going to do?" And vice versa. Tones are different, what is shared is different, how it's shared is different. And then the other thing is, you're noticing a lot of the time some content on LinkedIn is just Twitter content, but a picture of it. You don't even try and recreate Twitter content on LinkedIn, you take a picture of Twitter content and put it on LinkedIn and see how that performs. And so when I think about the channels, it's like our audiences are different for different channels. I think we have slightly more on the marketer side on Twitter versus LinkedIn, where we're more on the predominantly sales side. The information people want is different on different platforms. I think there's a lot more potential snarkiness that people like and resonates with on Twitter, sometimes it works on LinkedIn. And I think it's just the things that are trending... Everything in social is really referential to what's going on within your platform and within your area. So for example, LinkedIn has the space, the one line space, one line space, one line space. That is just a defacto thing of LinkedIn, a way of writing for LinkedIn. And when people adopt it for Twitter, it just looks weird. But you wouldn't adopt Twitter thread style by writing a LinkedIn post and then commenting on it 55 times. You know what I mean? They inherently just look like they are different things, they look like different things and there's different people on them. But a lot of the times brands go," Oh yeah, is that the social message?" Just repeat it over and over and over and over again, on every single channel exactly. And sometimes it's worth doing that, sometimes it doesn't really matter and you should just get the content out there and promote it. But for the most part, if you're not doing Twitter specific stuff occasionally on Twitter, you're not going to grow on Twitter. If you're not doing LinkedIn specific stuff on LinkedIn, it's probably not going to work. On YouTube if you're not making 7 to 11 minute videos, because that's the type of thing that people often consume there, it's not going to grow as a channel. So at a certain point people have this thing where they have their perception of how it is and then they just ignore data despite it coming in. And so I think for me, I'm often like," Okay, well, let's just see what is actually performing well and then just do that." And so I think it's like," Oh, it's a'social first' strategy." Yeah, but it's really just like I look at what post are doing well and then I try and do more of those and less of the ones that are not doing well.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah. You're being authentic, you're being human, you're just posting as you would post any other time. It makes sense. It's the easy thing to do, but we make it so much harder on ourselves.
Sam Balter: Yeah it's very confusing sometimes, you'll make it really, really confusing. And there's definitely a lot of stress on what goes on social, but sometimes it's just a little too much.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah. We let PodCat loose on Twitter, but we usually try to reign him in for any LinkedIn post. We try to keep it pretty PC on there.
Sam Balter: Yeah, it's nice that PodCat is able to be free.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah. He needs to express himself, if we keep him caged up he doesn't like it very much, and then we all have to deal with the consequences. So, we talked obviously a little bit previously about the video content that you're putting out there on YouTube. When you were looking over all of your analytics, how was your video content performing? Or were you even putting the video content on social? I guess, how have you approached that?
Sam Balter: Yeah, we've always seen video content as strong, and video content has always been a good thing for us on social. I think some of the things we've noticed is that a lot of the times it's good to just keep people on the channel, don't try and necessarily move them off the channel, that was a big thing that we had to wonder. Sometimes it is very worth if it's a long video and it really doesn't make sense for them to watch the entire thing on LinkedIn or on Twitter, on whatever, just try and keep them there unless you really have to send them off. We noticed that the videos just tend to perform better than other posts. They almost always get engagement, which is good. We also noticed that, depending on the level of animation and style adjustments we make to those videos, they're also going to perform better. There are things that are just social tactics that you see that everybody can improve on. Social things, they fly in more, things fly in, people come from different angles. This is common, small things but there are adjustments you can make within video production that are small, that are actually going to keep people's attention a lot better. So that's one of the reasons that we wanted to produce and move more into that video content, we saw continuous engagement with it. The other thing we noticed is, on the side of the blog, I used to work more managing a lot of the blog content as well. But one of the things that I've always been concerned about is bounce rate and read time. You don't want to have a blog where you're getting a lot of views and you're generating a lot of views, but those people are leaving or they're not spending enough time actually consuming the article. And we noticed that when we were able to take a lot of those videos and embed them into blog post, and then as that motion continued we saw a decrease in bounce rate and we saw an increase in read time. So it's like, great, okay, these videos are not only helping gain top level awareness. When somebody comes into our site from another area, like search, they see a video and they're less likely to bounce and they're more likely to stay on and read the entire thing. So for us it has a lot of other downstream effects that were also useful.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah. And I've definitely seen that too with Pretty Big Deal, specifically. Every episode it seems like has its own blog post, which expands a little bit on the story and the person telling it. Love that series, by the way, the stories are fascinating.
Sam Balter: Oh yeah, thank you. We're working on new episodes of that now that should be pretty fun. That part of it has been really great to see how it affects other content mediums. It's definitely something where people should try and consider how to fit it into the motion. And I think we're even seeing things like we've just started experimenting more with, somebody is going to go on somebody else's podcast, we're going to take that raw footage, we're going to do a video to promote the podcast, then we're going to follow it up with our own blog post on it. And so we're really trying to lean into amplified marketing idea of just like, okay, great, conversations are happening, how do we convert that content over? And when we know that video is going to help on the promotion side, and then we know that video is going to help on the time on page and bounce rate side, it's really hard to argue that it's not worth the effort. It becomes an increasingly difficult thing, because obviously you should add it in if it's having all these positive effects.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Absolutely. We've talked a lot about the strategy and the why, I would love to talk a little bit about the execution piece, especially because I know that this is something that you're particularly excited about. You attribute your team structure to being the secret sauce behind your strategy, can you tell me a little more about how your team works together to deliver all of this wonderful content?
Sam Balter: Yeah. My team is the media team which sits on the broader content team. When I think about the media team structure, we've been basically divided into two areas I'd say, one is distribution. So how does that information get out there? And so there's somebody for managing social campaigns, getting that information, watching the analytics. There's another person on community, so the community side is building the engine for distribution with employees. So that's the employee influencer community as well as working with our customer community, and so that's a distribution engine. And so that area is like, things come in and we distribute them as effectively as possible on the right channels with the right copy, and all of that. And that's where they're focused. Then on the other side we've been building up the production. So when I talked about the'social first' content, it's like the production side is an area where it's like, okay, great, now we can start producing content entirely within our own team that is then distributed out. And so it's like, what would something that does well on social look like? What would a blog post that does well on social look like? What would multimedia content do well? So it's like, okay, now we have both with arms. We have the production side focused on social goals, and then all of the distribution side of it. And then when we get into the nitty gritty of the process, I keep things simple into twos and threes. There's basically then all of a sudden really just two ways things can go either. Either something goes into the media team machine, so it then goes out on social. So it's like podcast interview, company announcement, new product, product feature update, something like that. So that's company news that comes in, the machine translates it, pumps it out into the right way. So if it's a podcast, great, we're going to cut together some things, we're going to do some animation. If it's a product thing, we're going to add it to this what's new video each month there or there. If it's this type of product, we're going to give it an explainer, it's going to pop up on YouTube. So we handle that editing and managing of things coming in. Then the next side of it is like, okay, we want to be able to do things that are'social first' and it's our own production content. So it's like, we think that the purpose of this is to like further a brand value or mention something, and we're going to run this specific campaign or this specific series. So for us, it's like we've launched a blog, The Pipeline, and one of the things is we talk a lot about Pipeline Plays, different things that marketing, sales, recruiting teams can run. And so we have that as a video series, that's a'social first' video series, where we think, great, we're able to think of how this content is working. We think that this will do well on social, we can keep a regular cadence of these videos, they're going to make sense. So that's us producing it. So when I think about the team, there's always space... You need space for all of the requests that come in, and then you need people to be able to flex their creative muscles and do things that might take a little bit longer that they're working on on the side. So it's like, okay, those are the video series and things like that podcast, Pretty Big Deal, all of those. So when I think about the team, it makes it a lot easier when it's not a lot of jumping from one group to another group, which I think a lot of content teams run into. And I also think it's one where, if somebody's going to write a blog post and then do a video, those two people aren't together always, they're not always linked together, where it's more like the video is created and then the blog post follows it, or vice versa. And I think what I'm trying to do, and what I hope to do more and more with the team is, every idea is vetted with the idea first, and then it goes, what format should this idea take? What budget time, all that kind of expectations, and then it goes into that production style. But having everybody in the same room is great to have people call out like," Oh yeah, that's a cool idea, but I wouldn't click on that on social." It's like, okay, well, if you're not going to click on it then it's not a great idea. And so having everybody in the beginning in the room at the exact same time versus just tossing stuff over to the next person, has worked a lot better.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely. I can almost envision our marketing team right now, like Erin from The Office in the gif where she's fist pumping. I can almost picture them right there, because, yeah, absolutely. crosstalk
Sam Balter: Yeah, no, it's great. It's very nice and it is a bit chaotic in some ways, I think, and I'm not saying it's the perfect structure and there's no downsides. There's obviously things that it creates some issues of like, who manages exactly what, you're often working with a lot of the other stakeholders from the organization, so that can get confusing. But overall, I think the structure has been really beneficial in terms of performance for engagements and all of that.
Katie Nehrenz: Yeah, absolutely. The thing is with you guys all being there, I'm sure there's some overlap, there's some gaps, but you're able to communicate those things easily. You're able to just tag the other person in and say," Hey, let's talk about this."( music) Let's see what the folks in the audience want to ask you, because I've already drilled you with a whole bunch of questions. The first one we have is from Mark, and it says," Since you're a data guy, Sam, what's the most interesting content marketer data to you and why?"
Sam Balter: The most interesting thing to me is engagement, it's just engagement. I think that in social has become the thing I'm really a lot interested in, because engagement, one, is representative of levels. It has a clear leveling system where it's like, click,'I like it', it's easy. And then,'I'm going to type a comment' is slightly harder. And then,'I'm going to share it and write about it' is another thing. So you do have this good measure with engagement of what types of stuff are you producing and what do people feel about it? Which I think is really good, I like that as a metric. I think if the question is more about what are trends, what do I find is the most interesting trend right now? I think I like to see like there's random data of what Harvard's class does, Harvard's entering class. And I think it was in Harvard's entering class Facebook was used by... less than 20% of people had Facebook accounts. So you get a good sense of, where are people going within social networks and which ones are people adopting? So I really always find that data to be really interesting. And then one of the ones that stuck out was, how big do you think..? Like Snapchat is still a really, really large social network that continues to grow and has a lot of affinity, but it just doesn't really get talked about that much. So I think that's one where, for me, I think I'm really watching Snapchat more as like," Oh, I think this could potentially be something that grows a lot over time."
Katie Nehrenz: Wow, that's really interesting. Because I would definitely think that TikTok would be the big one because you just hear so much about it. And I'm honestly not surprised at Facebook, it's like that empty shell of what MySpace used feel like when you used to get on there in the older days of MySpace, I'm dating myself now but- crosstalk
Sam Balter: Yeah, no, I love TikTok, it's very interesting, we're trying to work out how we want to approach TikTok. I it's one where, because of the way the algorithm pushes you into different worlds of TikTok, I think people are pretty haphazard on the way they're jumping into it. They're like," Let's just jump into TikTok and create a bunch of videos." And I still don't fully understand if that's going to push you into... if you're not careful about how and what you engage with, are you missing opportunities by being pushed into one particular direction? So I'm really interested to follow TikTok, and it will be something we'll probably be working on more this year, but it's definitely going to be something to keep an eye on.
Katie Nehrenz: Absolutely. Looks like we have another question from Nicole. It says," We have a small team. How do we take a crawl, walk, run approach to this? What's most important as you begin?" That's a great question.
Sam Balter: That is a really great question, Nicole. I'd say the best thing is just practicing interviewing, that is the area a lot of people are not necessarily great on. I think things that you can do to improve interviews and improve your interviewing for writing is the best first step. And I think one of the things is, there's a motion with interviewing where you have the idea you think it's going to it be, then the interview and then what actually happened. And I think what's really effective is getting better at the'what actually happened' and then updating your content to adjust to that, and updating your ideas to adjust to that. Like, how are you going to post on social? What is the theme of this? All that. So I think the first thing people just need to get better at is get more used to talking and using that content, get more used to paraphrasing quotes for blog posts, get more used to taking a very small, like one minute, of something where somebody said something good and then using that. I think a lot of the times people put these really high bars on themselves for no reason, where they want things to be multiple things. Where they're like," I want this to be a funny thought leadership piece that really motivates customers to go to the website and download our product, but doesn't cheapen the brand." And you're like," That's too many things, just start with one thing." I notice this sometimes, if people go to art museums they often feel a need to talk about the art in a way that feels highfalutin, like," Oh man, I really like the brushstrokes on it." You can just say," I like this piece because it's bright and sunny." You can just say," I like this bit of the interview because it was interesting and it was engaging." That's fine, you don't have to make it into a whole complicated thing. Find the intuition of what you thought was interesting and then stick with that and then just get that out there quickly. Don't let too much production, don't let too many stakeholders get involved or else you're going to put the bar for yourself so high that you're not going to be able to achieve the things. Just start with frequency, go focus on it, get good interview content, and then build the process from there. Don't try and take one interview and just from the jump, even though you've never done anything really that great on LinkedIn, all of a sudden now you have this huge campaign. No, just do a one off video and see how it does, and if it does good do another one. And if you quit doing them, that's fine too. It's not really a big deal to start something and stop it, it's okay. So yeah, that's what I would say, to get started just focus on interviewing.
Katie Nehrenz: Yep, it's the'What about Bob: Baby steps' mentality. That's what- crosstalk
Sam Balter: I love'What about Bob?' I have watched it every Christmas for many years with my family.
Katie Nehrenz: Such a good movie, recently we rewatched it and it holds up, for sure. It looks like we have one more question for right now, and that is from Mark. And it says," Why do you think some brands are still reluctant to get into podcasting?"
Sam Balter: I think it's really fair, I think there's a couple of reason brands are reluctant to get in podcasting. I think, one, there is a lot of garbage podcasts out there and I think that that scares people. They say like," Oh no, it's just going to be like this other thing that's not great, that I don't like." I think like there's, one, that's the case, but honestly you've never been on YouTube in the low views area, you've seen a ton of blogs that are awful. So I understand where people are coming from, where there's an initial concern about like, okay, I see stuff I don't like, should we really be involved in this? I think people are a little bit worried about the production of it. I think that's another thing, people are unclear about the production. I think when people are in that, they don't have experience but they're clear on the production is more problematic, because they're usually not that clear on the production and usually they're way overstretching what they can reasonably do. And I think that the other aspect of it is, people are mostly reluctant to do it when they're not listening to podcast. And I think one of the things that's really hard about social, like if you want to improve on social you have to let go that your opinions are the right ones, necessarily. I remember there's this striking stat I had heard once that was about people who poach animals, like animal poachers. And they asked animal poachers," How horrible do you think other people think this is?" And they're like," Probably a few people, but mostly not." Even though the general population really thinks animal poaching is terrible, which it is. So the point for social is that some people see stuff on social and they're like," I don't know why people like this, it's not good." To who? Everybody seems to be liking it, everybody's really happy with it. People are going to put these arbitrary bars that they create of saying like," What's good is what I determine what is good." And for social you need to get past that a little bit and be like, okay, what's good is generally what is probably doing well and what people like. And if people like it, they're engaging with it. So you have to separate some of that out. And I think, when people think about podcasting, they see like, oh, I don't like this podcast or I'm not a that into podcast, so they don't want to do it. And then on the flip side, people who are really podcast are like," Absolutely, this is exactly what we should do. This is the only thing." And you're like, is it though? It might not be the right channel at this time, there might be other things you could do. So I think you've got to separate out your belief of, what I think or what I like versus what is the right thing to do and what is the right thing for your audience. But I think for anybody skeptical, a lot of people talk about, what's changed?" What's changed and how to take advantage of that change." That's the format." Now everything's different. Here's how you take advantage of it." That's cool. I think the more interesting thing that they'll look at is like, what's not changing? And podcasting is what's not changing. Every year there's more people listening to podcasts than there were before, every year the amount of podcasts that an individual listens to increases, every year all of a sudden you have more people listening to a wider variety of shows while more shows get created. And then, additionally, if you have all of those things, you have to think about other really, really basic stuff. Like a lot of people have used cars that don't have Bluetooth, like my phone doesn't connect to my car, I have a Subaru Forester, it doesn't connect. I don't really listen to podcasts on the commute partially for that. As more cars come out and podcasts are a readily available option, they will be on there, you know what I mean? As Spotify has put podcasts front and center and basically uploaded tons and tons of more people to working on and listening to and consuming podcasts. And one of the things that Spotify noticed in terms of a macro trend, was that when people were listening to podcasts they would then subsequently switch to listening music. Okay, great, so everywhere that you listen to music is a potential area where you would listen to podcast, it just might not be as easy. So it's like, everybody is doing this culturally even without that much technological enablement. And it's going up culturally, it's becoming a defacto spot, people are building celebrities around it, there's a lot more money flowing into it, it's a low production medium sometimes, sometimes it's a high production medium. But I think it's important for people to focus on what's not changing, and what's not changing is more people are listening to podcasts. And generally people like choice, and the same thing that is happening with Netflix, on demand, Hulu, all those things, is the exact same process of radio and podcasting. Whereas radio is something on demand you tune into, and it's a different live event. It's like, you're going to probably be bringing more and more of those people in the live radio listening hours over to on demand content. So I think it's important for people who are reluctant to understand that this isn't new and just because it's not new doesn't mean you haven't missed the boat on it. There is no missing the boat, this is just a large change in how people are consuming content.
Katie Nehrenz: That's such a great perspective, and that's so encouraging too, I'm sure, to a lot of the brands that are listening to this and maybe haven't quite gotten there. But maybe you're interested in jumping aboard and who knows? So that's fantastic. Sam, thank you so much, this was fantastic. I love hearing you talk about this stuff, so I could probably sit on here for another 50 plus minutes and talk to you about it, I'm sure others feel the same. But I think we're good on questions, and again, thank you so much.(music)
Sam Balter: Well, thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it. And if anybody listening or watching has any questions, or anything they want to talk about more with me, you can just find me on LinkedIn or email me at sam. balter @ zoominfo.com.
Katie Nehrenz: Excellent. And audience members, for more Casted use cases from our amazing customers be sure to check out The Casted Podcast at casted. us/ podcast. Thanks, everyone.
Recorded: That's our show, thanks for listening. To learn more about ZoomInfo and the insights Sam shared with us today, make sure to visit zoominfo.com and check out any of their podcasts, like Pretty Big Deal or Talk Data To Me. To learn more about how Casted can help you, visit casted. us and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest on all things amplified marketing, B2B podcasting, and more.-
Welcome back to Season 7 of The Casted Podcast. In this episode, Casted's Senior Customer Success Manager, Katie Nehrenz, talks with Sam Balter, Director of Media Content at ZoomInfo. Sam discusses his shift from audio to video podcasting and how YouTube is a crucial channel for his social media strategy. He also shares how his "social-first" approach helped strengthen ZoomInfo's presence across multiple social platforms. Listen now, and stay tuned for the Q&A portion where our TCP listeners ask Sam a few content marketing questions.