June 29, 2023 Content Chat Recap: Content Marketing Ask Me Anything With Erika Heald

A Content Chat header image that says today’s topic is a content marketing ask me anything with #ContentChat host Erika Heald, who is @SFerika on Twitter.

#ContentChat is now on video! To celebrate our new format—and work through a few technical hurdles*—Erika hosts a content marketing ask me anything (AMA) in this chat recap.

Read through the highlights below, or watch the full conversation recording on LinkedIn.

*Skip to 3:30 in the recording for the start of the conversation.

What was your path to becoming a content marketer?

Erika wanted to be a magazine journalist, but she faced a difficult job market and high costs of living in San Francisco. She pursued freelance writing jobs instead and eventually started working at Charles Schwab. For years, Erika struggled to explain the work she does, until Joe Pulizzi coined the phrase content marketing (thank you, Joe!).

Erika also shares this PSA:

“There are people who say ‘we shouldn’t call it content marketing, we should just call it marketing.’ Please, let’s not backslide! Not all marketing is content marketing, it’s just not. There’s a lot of other things in marketing that I don’t do, because they’re not content marketing. So, please, don’t make my life hard.” – Erika Heald

How did you get involved with #ContentChat?

#ContentChat is one of the first Twitter Chats that Erika participated in. She wanted to network with other people that were doing the same kind of work and talk about content marketing with all sorts of people.

The chat was started by Jenise Stout Fryatt and was still run by her when Erika joined. Later, Lucy Render-Kaplan became the host. In 2016—after several years of joining the chat weekly—Erika began managing the community. Shout-out to Martin Lieberman for encouraging Erika to take on the hosting duties!

Erika reveals how her transition to self-employment made it easier to take on leading #ContentChat:

“I was finally 100% in control of my own schedule, so I could block off Mondays at noon Pacific every week and make it happen—and not have to be sneaking #ContentChat while in a meeting. And yes, I’m a terrible person—I have done that! I would sometimes sneak some tweets in while sitting in a meeting that could have been an email. We’ve all been in those meetings, and you do have the time to do stuff like that.”- Erika Heald

How can content marketers use LinkedIn to build thought leadership?

“Thought leadership is when you are someone with expertise in a specific area and a willingness to engage in conversation with other people about it. Have a very unique position that you’re willing to take. [Thought leaders are] willing to go out there and maybe have that unpopular opinion or contrarian point of view and engage in dialogue with people who don’t necessarily agree with them. To be a thought leader, you’ve got to be out there leading with that perspective and being willing to engage.” – Erika Heald

“LinkedIn is a fantastic place to start developing your thought leadership profile because you already have your network of people that know who you are and what you do. You have a little bit of a built-in audience, which is a huge boost versus when you start out on a new social media platform where you’re not necessarily interacting with a pre-built network. LinkedIn is great because you can share your perspective on things—and it can be something as simple as a conversation you had with a colleague (not calling them out by name) and taking a nugget from that conversation—and posting a poll about it or asking people to share their opinion. Starting by engaging people you already know and asking their opinion and feedback is a really great way to start cultivating those conversations that lead to juicy thought leadership moments.” – Erika Heald

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Why did you position your business as a consultancy instead of an agency?

People often think that consultants develop a strategy but don’t execute it, but Erika has worked with many consultancies that provide services to achieve their client’s goals. Based on Erika’s agency experience and insights from friends, agencies often give away marketing strategy in order to sell execution. The problem with that, for Erika, is that you may develop a lot of strategies for free.

“The consultancy was a very intentional decision because I don’t want to just be creating content for various companies. I want us to be putting together a strategy that will help them meet their goals—and then we create the content. That said, of course, there is the whole creator side of our business. I host webinars, author content, sometimes co-author surveys. I do all sorts of work where I am a creator and I’m creating content for a brand, but as a content marketing expert. ” – Erika Heald

What new and innovative content formats have you seen over the past few months that you recommend people keep their eyes on?

“This is an example from the Creator Economy Expo. I had been talking with Brian Fanzo at the start of the conference, and he did something really fun—he created an AI avatar to introduce him at the beginning of his keynote. And I’ve been seeing on more of the video tools that you can create an AI avatar of yourself. That’s one of the new and fun things people have been doing.” – Erika Heald

“I don’t know that I’ve seen new content formats as much as I’m seeing people doing a better job at repackaging their content for different formats. For example, I think people are finally understanding how to use tools that have generative AI to take that really great content they’ve already created and create derivitive content out of it. Taking whatever that base content is and evolving it to create something new that still has the essence of the original piece.” – Erika Heald

Erika recommends using content planning templates that help you map out how you’ll repurpose your content. The community shares a handful of resources to help in the blog post below:

Your Marketing Toolbox: 61 Templates and Tools To Boost Your Marketing Value

What is a minimum viable content marketing team?

Most of the time, you’ll end up with a team of one person. But they need support. They need to have other people inside the organization who can also create content, or there needs to be a budget to work with freelancers. This includes freelancers who have graphic design skills.

“Yes, you can kick off your content marketing efforts with one internal person. But they need to have resources to help them with the content creation, distribution, and the design. Otherwise you’re going to burn them out really, really fast and you’re not going to have the ability to publish very frequently. People think that with AI now you can generate five blog posts in five minutes. Yes, you can generate five blog posts in five minutes—that will be exactly the same as what everyone else out there using the same AI tools to create will be producing, and nobody wants to read that.” – Erika Heald

Are there advantages to using AI to support content marketing?

AI is amazing for consistency. If you want to follow a specific format, you can plug in all your information and content and it will prompt you to include things you’ve forgotten. It can also help to create social media posts to promote your content. Throughout the chat, Erika and the community mention ChatGPT, Copy.ai, Jasper.ai, Grammarly, and Canva’s image editing tools as helpful AI tools for content marketers.

Keep in mind: If you’re using AI to generate content, you will not own the copyright to it.

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