The Alladins Cave For Why Interviews Work
When you embrace the world where you interview others, your content efforts can position you as the valuable resource in your industry.
If you take a stance to perfect what you know, then taking that step to bring others into your fold who have a similar mindset is a win, win on both sides of the fence.
No one is that bothered about reading a new business win, the charity event that is thinly veiled as doing something good but is really filled with PR self importance, or another ’10 ways you need to be doing something that is related to our product.’
The networks that we develop are made up of a series of continuous tiny interactions.
You cannot be insular and look at the world that surrounds you and the business wins, but the industry that you are part of. If you take the responsibility to showcase how the world looks from your marketplace, you have the opportunity to be recognised as someone who looks for the truth and reports on how your world looks today.
This also supports the niche you operate within. In the words of Dorie Clark, “In order to truly make an impact, you have to both develop powerful ideas and build a following around them.” What better way to make an impact by making a stand within your marketplace.
I started my Talking Content Marketing project three years ago and am now approaching the 100th interview.
The reason I started this was to understand how the discipline of content marketing is shaping and see if I could interact with the key people who are making their stand and a filter to how this decade is looking and the change that is happening within the field of marketing.
This article is not here to explain how to do it, but if you want to know the secret for others to say ‘yes’ and those who have built a solid reputation and seen as figureheads within their fields, click here (I think that may be the most click baity paragraph I have ever produced).
You Are The Source
When you become the source, people look to you for reference.
They are not randomly looking at Google for help, they see the value you provide and the assistance you deliver.
The Talking Content Marketing framework is based around six questions on an area that a participant has a close focus on. Whether that is looking at the role of data, behaviour or just being more entertaining within the B2B spaces we are part of, they all tie back to a content marketing discipline and share what others know and are doing.
This is an approach that UX agency team Experience UX fully embrace.
The UX blog takes the stance to educate and share the viewpoints and insights of others from within the industry. We have all past that age of ‘why your website needs to be responsive.’ We owe it to our customers and audience to take responsibility and take the lead.
The interesting thing is that to build a solid portfolio of interviews, you have to look beyond those that pay invoices and looking to convert to a customer. This is exactly what Ali Carmichael, Damien Rees and the team have done, by asking some well know brands and the people who take the lead within these businesses.
From the Head of User Experience at the BBC, Ecommerce Analytics Manager at The Body Shop, to the Head of UX at The Telegraph, these all represent bringing trusted voices to one place (the ExperienceUX website). This is how we engage, this is how we build better interaction.
Why Interviews Work
I asked Ali (cofounder), why ExperienceUX decided to interview others, “It all stems from two objective. The first was a way to create ongoing focused content to attract targeted users to our site. The second was to provide useful insights to our audience who are interested in UX and to help them learn from us and others.”
I asked how easy it was for people to agree to participate. Ali continued, “Most people agree readily. People are generally happy to share their story and the UX journey they have been on, as long as their employer is fine with it. We started with people that we knew, and we ask interviewees who they know and think we should interview. Then we ask them to introduce us and it snowballs from there. It’s good old digital networking with a win/win outcome.
Taking the initiative to interview those people from your industry who are carving their own path, only helps to make you stronger, while others are happy to fire links to direct people in a host of different directions.
Interviews work and I’ll break it down:
- It helps with SEO. When there are keywords that represent you and what you do that align with your interviews, then you can come out the champion. Two short words are increasingly competitive. If you shift to longer tail key words and phrases, you find a higher opportunity to rank on the first page. For instance, ‘content marketing’ it’s the Royal Rumble, ‘talking content marketing’ number one.
- Encourages others to share. If you are creating an interview that is truly valuable within your industry and to someone who has a role within it, it becomes a more compelling reason to share. As highlighted in an article in June, a 2016 study from the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) states that when people find content (not sent by someone else) they associate the content with themselves. Here is the article on what your audience wants.
- Reach brings new people to you. You interview someone, the participant has a following, they share amongst their audience, their audience come to your space. You have the ability to bring new people from beyond your immediate reach based on a trusted source saying, “I vouch for this company, I let them interview me.’ In the words of Brian Honigman from a Talking Content Marketing interview, ‘distribution channels really only work once you have something to distribute.’ Reach is such a key component according to Ali at Experience UX. From his blog “The reach has been quite phenomenal. Obviously we share the content, then the interviewee shares it, and their corporate social team share it, and many of their followers share it. It’s fantastic when we see that influencers and leaders in the UX industry share a link to our website.”
- Backs up your call to action. What is the point in creating a call to action, when people don’t know what they are going to get? If people can see that you are committed to a series of some sort that is on another level from ‘subscribe to our email’, it creates a foundation for others acknowledging the type of content that they will be receiving.
- Build a dialogue with people you may never had the opportunity before. If this was 10 years ago, a route to contact may have been hard graft trying to get an email address or if it was an author, via a publisher. With the ability to connect a lot easier and directly, I have looked to connect via a social space first (notably Twitter) and then look to bring the conversation to an owned space (email). Having had the opportunity to take the view from someone else’s side of the internet has been such an empowering experience (and a key learning tool).
- Create closer links with participants. This is such a key area. If someone has agreed to commit time to you, then you have already done the hard part. If there are ways to work together, to provide a helping hand from your side to theirs, it can become an interaction that can develop. From my side, an interview with Robert Rose, chief strategy officer for the Content Marketing Institute, became a further request to write the foreword for The Content Revolution, which I am extremely grateful for Robert doing this. He has also been a part of my workshops (via Skype) last year. A number of questions from the Talking Content Marketing interviews also appeared within the book.
- Use quotes for other articles. When you use quotes from your articles in future work, your website becomes the source. You are not directing people away from your website, people are invited to stick around and find out more. Even in this article I have used quotes from two other interviews. Let the quotes from your interviews feed your ongoing furnace and shape interpretation for other articles ie. x said this, do you agree?
- Opportunity to become an authority within your marketplace. If you can take the lead and create a series that people recognise you, you carve a space that wasn’t there before.
The reason interviews work and if you can commit to this on a consistent basis you become recognised by others outside of your immediate audience.
Lets Round Up
If someone else understands your interest and passion for your industry and the ability to consistently demonstrate, this is far stronger than someone else recognising that you are interested in the constant ‘take’ ie. the relentless ‘we are’ statements on the company website.
I asked Ali what he would suggest to someone who was thinking of starting to interview others within their industry, Ali commented ‘Keep it simple and focused on the interviewee, find a good editor, and start with people you know. Also, a high quality portrait photograph of the interviewee really makes a difference to the look and feel of the final article.”
An ally in creation, is an ally in promotion.
When people read, come back for more and you build an audience off the back of it, you take responsibility.
With the interviews you create and publish and the people you meet and interact with, over time you take a confident stand where you are effectively saying ‘people like us, do it like this.’ This is such a powerful tool to embrace and be persistent with. Interviews work, it’s your space to own.