Pivoting to Podcasting and Connecting with Your Audience in 2020 with Auth0’s Rebecca Abram
Pivoting to Podcasting and Connecting with Your Audience in 2020 with Auth0’s Rebecca Abram
Today’s conversation is with Rebecca Abram, the Senior Global Conferences Manager at Auth0. Rebecca helps produce Auth0’s new podcast, “Identity, Unlocked.” Throughout her career, Rebecca has been focused on live events. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she had to figured out a way to get the company’s message out to their audience and decided to pivot to podcasting. She believes podcasting is an incredible way to connect with your audience and create content for your company. At Auth0 content is king, and their show serves as the missing piece of the puzzle that the audience didn’t even realize was missing. Rebecca and her team has found a niche in the communication happening around digital identity, and has built their show around that. As newcomer to the podcast world, Rebecca talks about how important it is to thinking about the vision for your show and planning for its future before even starting.
Hear about how to help your company pivot towards podcasting and learn how to connect with your audience through your show in today's conversation.
Rebecca AbramSenior Global Conferences Manager, Auth0
Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, hello again, and welcome back to The Casted Podcast where we are in season five. We're featuring our very own customers this season as our guests. Well, why? Well, we love them, of course, but we're shedding a light on our users, because as becoming a Casted customer, you pretty clearly indicate that you have a pretty big commitment in podcasting and that your show is a really important foundational piece of your overall marketing strategy. Because, otherwise, why would you be here, right? You see, you'll hear these forward- thinking brands talk about how they're harnessing the perspectives of experts with podcasts and then amplifying their voices across other channels. They're not just stopping with publishing their shows. They're elevating their shows but also their overall brand. They are practicing what we preach, and I want you to hear all about what they're doing, why they're doing it, and how you can do it too. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted. We're the first and only marketing solution built around brand podcasts, and this is our podcast. 2020 has been... Let's see. Okay. How should I put this so we don't gain an explicit rating for our show? How about unexpected? There has been an ongoing conversation since March about pivoting, about new normals, and how businesses and individuals around the world are adapting. Today's guest is an incredible example of all of this, because when in- person conferences evaporated earlier this year, not only did her company Auth0 quickly adapt, but Rebecca, that's our guest, she adapted too. You see, she ran conferences and events for a decade before COVID changed all that. So, listen in to this story of resilience and success as Rebecca shares how her company and her colleagues pivoted from the live events to podcasting. And just a few episodes in, they're already totally crushing it.
Rebecca Abram: Hey, I'm Rebecca Abram. I'm the senior global conferences manager at Auth0, producing the Identity, Unlocked podcast, powered by Auth0.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love it. That's a pretty new show. So, tell me how are things going so far right off the bat and just how new is it.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah, yeah. We recently just published our fourth episode, our fourth episode ever as a company. Very new to podcasting. And I'd say it's gone pretty well. With our fourth episode, we just passed 3, 000 listeners in a very short amount of time with a very technical podcast with a pretty niche audience.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That is incredible. I mean, by the time this airs, you'll be a few more episodes in, but to be at this moment in time on episode four and 3, 000 downloads, that's incredible. So, how did you do it, Rebecca? How did that happen? What did that look like?
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. I think it helps having an amazingly charismatic host. Right? I want to give Vittorio his due diligence in all of this. This is kind of his brainchild in how it came forward. But it was really finding a niche in the communication that's happening around digital identity and what is guiding the best practices around the digital identity space. There's a lot of working groups that get together and build out these standards and practices that are distributed to developers and companies to keep their customers safe, but no one really talks about why they're created or the process behind it. Identity, Unlocked offers that behind the scenes peek on what's creating these rules and guidelines essentially.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love too that, in your own words, something that's really technical and really deep and it's not for everybody... I mean, it's appealing, and it's interesting, but it's not intended to be for everybody. You know your audience. You said you found a niche. Tell me about that kind of first who mentality, really knowing who it's for.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. The who is something honestly we're still narrowing that down. We have really plugged into the identity audience itself. There's a group of people who go around on that speaking circuit, and they talk and they all know each other, and we're really dialed in there. As a company, we like to focus on developers. We're built by developers for developers. We're still working on really bringing that technical level to a place where developers want to consume that, but keeping that as our guiding star, as far as making sure the information is digestible and communicable for that type of audience has been really important for us.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. That is so important, because when you really identify that audience, regardless of what your brand is all about and what you stand for and what you're selling, you find the right people and they're going to be intrigued by it. You serve them with the information that's relevant to them and is educational and entertaining and engaging to them; you're going to be rewarded with 3, 000 downloads within your first three or four episodes. That's incredible. Let's talk too about... So, we know a little bit about the show. Let's talk a little bit about you and your role, which is a really interesting story too as far as how you got into the show and into the role that you play there.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. I am not the host. It is way too technical for me. So, just clearing that up right out of the gate there. I'm more in a producer role, and I want to use air quotes there, because it's still something that I'm very new at. I'm still learning and have a lot of support from our different providers and platforms in making everything happen. I do kind of the day- to- day making sure the ball gets rolling on the podcast and the promotion and the followup. That wasn't the role that I started 2020 with. I am a live events manager by trade. That's what I've been doing for the better part of a decade. And with things happening in the world, there were no more live events, and we had to figure out a new way to get our messages out to our audience. With our host, Vittorio, he was on the speaking conference circuit as well, so he had this great platform where he could go out and talk to our audience in person, and that also went away. So, out of that bubbled up this idea to play around with podcasts. And we were pretty skeptical at first honestly, because our initial impression was people listen to podcasts on the way to work, when they're at the gym, and now people aren't commuting anymore. They're not going to the big gyms. Are people still listening to podcasts? I think what we found in that is people are so sick of screen time that they turn to podcasts where they can go and fold laundry and still get their information. They can go on a walk in the neighborhood and just have that as kind of that break while still getting the content that they want. So, we've kind of latched onto that to build the podcast out, and it's been a fun journey honestly to kind of learn something new that's not event- related.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Talk about pivot. Right? So, how was that met internally? How did the idea come about? You said there was some skepticism. How does everybody feel about it now? Kind of walk me through that journey.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. Everyone's really excited with how it's turned out so far. I mean, I think that it's great every week posting numbers to our internal team like, " Hey, we just did this number. Can we try and..." When we were trying to hit 1, 000 a few weeks ago, that was a really big moment. But it came about because we thought as a marketing team that the digital channels were just going to get noisier. Email's already super noisy. People are going to be hitting up social media a lot heavier. Media buys are going to get more competitive and expensive. Phone calls are probably going to start getting more annoying, just because that's how you can reach people at home. So, our other option for developing out these channels, we have a robust social media channel, we have all of that stuff, was podcasting, because that's kind of our blue ocean at the moment. We haven't done a lot of experimentation there. And as a company, our culture is based off of experimentation. One of our core values is N plus one is greater than N, which is basically start somewhere, experiment, and move forward. Yeah, that's how it kind of came forward, and Vittorio came forward with this idea of" Hey, I think that there's something here for us to try and talk about," and it worked.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's great. That's wonderful. It's working really well. That's amazing.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah.
Lindsay Tjepkema: You mentioned all these other channels. Are you using the show to fuel other channels? Are other channels fueling the show? How does it fit into your overall strategy?
Rebecca Abram: So, we use the content in all the things, and I would recommend that to content producers in general. Content creation takes up a huge majority of resources on the marketing team, but we also know that content is king. So, the more you can reuse that, the better. Early feedback that we got for the podcast, because it is really technical, people wanted to kind of see what we were talking about and get some visual diagrams. So, early on, we decided that we were going to launch a blog that coincided with the podcast that could be used as an additional resource. We link it on our website to go to the blog posts, and then within there we are using snippets of audio just to try and boost engagement from just reading through the blog. And then with how the players are set up are really great, as it'll continue to play the rest of the episode. So, once you've got someone kind of hooked in that mechanism, it helps perpetuate the listens and the engagement. But in addition to that, obviously it goes out on social media, and we do the audiograms in the videos, and we do the images. But since we're so new into this and we're only four episodes in, we're playing around with some ideas that we haven't done yet but I'm kind of excited about. We want to try and do some YouTube reaction videos to certain elements of the podcast that might be a little bit confusing and that our explainer blogs are not necessarily capturing. So, that's kind of on our roadmap to continue that content journey.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love that. Literally I was thinking content journey, and then you said the words content journey. Because it's important to think about. No, you can't expect people to come in where you want them to start and then follow this beautiful breadcrumb trail all the way to the end, but I think when you at least think about those scenarios of" Okay, when somebody listens to this, one, they might be confused, or they might be intrigued and want to learn more. What can we give them that will answer their followup questions, that will further explain things? What can we give them to give them opportunities to dive deeper or to, like you said, see something that they just heard about?" I love the way that you have done that and that you've gotten really creative about serving up people with more opportunities to dig deeper and answer some of their own questions, which also I would imagine, and I'm interested to hear how it's working on your side, when people view those other forms of content, you get even more feedback about what people are interested in and what they want to learn, what they want more of, where they were confused here, to your point. Kind of what's that looking like? I know it's still really early, but what that's looking like for you?
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. At the moment, honestly, most of the feedback we're getting is" Oh my gosh, we've needed someone to talk about this. Thank you for even talking about it." So, I don't think we're at a point yet where we're getting requests necessarily. It's almost that people didn't know that they wanted this information until we started offering it out. It's like that missing piece of the puzzle that you didn't know you were missing.
Lindsay Tjepkema: So, tell me more about what your thoughts are for... Because you're just getting started. You've had some really incredible momentum. No pressure to keep that going. Right? Tell me what your vision is for kind of the rest of the season. How long is it? How many more shows do you intend to do? How did you set that up? How long is the break between seasons? What do you hope to achieve? Kind of what do you have on the horizon for the rest of this season, and then, kind of bigger picture, what do you see happening in season two?
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. When we first started ideating about this back in April, May, and it's end of October now, the goal was do something small and do it really well. Do what we can, figure out the nuts and bolts of podcasting, because it's surprisingly complicated. When I first started diving into it, I was like, " Holy cow." There's so many different facets of this if you want to do something that's a little higher fidelity than" Let me just record this on my cellphone and put it on a hosting platform." So, we made a really conscious decision to do a first season with only six episodes and just do it really, really well and see how it goes. And we didn't have target numbers that we needed to hit out of the gate. Something that we've learned is podcasting numbers are really hard to track, and that's something I didn't realize until getting into it as a marketer. How do I track my ROI? How do I figure out what all these numbers mean and where it's coming from? So, our goal was" Let's just see if there's something sticky here, and let's see if the numbers continue to go in an upward direction, and then, okay, we'll know we're kind of on the right path, and we'll know to invest." We knew after episode two that we wanted to start exploring other options. So, we only have a couple more episodes left for this season, and we have some plans to continue that momentum through different YouTube and different activities that we're going to do between now and hopefully, don't hold me to this, the end of January when we launch our second season. We like doing the season aspect of it, not only to help contain some of the content themes, but it also helps us from a production standpoint. You can kind of shift things around as you need to to make sure that things are relevant. For example, this week's episode went out about security BCP standards. Technical. You can look it up. Check it out on the podcast if you want to learn more. But it's National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Right?
Lindsay Tjepkema: Got it.
Rebecca Abram: So, we were able to do some shifting within there to align it to larger elements. For season two, we're going to expand the number of episodes, expand the guests, and try to dive a little deeper into some of these topics where we've just covered kind of umbrella, " Here's the big picture," and see what's new in the identity industry and how we can make it more digestible.
Lindsay Tjepkema: That's fantastic. That's really great. I'm a huge advocate of seasons for that exact reason, for all of those reasons, because on the internal side it gives you an opportunity... It gives you bookends. You can make some changes. There's not this pressure to just do every week, always and forever, no matter what happens.
Rebecca Abram: It's a lot of pressure.
Lindsay Tjepkema: It is. It's a ton of pressure. Then it's also less jarring for your audience if you make a change. If you change hosts, if you change topics, if you change the music, if you change the link, it's a little bit more expected when you come back from a break, whether that's one month or a quarter or however long it might be. So, that's exciting. That's exciting to see. I'm curious to dig back into kind of the transition that you made, and I'm guessing, I'm kind of putting words in your mouth, but a big part of what you've done over the last decade in live events is connecting with audiences, literally, in person, and creating opportunities for the brands that you represent to build relationships and to talk to people and to talk to customers and prospects and partners. First, has it, and if so, how has the show helped you to do that, to continue to do that, to look at your podcast through that lens as opposed to just a standalone little container of content over here on the side, which I think all too often it is viewed as? How has customer and audience connection been a part of all of this for you?
Rebecca Abram: Yeah. I think I touched on it a little earlier when we were talking about the loss of the live events. People are doing virtual events, and you can do virtual keynotes and sessions and things of that nature, but it's not necessarily the same. And podcasts are a little bit more conversational. It allows you to almost feel like you're in the room, having the conversation with the people who are conducting the interview. So, having the podcast there as a replacement for that main stage almost and creating our own stage, versus relying on others at the moment to provide that, has been really helpful in allowing our message to get out. It's also interesting just because people are connecting with podcasts in different avenues where they're not just staring in front of their screen. They're up and moving around, and it's a huge thing to share podcast information now. That's becoming even a new social norm for connecting with those audiences. So, I think as the podcast continues to gain momentum and more conversations start happening around it, there's always the hope that people will start to share it more and we'll get a little bit more of that cult following when people get excited about it.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Since you're just on the other side of all of the prep work and all of the strategizing and all of the" How are we going to do this, and how are we going to do that?" having just launched your show, what advice do you have for marketers who are getting ready to launch a show or who are in recording their first episode right now? What would you share? What learnings?
Rebecca Abram: Well, if you haven't done it yet, start getting into podcasting.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Step one: start podcasting.
Rebecca Abram: Step one: hit record. I mean, the conversations are happening anyway. You might as well record it and make something out of it, because I think it's a scary first step, even proposing a new channel that there might be some resistance to. So, definitely jump onboard. It's a great time to start experimenting with those new channels, because no one has marketed in this environment before, and I think that's really important to remember. We're all very new at this this year. The stakes have-
Lindsay Tjepkema: It levels the playing field for sure.
Rebecca Abram: Yeah, exactly. But I think it's really important to understand the level of fidelity that you want to go forward with and the level of effort that that takes. We really wanted to put something out that was higher quality than some podcasts might be comfortable with. We wanted to make sure we had intros and outros and professional audio engineering and all of those elements. So, we built that into our plan upfront. It's kind of hard to catch that as you run. So, think through the amount of fidelity that you want for your podcast and plan accordingly. Our podcast music was commissioned by an artist in Argentina.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Oh, wow.
Rebecca Abram: But we really wanted that, because as a culture we like to promote things that are artistic and crafted. So, being intentional with how you're putting things together to get that that right outcome and doing that, you have to get the right partners in place. Shameless plug for Casted. It's been great working with you guys. But in all honesty, Cased is one of four providers that we use to get our podcast to where it is, and that's just creating it. Then the second thing is we had to be really good at setting expectations with leadership about what ROI looks like for podcasting. It doesn't have the same journey as... Comparing things to events in my world, someone comes into your trade show booth. You have a conversation, it goes into sales pipeline, and here's your dollar amount. Podcasting doesn't work like that. The tracking just doesn't work like that. So, being really explicit in what you're expecting out of it and what the brand play is and the engagement play is with podcasts, because that's where the value is. It's not a low funnel mechanism for sure. It's more thought leadership.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Right. That's so important to say. And every company's a little bit different. Everybody's audience is a little bit different. Everybody's content's a little bit different. Everybody's show and reasons why are a little bit different. But I think broadly speaking, you have to level set expectations, and that's of yourself and for the show and also internally set expectations about what is this going to do, what does success look like for this effort, because it's not apples to apples with other direct marketing dollar for dollar type things. It is a lot of brand- building. It's thought leadership. There are ways to track it, and there are ways to measure it, and there are ways to watch listeners go through the process, and it absolutely should be part of what you're intending to do and part of what you're hoping to see. But expectations about what does success look like is really important, because, back to your 3, 000 downloads within your first couple of episodes, that's huge, but without level setting on that, it's like, okay, we've all been there before. It's like, is that good? Is that not good? Should it be more? What's this other one over here?
Rebecca Abram: And there's no benchmark inaudible out there. Right? It's not public information that you can't just go to pick your favorite directory and click on a podcast and be like, " Oh, this has been downloaded X number of times." That doesn't exist.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah. Every podcast is different too. Every company's starting from a different place. Everybody has kind of access to different audiences and different starting points. The starting line is different for every show, and the audience size is different. I mean, for some companies, having a nice handful or a few hundred listeners sustained and engaged and loyal for a long period of time, if they're the right listeners is great, where somebody else, it's not a great show unless they have tens of thousands listening to every episode. Right? So, that's important.
Rebecca Abram: We found the numbers, yes, it's successful, but what it's really done is now we know that podcasting is a viable marketing channel for us, that we can start looping into other integrated campaigns and other branding campaigns moving forward. This is kind of our proof of concept that we know how to do this, and we can start spreading our voice a little bit more in that avenue.
Lindsay Tjepkema: I love to hear that, because it really should be. Once you get access to those expert voices and expert perspectives, they should really be fueling everything else. So, that's exciting to see. Well, you're off to such an amazing start. I'm so excited for you. I'm so excited to see where this is going already and what you're going to do with the rest of your season and as you head into season two. So, thanks for sharing a look behind the scenes and for being a part of our show. That's our show. Thanks for listening. For more from today's guest, visit casted. us to subscribe and to receive our show as it's published along with other exclusive content, each and every week.
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