TopRank Online Marketing
Lee Odden

Content Plus Social is A Sweet Song to Sing – Interview with Amy Higgins of Concur

By Lee Odden     Content Marketing, Interviews, Online Marketing, Social Media

Amy Higgins ConcurOne of the truly great things about working at TopRank Marketing are our clients. On a daily basis we get to connect with and solve marketing problems with some of the smartest marketers on the web.

Take for example, Amy Higgins, an ex-Googler that is now the Content and Social Media Manager for Concur SMB. Concur is an automated expense tracking solution that is growing by leaps and bounds. Amy is super smart, goal and customer focused, very nice to work with and highly networked.

While I could talk about the successful engagement we’re having with Amy and Concur, this interview will instead focus on Amy and her unique and valuable insights as an accomplished content and social media marketer. We need more Amys in our world!

Your role at Concur covers both content and social for SMBs. What are some of the compelling reasons social and content mix so well together? Any tips?

You can’t have social without any content. If you do, you are as my Southern roots always say, just shooting the shit. Social and content work together to help the overall engagement strategy for the business. Engage your customer, both current and potential, and you help not only bring new leads, but the engagement can help develop the business through it’s customer’s wants and needs.

Tips — When writing anything, long or short content, think about how it can be shared on social. For example, an ebook can be broken down into multiple graphics, Slideshares and shorter blog posts, all of which can easily be shared on social. When crafting a blog post, think about the title – if just the title is shared in a tweet, will someone what to read it?

What do you love about working at Concur?

I love most of all the product. I had never used any form of an automated travel and expense software, and now I truly can’t live without it. When traveling for work or even pleasure, Trip It saves me time and hassle on the road. Concur lets me forget that I even need to do my expense report since it almost does itself while I am out and about. It only takes me 5 minutes to finalize a few details and hit the submit button. Easy. Peasy.

What are some examples of B2B brands doing some creative content marketing and social media work that you admire? 

Traackr (Engagers)

Traackr Engagers 2014

Evy at Traackr spent over a year interviewing and really getting to know a few top social media and content influencers, including me. She developed an entire blog series around it. Then at the end of the year, she took the entire series and made an ebook and calendar. What a great way to reuse content in so many different ways!

San Francisco Ballet (Social Media Photos)

San Francisco Ballet G+

The classical arts community, believe it or not, is one of the most difficult communities to develop online. Their marketing budgets are very limited and sometimes their audience is very non-tech friendly. SF Ballet has done a wonderful job engaging and developing their online community – especially with a near non-existent budget. I love their social media presence. Their photos are share-worthy and emotional. Each social media site adds a different flavor while still engaging and growing their audience. Bravo!

Marketo (Coloring book)

Marketo Coloring Book

I sometimes think Marketo has it easier than other marketing departments. I mean, they market to marketers. However, what can be easy, can also be the most difficult to accomplish. They consistently have to do more and be more creative than any other marketer. Their “Big Coloring Book” is a great example of creativity. It’s fun, engaging and gets its point across without being just an ebook. Afterall, who doesn’t want to play with colors? My only question is – do we have to color within the lines?

You’ve been successful working with 3rd party agencies and individuals for content creation. What are the things you look for in these resources? What helps make the relationship successful?

It’s a good thing that you only see the successes, because not all of them have been successful. At least I learn from those failures how to best work with outside resources.

One of the first things I look at in evaluating outside resources is their communication style. Communication is key when trying to have others deliver on your company’s brand and your vision for the content. I also look for creative agencies and individuals who can provide another view on your content – another way to express your vision. Your content can become repetitive if you are telling the same story over and over again. Outside help can provide insight and a fresh set of eyes for your content. And, who doesn’t love a fresh set of eyes?!

These relationships work best when you are always helping each other out – to become the very best you and your content can be. After a while, a synchronicity happens where you do really have 8 arms to accomplish everything that’s on your plate. That synchronicity gives a level of trust and partnership that is invaluable.

What are some ways digital marketing agencies can be more valuable to the companies they serve?

Agencies that challenge my status quo and lead me to think of new and interesting ways to tell my company’s story are invaluable. They can be a partner, a teacher and a friend – not just a business relationship.

What’s one big lie people keep spreading about social media (marketing)?

That you can’t calculate ROI. You can lead a marketer to social, but you can’t make them drink…. oh wait, wrong saying.

How are community, content and engagement related to business goals like customer acquisition and sales? How do you quantitatively and qualitatively measure progress?

When I was 6-7, I sold a ton of Girl Scout Cookies. I mean A TON! My parents literally had to redo our dining room to become Cookie Grand Central Station. One of the ways I did that was really getting to know the parents at my church, my parents’ friends and my neighbors. My Mom also shared with everyone great ways to reuse Girl Scout Cookies. Like – have you tried Thin Mints frozen? It’s really the best way to eat them. Or try them crumbled to make the crust for mud pie. But, I digress… Even back then, I was creating a cookie loving community with content that helped boost engagement – all of which lead to our dining room becoming Cookie Grand Central Station.

What’s changed today? Nothing. Fostering and developing your community with thoughtful information that is timely and relevant to them can not only boost your sales, but lead to enriching relationships. A great way to measure the progress is with data. Look at the path people take when engaging with your content. Do they land on your blog and go no where? Or, do they land on your blog because they follow you on Twitter, and then venture into discovering more about your offerings? All of this interest can easily lead to them trusting your knowledge, therefore, helping your sales team to close the deal.

Doesn’t matter if you are selling cookies or SaaS. If your content is engaging for your community, your help and product becomes invaluable.

What are some of your favorite digital marketing tools? Anything from planning to content, optimization, social, measurement?

Content can easily spiral out of control. It’s helpful to be able to plan, create and measure content with online tools that are accessible by your entire team. Collaboration and simplicity is key for me when choosing a digital marketing tool. If you can’t easily use it and your team can’t work with you, what’s the point?

I love using Kapost. It helps me plan, execute, collaborate and monitor my content. Nothing is ever 100% on schedule – new priorities arise, new ideas spawn and well, life happens. Kapost makes it easy for me to move around my content and visually see where I have gaps.

For social media, I have used tons of tools – from freemiums to the pricy enterprise solutions. However, the most useful tool in my tool box is Hootsuite. Sometimes, I manage over 10 social profiles at once, all with different time zones and communities. Hootsuite allows me to see where and when to post my content on social media.

There’s no denying that the day in a life of a content marketer can be very busy. Sometimes I find one hour on the bus to read updates and news. However, I never want to share updates all at the same time, so I use Buffer. It helps me spread out and schedule all of my social media updates.

What information resources do you rely on to keep yourself fresh with marketing trends, news and best practices? Or do you rely on your own data and experiments?

I rely on my friends to be honest. Yes, I do read all the latest trends in resources such as Content Marketing Institute, but I learn more idea from my community of digital marketers – both in person and online.

Any tips for budding content and social media marketers seeking a career in the field?

Network, network, network. Even if you are not looking for employment, events – both online and offline – are an invaluable resource for you. Always continue learning.

Social Network Word Cloud

Let’s play social media word association:

  • Facebook – Friends
  • Twitter – Connections
  • LinkedIn – Work
  • Google+ – SEO
  • YouTube – Videos
  • Blogging – Storytelling
  • Snapchat – Dying
  • Instagram – Visual stories
  • Pinterest – Collections
  • Tumblr – Blog if you hate to write
  • MySpace – Dead

You’re a big Opera fan, what kind or type of performance would you recommend a first timer go and see?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I would ask about your movie preferences. For example, are you a non-stop action fan? Or do you like the light hearted comedies? If you like non-stop action, than Carmen is perfect. It has sex, romance, fighting and death. Nevermind, that’s about 99.9% of all operas. :)

Thank you Amy!

Amy Higgins is the Content and Social Media Manager for Concur SMB where she enjoys engaging with small and mid-market businesses on social media and writing great tips about productivity, innovations and ways to simplify your life. Amy has more than 7 years in the tech industry and helping companies understand their customers. When she’s not online, you can find her at the opera, listening to jazz or on the hunt for the latest foodie craze.
Connect with her on Twitter @AmyWHiggins, Google+ and LinkedIn.


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