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Center Of Influence: The Back End Of Creating A Corporate Podcast with Hailley Griffis
I have a new influencer I’m talking with. I have Hailley Griffis and she is one of the many hosts of The Science of Social Media. It’s the podcast of Buffer. We’ve been listening to that for a long time because we’re Buffer users here. I mentioned it multiple times in my social media strategy and my social media masterclass. We’re going to talk about how that got kicked off from a corporate standpoint. We’re also going to shift to talk about Hailley’s podcasts, MakeWorkWork, which is a cool new one. They are very different podcasts. Hailley Griffis is the Head of Public Relations at Buffer and that’s a suite of social media products that provide tools for visual marketing, audience engagement and analytics. She is one of the cohosts and one of the people who helped found that podcast, The Science of Social Media, for a few years. Hailley, you hit your 150 episodes or something like that and you’re co-hosting a podcast called MakeWorkWork. Who’s your cohost there?
Her name is Habbi and we’re two friends and so that one’s outside of Buffer.
Let’s talk a little bit about how you got started. You came up with the idea and decided that a podcast was going to make a great idea for a social media company.
We have someone else on our team that came up with the idea. We have two different blogs at Buffer and one of our blogs is about workplace, culture and transparency. That team thought they would do a podcast to kick it off and see what happens. They did try a couple of podcast interviews. They ran it for a few months and it was a lot of fun for them, but it was a lot of work, which is something that a lot of us who do podcasting long term learn very quickly. It looks like a ton of fun to have a podcast and it is, but there’s also a lot going on in the background. They had kicked off that podcast and weren’t able to keep it going, but it validated the idea of podcasting for us at Buffer. We had many great comments from our users and community members and people who started listening to that podcast. They said, “I love hearing from you all like that. I love having a Buffer voice that I can listen to via podcasting.” We decided as a marketing team, “If we can’t do the culture anymore, let’s do one about social media, which is a little bit more in line with what our customers look to us for.”
There are some very distinct differences between your two podcasts and we’re going to get to talk about your personal one. It’s quite different but there’s a sense of it being more scripted in the podcast that you do for The Science of Social Media. Is that right? Do you draw that out or draft outline at least? Because you’re working with other people. You have multiple people and you flip back and forth. It sounds like you’ve got someone who might be an expert in LinkedIn who would talk something about that and someone who might be an expert on Twitter and they will talk about that.
You’re spot on. It is scripted for The Science of Social Media. It’s something that we’ve been very open about because when we started a few years ago, the podcast wasn’t scripted. You hear a lot more “ums” and “ahs” and people may be repeating the same thing. If you have a couple of cohosts on, people will say the same thing. It didn’t feel like a great experience for the listener. What we’re known for with our blog posts at Buffer is giving people clear guidelines for what to do and actionable takeaways. We wanted to take that feeling that people knew about us from the blog and move it over to the podcast. We decided to go with scripted to give the audience the best that we could give them in fifteen minutes.
You do it very well because a lot of scripted ones can sound either too contrived or not personal enough because when you write something, you write in this more formal tone.
Writing for a podcast is a totally different kind of writing.
It’s like TV scripting. You’re scripting a story as well. You’ve done something that some of our corporate clients have done and we find that it works very well with a corporate podcast or a company podcast. You have many hosts so you’re rotating people. That helps to brand the entire departments. We have Popular Mechanics as one of our podcasts and they use all their different editors at different times. Different editors contribute and they are pieced together into a single podcast. That format that you have developed works for you. Was that in your early vision or did that evolve over time?
That evolved over time a little bit. What wound up happening is it was myself and one other colleague who started the podcast. We started by doing interviews. Way back, if you listen to earlier episodes of The Science of Social Media, you will hear us interviewing a lot of wonderful marketing experts. We moved away from that into just the two of us being cohosts. We decide to expand it because podcasting is a big job and it was taking up a lot of both of our times. The other thing is it’s personal and it is nice to be able to hear the voice behind the company. We have all these other wonderful voices at Buffer that we wanted to highlight and to give people this idea that there are a lot of people at Buffer that are experts on social media that can keep talking about this with you. Even letting our audience meet more people at Buffer has been wonderful.
This is what we’re hoping that we’re doing here at the Center of Influences. We’re providing other podcasters with podcasters that might want to listen to and that might want to aspire to be or model themselves after. You do something a little bit unusual and I want to point them out and maybe you can comment on how well they’re working for you. You’re on the shorter format sides. They are fifteen minutes or so. They’re to the point. They are a lot like your blog posts, you’re right there. You have these rotating hosts and you have the scripting going on, but you also have a different intro. One of you does the intro and the next one speaks. You’re also going back and forth. You’re using each of your own editors and your own hosts within it as voices of authority at the time.
We are rotating people in the intro as well to give people that different voice. Ideally, the podcast doesn’t start with the same voice twice in a row.
Sometimes it has different music too.
We do change up the music a little bit too. It’s always funny to see if our listeners notice or if they don’t notice. We like to spice things up a little bit.
Do you create a lot more work for yourselves on the backend? Are you doing this all internally?
We are doing this all internally, which is definitely a struggle, but it’s been a lot of fun to experiment with. We are naturally a group of people that love running experiments and seeing what resonates with people, which is how we wound up with the format that we have now. We had a very different format when we first started. We were looking more at maybe half-hour interviews with only one host. That 30-minute interview wasn’t quite working but that fifteen minutes that we’ve landed at has been working for us. It’s all because we figured out who is listening to us. It is busy social media marketers or marketers that are interested in social media that are on the go and they need quick tips fast.
Sometimes I don’t have time to read so I’ve got to listen to it.
That’s one of the big things for marketers. It’s like, “Don’t ask me to watch a video. Don’t ask me to read blog posts. Tell me what it is quickly. I want the high level.”Don’t try to be like anyone else. Be yourself and share your own words. Click To Tweet
They want the quick tour. Is there anything funny or interesting or have you discovered that it’s added to the bottom line of the business? How has it worked for you?
What was interesting in the beginning is that all of our listeners were existing Buffer customers and community members. They already knew about us, which isn’t exactly who we were targeting, but it was a nice bonus for these people to get to know us even better. From a marketing perspective, it was very internal. They were people that already knew about us. As we grew and we started getting featured on more podcasts lists, we started getting featured on iTunes lists, then we had people coming for our podcast where like, “I had no idea what Buffer was until I listened to the podcast a couple of times.” We don’t even promote Buffer. It’s not a very hard sell in the podcast often at all. It’s value-first. If you happen to check out Buffer, you will see that this is a supportive tool for what you’re trying to do.
Occasionally, you will mention something like a deeper blog post or something else that’s there, but you’re not pushy about it at all. That’s greatly appreciated because many of us are customers already so we don’t want to be sold to again.
I also want to say that it takes away from credibility a little bit in the audience’s eye if you’re always pushing your product on them while you’re giving them value. We lean way more heavy towards the value side of things to build that trust and relationship. You never know how many episodes someone has listened to. I met someone who said she’d been listening since the very beginning, which was incredible.
I’m one of those people. I don’t listen to every single episode, I have to admit that, but I spot listen when the topic attracts me. For a while, we were not doing anything on Instagram in the early days. It didn’t interest me whenever you would talk about it, but then now I’m like, “Let me go back and listen to all the Instagram ones because we’re trying to get this right and get this set up.” You do find it as a useful resource.
That’s the idea to a little bit more of that evergreen content and less the news focus where it will expire week after week. If you haven’t listened to those old ones, they wouldn’t be relevant to you now. A lot of those Instagram ones, unless Instagram has changed their algorithm, they’re still relevant.
That is a common problem that you’ve raised. There are the issues of sometimes you think you’re making a timeless episode, but then the algorithm shifts or something changes. Have you delisted any episodes or done anything like that where you take them down?
We haven’t done that with any of our episodes. I’m not sure it’s something we will do because I don’t think we expect everyone to listen to every episode, but we like having them there as a resource if they want to go back. Something that we have done instead is we’ve pulled episodes and publish them again. Some of our evergreen content that is still relevant that has done well, we will republish it with a new intro and we will be like, “This is what we call The Science of Social Media Select.” We’ll be like, “This is a select episode and this was your favorite episode from 2018, so here you go.” That’s something that we did over the holidays in 2018 so we can take a break from podcasting.
A lot of times that doesn’t work. I have a whole entire podcast about the nastiness you can get from replays. If you’re specific about them and if you are putting a new intro on them and giving a new reason for people to relisten to it, that works. You’ve been able to do that by giving it a new intro and highlighting it.
We also do that very lightly as well. Maybe a very small number of our weekly podcast and a very small number every year would be replays. They would always usually be around the holidays when we’re trying to give our team a vacation.
Everybody needs some time off, even podcasters.
It’s still coming out on Monday, but we’re not working.
Before we get to the MakeWorkWork and your new podcast, I was hoping maybe we could touch on my five best ways. We do this with every podcaster and we’re contemplating it into seeing what the patterns are and seeing what the differences are. I’d love your take on these things. Share some lessons or experiences of the best ways to book great guests. I know you only did that in the beginning.
We did only do that in the beginning, but I was the one that booked all our guests. I have plenty of thoughts about this. One of the things for booking great guests is I do not look to other podcasts. That’s something that is definitely a struggle with the marketing world. People go on a podcasting circuit tour and you suddenly see the same person talking about the same thing on ten different podcasts. We were looking for people that weren’t on podcasts.
I’m glad you said this because no one said this yet. It’s exactly what I think too. I had guests who come to me and they’re on a speaking tour. They tend to say the same thing again and again.
If you are one of the people that listen to these marketing podcasts, you’ve probably already followed that person. You’ve probably seen their announcement and their newsletter and on their Twitter because you follow them in all of these places. That was a big one for me was not doing what all the other podcasters were doing when it came to guests. For us, we were like, “Who manages social media for some of these cool companies?” It’s like Merriam Webster. We reached out to their social media manager and I don’t think she had done very many interviews or podcasts at all, but she’s an expert. She’s in a very cool place and she has come up with an incredible company voice. It wound up being a wonderful interview. It takes a little bit more work. When it comes to guests, don’t do what everyone else is doing but do what you think will be interesting.
I’d love that. Thank you for that one. How about increasing listeners? How have you gone about approaching that?
That is such a tough one. We promote on all of our own channels. Anywhere we currently have an audience, whether that’s social media, newsletters, our blog, anywhere that we can promote the podcast, we promote the podcast. If people already like us in one place, maybe they will like us in the podcast and then maybe they will share it with friends. One of the other things that we did end up doing was doing Facebook ads. We were pointing people to the podcast to see if it works and it did work. We did end up getting a bunch of listeners that way. We don’t run Facebook ads, but we did it as an experiment. We were surprised by how well it worked.There’s a higher engagement with posts that have captions on them. Click To Tweet
That’s some great new tips I haven’t heard yet. You are doing the production in-house. How do you produce it in a professional way?
That has been a struggle. If you went back to the beginning episodes, maybe they wouldn’t sound as professional. It was a lot of trial and error and a lot of learning. We made sure to invest in good equipment. We made sure to be honest with each other and with our team. We asked for a lot of feedback. If we got on there and our audio levels were terrible, we want to know about it. We don’t want our team to be like, “No, it was fine. It was great.” It doesn’t matter that your audio spikes. For us, it was about learning and it was my other cohost that did all of the editing and mixing the podcast to make sure that it sounded good. On his end, it was a lot of education and investing and making sure he could do this well.
I feel for you. That’s why we have a company. A lot of people don’t want to produce it themselves because it is a lot of work. How do you encourage engagement with your audience?
We ask a lot of questions. We ask our audience a lot of questions and ideally not just, “Do you like cake or do you not like it?” More relevant questions and maybe even questions that sparked debate or questions that people will be highly opinionated about. We have found that Twitter has been great for our podcast listeners and it’s probably because there are a lot of marketers on Twitter.
Marketers are opinionated people. It does not surprise me that you can get engagement with them.
That’s worked well for us. We have a hashtag called #BufferPodcast and we would shout out the hashtag at the end of every single episode. Not only that, if we did have a question, we were going to ask people. We would put the hashtag in the beginning or in the middle of the episode, wherever that question would pop up as well. We were inviting our audience to reach out for a while. We were also always saying our Twitter handles so people could find us. Now, we tell them to tag Buffer because it’s easier for the team internally to tag us.
Then remember all of that. That’s a great way. In a sense, you are not monetizing it, but it probably does have a bottom-line result for you. What’s the best way to monetize it is normally my question here but maybe the question is, is it monetizing for you?
What we’ve done now is instead of monetizing, we will place plugs for our own products and features sometimes. Instead of letting others monetize our audience, since we’re already the company and we have this great reputation with our podcast listeners of providing a lot of value, what we do now is when we have a marketing launch, one of our product marketers will come on and do a quick fifteen or 30-second like, “Here’s this new Buffer feature.” That’s few and far between. It’s not something you’re going to see every episode but every couple of episodes, something like that might pop up where we’re giving a little bit more of a pitch towards our products.
Let’s talk about how you want to take on another podcast. That sounds crazy to some people, but you decided to. The contrast is and what people don’t know yet is your MakeWorkWork is a lot longer show.
It’s totally different. Tracy, when you tell me that you listen to both of my podcasts, I was like, “That’s a big commitment on MakeWorkWork.”
It is and I have to tell you that I tried to listen to it on double speed but it’s a little too fast. It was 1.5x with the speed because I can trim the silence on my app that I use. I trim the silence and listen to you on 1.5x speed. It only took me half the time, I admit.
I can never do that. I feel like I’ve done it before on my own podcast. I’ve been like, “I sound like a chipmunk on high speeds. I don’t want other people to listen to me like this.”
I talk fast too. I know I sound like a chipmunk. For The Science of Social Media, because you’re scripted, you figure having a little slower pace to it, but you’re packing in so much detail. If I listened to that one at that speed, I don’t listen to that one that fast because fifteen minutes isn’t too long. I would miss some content because your other show has more of a chat style to it where you’re talking, you’re chatting and you’re going back and forth with your cohost. I’m not missing as much as the great detail.
I’m happy to hear that. It is a very different show from The Science of Social Media. The Science of Social Media was the first podcast that I’d ever done. We built it from the ground up. It was very much a side project internally at Buffer in addition to our existing roles. I loved it. I love podcasting and I was like, “This is the medium for me personally that I prefer.” When I’m walking around my house or when I’m driving, I’m listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I’m a very audio-focused person. I decided to start a second podcast with a friend of mine. It absolutely is a very different setup. It’s usually an hour or more episodes.
Tell the audience what the purpose is and what it’s about.
It’s a good friend of mine. We’ve never lived in the same city. She’s Icelandic and lives in London and I am Canadian and I live in Colorado. We became good friends and started having these in-depth conversations about tech, travel and books, which wound up being what the podcast is about. It’s been incredible to find this other community of people that are interested in all the same things as us, whether it’s productivity or reading fiction, all of those sorts of things. We’ve started a podcast with the goal of sharing a little bit more about our processes and our systems because they are a little bit more unique and connecting with other people who are doing the same thing.
The marketers in you both are showing in how you named your show. MakeWorkWork is actually one word.
It is. The other fun thing is we are both marketers and creative people. It’s been a blast to work on this side project together. It’s also nice. I enjoy listening to a lot of shows like this where you have two people talking. That’s one of my favorite formats for podcasts. The Science of Social Media was fun. That’s not usually what I would listen to personally. It was nice to transition to a podcast with more of a creative outlet for me.41% of millionaires are on LinkedIn. Click To Tweet
You’re only under twenty episodes in. Has it been harder to drive an audience because of the different format and because you’re not promoting it on your other podcasts?
Yes, it’s been much more difficult. It’s much smaller than The Science of Social Media because we’re driving it based on our own personal networks. Surprisingly, we’re still able to get quite a few listeners, but it’s not to that level. It has been a little bit more difficult. We’ve run up on a lot more problems around resources than I did at Buffer where we’re both working full-time. Habbi, who’s my cohost, has to edit two and a half hours down to one hour and make it sound good. It’s going to take her a long time to do that while working full-time and ideally having a social life and being able to save time. We’ve run into time resources a little bit more with that podcast.
I can see that and understand that completely. I have four shows myself. My oldest show is WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast. We hardly ever post new ones, but we did over 550 episodes. There are plenty there for people who want to listen. We do an occasional one when something new happens that interests us. My newest podcast is the New Trust Economy and that’s about blockchain and innovation and cryptocurrency and stuff like that. My cohost is in New York and we’re friends, but we’ve only known each other for about a year. Finding time in our two schedules with the time difference is difficult. I’m sure you’re struggling with that too.
I am. I used to live in Toronto. I was two time zones closer to her in London, which was much easier. Colorado is Mountain Time. It’s beautiful here but there’s a lot of 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM mornings for me. Luckily, I’m a morning person and she’s an evening person. This works out well with the show. We always joke that if I had been the one in London and she had been the one in Colorado, this wouldn’t work.
I’m not a morning person and so that’s always a difficulty for us to get it accomplished. I’m not as coherent early in the morning as I should be, no matter how much coffee.
Schedules are such a challenge, especially with podcasting. A lot of people are surprised too that we are able to record from our own homes and record together that way instead of recording together in the same place. I was surprised at how many people thought we had to be in the same place to record.
Not at all. We’re not in the same place right now. You don’t need to be. I want to end with talking about how you then share the podcast on social media because you’re a social media expert. How has it been? Have you found some ways that work better than others for sharing podcasts on social?
Share them from a genuine place. This one’s a little hard to explain, but a lot of people when they market a show on social media, it will be like, “Episode 53, this one is about LinkedIn.”
It’s impersonal. It sounds like a commercial.
If you’re using Buffer to promote your show, that’s probably what we pulled in from the information on your website. That’s not necessarily what you want to go with. I’ve found that it’s been helpful to add that level of, “Why are you excited as a cohost? What is exciting about this show? What is interesting to people? What are they going to learn?” Asking yourself those questions. I always tell people when they’re planning their social media content, “Would you click on that? Would you like that? Would you engage with that? If the answer is no, then you probably need to keep working on it.” That’s something that we do a lot with MakeWorkWork where we try to spice it up at a lot of our own voice and tone. It’s not super professional. We will make it a little bit edgier or we will add a little bit more personality into it. It doesn’t sound like it’s being dictated in its corporate decision what this is going to look like. People can sense that.
It makes them want to say, “What am I missing out on?”
We used our own networks to connect with people. We were blown away by the audience that we have amassed through Twitter. The engagement that we get there, when we put an episode out, we have people tweeting us, “I can’t wait to listen to this. I was supposed to do something else, but now I’m going to listen to this.” It’s like, “That’s huge for us.” We’re impressed with the community and it comes from us being very genuine with who we are in our personalities. We’re not trying to be like anyone else. We’re being ourselves and we’re sharing this in our own words. People like that, especially in an age when everyone knows they’re being marketed to all the time.
I have a corporation here that we do all the post-production on podcast and everything. We have our clients who have begged us to do their social posting for them. I refused for exactly that reason. I was like, “You have tools like Buffer. You have all of these things out there.” I can’t write the posts for you because it won’t work, so why should you? I will give you all the assets. That’s what we do. We give them visuals. There are lots of cover art. Our team does all of that for them. You still have to share it yourself because when you do it yourself, you get more power in it. That’s what you’re pointing to and I love that.
You get the voice and tone right. Do you do Audiogram as well? This is something I’m obsessed with.
Yes, we do. We’re finding Audiogram tracking really high. It’s the captioning we think. I don’t think people care to see the sound wave go up and down. It’s fun to put it in and it looks cool, but I don’t think they care. What they’re looking for is the captioning because they don’t want to watch a video and maybe they can’t always hear where they are, but they can look at it on their phone in the middle of their commute and they can read the words. That’s why it’s tracking so well.
That is my understanding too. This is something I talked to people about all the time when they’re putting videos on Facebook or Instagram. I’m like, “The default is audio off.” Unless people know what you’re talking about, if you’re going to put words in there, make sure that they can read them because that’s going to go much better. We have seen higher engagement from the studies we’ve done at Buffer with posts that you have captions on them. That’s something I love about Audiogram as well.
The other thing about Audiogram, and you mentioned this in your show about some of the social media things that are working this year. It was in the segment on LinkedIn. I don’t know if you personally did that segment. I don’t remember which one of your cohosts did that. There was a segment on LinkedIn and you were talking about how more personal type posts are ranking higher in the algorithm. What I find is when I post the Audiogram, it tends to get a more personal reaction. It tends to get that higher boost in because it has the captioning on it and also because I’m very careful with how I write the post that goes with it. I treat my LinkedIn with utter reverence. It’s my number one social platform. I never allow any posting on that platform that doesn’t come from my voice. I think it’s working though
I can totally see that working. A lot of people misunderstand LinkedIn. I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. I wasn’t one of the cohosts on that episode, but interestingly that episode was written based off of a bunch of blog posts on my personal blog. I’m such a fan of LinkedIn and I totally agree. I think that the personal side of things works on LinkedIn, that personal voice. People don’t expect that to work so they use a different voice. They use a business voice instead. You can have so much success on LinkedIn by being yourself and sharing some great things about your business or the work that you’re doing. You’re definitely onto something there.Paying attention to quality goes a long way. Click To Tweet
I have this great friend, Brandon Leopoldus, who is an attorney in LA and you think, “Attorney, he’s going to do a video.” He does these video posts that are quirky and funny and about ten minutes long or less. It is about contract law and specifically sports-entertainment contract laws. It’s nichey, but the number of comments and likes on it. I was like, “You’re killing it, Brandon, and you don’t only have friends who are attorneys, so everybody’s getting value from this somehow.” It’s getting a boost in LinkedIn, which is helping him.
One of our very early Buffer podcast episodes that I still reference for people was an interview that we did with the CEO of Bikini Luxe. Her name is Candice Galek. She’s a phenomenal LinkedIn power user. She sells bikinis via LinkedIn. That is her best social network for selling bikinis. If you think of the audience on LinkedIn, they are usually educated and they are a little bit higher income and earnings. If she’s selling luxury bikinis, that’s the right audience. I learned too that 41% of millionaires are on LinkedIn as well.
What are your biggest challenges besides time crunch going forward? Is there anything that you want the audience to know that you wish you knew when you started?
Paying for someone to mix the podcast has been the best investment for us. In terms of maybe we will do the editing ourselves, but we will pass it off to someone else to make sure that the audio levels are good. That comes from me being someone that tends to talk loudly or laugh loudly, which is a podcast editor’s worst nightmare. It turns out that mixing your podcast, there is a noticeable difference. It might be something that you feel like you don’t need to invest in. I promise that your audience will hear a difference. I’ve been that person sitting in my car listening to a podcast where one cohost turns them up and the other cohost has to turn them down. It’s not worth it to me. I stopped listening because that’s too much work. Pay attention to audio quality. It goes a long way. One of the other things that I like to talk to people about is being open to receiving criticism and feedback on your audio cues. This is difficult, but I have stopped listening to podcasts again because of the way that people talk is not correct. They say “um” and “ah” too much or just their voices, because people listen to you. They have to enjoy your voice if they’re going to be listening to you for that long and for that many episodes. I would say be open to criticism on how to improve.
Hailley, I’m excited to have you on. I was excited when I saw you come through the solicitation that we have going on with Authority Magazine. I was like, “I definitely want to invite this person on.” I’m glad you came on and I’m glad we had a chance to talk. I hope we will stay in touch and maybe you can give us an update in the future on how MakeWorkWork is going.
Thank you so much for having me on, Tracy. This has been such a pleasure. It’s always fun to talk to other podcasters. I am looking forward to following along with how all four of your podcasts are doing because that’s a lot of podcasts.
Thank you so much. I appreciate it. This has been Tracy Hazzard on Feed Your Brand Center of Influence. Don’t forget that you can find the blog posts for these, not only on FeedYourBrand.co, but you can also find them on Medium under the Authority Magazine section. You will find some of these top five best ways showing up in BuzzFeed in the near future. Thanks. This has been Feed Your Brand.
- The Science of Social Media
- Popular Mechanics
- WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast
- New Trust Economy
- Authority Magazine
- Bikini Luxe
About Hailley Griffis
Hailley Griffis is the Head of Public Relations at Buffer, a suite of social media products that provide tools for visual marketing, audience engagement, and analytics. Hailley co-hosted Buffer’s podcast, The Science of Social Media, for two and a half years and currently co-hosts a podcast called MakeWorkWork.
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