The Modern Marketer: Building Communities Around Thought Leaders

The Modern Marketer is a marketing movement started by Derek Palizay aimed at thought leadership in the industry and helping marketers, small business owners, startups, etc. get the insight they needed to grow their brands.

I was employed by Palizay Media, the company owning The Modern Marketer for about six months in the beginning of 2017 as Director of Digital Media. Derek had done a tremendous job taking the Instagram presence from 0 to roughly 30,000 followers in 18 months utilizing the platform as a microblog. However, the brand only had any recognition on Instagram and wasn’t consistent in in creating authority content for its audience.

That’s where I came in.

Taking content to the next level

Derek’s philosophies on digital marketing resonated with the masses, but it’s hard to go into too much detail on Instagram. We needed to take his expertise—as well as that of other specialists—and create long form content that was informational and actionable. Basically, it was time to get the blog up and running consistently.

My first goal was to get our editorial under control. This was accomplished by:

  • Digging into the community to discover valuable topics relevant to our audience
  • High-quality writing
  • Committing to publishing consistently
  • Unique graphics, never stock images
  • Increased productivity and reach via our new contributors

I started writing. We took on a content specialist to blog as well. In addition to her own articles, she also was a ghostwriter for Derek’s articles. That’s three articles a week.

Next, we started including our creative team. For the graphic designers and video producers, writing articles can be daunting—but that didn’t make them any less knowledgeable in their respective fields. The solution here was simple: weekly or bi-weekly interviews with the writing staff who would then put the creatives ideas to the page.

It worked beautifully and now we had a plethora of valuable content to share with the audience.

I managed conceptualizing our content, organizing it, editing, coordinating image creation, and distributing this content across multiple platforms five days a week.

In the first 30 days our website traffic nearly doubled.

Getting others involved

Yes, all this new content was a win, but it was only the beginning. I started looking for contributors to up our content game even further.

The benefit of having contributors is twofold: first, you get more perspectives and more content; second, when you find the right contributors, they become brand advocates and expand your audience reach through their own channels.

So the search began. I put up a post on LinkedIn, and that’s where our first contributor came from. The next two were very active community members who I reached out to personally and were doing very well in their businesses utilizing Derek’s teachings.

The rest of the contributors came from our Facebook community as I began to identify key players within our ranks. (More on that later.)

Not everyone was a good fit. Some people submitted their first articles and it was evident that they hadn’t read our guidelines or visited our site. (There’s nothing like generic content to kill a brand’s authority.)  

Some weren’t sure how to blog using their voice, and needed my help to help hone their articles. This was a labor intensive process. Creating content that was truly a conversation starter, supporting Derek’s thought leadership, took buy-in and scrutiny from all involved.

After a few months, we had seven people who were writing exceptional content, engaging on Instagram and Facebook, as well as sharing everything we posted with their community. Everything they did added value to the community and helped us convert new brand advocates.

Creating a valuable community

The Modern Marketer definitely had a large community on Instagram before I came onboard, but it’s not super easy to carry out conversations and connect with one another on that platform. With the editorial under control, our next big goal was to create a space where we could really nurture the community we were creating.

Enter Facebook groups.

Facebook pages usually aren’t enough, not if engagement is your goal, so we started up a “The Modern Marketer Club” group and announced it on Instagram. Our first 100-200 members were easy to obtain. After that, we had to work for it.

The first strategy we employed was “Masterclass Monday” where Derek or a member of the team would go live and address a marketing topic with the group in person. These garnered a great deal of engagement and members started showing up just to ask their questions. So we started a second live session on Thursdays for Q&A.

Anyone who posted self-promotional content was given a warning via PM and then immediately deleted upon another further occurrences. However, members were encouraged to share their own blog posts, things that inspired them, and their questions and concerns with the community. This kind of nurturing helped us grow, but the thing that got us almost 500 new members in a week was a contest.

While Derek was always welcoming and happy to interact with group members, it’s never the same as a one on one. With that in mind, we started a contest. Whoever added the most new members over the course of a week would win a free consult with Derek and the team. The winning member added over 130 small business owners!

Running a Facebook group takes A LOT of effort, and it was a constant “quest for balance” to make sure that members were contributing enough and that we, on The Modern Marketer side, were engaging authentically and listening to community members. Interaction for the sake of engagement isn’t useful. People come to Facebook groups to network and genuinely want to learn. It’s imperative to make Facebook groups less about what you offer and more about what your group needs. When you do that, engagement happens organically and the group will grow and bring you traffic.

Are you a thought leader in your industry, but uncertain about how to take your knowledge online? Let’s set up a no-obligations consult call (promise, no sales pitches) to go over your goals and how you can reach them. I’ll let you know if I’m the right (or wrong!) fit and avoid using marketing jargon and have an open conversation with you about your business!

Shauna ArmitageComment