Content Ninjas is a series for content marketers by content marketers.
It aims to help fellow marketers grow by showcasing the experiences and lessons from thriving marketers and thought leaders.
Jason Thibault is the CEO of Massive Kontent, a data-driven content promotion & paid amplification/distribution agency.
1. What is your background, and how did you first get involved with content marketing?
Back in the mid to late 2000s, I ran a micro-publishing business. We published graphic novels so we were competing with behemoths like Marvel and DC Comics. I had to use every tool at my disposal to get the word out. Enter social media amplification.
Back in 2005-2007, MySpace was the only game in town. We built up our company page to tens of thousands of followers and used the MySpace blogging platform to hold contests and publish short-form articles. We also previewed pages from our upcoming books.
The publishing company ended up going under but my love for building marketing campaigns did not. I found doing both online and offline promotions to be the most satisfying part of running the business.
After walking away from publishing I went all-in on learning everything that I could in the digital marketing space. I studied up on SEO, content marketing, and link building. Once Facebook blew up learning paid social distribution became another crucial skill.
I finally took the plunge in 2014 and launched Massive Kontent as my content marketing and SEO consultancy. I dipped my toes into consulting by taking on a few local SEO gigs. At the same time, I started publishing content on my own sites in order to test all of my theories.
2. What should readers know about your agency, and what type of clients are a good fit?
In 2020, Massive Kontent has pivoted to a content promotion and distribution agency. So I spend 80-90% of my time building and executing promotion campaigns for clients who are consistently publishing their own expert content.
We’ll produce promotional copy and PDFs for LinkedIn, graphics and copy for Twitter ads and Tweetstorms, and image carousels for Instagram. Whatever it takes to get the content in front of the right audiences. I will also record interviews with clients and create 10-12 authoritative answers for Quora each month.
We take a two-prong approach using both paid amplification (primarily through custom audiences on Twitter) and “content splintering” where we remix and repurpose the content for 3-4 social platforms.
Our ideal client works in the B2B, SaaS, or tech verticals and is already producing world-class content on their site but are lacking in the promotion and distribution side.
I’ll also take on content strategy and keyword research projects as my first love was SEO – but I tend to turn down content writing jobs as I prefer to work with experts who also happen to be writers.
3. What challenges did you face in getting to where you are now professionally?
I faced the same challenges that a lot of freelancers face when they first put themselves out there. Where do you find your first client? How to you get referrals from those initial clients?
I got my first gig by answering a post in a Facebook marketing group. It only paid $300 but it paid fast. When you start out no one is going to hand you a $5000/month retainer. You have to grind through a lot of smaller projects before landing that first choice contract.
I was also at a disadvantage because I didn’t start out working with an agency. New marketers who spend their initial years in “agencyland” get thrown in the deep end and gain exposure to a lot of strategies and tactics by working on a portfolio of clients. They have to learn to be fast on their feet and become problem solvers.
As a solo consultant, I had to learn a lot of things the hard way without supervisors or mentors. You end up spending two to three times longer on every new challenge that you face in the beginning.
Luckily this forces you to build out processes and workflows to deal with a variety of day-to-day marketing tasks. These workflows also enable you to quickly train other people to take on these responsibilities so that everything doesn’t fall on your shoulders.
4. What common content marketing mistakes do you see every day?
The two most common mistakes that I see—and ones that I’ve also made—is building too much content on “rented land” and going all in on one social platform.
While you should definitely be posting on LinkedIn, tweeting, contributing to Facebook Groups, and answering questions on Quora – you need to make sure your garden is properly tended to at home as well.
Have you been updating your blog? Are you consistently writing new posts for your site and expanding your own content library? You need to make sure that your site’s foundation is rock solid before spending hours posting on social media.
I also don’t recommend focusing all of your efforts on one single social platform. If you’ve spent years expending social capital on one location (RIP MySpace) and it fades from the limelight you’ll be forced to start over from scratch with the next hot property.
Instead, you want to diversify your efforts across three platforms. Post twice a week on LinkedIn, answer two or three questions on Quora, and run a new ad campaign every fourteen days on Twitter. Build compound growth across a small portfolio of communities. This way you’re insulated somewhat if one of the sites stops performing for you.
Look at the MOST COMMON #contentmarketing mistakes committed today and the challenges novice marketers face.
5. What is your favourite content marketing campaign? (something you got inspired by/executed)
The best content marketing campaign that I ever executed on my own site was publishing the guide ‘How to Build Your Own Free Stock Photo Library (https://massivekontent.com/build-your-own-free-stock-photo-library/) where I go into granular detail on how to build backlinks with the photos on your smartphone and a Flickr account.
That post landed me on Dan Shure’s Experts on the Wire podcast and picked up several linked mentions including Search Engine Journal. It put me on the map back in 2018 and landed me a few gigs. And it’s definitely due for an overhaul.
My favorite campaign overall was A24’s brilliant marketing for the film ‘The Witch’ back in 2015-16 (https://massivekontent.com/indie-film-marketing/). They were tasked with finding an audience for a “hard to classify” $4 million historical supernatural horror film.
They made clever use of Twitter and got the web excited by cutting a frightening trailer that played on your emotions. By the end of its run, it made $40 million at the box office before moving on to DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming.
6. What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from your laptop?
I go to the gym four times a week to lift weights. This alleviates a lot of stress and keeps the mind and body healthy. So does long bike rides.
I watch quite a few movies and documentaries and read a lot of long-form journalism. This is how I keep the creative inspiration flowing while “visiting” different parts of the world. Sometimes it’s fun to revisit old copywriting books from the 1960s to see how much has changed and how much hasn’t.
And I’m always trying to find a way to craft innovative new tequila and mezcal cocktails.
7. What are your favourite content marketing tools?
Adobe Creative Cloud
There are plenty of great templated visual building tools out there (Canva, Venngage) – but to truly stand out from the pack you need to push further. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are my weekly go-to’s for building feature images, social banners, and infographics.
The video editing power of Premiere and AfterEffects are second to none. Adobe CC is an incredibly powerful suite of tools.
I build and refine tailored audiences using Followerwonk.
Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics tool that allows me to:
1. Search Twitter bios and profiles.
2. Search using keywords, locations, names, and URLs.
3. Compare multiple Twitter bios by users they follow and their followers.
4. Analyze a specific Twitter handle by their followers and the users they follow.
5. Track changes in follows and followers for your—or your competitor’s—Twitter account for up to 120 days.
6. Sort the follows and followers of any Twitter account by tweets, following, followers, account age, and Social Authority.
I use the SEO platform Ahrefs to build laser-precise tailored lists for Twitter ads manager.
Using their Content Explorer module I can enter a topic and then sort the results by pages (published and republished), date ranges, languages, etc…
I can then click on ‘Details’ for an individual post and that’s where the fun begins. This gives me a list of Twitter handles who tweeted out this particular post. It provides me with the exact date that each individual tweet went out.
I export the username lists as CSV’s and either build massive or extremely precise custom-tailored lists. Content Explorer also allows me to sort published posts by ‘Total Shares’ so that I can see what content has worked well on social media.
8. How do you think content marketing will evolve in five years from now?
Marketers and content creators are going to start building in different mediums into their content strategies and budgets. It’s already happening.
Fewer people will be interested in consuming your 4,000-word guide in text form. It’s still important to have it on your site but it will be accompanied by a 7-9 minute video and audio embed within the same article for your audience segment that prefers to watch or listen to your content.
Video has proven to be the most portable and favored medium on the web. It could take months (years) for your article to reach 25,000 people. A well-distributed video can do that in 48 hours.
LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google have all launched a ‘Stories’ module during the summer of 2020. After seeing how much success Instagram has had with Stories – each of the major platforms has prioritized the ability to blend text with animation, imagery, and video. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye on this space.
9. Which 3 content marketers do you think everyone should follow on Twitter?
10. Who should we interview next in the content marketing universe and why?
You should interview Jeffrey Kranz of the Overthink Group. He is consistently putting out some of the most thought-provoking videos on LinkedIn centered around the subjects of content and SEO. In just 7-9 minutes he can have your brain going into overdrive with some of the concepts that he presents on.
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