MENU

Online Course Tips and Tricks with Rob from Thinkific

KEY TAKEAWAYS COVERED IN THE PODCAST
  • A lot of brands are educating their prospects to share their authority and knowledge prior to asking them to purchase or sign-up for something.
  • Online courses help you offer more content than you can via any other medium. You can use videos, audio, quizzes and more.
  • Anyone in any industry can create and use an online course! Hula hoopers make online courses. Those who are experts in Excel use online courses. They truly are for anyone!
  • Your social media strategy will differ depending on the platform you use. Instagram might be a bit more laid back versus Facebook, and even more laid back than LinkedIn, which is a bit more formal.
  • Content is incredibly important, but it doesn’t work if no one sees it. That’s where social media comes in.
  • To easily curate your content, create a content plan that’s easy to follow.
  • Decide what type of post you’ll make on each day. This makes it easy to create content, generate ideas and curate simply.
  • When you’re taking a blog and repurposing it, use Easel to make all of your images. It allows you to duplicate it into any social media dimension easily.
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE…

It’s never about us, it’s about the people we’re serving! Focus on the customer above all else, no matter what it is you’re doing. Whether it’s creating a course, marketing your business or posting on social media, put your customer and their needs first!

HIGHLIGHTS YOU SIMPLY CAN'T MISS
  • What industries can benefit from online courses? – 08:00
  • How online courses are disrupting education – 11:54
  • Rob’s background in digital marketing and social media – 16:37
  • Social media is a big part of any marketing strategy – 21:18
  • It’s all about the customer, always – 27:40
  • How to generate social media ideas – 36:08
  • Using and repurposing existing content – 40:08
LINKS TO RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S EPISODE
Transcript below

 

Hello, and welcome to episode 33 of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple Podcast, and I'm your host, Teresa Heath-Wareing. I hope you have had a great day, whatever you're doing. And if you are looking for a podcast that helps you understand social media marketing and how to use it for your business, as well as other tips and tools and tricks and strategies around running a business, than you are in the right place.

Now, this week we are doing another interview, which is really cool. And I am really pleased to introduce to you the lovely Rob from Thinkific. Rob and I met in San Diego back in March when we were attending Social Media Marketing World, and I managed to get some time with him and the Thinkific team and have a breakfast, which was really, really lovely. And I decided back then it would be great to get them on the podcast and great for them to, not only talk about the online platform that they have, which is Thinkific, where you can basically build a course online for free. They have a free version of their platform, but also one of the things that they do really well is they do really nice social media. I love the way that they are able to be very personable, considering they are a platform.

And sometimes that can be quite hard to do, but they do a really good job with their social media. So I wanted to get Rob on for two reasons. One, because I love their platform and it's a great platform for you to look at if you want to do an online course. And two, because I love how they do their social media. So Rob is part of the Thinkific marketing team, and in July 2016, he joined Thinkific in the support and onboarding team. And then he moved into marketing. And [inaudible 00:02:07] managers Thinkific social media and community channels. We had a great chat about all things social media, about managing social media for a platform company, and being a social media manager for our business.

We also talked about why online courses have been so popular and are increasing in popularity, and some of the amazing case studies that they've got. It's a really cool episode if you are looking to start an online course or if you are managing social media and you just want to find out what some of the ideas they have, and how they manage their social media platform. And he's a lovely guy and it's a great conversation. So I'm really excited to bring this one to you. So without further ado, please welcome Rob.

Rob, welcome to the podcast. I am so excited to have you here.

I am super excited, super honoured be on your podcast. Thank you so much.

No problem. So as I said in the intro, Rob and I met in San Diego this year. Gosh, that feels like such a long time ago. Feels like last year, definitely this year. And I've seen you guys previously, I'd been following you guys. I know what you do, and then I got to meet you and have breakfast with you. And it was fab. So when we started the podcast, I knew that I wanted to bring on key people and also people who knew particular things in different industries. So you guys are a great fit for that, but my audience doesn't know, if they've not heard of Thinkific before. Could you just briefly tell us what you guys do and what the platform's about?

Sure, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So Thinkific is a online course platform. So it's a software as a service, and it helps entrepreneurs, brands, creators really use online courses to sell it as a profit, for a fee or to use it to train their customers for retention or for lead generation. So really, it helps all types of businesses and entrepreneurs leverage technology to get their knowledge out there, get their content out there, in an easy way. So that's really what really Thinkific is.

It's something that is not new as such, but it's still growing. I feel like, from my point of view, and I think possibly over in the states and Canada, it might have grown a bit quicker than we have over here in the UK, but I think online courses is a real area of growth and something that I've looked at, loads of people I know look at, and I think one of the reasons they're doing it is because it's this additional revenue stream or revenue stream, kind of this dream of making money while you sleep. Sounds so easy, I believe it's really not that easy. And why do you think that people are really kind of coming into this online teaching type side?

So there's a lot of ways … I think there's a lot of reasons why people are coming to online courses now. You know, a lot of people are, even as lead magnets, people are using online courses, They used to share PDFs or video series, or that kind of thing, but people don't really like to be sold. So I think a lot of brands and a lot of entrepreneurs are now educating their prospects, I guess you want to call it, educating their prospects to share their authority, share their knowledge in that space before asking them to sign up to something or purchase something. So it's a way to really get your name out there, get your knowledge out there, to show off your authority and knowledge in particular topics, and to attract those potential prospects into your world.

And that's really interesting actually because I guess I had never thought naively of a course as a lead magnet. Now, one of my lead magnets is a five email mini course. So I literally just emailed the content out and it's just text within an email. But I'd never really thought about actually using a course of some sort or a mini course as a lead magnet itself. That's such a good idea, isn't it? And maybe just using a small course, building up to the sale of a big course, could be one of the ways to then convert them into a sale maybe.

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's a great way to do it as well as just an email course, but an online course actually helps you with other aspects. You can use quizzes, you can kind of see which students are completing which lessons and consuming that content, so you can do a little more sort of digging into that topic and giving more value. You can use videos, audios, presentation slides, you can do that all within sort of your platform, so you can kind of see all of the different things that your students and your prospects are doing in there. So yeah, it comes off as a little bit different than just a straight content push.

And actually, one thing you've just said there that is so good is the fact that people don't want to learn just by one way, do they any more? We are so used to this crazy multimedia world we're in of videos and audio and images and gifs, and whatever it might be, that actually we want to learn more that style than necessarily … If I have to read anything, if I'm totally honest, I'm a nightmare. I don't want to read anything. If someone could show me a video, I would much rather watch that video. So yeah, I think that's a fantastic way, a much more interactive way in order to get that content across. Isn't it?

That's the truth.

 

What industries can benefit from online courses?

 

Do you guys see that online courses … because so many people are really excited about online courses, because of the fact that there's this revenue stream, and some people … I've had amy on the show, I mean she has built her entire career, and a very successful career, in selling online courses. So it's not just as a side hustle as it were. People can build their entire careers by selling a course online. But do you think that there is a particular industry that really suits the kind of online course platform or do you think that basically anyone in any industry can kind of come up with an online course?

Yeah, I think anyone in any industry can come up with an online course and use online courses to grow their business and to scale their business. Obviously, the authors of the world, the consultants, the coaches, they naturally will gravitate to online courses first and start adopting that first because they're already doing that offline. But I've seen a lot of different industries and niches use online courses for a number of ways, and not just to sell it for profit, but use it to, like I said, attract new leads, but also to train their customers. We even have other software companies using online courses and using Thinkific, companies like Hootsuite, Later, Aweber. All these companies are using it to educate their prospects, but also to keep the retention and even using it as part of the onboarding to train their customers on how to use their platforms.

So it's really interesting. Even other niches, you don't really necessarily think of. We have a really successful course creator who teaches hula hooping and we have another one that teaches how to sew. We have other ones, John, who is out of Spain. He teaches people how to use Excel, and then he does really well. There's just so many different online courses out there. So it's an interesting time. I think a lot of people are going online to learn things that they don't necessarily want to learn offline, if that makes sense. You can't necessarily go to a course in real life on how to use the hula hoop, you know? But people are using that and they're going online to learn those kinds of things. So it's an exciting time.

It is. And actually what was really interesting, because I have a degree in marketing, which obviously I sat in a university for a whole three years doing, and obviously that degree was literally just lecture, someone talking, read loads of books. Which, how I even got that degree, I don't quite know. Because like I said, reading is not my forte. And one of the things that happened was obviously I then went into my marketing career. I spent 10 years in marketing, and when I started my own business, and I wanted to focus on social media, one thing I wanted to do was make sure I was really good at it because there were lots of people out there that said they did social media and they didn't perhaps have the level that I would have liked them to have, or I would have wanted for myself. And I went and find all these experts in social media.

And the very first one I find was Mari Smith. And I did a course, an online course with Mari. And I remember thinking at the time, and this would have been almost five years ago. And I remember thinking at the time, oh my God, this is crazy, right? So I'm doing this course and she's in San Diego, and I'm sat here in the UK, and she shouts out my name on one of the calls or whatever, and I literally like … my husband sat in the same room as me. And I'm like, “Oh my god, Mari just said my name.” But that's how I learned. That's how I learned about social media. And since then, I've done loads of online courses like … and obviously that's one of the reasons I know Amy's because I've got courses that convert. I've obviously done stuff with her. I've got James Wetmore's that I'm doing at the moment. And for me, actually that's how I keep ahead. That's how I make sure my business is where I want it to be. And I couldn't … like you said, there is no where locally that I could walk into a classroom and learn what I can learn online. It's crazy, isn't it?

 

How online courses are disrupting education

 

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that is the whole education world, it's just getting disrupted that way. You know, I think the stats with university enrollments are down, people are learning things online. And not only that, employers are looking at experience versus knowledge and I guess a degree and all those kinds of things. I think Google just announced that as part of their … They don't longer need specific education requirements for some of the positions that they're hiring for. So it's an interesting time in that way. You know, like even in social media, I see a lot of on Linkedin. I see a lot of people that have even put down that they've completed Hootsuite certification. So that gives some credibility when they're going out there and saying, “Hey, yeah, I know how to use these tools now.” So it saves me a lot of training time on your end if you hire me versus someone that may have like a degree in marketing but no experience.

And I totally agree, and obviously having a degree in marketing, I obviously advocate the fact that it was great that I have this degree.

Of course.

But I'm really honest in the fact that A, in my entire career, not one person asked to see my degree certificate. Like honestly, it's kind of made me think like I could have just made it up. Obviously I didn't, but they never asked to see that. And secondly, although my degree was brilliant, the transferrable knowledge was actually not that high and it wasn't as practical. It was obviously much more theoretical. So when I then got into the workplace, I didn't know these kinds of things that I really needed to do, and especially on something like social media, it didn't exist when I did my degree, and even if it did, it moves at the speed of light.

So you could do a course today on something and tomorrow it can be completely out of date. And what's really funny is … It's funny that you should mentioned the education system because I have a stepson who's 15 and he's in his last year of school and he's going to be doing his GCSEs, the exams over here, and he's kind of had conversations with me before and he said, “I don't understand why we need to do this. If I want to know something, I just look on youtube.”

And you kind of can't argue with him because actually we are in this amazing world where we can find out anything and we can find an expert in it and go and say, “Have you got a course? Can I come and learn online with you?” You don't necessarily have to go through that kind of formal education. Not that I'm going to tell him this obviously because I've told him he's got to go to school and work really hard on his exams, but you kind of can't argue with him, can you? It's an amazing world we're in.

You can't, you can't. One example that comes to mind is, like right now on social media and we're talking about social media, is that Instagram has a lot of attention and Instagram stories has a lot of attention and I dare you to look for a course somewhere in any college that is going to teach you how to use Instagram stories to grow your email list. But yesterday, I came across Chris Strub who I think you probably know.

Yeah, I do.

Yeah, Chris Strub. And he has a course on Instagram stories because he does a lot of Instagram stories. He's built his whole brand on it. And so, how can you keep up, right?

Yeah.

And my son even, like you mentioned your son … My son yesterday, we were like, it's fall here in Vancouver, so everything's back to school and it's kinda like, okay, what do you want to do programmes wise, do you want to do swimming or basketball?

And he's like, “I want to learn digital animation.” He's eight years old.

That is awesome.

Yeah. And I'm like, “Okay.” So I did a search and there's some colleges here, some arts colleges, that has digital animation courses, but they're not going to take an eight year old. Right? So he went on YouTube and he's going to learn how to do it. I'm like, “Well, I'll try to look for an online course for you.” But it was hard for me to find one. But on YouTube, there's a tonne of those how to videos. And so that's where he's going. So it's an interesting world.

It is. And when you think about what social media has done for our world, and the different roles now … So there isn't just a marketing person, there's a content creator, there's a community manager, there's a social media person, there's animators and advertising people. There's so many different roles. And actually, all of them are amazing. But like you said, I think if I walked into a marketing degree today, I don't know how much of that stuff they would actually teach and how much they could teach because it's moving so fast.

 

Rob’s background in digital marketing and social media

 

So this is a great point actually, to introduce the fact that you are a social media community manager for Thinkific, I think I've said it in the intro, but to say it again. And actually, it would be great just to get a little bit of your background, and where you've come from, how you ended up working at Thinkific.

Sure, yeah, yeah. So before Thinkific, my world was digital agency, so I was working at a digital agency here in downtown Vancouver for a number of years doing everything. I was at one point creating WordPress sites. I was doing SEO and OnPage SEO.

So I was there for a few years and so I kind of learned the ropes, how digital agency worked and digital marketing worked. So it was great. In our building, there was another startup, it's actually an eCommerce startup called Lemonstand. And there was a guy there named Sid [inaudible 00:17:30] and so we bumped into the elevator a lot and we'd talk about, “Hey, what are you doing? Like what kinds of things are you guys doing?” We even exchanged businesses, we would refer them clients and vice versa because they were an eCommerce platform similar to Shopify.

And so yeah, got to know him. And then one day I messaged him like, “Hey, yo, what are you up to for lunch? Do you want to go for lunch?” And he's like, “Hey, I'm not in the building anymore. I moved over to this new startup called Thinkific.” And I was like, “Oh cool, what is that about? What do you guys do?” And he's telling me this story. And I think he was the director of growth. That's what he was hired for. And he was like employee number seven or eight, I think.

So I was like, “Okay, cool.” He's like, “Yeah, you should come down. Let's grab coffee. I'll tell you all about it.” Later that day, he messages me, he's like, “Hey, you know, we're actually trying to fill some roles, if you want, if you're open to it, come down, have a chat with our COO, Miranda Leavers.

And long story short, I went down. I had had a chat with them and a couple of weeks later I was in the office at a desk, and doing support in the beginning.

Okay.

Yeah. Yeah. So I spent a little bit of time in support and getting to know the platform and doing sort of technical support and that kind of thing and then quickly moved into marketing.

I think actually from a marketing point of view, for you to do that support side is so useful because you're talking to the customers, you know what they want, you know what questions they're asking, you know the problems they're having with their businesses and how they want to try and fix it. And all that kind of good information, that from a marketer point of view, to sit there and take in all that kind of knowledge, is fantastic. And I think also with a platform like yours, you need to know the platform obviously in order to market it, don't you? You need to know how to actually set up a course, how to use it, what people get stuck on, and that sort of thing.

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone that starts at Thinkific, or starts working, part of the onboarding as a team member is actually to create a course.

That's awesome.

Some people that have created some really interesting courses, and on the side of support, even if you're not in support, there's actually time, like half a day, or a couple of hours in a week every week, where you are scheduled to go in and do some support. And so it's built into the culture. Even Greg, our CEO, will answer tickets and he might even call you if you're really stuck in a jam, right before launch day or something and he gets that email, he might even call you. So I've seen him do that.

That's really cool. And actually, like you said, that culture that it brings into the business is a really nice culture. And I think funnily enough, because I've dealt with lead pages over in Minneapolis, and I've been to their offices and I knew their teams and I've worked with them, and I loved the culture they have. And actually, it seems to be like a tech startup type culture that seems to be a much more innovative and friendly and interesting. And they want to care about their customers. You really want to make sure that people are getting an experience. And actually, one of the things that I love about your social media, and one of the reasons I wanted to get you on and talk to you, is because you have such a nice, personal way of communicating with people, of doing social media. And from a user perspective, for a tech platform to do that is great, because that's not the easiest thing in the world, is that? Even though you've got a team, you're still talking about a bit of software or a bit of equipment type thing. So yeah. Great.

 

Social media is a big part of any marketing strategy

 

Tell me a bit about the strategy. What was the kind of thought around social media? How important did you think it was in your overall marketing strategy?

Social media is a big part of our marketing strategy for sure. As far as strategy, it really depends on the channel. So we look at Instagram versus Facebook versus Linkedin versus Twitter, all really differently. I mean you'll see similar content on all the different channels, but for example, Instagram is, for us, a little bit more laid back. It's more about our culture and more about our team members, and definitely a lot about our course creators because it's very human. It's very personal.

And then even within Instagram, as you know, as you guys do, the main feed is a little bit more curated versus the stories. So the stories is more behind the scenes, different meetups that are running all over the world. So that is how we look at Instagram. It's not really to generate new users or anything like that. It's more to show our culture and more the fun side and sort of behind the scenes kind of thing.

Facebook and Linkedin, it's a little bit more serious, it's a little bit more giving value as far as guides and how to use a lot of those kinds of things, because we do want to make sure that we're helping our course creators have success. So there's two stages to that, which is how to create your online course and then how to market it. So that's where a lot of our blog content may live and get shared on.

So that's kind of like really the two different avenues when it comes to social media. Before that, obviously creating the content. We do have a team of marketers that are creating content all the time. So yeah, blog posts, videos, a lot of those things we are creating, a lot of content. So yeah. Content is big and then obviously your content is only as good as how many people can see it. Social media comes into play into that a lot.

So do you do much on the advertising side? So are you advertising on Facebook, Instagram? Have you done a bit of Linkedin or where do you kind of sit on that?

Right now, Facebook and Instagram, we do have a bit of advertising happening there, bit of sponsored posts that are happening there. Obviously with Facebook, even though you have a large group, only a small percentage of it are seeing your content organically, as you know. So, Linkedin, we haven't done much advertising. We are doing more videos. Linkedin is a bit of a interesting channel when it comes to advertising, the costs are a little higher.

I've always struggled with Linkedin if I'm honest, and purely because I don't want to spend that money. And if you have that budget over on Facebook, you can do so much more with it. And I think people are on a different mindset on Linkedin as well. They don't go on as often. I know even though doing the job I do, if I go on Linkedin once a day, that's probably generous. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I can go a day or two and not be on it. Although I have noticed recently that I'm getting more direct messages, more people kind of coming to me through Linkedin then perhaps I have had in the past. So that's interesting to kind of see that move.

That's probably because they're just finding your podcasts.

Yeah. Maybe. Maybe. I'll tell you what I have a lot of problems with, and this is kind of hilarious. I don't think I've ever said this before in the podcast. I seem to get a lot of spam from males and I get an awful lot of like ex-military widows. That's always the favourite. There always military, they're always a widow, and there's hardly any photos of anything but them in their uniform. And I get so much spam on Instagram, messages everyday.

And the problem is because it's a business account, there's a part of me that kind of thinks, is it or isn't it? And then on occasions I have actually responded going, “Hey, how can I help?” And then obviously it started to turn and I'm like, “Oh no, no. That's not right.” But literally just the other day I had my first spam on Linkedin.

Really?

Linkedin. That's not where you try to pull people, is it? That's not where you try and like get a date. And I have this guy, he was like, “You look familiar. Are you from the UK? Do you speak English?” And I thought, you'd taken a look at my profile. You've probably realised that I'm from the UK. Anyway, I responded saying, “Yeah, I'm from the UK.” And he said, “Oh great.” And he starts trying to have this conversation. Again, I wasn't quite sure where it was going and he asked for my number or can we speak through WhatsApp? And I was like, “No, we can't.”

No.

No, we are not having a conversation. Thank you very much.

Gotta put up a wall. Yeah, that's interesting.

On Linkedin.[inaudible 00:26:08]

On Linkedin. The spammers are going to Linkedin. That's hilarious.

We need to watch out, but I do get a lot of … And then the other thing is my husband is in the military, but I showed my husband, “Oh, look, someone else is coming trying to have a conversation.” And you know that they're not the real people behind it. You literally know they are full on spam, but like I said, there was a part of me because it's a brand account, because it's my account. I kind of think, “Oh God, what if it's someone that's serious that just happens to be a military widow?” And I just ignore them because I thought you're spam.

No, that's interesting. We get a lot of spam. I find that we get some spam on Instagram. Like [inaudible 00:26:52] natural place, you know, messages and direct messages and you just decline, decline.

But yeah, not Linkedin. [inaudible 00:27:01].

Not Linkedin. [inaudible 00:27:04].

This is another level.

So tell me what's kind of coming up for Thinkific in terms of their marketing, social media, what's your kind of plan or thoughts or have you got any ideas of going forward what you're going to be doing with the brand?

Yeah. So we just launched our new brand, probably about a month or six weeks ago.

Lovely by the way. Really amazing. I like it.

 

It’s all about the customer, always

 

Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it was a lot of people and putting a lot of sweat equity into it. And we launched it and really the goal of it is to be more customer focused. Our previous website and our brand and everything spoke a lot about us. But really at the heart of it, we're really focused on our customers and their stories because we were really cool people creating content. And people that really resonate with their stories. And not just per se like their story, but the stories of how they're helping their students. One of my favourite stories was this lady that is Jas Talks Law. So if you look it up on Instagram, it's at jastalkslaw, and so she just passed the bar exam to be a lawyer and so she's teaching other students how to get tuition for law school.

And I think in the first half of this year, I think she helped her students get over $700 grand in … I can't even say the word. Yeah, tuition scholarships.

Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

So it's just like such an awesome story because she gets to use our platform and now she's giving other students that may not be able to get access to this education and this amazing feature, through her courses. As far as features, I suppose we are focused on student success a lot these days.

I love that. As a marketing tool, that is so good because actually it's never about us as the marketers or the business owners. It's always about the people that we're serving or that we're helping. And for you to take it a step further again and for you to then talk about the people they're serving, because actually often I think, I don't know about you, but when you see people advertising online course stuff, as in we can help you do an online course or we're an online course platform, it's often about money and about that income and what you're going to get from that income. Whereas actually it's really nice to hear you guys talk about it's about helping people and it's about not only can I do this as a business, but I'm then helping all these other people. And Pat Flynn has a great saying of serve first, and that is entirely that, isn't it? It's like how can I help other people be brilliant? And then, that's a great message for you guys to put out, isn't it?

Yeah, absolutely. For every course creator, if they have 100 students, that's 100 people. And they're real people and so we want to make sure that we're serving them, that they're … just the little things. I'd be able to get their password, login, all those things are really, really basic, but then also help them … like right now we just launched … I think about a month ago, we launched a tool called Goals, Student Goals. And so a course instructor can, right at the beginning, ask their students by the end of this course, what's your goal? And then at the end, it'll automatically ask them, did you achieve your goal? Yes or no? And then some feedback. So really simple, but it is like, okay, now that will help the course creator maybe perhaps tweak that course because then what they initially thought was the goal of their students, may not be, so now they can maybe tweak the content and maybe add something else in there to really help those students achieve whatever that goal is. Right?

So yeah, as far as the platform, other than like all the other tools that you would kind of think of as far as eCommerce and integrations, that's being worked on. But student success is a big part of what we're looking at.

As far as marketing, videos are huge. We're still creating a lot of video content, so even a lot of our blog posts and top blog posts, we're taking that and turning into longer form video, which we might then take little bits of and share that on social to drive to some of our longer form posts. So that's a lot of what we're doing, we're doubling down on content that way.

And I love the video and I also love the fact that when you've done stuff, you use your team members, don't you, in the videos?

Yeah.

And for me, that is a win win on two levels. First off, it's giving your team the chance to be that star, to be that person on the screen and stand in front of someone and some people aren't going to naturally want to do that. But I think generally it's nice. And then secondly, as a viewer, as a user, you get to see the people that you're speaking with. And that creates a bigger buzz I think around when you put a video out, it must be like if I'm in the video as a team member, I'm going to share with my friends and be like, “Oh look, I'm in this video.” And talking to a customer and saying, “Oh, did you see that I was in the latest video or whatever it was.” So I love that and I love the videos. I love the kind of personal side of it, because like I said, I think there are a million tech platforms around, like literally so many different platforms offering so many things. And to see that kind of personality come through and shine has got to be one of the best things, really. Do you ever get tired of doing … Do you do the social media 24/7 as it were? So are you constantly watching it?

I'm constantly on it. On the weekends, I've tried not to check on it. We do have a team now. So, for example, we have a private Facebook group that is really an online community. So it used to be a couple of us that would sort of be in that group and you watch the comments and the posts and maybe reply. But now we have a few other people in there, so it's not so consuming of time. But yeah, I'd be lying if I'm not constantly watching it during the week for sure. But on the weekends, I do try to just shut it off and be present at home and with my family. But yes, it's social media. The nature of it is that it's real time.

I don't know about you, but I do think that it's something that … to manage social media, I think there's a finite time on it because I know when I first started the business I managed all our social media. I was there on the phone every evening doing all the responding. And I got to a point where I was just like I need a break. I need to be able to put my phone down. And like you said, be present, because I never was. I'm not saying I'm a whole lot more present now, I have to say, but it is different now because I've got team members now and we divide that work.

So I do feel like this isn't … There might be someone out there that's been a social media manager for 10 years or whatever. Obviously, we're still very much in the early days of social media, maybe another 10 years they might still be doing it, but I do feel like it is one of those things that is tiring. And as a social media person, you've got to find a way of either getting some of that down time or turning off a bit from it or managing your own personal space with social media, because otherwise you are just consumed all the time, aren't you?

Absolutely. Absolutely. But you know, what I've learned … like there was a time I went to LA. We went away for our family vacation a week ago and I wasn't in the Facebook group or anything and you come back, and everything is still okay. So it was a lesson, like they still run if you've got a team or if you've got coverage, things like that, then it should be okay.

And then on the other side, as far as getting content out there, I definitely use tools. I'm sure you guys, as well, so that you're not posting at 10:00 AM on a Saturday. Content will go out.

Yeah, yeah. Do you ever struggle coming up with ideas or kind of what to post next or what to say? Because again, as a social media person, that's really difficult. And the one question I get all the time is how do I know what's post and do you ever struggle with that or do you find it fairly easy? Where does that come from?

 

How to generate social media ideas

 

In the early days, when we were trying to establish our content plan, it was tough. It definitely is. Sometimes there's nothing to talk about and sometimes there's too much to talk about. And so now we've kind of come into a rhythm where we have sort of a rotation of, I suppose, content topics. Might be a tip one day, it might be a customer story the next day, might be a feature launch sort of announcement the next day. So we kind of have our four or five content types that we go to. Instagram is one of those things, you know, you have to have a nice layout and you have to have all these things curated. So yeah, we do have a content plan now that really is easy to follow. And so from there, it's just a matter of sort of getting all the different content from the team members and then arranging it to fit into the particular days.

Yeah.

So yeah, so using, again, when it's a team structure, then using a tool … like we use a Asana, you could use Trello and those kinds of things as well, but there's a board where people can submit like, “Hey, I'm doing a Webinar with so and so, can you make sure that it's like posted out there and promoted maybe 10 days before the Webinar?” That kind of thing. “Hey, I'm doing an event, can you put this up?” And “Hey, we're doing this feature launch, can you make sure that this goes up?” And that kind of thing. So it's taken a little while and it's a bit … but it's still a work in progress. But yeah, it is a bit of organising required that really helps make things streamlined.

And I think as well, when I've worked with bigger businesses and we've said to that big business we would need content, that is one of the most difficult things in the world because they are doing stuff every single day. Each one of those team members that are on the phone to the customers, that are dealing with the product, that they're building something, they have got stories to tell everyday of the week. But the problem is it's getting it out of their head and getting the actual message or content to you. That is one of the most trickiest thing. So great tip with using something like Asana or something where you can literally drop in and have that kind of brief conversation that something's coming up or I've got this thing or we're doing this thing. And also, I love the tip about your kind of categories and that is something that I use on Instagram, but strangely enough, I don't … and like you, things are very different for me.

I do have similar things that go out in similar places, but my Instagram strategy is very different from the rest of my social media strategy. So I do have a number of categories that I'd like to cover in Instagram. However, on main social media I don't see much, but that's a great tip because actually if you know you have got five or six categories and you're going to post four or five times a week, you know you're going to have things to put in. And also, if you know you're going to do a blog is one of your categories, then you go back and you go, okay, let's find those blog things. How many blogs have I got to come up? How many weeks can I have this kind of strategy coming out? So you can start collecting that content under that category. And therefore, if you're doing one a week, then you could effectively, really quickly rack up 10 weeks worth of content fairly easily. Couldn't you?

Absolutely. Absolutely. And one of the things that we do a lot is, you know, let's say you have a blog post, then we can take that blog post and take bits out of it, and using tools like Canva or Esol, make little images and then you can have content for like a good couple of weeks using text content. Right?

 

Using and repurposing existing content

 

And sometimes … Actually, I did a podcast not too long ago about repurposing content, which I'll link to in the show notes. But actually for me, one of the things, because content creation is really difficult and it takes so much time. So you could almost look at creating less content, but how to really use all of that content so well. And like you said, a blog post could be easily split up into different tips or different images or different ways in which you can kind of pitch that blog post. So that's really helpful trying to get that sort of stuff out there.

Absolutely. And if I can give you one tip, I think one of the things I use is when you're taking a blog and then you're creating images with quotes from the blog post, used to take forever, because you would create them on Instagram which would be square, and then you would have to make one for Twitter and Linkedin.

But I came across a tool called Easil. So what you can do is you can make all your images and then you can actually duplicate it in any other type of social channel dimension. So you could make a square one and then duplicate it for Twitter and it will already be in that dimension. You might just have to change the font size.

Yeah. Slightly move it just to make it fit. But yeah, that's a good idea. So we'll link up to that. So Easil, is it-

It's Easil.com. E A S I l.com.

Lovely. We'll take that and put it in [inaudible 00:41:16]. That's so cool. Do you know what? It's been so lovely to talk to you Rob. Like I said, one of the reasons I really wanted to connect with you guys is because in San Diego, one of the strategies you used … Now bear in mid, Sunday at the time, we went to two conferences. There was traffic and conversion and there was Social Media Marketing World. So two ginormous conferences, and at both of them, they always have like a … I don't know what the word is actually, where people can go and display … a bit of an exhibition area where you can go in and hire a stand and show your wares or whatever.

And that's expensive. Really expensive at these type of conferences. And also, how effective it is, I'm not entirely sure. I don't know, off the top of my head, how effective it is, but you've got to think people are busy. They're at a conference, you might get a couple of inquiries, but you don't know that you're really making those connections. And one of the things that you guys did that I thought was brilliant was the fact that you saw that I was talking about it on Twitter, and you reached out and said do you want to meet up? Which was amazing. And the other thing, and this is so silly, but the other thing that was really cool was because it was during traffic and conversion, and they don't give you food at traffic and conversion, which I just think is insane. Anyway, you were like, “Let us give you breakfast.” And I was thinking, “Yes. Food, free food. Brilliant.”

I think anyone will do anything for free food or alcohol. Those are my kind of two levels. If you want to like get me to come and help someone do something, then give me free food and alcohol and I'll be there all day long. But what was really nice is we sat around at the table and there was quite a few of us, wasn't there? Probably like 15, 20 people, and we have this lovely breakfast and we chatted and we talked. And from that day on, anybody speaks to me about Thinkific and I am like the biggest fan, because you bothered to sit with people and talk to them.

And I assume, I don't know obviously from your point of view, but that must've been a good strategy for you instead of paying for a stand or sponsoring something. To actually go and meet your customers, that must have been a much better strategy for you.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think in the very beginning we kind of talked about goals for certain things and so our goal with that was we just wanted to meet people and have like actual conversations and learn. And what are you guys up to this year? What are you guys doing? And you know, it would be impossible to meet all the people that attended those conferences. The booth idea, it crossed our minds for a little while. But you know, for us to hang out at a booth. I'm sure it works really well if that's your strategy.

I agree. I think there's a different strategy that uses-

There's a different strategy, so it was fun. Yeah, we met you and we met so many people and we had … we were just like no rush, let's just learn about you guys and how we can help you and vice versa. And so yeah. So yeah, it might be the same thing next year.

Yeah. And please invite me again. I'd love to go.

Of course, of course.

And it was a great place you went for breakfast. It was Mexican, wasn't it?

Yeah.

Oh my God. Since going to San Diego because, and of course I've been a couple of years now, and a couple of times a year, so we've gone to San Diego a lot, but because it's so close to Mexico, there's a lot of Mexican food, isn't there?

Yes.

And I just love Mexican food. So I'm back in San Diego in about three weeks time, actually, strangely enough. The conference that I'm going to is Business By Design, James Wetmore's conference that goes along with his course, so I'm just attending, but because it's in Laguna beach, we're going to stay in San Diego and hopefully catch up with a couple of people while we're over there. And all I can think about is where are we going to eat because I was so excited about that Mexican food.

You can't go wrong with tacos and guacamole and stuff. You can't.

I know, and you know what? I actually have guacamole and tortilla chips and salsa for my dinner tonight, so it's going to be like a lovely memory as I finish this call and go and make my Mexican food.

That sounds delicious.

It has been such good fun. Thank you so much for coming on, and hopefully in the future I'd love to have you back on. Talk more about online courses and how things work out with that because I do think that for my audience, and for lots of audiences out there, online courses are the way to go. And what's awesome about your platform is one, you have a free level which is really cool actually, to be able to go in and do it for free. And it's a great platform and I will link up to everything in the show notes as well, so people can go and check it out. But Rob, thank you so much for being on today.

Thank you so much for having me.

So I really hope you enjoyed that episode. It was really good fun having Rob on, like I said. And I think I've said before on the podcast, I like working with businesses where they have nice people. And although I know that sounds a little bit lame, I really genuinely like to work with people that I like and I'm really not keen on working with businesses of people that aren't nice. And I think nice is underrated anyway … wittering on about being nice. Rob is one of these really lovely guys and I'm so pleased I was able to have him on. I love the fact that he was sharing that he was using, or some of their customers were using, courses as lead magnets, which I guess I hadn't really thought about that. I'd only ever thought about courses as a product that you sell, but actually a mini course that you use for a lead magnet is a great way to get them engaged with what you do and what services you can offer to them and share some of your amazing information.

And the fact that you can do it for free really is amazing. Also, I loved talking to him about how he re-purposes content and the difficulties and challenges that social media managers have in getting content from the team, because that is actually something that I think all of us can relate to if we've managed social media. Whether we're managing it for clients or we're in a business, managing it for our own business, getting content from other people to help you make a good and interesting platform is really tricky. So it was great to hear his thoughts and him talking about that. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, as it was great to talk to Rob.

Now, next week we're back to a solo episode, but like I said, I've still got some cool interviews coming up for you. Also, I would really love to know, is there something you want me to talk about? I am happy to talk about anything you want. I'm happy to share ideas and thoughts around different subjects on social media and marketing and generally running a business, so if there is anything that you want me to talk about on the podcast or you need more help on, then please come and find me on social media.

I'm obviously on Instagram mostly, but you can get me on Twitter and Facebook. Just put Teresa Heath-Wareing in and you will find me. And come and have a chat with me. I would love to hear about what episodes you would like me to cover in the future. Also, don't forget, I am still doing my Instagram challenge where I'm putting a tip on every single day throughout October, something that will help you make a difference in your business. So make sure you check that out as well. I will see you this time next week. Have a fabulous week and take care.