TopRank Online Marketing
Lee Odden

Rock & Roll Social Media & Content Marketing Interview with Jason Miller of LinkedIn

By Lee Odden on Jan 20th, 2014     Content Marketing, Interviews, Social Media

Jason MillerAs Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Social Media at LinkedIn, Jason Miller is responsible for leading the content and social media marketing efforts for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. (Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank client)

Not only is Jason an avid fan of 80′s rock and roll, but he’s a marketing rockstar by any definition – with a digital marketing “catalog” that would make any marketer envious.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had discussions with industry thought leaders about creative content and high impact social where Jason’s name was volunteered to me as a go-to resource for best practices in action. But that’s no surprise, as our history with Jason goes way back.

My first exposure to his social media smarts was when we were consulting with Zoomerang where he was a Social Media Marketing Manager and later during our long consulting relationship with Marketo where he was the Senior Manager of Social Media Strategy.

But enough of memory lane. This interview focuses on Jason’s current work, about LinkedIn and his insights into making social media and content marketing hits. He also shares examples of great B2B social media and content marketing, tools, resources and even a few predictions.

You’ve had a really interesting career with roles at Sony Music, Marketo and now Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Social at LinkedIn. Is it a dream job? 

My dream job is to photograph rock ‘n roll bands for a living. But since it’s virtually impossible to make a living doing that, LinkedIn is a very close second. I will say that every day I come into work at LinkedIn, I am happy to be here. Moving from a 500 person company to a 5,000 person company can be challenging. But LinkedIn really “gets it” when it comes to creating a great place to work. I would be comfortable saying that I have never been happier at a job.

I remember at Content Marketing World, LinkedIn’s Jonathan Lister made a very strong point that “LinkedIn is All-In on Content Marketing“. What is your big picture strategy for that with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions? How is LinkedIn executing on that approach?

My big picture strategy with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is to apply what I have learned over the past few years experience at building a very strong content marketing engine to fuel both awareness and lead generation. I have been very lucky to have learned from some of the very best in the game. What I do now is just add my own spin on it and apply it to my work here.

The good thing is that there is such a great story to tell at LinkedIn when it comes to what the platform can do for marketers.

You ask, “How am I going to get there?” Well, I say this all the time: “If you are serious about content marketing then you need budget, head count, and resources.” What’s great is that LinkedIn gets it and has a team in place to deliver.

Clearly I’m biased, but LinkedIn is hands down the dominant player in the B2B social networking space. And Slideshare ”owns” it’s category as well. As a market leader, what role does continued content development and amplification play in helping you reach your business goals?

I would like to think that content marketers in 2014 understand that it’s not more content that we need, but instead, more relevant content. In addition, I would also hope they understand that in many cases content marketers are not writing for SEO anymore, but instead writing for their audience.

After that, the next step is to put some paid amplification behind that content. Paying to promote your own good content in the feed is the crown jewel of social media marketing and it’s on our doorstep. I always say that organic is good, but paid is better. Paid will extend the life of your content and ultimately make it easier to tie back to your business goals. But to do that you need a plan, and you need to find what works, then scale.

We recently featured the BIG Content Activity and Coloring Book from when you were at Marketo in our roundup of content marketing eBooks for 2013. It’s a very creative piece of work. It’s also unexpected in the B2B marketing space. How important is it for B2B companies to break free of the serious stuff and have a little fun with their content?

B2B marketing hasn’t traditionally been sexy or fun, but content marketing and social media have changed everything. The Big Content Activity Book was a particularly fun piece because we pulled from nostalgia while at the same time making it incredibly relevant and easy to share. There were marketers who actually emailed me and said the completed the entire activity book and were hanging their hand colored pages around the office.

At the end of the day, there’s a time and place for serious marketing, but this was a much needed fun top of funnel piece that helped break up the content cycle of traditional whitepapers and demos. On top of all that, it wasn’t even that expensive. The creative process and the agency we worked with to develop it was a lot of fun.  I think that effort translated through to the final content piece itself. Great content marketers have the ability to inject their personality into their work, and when it’s done correctly, it can really make an impact.

As we’ve watched content marketing maturity models evolve from the need to start making more content to creating more useful, customer centric content – I think it’s not enough to stand out. Content needs to connect with buyers on both an intellectual and an emotional level. At least some of it does. Do you agree/disagree?

I agree. Standing out is overrated. As a content marketer you really need to ask yourself: “Do you want to stand out or do you want to truly connect with your customers and prospects?” The answer is a balance of the two. I think it was Doug Kessler who said to have one content “home run” per quarter which really resonates with me. That home run is the standout. Then spend the rest of the time focused on connecting on a deeper level.

Are there some other examples of B2B brands doing some creative content marketing and social media work that you admire?

Of course, there are a ton of examples that I really love.

Hubspot just did a Blog Idea Generator which I thought was brilliant:

Blog Idea Generator

David Spark just released a really cool eBook that I love called “58 Annoying Communications That Must End“. This guy is one of my favorite marketers, he creates some really unique stuff and has a killer podcast as well.

The Altimeter Group of course with their recent report around Real Time Marketing, Rebecca Lieb did a fantastic job with that research.

I constantly follow Michael Brenner and Barry Feldman as well on SlideShare, they are continually publishing killer visual content and really dominating. I could go on for quite some time here as far as examples, but I have to say that I am really looking forward to seeing what Joe Chernov creates in his new role at Hubspot.

What has working at LinkedIn been like? How have your previous experiences with social media helped prepare you for a more content marketing focused role?

I get asked this question quite a lot and I am finishing up a blog post about the past 6 months here. I really love working here and I absolutely wouldn’t be here without my previous experiences. At Marketo I was hired to do social (by Maria Pergolino who really taught me a lot) but the role was really all about content. While my roots are in the social world and I still spend a fair amount of time there, I am a writer and creator at heart. So the move to focus much more on content creation and optimization here at LinkedIn is exactly where I wanted to be.

What do you love about LinkedIn?

I get to wear heavy metal shirts to work and they have a fully equipped jam room. There’s a machine in the break room where you pull a lever and an endless amount of peanut butter filled pretzels are dispensed. And there’s a magical Coke machine that has Mello Yello Zero. I had no idea this even existed!

But seriously, I love it here because LinkedIn truly understands what it takes to keep employees both working hard and happy. We have some amazing speakers come in every few weeks for inspiration. This week was Chade-Men Teng, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow and author of, Search Within Yourself, which really made an impact on me both personally and professionally. There’s a wellness health and nutrition program, an amazing café, and transportation to and from each campus. (I walk to work in the city every morning and you really can’t beat that). At the end of the day, they just “get it”.

What are some of your favorite marketing and organization tools?  Planning, tactical execution, data, analytics, reporting – whatever you care to share:

I am all about consolidating tools at this point. I know what works. I know what makes an impact and I know what the necessities vs. the “nice to haves” are. Here’s what I use:

  • Radian6 for listening
  • Marketing Automation platform for tracking
  • Spreadfast for publishing
  • Pulse for reading blogs
  • GaggleAmp for advocacy
  • and of course LinkedIn, Twitter etc.

I am a purist though, when it comes to Twitter. I actually use the native app and the web site. It’s simple, effective, and easy for me to navigate.

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

There are 15 blogs that I check each and every morning. A nice mix of SEO, Content, Social, Industry News, and Personalities. I have them loaded into Pulse and it’s my daily newspaper.

What predictions can you make about the future of content and social media marketing and what it means for consumers? What about companies?  Will we all just be connected to everyone else in one big digital ecosystem where most brand content is co-created with communities in an always on and connected, dynamic social, mobile environment? OK, ignore all that “seeding” of the question.

Let’s try this: What would you recommend to B2B marketers that want to grow in terms of what to really plan for and emphasize in 2014?

2014 and beyond is the year that content and social FINALLY come together as part of the integrated marketing approach. No longer can these two sit in silos. The most forward thinking companies will be combining social, PR, and content into one team that works hand in hand with demand gen reporting to the CMO.

My other prediction is that those who are serious about content and social will dedicate more headcount and more budget to both – making sure that they complement one another moving forward.

Any tips for budding social media and content strategists seeking a career in the field? What skills do you look for?

Yes. Very simple. Read as many of the top content, social, and SEO blogs, make sure you know how to write very well. Then start writing for free and try to get guest blog opportunities on the blogs that you are following. The one thing that I have found out over the past few years is that the one dimensional marketer is a dying breed. To be successful moving forward, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert in any one topic, you need to know how they all work together as part of an overall integrated marketing approach. If you understand how content, social, email, SEO, PR, and demand gen all work together, you will have no problem dictating where you want to take your career.

Thank you Jason, you rock! 

You can find Jason on LinkedIn, Twitter @JasonMillerCA and his excellent rock and roll band photo blog.


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