Episode 53 | Posted on

Engage, Don’t Automate Your Social Media Marketing with Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten is the co-author of four best-selling business books, co-owner of UnMarketing Inc., and co-host of The UnPodcast.  He is also one of the leading speakers in the world, working with businesses to embrace disruption. His passion comes out most when speaking on stage, preaching engagement and becoming one of the most sought-out speakers on the subject of marketing.  In this episode, Scott shares his thoughts on current marketing trends, what we’ve been doing wrong, and what’s next.

In this Episode

  • [01:49] – Scott answers why he updated the book Unmarketing.  In seven years, nearly everything has changed.  He shares examples of what’s different from Facebook to video.
  • [05:35] – Is Twitter irrelevant?  Scott shares his thoughts and what he thinks is the downfall of a social network.  “Twitter’s only asset today is that it’s live.”
  • [10:30] – Sometimes we don’t know what we want, but what we do want is relevance.  Recency is only a small part of relevance, and that’s a big thing for marketers to realize.
  • [12:08] – Social currency is what we invest in a platform.  “If all we want to do is push stuff out, we aren’t giving to the ecosystem.  That’s not how a community works.”
  • [17:02] – Scott gives his position on Snapchat, why he barely uses it, and what he thinks about brands using the platform.
  • [19:27] – What is Snapchat’s next step?  Scott thinks it’s towards viral marketing.
  • [20:12] – Scott discusses Facebook versus Youtube–which platform is worth a brand’s time and how they differ.
  • [24:29] – Scott tells why he thinks live streaming video is a train wreck and what’s interesting enough to be live.
  • [29:47] – Scott says, “The most important part about video is audio.  If it doesn’t sound well, people bail quicker.”
  • [30:06] – Stephan shares his ideas for improving live-stream video.
  • [32:54] – Scott explains recency and resonance, and money.  Scott informs us of what we need to know about the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm.
  • [36:30] – Scott says that the advantage of social media is never the fact that it’s free.
  • [38:27] – Scott describes why QR codes are marketing done wrong.  “Instead of asking, ‘Can we use them?’, we should have asked, ‘Should we use them?'”
  • [41:23] – Scott shares examples of ridiculous things marketers are doing, including using the term mobile and forgetting to do the basics right.
  • [44:19] – On progressive web apps, Scott says, “People say we’re an app-driven society, but the core of it is the Internet.”
  • [47:56] – What does it take to go viral?  Scott’s answer is that nothing goes viral because you want it to.


Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host Stephan Spencer and today I have the distinct pleasure of inviting Scott Stratten onto the show. He is an awesome dude but he is also the president of UnMarketing, one of the leading speakers in the world when it comes to helping audiences embrace the age of disruption. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak multiple times. He speaks at all the sorts of conferences that I also go to as well like Content Marketing WorldAffiliate Summit, and Pubcon just this week. Formerly, Scott was a music industry marketer, a national sales training manager, and a professor at the Sheridan College School Of Business where he ran one of the most successful viral video agencies in the world for nearly a decade before solely focusing on speaking at events for companies like PepsiCo, Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Hard Rock Cafe, Cirque du Soleil, Saks Fifth Avenue, Deloitte, and Fidelity Investments, where they need help navigating through the landscape of business disruption. Scott’s written four best-selling business books, being UnSelling: The New Customer Experience, which was named sales book of the year by 800 CEO Read, actually maybe this is the newest book now because just a couple of days ago, you rereleased your UnMarketing book with a new title UnMarketing: Everything Has Changed and Nothing Is Different. I’d love to speak more about that so why don’t we start Scott with that. First of all, welcome to the show.

Hey, thank you for having me.

Why an update to UnMarketing which is a quintessential book. It’s one of my favorites.

It was the book that started it all. We’re very proud of it, the original one, it was hard covered then went to paperback but we wrote the original in 2009. That’s about 100 years old when it comes to digital years. We decided the principles haven’t changed so we need to update it. Twitter back then was my home, it’s really how I built my original platform, really. Every time somebody got on Twitter in 2016 and tweeted me said, “I just read your book and I’m here. I’m looking forward to doing what you did.” I’m like, “Yeah, that was seven years ago.” Seven years, things changed, including Twitter. We decided to take the original title which was UnMarketing: Stop Marketing Start Engaging and we slashed out, in the actual cover there’s actually a strikeout of the old subtitle, and now it’s called UnMarketing: Everything Has Changed and Nothing Is Different. That’s really what we’re trying to say which is there’s all new platforms, there’s all new things in digital, there’s all new everything when it comes to marketing but the core hasn’t changed, the core of treating your customers and your clients well and being responsive hasn’t changed. How we go about it and the customer expectation certainly has changed.

Give me some examples of how things have changed so that we need to adapt to those changes.

Just look at Facebook compared to 2009. We don’t call Facebook a website anymore. It’s an ecosystem, it’s the world. They had a survey in India that had something about 60% or 50% of people said they would go on the internet everyday but 85% of them said they’d go on Facebook everyday. They didn’t even consider Facebook the Internet. It’s like a world to them even though it is obviously the internet. That’s changed. The world of apps has been a billion-dollar industry, video has changed. We had a chapter on video back in 2009. Frankly, it’s almost to this point being irrelevant. Video has changed so much whether that means how Facebook has taken on the juggernaut of YouTube and what they do, how they get favor on their EdgeRank algorithm towards their own video now being live video to bandwidths and how much we’re consuming and unlimited data plans and watching video on the go or the issue of video but with no sound or Snapchat, Snapchat didn’t exist. All these things where we’re looking at it saying, again, both content, the rules are still the same but instead of being an interesting tweet back in 2009, now we’re looking at an interesting video broadcast live on Facebook through their app. We’re looking at customer service being handled through Facebook messenger and using AI and bots and see what that kind of does. There’s so many things. Frankly, I can’t keep up with them and I don’t have a job. I don’t have a job. This is all I’m supposed to do. My entire role in business is keeping up with these things so that I can give an intelligent opinion on them. It’s overwhelming for me. I can’t imagine a marketer who works somewhere and has other things to do being able to stay on top. That’s why we came out with it. We took out five chapters we found were kind of irrelevant or self-serving at the time, we’ve added six new chapters in there, and then we took all the original content, for the most part kept in intact, and then at the end of the most of the chapters, we gave almost a PS or a highlighted, “Okay, here’s what’s now.” We think it’s a nice little hybrid since UnMarketing was really the book that started it all for us.

I can’t imagine a marketer who works somewhere and has other things to do being able to stay on top.

Do you think Twitter has become irrelevant?

I think how a lot of people used Twitter has become irrelevant but I think more importantly that it’s how people use it has made it irrelevant to a lot of people. We make our own relevance especially on a platform like Twitter. Twitter is simply a messenger service and whatever we do to it is we make it or we break it. We wrote on the original UnMarketing, over seven years ago, I had said that automation and scheduling and cross posting is the downfall, is the death of a social platform because it’s not social. Sure enough, you go on Twitter today and that’s what you see for the most part, automated tweets, synced tweets. Majority of the people that I hung out with on Twitter back then are not even there anymore. It’s just automatic postings to it but we did that. That’s the thing, if anybody complains about Twitter including myself saying it’s not the same anymore, they say it’s too much noise, well, you’re following noise. You’re following those accounts, you by your choice are following automated accounts or noise accounts. I think a platform as a whole has also shifted. Back in 2008, 2009, Ashton Kutcher wasn’t on there yet hitting a million followers. It wasn’t a celebrity-based platform, it was an opt in-based platform where whoever was on it wanted to be on it. The good old days, as we call it. I would log into Twitter at night and jump on say, “Hey everybody.” It’ll be like norm walking at the bar cheers and everybody will be like, “Hey!” and we would hang out. And now, it certainly has changed. It’s much more voyeuristic platform. Even I look at who I follow. Most of the people I follow there are athletes or business thought leaders that I’m just reading, I’m not even interacting with really. Even myself, I don’t contribute to the Twitter ecosystem like I did before. Now, I’m on there making sure I reply to people that tweet to me but not necessarily feeding the system by creating original tweets or going in there and looking for people to reply to which is what it was like before. Twitter’s only real asset today is the ability that’s pretty much live, that it’s almost real time. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, obviously the newsfeed is not live, it’s most relevant as most platforms need and want to do. Twitter’s only leverage, 140 characters isn’t leverage over a bunch of platforms. I think it’s live. When something goes wrong, people flock to Twitter. When something’s happening live in real time, people will react on Twitter. If it’s an award show, just look at the number of tweets happening when people are walking up the red carpet, or during a football game, or the baseball playoffs or something. That’s where the reactionary stuff happens still. There’s a worth to that, there’s a value to that but it’s certainly shifted from a community to a reactive platform, plus obviously the place where people go to complain about brands, when you want to publicly shame them, that’s where the number one place is.

Some companies have responded well to that [00:08:54] is, put a post of a child for being responsive and open.

And brilliant. If you’ve seen their wallpaper they have behind their Twitter account, they update that wallpaper. It says how long the expected response time should be, and they update that every five minutes. It’s bananas. They are certainly a beacon on Twitter.

That’s great. Who do you think it’s going to sell to? Is Twitter going to sell? It seems to be kind of taking a while.

I certainly do think they will. A couple of players have taken themselves out of the running. I just think there’s an asset to having a few millions of active people obviously. But like anything, eventually the place either has to make the money, the profit to pay back the investors or they have to sell it. That’s just how the ecosystem has always worked. I know there’s an asset to it. I don’t know if it’s going to be something like SalesForce or it’s going to be something like a bigger media property would buy them but there’s certainly places out there. Of course, the latest rumour was Facebook behind them but I’m not sure I see that happening at all. It’s certainly interesting. And again, this platform, the rules apply like any other platform out there which is if the user doesn’t view as relevant of what they’re seeing in front of their face, they’re going to stop going. That’s why Instagram shifted to not being most recent photos from your people you follow but the most relevant photos. I remember when Facebook, I don’t know if you remember this, back in the day when Facebook changed their newsfeed to be instead of mosts recent to most relevant and there was this uproar, huge uproar where there’s like a million people–I read an interview with the original people who created news feed from Facebook and there’s like a million person strong group trying to change back the news feed. The only way they found out about this group is because it was deemed relevant and it was fed into their newsfeed. Sometimes, we don’t know what we want, and what we do want by human nature is relevance. When Instagram changed that, obviously no coincidence with Facebook owns them, they are the king of relevance, you do want to log into Instagram and see what is the most compelling thing for me to see in my circle of contacts or follows, not the most recent. Recency was only a very small part of relevance to me and that’s a big thing for marketers to realize that it’s got to resonate with people versus just to be the newest thing that comes up. Mind you, you don’t want to see an Instagram photo from three weeks ago but if it’s seven hours ago but it was really good, then actually you know what, you do want to see it.

It makes sense. You mentioned that we kind of as a community have ruined Twitter. I remember hearing Guy Kawasaki when I was in the audience when he was giving a keynote, it wasn’t long ago, it was within last year. He talked about how he would publish the same tweet or kind of maybe a revised version of the same tweet eight times and he would get a bit of pushback from some of his follower base but it was small. The uptake in consumption of the content that he was pushing made it well worth it but that’s the sort of behaviors that ruined Twitter.

I agree 100%. I think that now is just a glorified repetitive RSS feed. It’s just a content feeder. If you’re going to load everything into buffer and just keep saying the same thing, I truly believe, and this is right out of the original book, I believe in social currency which is what we invest in a platform, what we give in a platform, none of that by automation that whatever we give on the platform, we can get out of it. If all we want to do is push stuff out, then we’re not giving to the ecosystem because then all we have is a bunch of people shouting. We have a bunch of people with blinders on and walls and megaphones and that’s not how a community works. It’s supposed to be a community. I’m almost tired of saying it. The keyword in social media is social. It doesn’t seem that way, and that’s why a lot of my efforts have shifted over into Facebook and I just enjoy it more. That’s where even I, the poster boy in Canada for Twitter, has shifted a lot of my attention away from it because it’s just an echo chamber.

In fact a lot of times it’s mostly bots that are following us.

Right, and sometimes replying to us too.

Any tools that you recommend for Twitter, like to identify the bots, or for dealing with these auto follow type of situations?

I don’t know because I’ve gotten older or whatever, I kind of relaxed on it, I used to use an app called Tweetbot and it was a bad name but a good app. What it allowed me to do was the people I followed, it allowed me to block any automated tweet. Anything that was coming out of social oomph or buffer or even HootSuite. HootSuite has a scheduling part of the app where I would block anything that wasn’t organic, that wasn’t manually put into Twitter. I certainly liked it more because then I knew whatever tweet I was reading, the person sending it was there. I always said if you automate Twitter, it’s like sending a mannequin to a networking event with a cue card. Your message is there but you’re not. What does that tell the people at the event? You’re saying listen to me but I’m not going to listen to you. I used TweetBot before but now I just use the native twitter app, that things is better on my phone. I don’t use any tools anymore. I don’t worry about it. I just kind of ignore it. Once in awhile I get spam which is kind of pretty rare surprisingly today but if I do, I’ll report it. I think it’s part of our membership on the platform just to try to reduce that type of stuff. But like anything successful, as soon as it gets successful, there’s people who want to leverage it, take advantage of it, and then automate it. It’s our choice how we contribute to it.

I have a feeling you’re not going to be a big fan of this but I know a bunch of people who have signed up with a service that first of all they’ll get verified so that they can add a lot of people. After verifying on Twitter, then they will continue to follow a whole bunch of people. Apparently I guess with a verified account you can add 30,000 people a day or something like that. Then, they’ll expect a huge chunk of people to auto-follow them back then, after a while unfollow those people and then move on and continue to everyday add 30,000 more people.

It’s the old pump and dump. That’s as old as almost Twitter which was even before it was automated and there’s tools to do that. Even I started and I’m totally transparent on this. It’s in the book and I’ve talked about it on stage which was when I first joined Twitter and I really started getting into it. I didn’t auto-follow anybody but I did do the auto-followback because then I thought it was nice, I thought it was courtesy. Hey you’re following me, I should give you the courtesy of following you. That’s why if you look at my account @UnMarketing, I’m following 35,000 people. It’s because of the auto-followback. What I realized was I was getting DMs from people saying, “I’m really flattered you followed me back, thank you.” I’m like, “I didn’t. It was an automated program.” I realized it was inauthentic and so I shut it off. That whole pump and dump thing’s been happening the whole time. That’s how people build an Instagram following too. It’s the whole you get a notification, you’re playing off people’s emotions. Even if they didn’t auto-followback, because a lot of people don’t, they will manually do it. You’re manually deceiving them that they think that they were interesting enough that you wanted to follow them not just for the self-serving followback. This goes back to the team followback and all those types of things and if you follow me I’ll follow you. Same thing in LinkedIn. People brag about their 10,000 plus connections on LinkedIn or something like that. I’m like, it’s not a mass quantity game here. Anything that’s not organic to me, especially on platforms like Twitter, I just don’t buy.

That kind of strategy is just kind of a race to the bottom.

Exactly, and I think we’re close to it now.

You mentioned earlier Snapchat and Gary Vaynerchuk is very bullish on Snapchat. What’s your position on Snapchat and do you use it as much as you use Facebook and Instagram?

I do. Gary’s personality certainly plays into it. He’s also an investor of it. People sometimes need to hear that disclosure of it but I barely use it. I know it, I got it and added and I have a lot of people following me on it but I barely use it. I use it to understand it. To be perfectly frank, I just don’t think it’s the place that I should be, that I think it’s a place for younger people that communicate with each other. Most snaps are one to one, a lot of times. Compare to those on the newsfeed is people communicating. I’m only on there to embarrass my children. That’s the only reason I go on there. I just think like anything, we’re going to have something successful then brands will come along with marketers and try to break it, but Snapchat has to also make money. They’re doing it really well now with the sponsored stories and the skins that you can put on the snaps. It’s just one of those places that I’ve gone to. I’ve tried it a lot, I’ve gotten really used to it really well. I have come to the decision that it’s not for me and I don’t think it’s for most brands, I really don’t. I just think it’s dark social for a reason. That’s a bad term but that’s the term that’s been molded which is not public and there’s a reason. It’s a messaging platform to me, not necessarily a public platform. I don’t see a lot of uses for brands on it. There’s some brands that are great on it, Taco Bell’s great on it. I follow them on it. They do these cool things and if your target market is of that demographic, the 13 to 25 demographic or whatever it’s going to be, then maybe there’s something you can do about it. I just don’t see the benefit as much. All I see is the analytics are the views. I don’t see much purpose. I’ve actually never understood a core part of Snapchat, me being a classical kind of viral marketing guy. There’s no way to spread a snap. You can’t share it, you can’t like it, you can’t re-snap it, that’s a big thing. I see Snapchat eventually getting into that. I see that will be up a huge boom for them if they allowed you to to re-snap something, you saw something so good and you shared it and then your followers saw it. I do think that’s our next step somewhere if they want to break into that exponential viral stuff. I don’t know how people get a following. Unless you leverage on another platform to then get more followers, or do the old Twitter move we’re just talking about it which is the follow people so they will follow you back. I don’t see its place for the most part.

It’s so ephemeral that it’s hard to build something of any substance other than the reputation because everything just disappears.

It goes away, I know. But again, perfectly suited for messaging your friends, not so much for brand.

We’ve talked about Facebook a little bit, let’s dive into that a bit more. But actually first of all, before we do, juxtapose for me Facebook versus YouTube. Which one do you think is worth a brand’s time to a greater degree? What do you think are the big differentiators for why somebody would put a lot of energy into Facebook versus YouTube?

I think YouTube obviously being the juggernaut, it’s weird to call it a juggernaut against Facebook but YouTube being public is a big part of that meaning it’s open. It’s looking to be one of the biggest search engines in the world. People don’t realize that the three of the biggest search engines in the world are Google followed by YouTube and Amazon, which is where is your home base to go find something? If you want to find a product, people don’t realize Amazon is the search engine for that. If you want to find a video, a lot of people will start their search on YouTube. Most people, if not all, I don’t know anybody who goes to Facebook and uses the search bar to look for a video. That’s just a habit type of thing as well and the difference between public and private type of stuff. One of the nice things is you can make your video and upload it to both platforms, both have different uses. I think Facebook has a great resonation type of thing that can go to your already liked and followed people but YouTube has its own but you have to upload the video natively to both. You don’t want to upload something to YouTube and then share the link on Facebook. You won’t get the same EdgeRank algorithm bias as you would if you upload it straight to Facebook. I don’t mind the tandem type of thing. Depending on where you build your platform, YouTube is also a place where a gillion videos are uploaded everyday so it’s going to be lost if you don’t have a preexisting following. The embedding is nice that YouTube still allows you the editing abilities, the analytics, obviously it’s Google so they have this backend incredible, the ability to do pre-roll ads which Facebook still really hasn’t figured out about the advertising with videos. I find that a YouTube view of a video is worth exponentially more than a Facebook view of a video because Facebook’s videos autoplay. When they autoplay in your timeline, it doesn’t mean somebody watched it, it just means they scrolled past it and that’s a huge part. To me, most, I can’t say every, but most views on YouTube are on purpose. That’s a big, big point. If I’ve gone there, unless it’s a pre-roll ad or something, I’ve gone and went to seek out this video and I’m watching it now regardless of how long it is. Obviously the longer the better but on Facebook, you can’t say that, you can’t claim that. That’s a big deal. View only counts on YouTube much longer than a view on Facebook which I think is three seconds on Facebook.

People don’t realize that the three of the biggest search engines in the world are Google followed by YouTube and Amazon, which is where your home base goes to find something. Click To Tweet

Somebody scrolling through, three seconds kind of pausing while they’re looking at something else on the page, that counts as a view so one million views is not worth a whole lot, it’s deceptive.

Exactly, that’s where the big deal is, where it’s not only a deception but it’s also what you want the end result to be. That’s really the end of the day with the video is what do you want to happen, is it simply a branding exercise and you want people to resonate with the video itself? Is there a call to action? Why do you want that? The YouTube ability to click on something if you’re on let’s say a tablet or your computer versus Facebook, all those things. There’s a lot but I can also find stuff shared, it’s so easy to share something within the Facebook ecosystem that there is an advantage on that side of it too. There’s a lot of things up in the air when it comes to it.

One of the key things from all this conversation is you want to upload your videos natively to both platforms.

Yeah, if you have a presence especially already on both, that’s what we do for a lot things and because you can’t deny the fact that Facebook loves it. They’ve said we give preference to natively uploaded video. If you have any presence on there, like we have, 45,000 or so people on the UnMarketing Facebook page so I know they are already there interested in stuff. But I also know the YouTube side of things, we already have a following there as well. There’s a lot of different audiences so I don’t mind sharing them both.

With regards to live streaming, I know that this year we found that two times more reach would happen if you instead of uploading your video to YouTube or Facebook, you would livestream, Facebook Live. Are you still finding that to be the case? Do you recommend using livestreaming as a way to create video for Facebook or is it better to be more polished, create something that’s been edited and then upload that?

I find for the most part live streaming video is a trainwreck. I find it ridiculous. I firmly believe that 85% of people on Earth are unfilmable on a normal day just with video, not live video, just video. Majority of that is because people don’t feel comfortable and they don’t want to do it and that’s fine. I’m fine with that but you take the fact that majority of the people can’t do or don’t do video well and then throw in making it live and uneditable, it’s ridiculous. Now, we’re saying no, but we should all be live video. I need people to hear this, people listening right now, I’m including myself, you’re not that interesting. Your brand is not that interesting on a sense that you think it’s so interesting that something has to be shown live. In a live situation, because originally when I was ranting about this, I was with Alison who is the co-author of the books and the co-host of our podcast and luckily for me, my wife, we were sitting in bed at night and I’m going through, I’m ranting to her about live video. While I’m ranting about live video to her, I’m watching a live video of a concert in Toronto called Prophets of Rage, their show in Toronto because I couldn’t go to it and I livestreamed it for two hours, understand the irony here. I’m sitting there saying how ridiculous live video is and I watched the stream for two hours. Because that made sense, it was relevant to the medium. When I say relevant here, I mean relevant to how we’re displaying it. A live video is only good if it makes sense to be live. A live concert is interesting enough for the viewer, a live football game is interesting enough, a live broadcast of you on the red carpet at the Emmys makes sense, you backstage at something, that’s great. But you sitting in your office, I don’t know if that needs to be live, I don’t know. Mind you, I’ve used it, I’ve used the live broadcast probably four or five times through the UnMarketing page speaking to our fans answering questions like a live Q&A but I did that because I was bored. There was no really backend for me. I was sitting in an airport, I do seven keynotes a year so I’m always in an airport always just kind of downtime and so I did it to kill the time. Here’s the thing, even that wasn’t great. There’s background noise, I’m looking down at questions and looking back at the camera, there’s hearts flying by on the screen, there’s thumbs up flying by on the screen. It is not conducive to good content honestly. I’m really hesitant. Now, we’re also the same people who have the Mevo camerawhich is the Facebook Live, and the livestream from the company Livestream, 4K camera, we’ve used it for the podcast. We’ve tried it out and it’s a 4K and the great thing about it is it allows you to use a switch on your phone to change shots so you can actually do zooms all with the one camera. It’s unbelievable. I love it.

Yeah, I love it too.

So cool, but you’re also dependent on the bandwidth at that time, you can buy the accessory to get the ethernet input in it but you’re based on the wifi you’re using at that time and plus then you’re switching it yourself and the microphone is kind of a pain because it can be through the phone. At the end of the day, I think the majority of things aren’t conducive to live. I just find a more profession and an edited video, I’d rather you have a DSLR camera with a microphone clipped and do an edited clip because our attention spans are really short. I rather have a two-minute strong clip than a five-minute livestream something.

But what about a keynote or panel presentations, wouldn’t be that something that you want to live stream?

I certainly, I do. Being a speaker, I love the fact. The problem is when you’re live streaming something like a talk and it’s a one camera shoot, the camera’s either moving around because I’m walking around the stage and usually don’t incorporate the slides so it’s not as good. Since my brand is me on stage, you don’t want that sub par quality out there. Clips are fine but they’re just never as good, the sounds is not going to be good coming through your phone if I’m on stage because you’re not directly connected to the sound board. You’re getting all the ambient noise around you. I do like it, again, especially if it’s the panel, people together that aren’t usually together, I find it interesting. But you know what I find interesting even more? Is a well shot video of it and then uploaded. I know there’s a thing as you say, “Look, it’s live now.” And people are like, “Oh, let’s go and see it.” They want to rush to see it. Majority of the Facebook live content is consumed after it was done. It’s after it was done, it stays in the timeline. I truly believe the most important part, tell me if you agree, the most important part about video to me is audio, that it has to sound great, it’s the most thing that will affect your viewership the most. If it doesn’t sound well, people bail quicker than anything. It doesn’t have to be 1080p, it doesn’t have to be 4k, but the sound’s got to be good.

Yeah, I agree. One way you could do it is if you had the audio coming through your phone and you plugged into a level ear mic that plugged into your phone.


You need another device to manage the shots.

Here’s the problem, you’re not focusing on the content. When we did it for the show, we use the Mevo for the show and for the podcast, I was focusing on switching the camera shots back and forth and not really focusing on Alison, her and I do the show, and I’m not focusing on the content and now we’ve lost again. I think we’re getting there with the stuff but again it doesn’t change the nature of the content. Is it useful for the medium itself, is it relevant to that medium, or is it better suited either in a video or just audio or a podcast, or is it good for text, for something like a blogpost.

When you mentioned the hearts and the thumbs up and all that flying across the screen, we were just in Vegas for Pubcon and I was thinking that’s really Vegas kind of casino type of stuff happening on the screen.


Which is not conducive to quality video but to kind of eye candy distraction.

But that’s what it is. I think a lot of this stuff also has to do with vanity. Whether it’s brand vanity or individual vanity that we like to look at ourselves, at least I do. We like to see ourselves on the screen. We’re in the selfie world now where selfies are the new autograph for people and we love to see ourselves just look at everything from Instagram and Snapchat, they’re all based on a front facing, self facing cameras on your phones. We do like to look at ourselves and just watch most video shot through a phone with the camera coming back at you. People are not looking at up at the camera, they’re looking down at themselves. That plays into it. We got to understand, we got to check our ego a bit too to see if it really is good for audience and have our desires facing outwards when it comes to content versus inwards looking at ourselves.

I personally always hated the term selfie and I can’t wait for selfies to be a thing of the past.

I don’t know if we’re going to be there, man. It’s such a huge shift. I remember being in Rome for our anniversary almost two years ago now and it’s the first time I saw a selfie stick, they weren’t here yet. All the people around the Colosseum, all the vendors, all the street hustlers, weren’t selling little cameras anymore, they weren’t selling walking sticks, they were selling selfie sticks. I looked at Alison and I’m like uh-oh, here it comes. Sure enough, now you see them. But I really meant it when I said the selfies are the new autograph. I sign a lot of books at events and when people see you, can I get a picture with you versus it used to be an autograph and that’s their new autograph, it’s the photo with you.

Alright, let’s move back to Facebook and EdgeRank algorithm. What do we need to know about EdgeRank?

Well, the core of it hasn’t really changed in a few years. The rules changed a bit but the core of it is very basic. There’s the recency effect, they’ll call it the time decay. Part of it is how recent the post was, the older it is, the harder for it to stay up in the newsfeed and then of course you have the resonation side of things which is how many of your immediate, whether it’s your fans or a personal post of your friends, how many of them resonate. That means anything from liking it, commenting, sharing, or even clicking the link and following it to another website or clicking your post to go into it fully versus just the preview of it. That’s a huge part, and then how much then does it spread beyond them, and that is also it’s all resonation. Then there’s the media type and that bias changes. I remember when Facebook mediatype was photos, it was photos, it was a big thing. Everyone is doing their text into photos to get their message across because they knew it would resonate more and then it was video and that would resonate more, and then it was live video. We’re following the EdgeRank algorithm this whole time but the really important part is the resonation media type and time decay which is really the term they use for it. Those are the three things. There’s not much else you can do. Sorry, if you’re a brand though, it’s money. If you paid for it or not, that above everything else, is obviously huge for a brand. I promote some posts. Most of the time I don’t. The UnMarketing page has one of the best page reaches in the industry. We average 70% reach. Now, that’s a vanity metric but compared to other vanity metrics, we do really well organically because I only share stuff I think is going to be compelling, not because we created it. 90% of the stuff on the UnMarketing page is not our stuff, we’re sharing content and links that we found that were interesting that just happens to be because the world that we live in, that we share trainwreck things and what happens to business usually.

That’s an important distinction though too that Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm favors stuff that you’re sharing that’s other people’s stuff instead of things that you have uploaded or yours.

Correct, and that’s a big thing. I know you can do it, I know people can still get there without having to bow to the live video gods right now but there’s a thing where I was speaking at an event a month or two ago and one person from Facebook, an account person from Facebook was also speaking at this talk here and she said to me offstage and then said on stage to all these brands that Facebook, this is coming officially from Facebook, she said Facebook is a pay to play platform for brands. I was shocked as she said it. I know that’s the answer, I know that’s the fact, but they come out and said we are an ad driven platform for you. You want your content out there, you have to pay. Of course, it’s the way it is. We’ve had these business brand pages on Facebook for years for free. Now, the rent’s due. Now, they have to make money. You can’t complain, it’s a free platform. If you don’t like it, don’t build your business there. That’s the danger of a lot of brands, and even back from 2010 and after where people in my world would suggest the brands, “Hey, join Facebook because it’s free, you connect with your fans.” The problem is we led with the biggest selling point of it was it’s free. Instead of saying it’s where our audience is or where our customer base or target market is, we said it’s free. Now, it’s not, well, we look like idiots because it’s not free.

We’ve not been able to see that coming.

That’s it, we should’ve but we didn’t. We kept doing it and we kept pushing it that way. I’ve always said that the advantage of social media is never the fact that it’s free, it’s never the part of it. I think it’s value that we have paid for, I think it’s the ability to connect is the big thing.

With regards to paying to play, let’s say that you’re just a marketer, a consultant, or somebody who wants to build out their own personal brand presence. If you are advertising, then you got the little sponsored note that I think kind of takes away from the brand and the authenticity of the message. You wrote a quick blogpost and you’re going to submit it but it’s not going to get much reach because it’s your own stuff instead of sharing somebody else’s stuff that’s already starting to go viral, so you give it a boost and now it’s got that sponsored message and now it feels like, “Oh, it’s another ad so I’m just going to ignore it and scroll past it.”

Yeah, it does, but they have to show a disclosure type of thing and I do think it hurts a bit, I think it also hurts where somebody who is an influence or has to disclose if they were paid to post something but that’s the point, you need to have that transparency. I still think it does something, I think the amount of reach you get with it almost cancels out the fact that you have to show the sponsored tag. It all depends on who you target too. I find that existing fans don’t have a problem with me sponsoring posts but when I choose to sponsor to friends of existing fans, that’s where I start getting a flag from people so there’s a difference between the two.

Yeah, for sure. Alright, let’s talk about mobile. We’ll start by the title of one of your books, QR Codes Kill Kittens. What do you mean by that?

QR Codes are my poster child for marketing done wrong. I think QR codes themselves were doing just fine on their own for decades being left alone, they were in fulfillment logistics and boarding passes and concert tickets. They’re doing just fine, everybody who had a scanner knew what to do. It’s like a UPC reader at a supermarket. We all knew what to do with them, people who needed to scan them knew how to scan them. Then, somebody got the brilliant idea realizing these are reactive codes where people can scan them and they can send them to a website or something, they jumped on it and just said. “Hey, let’s use these to consumer marketing and that’s where we killed it.” Instead of asking can we use these, we should have asked, “Should we use them?” The fact that the adoption rate of consumers is so low with QR codes, even recognizing what they are still so low that we shouldn’t just slap a quarter of the size of our ad as a big square that just looks awkward to people. It never really took off in the way. You go over to Japan or something and it’s second nature. But here, I’ve always said for years now, if your iPhone camera, the default camera, if in the field of vision, if it recognize a QR code where you just had your camera out, and it said, “This is QR code identified, would you like to pursue it? Would you like for use to scan it?” That’s different, but it’s not. You have to download a third party app. There hasn’t been successful uses of them. Sure, Snapchat is a certain king of the QR code, that’s what it s, that’s what they use the Snap code as a QR code but that’s within their ecosystem. You scan it because I’m in Snapchat, Snapchat is the one that recognizes it. Again, I don’t want to kill kittens, I come here to save them but it’s just a trainwreck of just places. Here’s the thing, there’s so many layers to it too. Take away the fact that 97% of consumers would never scan them. Let’s put that aside which is shocking on it’s own, we’ll put it aside though. Now, we have okay, why would I scan it? Even if 100% of consumers recognized it and would scan it, now you have to give me a compelling reason why. The majority of usage of QR codes and advertising, and outdoor advertising, there was no compelling reason to scan it. It was just there and that’s a problem too. It’s marketing 101, generate interest, generate curiosity in something. I swear I almost did this to promote the third book, I swear I could put in the side of my car scan this code to win $100, and nobody would scan it. I’m going to try it, I’m going to put a GoPro camera in a parking lot and see how many people scan it.

That’s funny. Yeah, so there are a lot of examples of these ridiculous things that marketers are doing, QR codes being one of them, what are some of the other things that you see marketers do that’s really dumb?

Well, the fact that we have to say even the term mobile is freaking me. That’s our world now, majority of searches, majority users of Facebook are on mobile. I said at Content Marketing World, “We have to get better at 2003.” We have to do better at 12, 13 years ago before you start telling that you’re going to go on Snapchat. Your website still isn’t responsive design, your website still doesn’t render on my phone properly, your own pop up blocks up my phone. This is the stuff that we have to realize as marketers, we have to go and be our own customer. I want you to go to your own website, I want you to sign up for your own newsletter, I want you to buy your own product and then I want you to use a phone or a tablet that isn’t yours, that isn’t native to you and see what the experience is like. This is old school, this is 1998. I want this user experience. I want that UI to come back and say, “Is the path of least resistance leading to what we want to happen or do I have to make people jump through hoops?” I don’t think anybody with a lot of cash in their hands should be jumping through hoops for me, to get that money to me. It can be anything, it could be a sale, it could be a newsletter sign up, it could be anything like that but I want to make sure it’s easy as possible. Since we’re run on smartphones that we need to look at that such. Instead of throwing out the next new platform in your brand jumping from site to site to site, platform to platform to platform, just make the basic of it right. Let’s get that right first before we start jumping into all these other things. That’s the biggest problem I see is that Jack Russell Terrier just jumping up and down to all this, “Come over here to us. Now we’re over here.” Just pick a place and be great at it. That’s an important thing. Create compelling products or services and then allow your marketplace to share that for you, allow them to spread it for you on whatever platform they’re comfortable with, but make sure your home base is one, is your own, that you own, and that’s yours and then wherever else you are, make sure that you can do that well.

Right, and mobile is an essential place to be because that’s our future.

That’s the only place to be for me. I just don’t get it. I don’t get anybody who’s not on it now. I don’t get who’s not either a mobile friendly site or just one built for mobile, it has to be because otherwise I’m not going to use it. If I have a site come up in my phone, I live on my phone and so many people do. Here’s the thing, the mobile penetration of the marketplace is not going to go down. It’s just getting more and more. It’s not like it’s a fad and it’s going away, we’re all going to go back to desktops. I don’t know what we’re waiting for if we haven’t done that already.

What’s your position on progressive web apps? Where do you see that going?

It’s a weird thing, you see the numbers out there and you see app downloads and usage where the number of people on Android or iPhone download x number of apps and the majority of them don’t get used or they get deleted very quickly. I always found that people say we’re an active society and we are. I use a lot of them myself but the core of it is still the internet. The core of it is still Google. The core of it is still me searching, going to find something. I know what I already want, it’s different. I use certain apps every single day and they make the experience. If your app makes my customer or potential customer experience better then go for it. I’ve seen places that are just put up for the sake of putting an app and it doesn’t make any sense. The Delta app is phenomenal, the airline app that I use and it’s killer. It makes life better to the point where it actually will tip the scale and I’d rather take a Delta flight than United because of the app. I was going on stage in Arizona last year and I have two feet up the steps, the introduction is being read and I get an alert through my Delta app that my outgoing flight after my talk will be postponed which therefore means I will miss my connecting flight. Would I like to reschedule to this alternative flight right now, click yes, rebook, done, walked on stage, did my talk. That is how a customer experience should be. Same goes for the Starbucks app. I love the Starbucks app, it’s so good. I travel so I buy Starbucks around the world and the app works everywhere. Being Canadian, I’m very used to going to America and them saying, “I’m sorry your card or whatever doesn’t work here because it’s not from our country.” I use Starbucks in Frankfurt, Germany, my card, I use it all over the States and all over Canada. I love how the ability, it auto-refills my account, it keeps my loyalty program and I click one button and I can redeem it if I want and the ability to order ahead of time, the mobile ordering app, I’m the biggest fanboy in the world. I don’t own a stock in them, they’re not a client, I just love it and that’s what an app should be. It should make things that much easier for your customer. The flipside of it before five years ago, my bank, TD Bank had come out with an app. They spent a bunch of money, they did a big launch for it, and I downloaded it. I clicked it and it opened up a webpage, it was the app. I’m like, “You’ve just bought a hyperlink. That’s what it is, they shortcut.” Now, they have an app, it’s much better and I use it almost everyday but back then it was a link because they wanted to have an app. It’s just like having want to have a video or this, or app, why? What will it do for you, but also more importantly, what will it do for your marketplace, your existing clients or customers?

That’s kind of the foundation of it. If you’re going to try and make something go viral or get huge adoption, it has to add massive value.

Huge, exactly. The apps I do, and I’m very protective of the space on my phone, of how many apps I’ve got, I keep them organized and I use them a lot. There’s one that I use everyday that are religious for me. The flipside of that is making sure that you always keep them working well and the updates are for the sake of updates and understanding if it’s irrelevant, back to relevance again. As long as you keep it relevant, then we’ll be okay.

Let’s talk for a moment or two about virality effect. We’ll make this the last topic of our interview. What does it take to go viral? What’s kind of the magic formula for somebody who wants to create viral content and get lots of reach?

The age old question. My quick answer is nothing goes viral because you want it to. People come to me and say, “We have a viral marketing project.” I’m like, “No kidding.” Viral is a project, it’s not a technique, it’s a result. Viral is a result of something going well and resonating good or bad, it resonates with people. That’s my problem. I think when people say, “Can you make our video viral?” I’m like, “The video is already made.” I’m like, “Yeah, we need for it to go viral.” Do you hear yourself talking? That’s not how it works. It’s not like there’s a switch or something that says go ahead. That’s the challenge is it’s got to resonate. Things go viral because we evoke emotion and the emotion can be funny, or sad, or angering, or happy, or really, really, intellectual or something I’ve learned a lot that’s really, really valuable. Whatever emotion is evoked, it has to be of a large level, it can’t just be kind of funny, it can’t just be little sad, it has to be compelling. The point of emotion of compelling, most content is not, it’s just the way it is. Most things that are made are not of that level and most of things will get. Anything gets some views or some clicks or anything else but the real viral things are the ones that are exceptionally funny, overwhelmingly sad, or overwhelmingly angry. Look what’s being shared right now, anything about the election right now because it’s overwhelming, mostly evoking emotion on people, mostly that’s anger.

Things go viral because we evoke emotion and the emotion can be funny, or sad, or angering, or happy, or really, really, intellectual or something… that’s really, really valuable.


We’re up here in Canada just looking over the border just eating popcorn, just like, “Wow.” Sitting back, and just saying, “Cool. This is nuts.” That’s the thing. We’re building our snow wall, we’re just kind of building it up right now, but that’s why it leads on the news, it’s still the same rule back then that it is now. It’s got to be to that extreme level. That’s why we share it. But at the end of the day too, a lot of the things that’s spread about brands are stories. Not brand stories, not the stories that they write and produce, customer stories and client stories and good or bad, those are what are shared with us at UnMarketing. People everyday, I swear everyday, we get messages from people on Facebook, on Twitter or through our contact form saying, “Did you see this?” You usually don’t want your brand coming after that sentence because something’s going to happen, something wrong, but it usually is an experience and we share experiences. Our stories are experiences and that’s what resonates. Look at what people share in the outrage of people will jump in with because it’s an experience and that’s what gets shared. I’m a huge person about brand storytelling not being narrated by the brand, the brand story is narrated by the customer.

Do you have an example? A favorite example?

Well, stuff like the story that I tell on stage everywhere I go around the world. I tell the story about the Ritz Carlton. We opened the book UnSelling with that story because the stuffed giraffe was left at a Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida. They found it and they did a little photoshoot with them at the pool, getting a massage and all that stuff and they sent back the photos to the kid. That’s an awesome story. Flip it on the other side, there’s a story just yesterday that we shared. It’s all over the news on a Delta flight. There’s a medical emergency on a flight and a doctor, she got up to help and the flight attendant questioned her credentials and stuff and she’s an African American woman and a young woman as well and she wrote about her experience and how embarrassed she was. This person could have had serious medical problem. The person said, “I need to see your credentials to prove you’re a doctor.” An older white man came up and said he was a doctor and nobody questioned him.

That’s shocking, I did see that on Facebook.

That’s why you saw it, because it evokes emotion, and it evokes outrage, and it evokes anger. That’s what we talk about.

How do people find you if they wanted to maybe hire you for consulting, I don’t know if you do that, probably not.

No. No we don’t, not at all because we just do speaking on the book, and the show, the podcast. If you want to find me overall, I’m UnMarketing on most places. unmarketing.com is the site and UnMarketing is the book. The podcast comes out every Wednedsay and if you want to find me, just go to unmarketing.com and we’re happy to come keynote their event and anywhere good books are sold you can get our stuff.

Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Scott. This was a real pleasure. Thank you listeners as well for listening and be sure to check out the Marketing Speak website for the shownotes, and transcript, and a checklist of actions to take from the episode. Thank you for listening. This is Stephan Spencer signing off.

Important Links:

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Reflect on your social-media strategy. Are you simply pushing content out, or interacting with the community? People will respond better to engagement versus automatic postings.

☑ Stop wasting your time live streaming video. To get the most value out of sharing your message, it’s best to use a high-quality camera and edit for perfection

☑ Bring back the focus of content to your message. It’s easy to get lost in deciding how to make your content and where to put it. The most important part is the quality of your message.

☑ Ensure good audio when creating video content. “If it doesn’t sound well, people bail quicker.

☑ Create Facebook content with recency and resonance in mind. Your posts will be boosted more the newer they are and if your followers interact with it.

☑ Remember that the best part of social media is that your audience is there, not that it’s free. Paying for promoted posts is worth the reach it will get you.

☑ Ask yourself, “Should I use this strategy?” Not, “Can I use this strategy?” With the example of QR codes, Scott shows that just because you can use a strategy for marketing doesn’t mean it’s useful for your audience.

☑ Make your site mobile responsive or have a special mobile format designed. Scott shared that mobile is the only place to be, and its popularity will not decrease.

☑ Build an app for your business only if it provides a lot of value to your marketplace. Apps that are purely links to your website are pointless. Your app must provide massive value.

☑ Check out Scott Stratten’s work, including his best-selling books, at www.UnMarketing.com.

About Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten is the President of Un-Marketing. He is one of the leading speakers in the world when it comes to helping audiences embrace the age of disruption.

Formerly a music industry marketer, national sales training manager and a Professor at the Sheridan College School of Business, he ran one of the most successful viral video agencies in the world for nearly a decade before solely focusing on speaking at events for companies like PepsiCo, Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, Hard Rock Cafe, Cirque du Soleil, Saks Fifth Avenue, Deloitte and Fidelity Investments when they need help navigating their way through the landscape of business disruption.

His passion comes out most when speaking on stage, preaching engagement and becoming one of the most sought-out speakers on the subject of the ever-changing world of sales and marketing and how they merge in the online and offline world.

His clients viral marketing videos have been viewed over 60 million times and he recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, USA Today, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNN.com, Inc.com and Fast Company and was named one of America’s 10 Marketing Gurus by Business Review USA.


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