Ross Simmonds podcast interview – getting content distribution right

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For the season 2 finale of the Azeem Digital Asks podcast, the incredible Ross Simmonds joins me on the show to discuss getting content distribution right.

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(Full transcript at bottom of page.)

If you don’t know or follow Ross, you absolutely should. He regularly shares content on multiple platforms that make you think differently about how you are conducting your marketing endeavours.


He is the founder of Foundation Marketing, a content marketing agency that combines data and creativity to develop & serve ambitious brands. Foundation Marketing provides content marketing services to organisations all over the world ranging from some of the fastest-growing startups & consumer products to global Fortune 500 brands.


Ross and the team at Foundation have launched marketing initiatives that reach millions of people on channels like Instagram, Slideshare, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why content distribution is important.
  • How long it took Ross to understand the nuances of each channel.
  • Examples of brands/companies who’ve got distribution wrong.
  • How people can start to address their distribution strategies.
  • What advice he would give to those who feel the same message should be distributed across multiple channels.
  • How much distribution is too much – knowing how to balance promotion and over-promotion.

…and much more!

As always, if you enjoyed this, and previous episodes, please like, rate, share, and subscribe to the podcast – it all helps!

Useful Links:

Podcast Anchor Page: https://anchor.fm/azeemdigitalasks

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/AzeemDigital

My website: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/

Sign up to “The Marginalised Marketer” newsletter: https://www.iamazeemdigital.com/the-marginalised-marketer-newsletter/

Ross’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheCoolestCool

The Azeem Digital Asks Podcast will return in 2022 – happy holidays!

Episode Transcript:

Azeem Ahmad:
Hello and welcome back to the Azeem Digital Asks podcast. I say this all the time, but I swear, I’m really excited for this episode. I have got an absolutely awesome guest, someone I’ve looked up to in the industry for a long time, puts out awesome content, and really when you’re scrolling through Twitter, for example, or any social network, and you see a piece of content from this man, it’s a scroll stop. It makes you think twice about everything that you’re doing. So my guest is the awesome Ross Simmonds. We’re talking all about getting content distribution right. Welcome to the show, my friend.

Ross Simmonds:
Azeem, thanks for having me on. I’m looking forward to it. I have mad respect for what you’ve been doing for the space, for the community, for the industry, for the culture. So I’m thrilled to be here and I’m excited to share today.

Azeem Ahmad:
Very glad to have you on. So for those in this industry who have been living under rock or might be brand new and who may not know about you and your awesomeness, please, would you give a short intro to yourself, what you do, and why you are such an awesome human being?

Ross Simmonds:
So, yeah, I think.. I appreciate that very much, but I would start with, I’m just an average guy who’s done some cool things on the internet. I am a digital marketing strategist by trade, but if you want to go deep into the DNA of me. I’m just a geek who loves the internet and loves playing and having fun with content. So I’ve started a company in the early days called Foundation Marketing, which is a B2B content marketing agency. We’re up to 30 folks today. We work with everything from some of the fastest growing startups and B2B all the way through to publicly traded cloud companies that are worth billions of dollars. And we help them create strategies for how they can acquire new customers or, in general, generate new leads or potentially shift the narrative around their brand as it relates to attracting talent and things of that nature.

Ross Simmonds:
But essentially we are a content marketing firm. We prioritize the development and creation of content, as well as the distribution of content. I’m also a public speaker. So I speak on marketing and digital. I’ve done this for years. And in addition to that, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I have a handful of other businesses that I’ve started. I’m an investor in startups and I’m an investor in real estate. I’m an investor in a handful of other things as well. I just love business. I love growth and I love pushing myself to a limit. And I’m also a dad and I’ve got three little ones and that’s one of my proudest joys.

Ross Simmonds:
And yeah, I’m just excited to be here. But I would say in the marketing space, one of the things that a lot of people get excited about that I’ve been really pushing forward is the idea of distribution. It’s for years been something that a lot of people have slept on. And one of the things that I think is the most important piece of the marketing mix, but often the most underestimated. And that’s also been what Foundation has really carved up a position in the market as being a leader in, which is content distribution. So enough about me, let’s jump in. I’m really excited to dive into the weeds of it. Let’s do it.

Azeem Ahmad:
So I have got quite a few questions for you, all about content distribution. However, before we get into it, I, in my head, need to make this an exclusive episode and it can only be exclusive if you share something with me that you haven’t shared on any other podcast, talk, or anything, public speaking opportunity, anything that you’ve done that could be as big or as small as you want it to be, but something you’ve never shared elsewhere. Putting you on the spot right now.

Ross Simmonds:
So here’s something that I have not talked about, but I had this epiphany yesterday, and I think it’s something that I never talk about, but it’s something that needs to be talked about. One of the keys to my success in life is not my consistency. It’s not my persistence. It’s not my ability to understand storytelling. It is the fact that I really did get lucky with an amazing partner who in the early days supported me and my dreams and my vision for where we wanted to go. I can remember… We met in high school. So we’ve been together for a long time, but I can recall a moment where the new PlayStation 3 came out and me and her went to the local mall and we stayed out overnight to be the first ones in line to get this PlayStation 3 because we wanted to flip it so we can make an extra like 300, $200, which at the time, was a whole bunch of money for us.

Ross Simmonds:
So both of us stay overnight and we’re sleeping in a bus shelter. And there’s like… Today, I’m like, whoa, that’s wild. Like, what was I thinking? But there’s all kinds of controversy happening all around us with a whole bunch of things that happened that night that we didn’t know existed, but it was scary. But she stayed there with me. And when the doors opened, she told everyone to go to one store and I sprinted down through the mall to get to where we needed to be. And we got the very last PlayStation and then we were able to flip it the next day, but she was like the Bonnie to my Clyde.

Ross Simmonds:
And I would say like, there’s no question that, I would say, finding someone who supports you and somebody who helps elevate you and is there to be in your corner is another key thing that can ultimately be one of the biggest life hacks that you can unlock. So shout out to Chris. Shout out to my partner. I think if it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I’d be. But yeah, that’s something I’ve never shared, but I think it needs to be stated because a lot of people get caught up in their feelings thinking, oh, I did this all on my own. And they oftentimes forget the fact that they’ve gotten a lot of support from other people as well.

Azeem Ahmad:
Yeah. That is wonderful. What a lovely story. Thank you very much for sharing that. I’m sure she’ll be pleased, more than pleased to hear that. So let’s get into it, Ross. We’re talking all about content distribution and I think the best place to begin is I’d love to know from you. Why do you think content distribution is important?

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah. So if me and you both created a piece of content and let’s say we were both living the exact same life, we had the exact same amount of followers, we had the same message, the same story, et cetera. But one of us happened to have an email list that had 500 more people, the person who happened to have that email list, even if they wrote the exact same piece of content, is going to get more ROI out of their content than in the person who didn’t have that 500 person email list. And I think that simple mental model you need to embrace when it comes to content creation, because distribution is oftentimes the key differentiator between a piece of content that thrives and a piece of content that false flat. I’ve written pieces of content in one year, and then I share it once and I forget about it.

Ross Simmonds:
But the moment I actually take that same piece of content that I published six or three or eight months ago, but I got too busy to actually share, and I reshare that intentionally in a community, in a forum, in an email, and I actually spend the time to distribute it, that same piece of content takes off. It’s not by accident. The reality is too many of us, as marketers, as creators, feel like the job is done when we press publish. But in reality, that’s when the job just begins. The job begins when you press publish. You have to now take that thing that you’ve created and start to spread it across the various communities where your audience is spending time. But so many of us get caught up in this idea of let’s start giving each other high fives. Let’s pop the champagne. Let’s get all excited because we press publish, but that’s not the completion. That is not the end of the job. The job begins when you press publish. And that is when you start to invest time in distribution.

Azeem Ahmad:
Love that. That is brilliant. I am definitely going to pick your brains more about that later on so hold onto that thought. I love the fact that you mentioned about the email list and branching out into another channel. I think that takes me quite nicely onto to my next question. I’m fairly positive that you are active on like every channel. So, and it’s not just a case of what you see other people do who will copy and paste the same piece of content and distribute it across multiple channels. I think you have the art of content distribution across multiple channels nailed down. So for me, I’d love to know and learn from you. How long did it take you to understand the nuances of each channel?

Ross Simmonds:
So it’s a continuous process. Right? Like it’s a constant curiosity and time and energy of studying the behaviors and the things that work on these different channels. And I would say each channel took a different amount of time. I would say I was able to specifically make time for myself. And I do these annually where I give myself a challenge. And the challenge that I give myself is I need to better understand a specific channel. I need to better understand a certain technique. And there’s typically been a direct correlation and relationship between my ability to thrive on a channel and that commitment to saying I’m going to spend some time learning it. So over the past year, I started to double down and spend a lot of attention to Twitter because I started to realize that was a channel that was generating a lot of business for myself and Foundation, but it also gave me the ability to build and develop a deeper connection with a lot of people who I would consider our ideal customer, but also just good people that I want to spend time with.

Ross Simmonds:
So I spent time diving deeper into understanding how to perfect my Twitter content. How can I be structuring my formats? How can I tell stories that are better, et cetera? And that methodology of just spending the time is so key. I would say on average, you’re probably going to need a month. And if you spend a month being consistent on a channel, studying the greats and studying the best on that platform, you can learn the codes to success on any channel that you can think of. Now, rather than just giving you a timestamp on how long it should take, I want to tell people the process that you would take to actually do it and do it well. So let’s say you are trying to unlock the best opportunities on Twitter or LinkedIn, and you want to figure out how can I create and distribute content on these channels in a way that is going to drive ROI?

Ross Simmonds:
What are you going to do? You’re going to do an analysis of people who are in your industry creating and distributing content on the same topic. But what you’re looking for is that best content that those people have created. So what I would do and what I did for a lot of these channels is I found people who had content excellence on these different channels. And then I reverse engineered over the past year what have been the best posts that this individual has shared and why are these pieces so successful? So I started to break it down and I started to look for trends and I started to look for patterns to better understand what type of things go into these types of posts.

Ross Simmonds:
How many hashtags do they use? Are hashtags even relevant on Twitter? How often does a Twitter thread include emojis? How do you format your tweets to make them engaging? How does controversial content work? How does statements work? Like what type of content resonates most? And when you start to pull out those different ideas and trends across the different channels, that’s when you start to find your way. Then you have to experiment. A lot of people just do the research and the planning, and they think that’s it. No. You have to experiment because in that experimentation, you’re also going to find your own voice and how you can take what you’ve learned and turn it into your own.

Azeem Ahmad:
Love that. That is absolute gold. Thank you very much for sharing that. And literally, as you were giving that answer, I was thinking like, look, nobody thinks like that. Nobody, certainly in my experience, thinks like you do. There was a talk of yours that I watched recently. And I think you explained it really well, where you talked about, I think you said you were speaking to somebody at a conference, but while you were having that conversation with the person, your brain was going off in a million different directions. And I was like, look what, that is amazing. So look, let’s touch on your career and why people don’t think like that. So you’ve had very long and sort of vast career. I’d love to know if you’ve got any examples of sort of brands or companies who get distribution wrong.

Ross Simmonds:
Right. I think the organizations that traditionally get it wrong the most are media companies. I think a lot of traditional media companies, I think a lot of newspapers, I think a lot of the brands that have kind of been able to achieve success on the back of traditional distribution networks are struggling to keep up because for them and a lot of journalists and a lot of report and anyone with that type of experience and background, for a lot of them, what they don’t realize is distribution used to be baked into the newspaper world. Right? Like when it comes to press, you used to always have distribution because people subscribe to your newspaper and then that newspaper would be dropped off at your door. That’s the distribution. That is the original distribution. It was literally to your door. Now because of phones, because of computers, people don’t need it to be delivered to their door so they don’t read it.

Ross Simmonds:
They’re not consuming it. But in a lot of these traditional media companies, they over focus on the value of telling these interesting and unique stories and they put a bunch of money into this let’s tell a creative story. Let’s think about the hook. Let’s think about the angle. Oh, we need to have our stories told a certain way and it needs to be done in a gloss, flashy magazine. Like all of those organizations have this mentality that the content is still the most important thing that matters your business’s success. But what they don’t realize that if that content is really good, but it doesn’t actually reach the people that they’re trying to connect with, it’s falling on nobody’s ears so it is not going to be successful for them. So a lot of these old school businesses that I would say were thriving in the eighties, seventies, nineties even have started to dwindle and we’ve seen it consistently. Right?

Ross Simmonds:
Like I can remember so many magazines showing up at my parents’ door and I was obsessed with them. I used to get all of the Source magazines and I would read that content every single day religiously. I loved it, but those magazines and that content and their influence on culture has dissipated because they didn’t continue to focus on distribution. And as marketers and as brands and as creators, we need to be thinking the same way. Habits change very quickly. And when we start to see people’s habits change, we need to evolve with them as well. One of the biggest trends right now, and I say with confidence that not a lot of marketers are realizing this, but fast forward 10 years, a lot of marketers are going to regret it, myself potentially included, but look the world of TikTok and vertical video in short snippets are the new wave and that wave of content in that format in that style is resonating with a generation that is going to have influence in the future.

Ross Simmonds:
So if we think, oh yeah, it’s just a fad. It’s going to disappear, et cetera. I think that’s a mistake. I think it’s a mistake to assume that just because you don’t get something, as a marketer, that it is not something that we should actually be thinking about having fundamental cultural impact on the next wave. Because I will say with confidence that if you fast forward 20 years, the CMO of a Fortune 500 company is going to say that they learned marketing on the back of TikTok. They’re going to say they followed a bunch of influencers. They followed somebody on TikTok who showed them about creative brand strategy, who showed them about finance, who showed them about how to optimize an ad campaign. And it all happened on TikTok and we’re going to be probably retired, but we’re going to be thinking to ourself. We really should have thought a little bit more about short, sweet video content and how it plays a role in society and culture at large.

Azeem Ahmad:
That’s brilliant. Yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. You made me think of a question which I think follows on wonderfully. So let’s take the pandemic aside for a second, because, so to give you a heads up, I’m going to ask you about ROI, but I want to frame this in such a way that we just put the pandemic to one side for a second. But I say that because I think pandemic has forced a lot of companies and media agencies and marketers to be very driven on ROI, pennies, dollars, cents are tight. They have to do that. That aside, in your experience and throughout your career, how much have you seen the metric of ROI change?

Ross Simmonds:
It has changed significantly. I got my start in the marketing world in traditional advertising. So I was working in the world of creative budgets, creative stories, run a TV ad, put up a fancy, cool billboard, come up with a cool snippy radio spot. And back then, it didn’t matter if you moved the needle in terms of revenue. It didn’t matter if you moved the needle in terms of profit. All that really mattered, I believe, back then was whether or not you made the client feel good and sound good and look good in front of their other execs on the team and whether or not you can make that CEO or the leader of the company feel like this was a good investment because somebody on their team text them or one of their friends text them and said I saw a year ad during the Super Bowl. Right?

Ross Simmonds:
There was a whole different dynamic back then. Today, I believe we are shifting a lot where metrics matter more than ever, and they have to be tied back to business goals. I think a lot of companies are seeing turnover in the C-Suite around CMOs because our CMOs for a long period of time have overindexed on brand without thinking about the actual business goals and outcomes. Is brand important? No doubt. Is brand a competitive advantage in boring industries in SaaS companies? No doubt about it. Is brand able to give you a competitive edge that actually sustains itself for hundreds of years? We’ve seen it happen, a hundred percent. Brand is very valuable. But there is a increasing desire with all organizations to be able to say that marketing is no longer just an expense. It is an investment. And when your CMOs and your C-Suite start to view marketing as an investment, the CMOs of the world, the VP of Marketing of the world now is in a position where they are not seen as just being a cost setter.

Ross Simmonds:
There is someone who is going to put in value in resources and get value back. Ideally 2X, 10X, whatever that may be on the back of their spend. Back in the day, you could just say we’re doing this every single month and it’s just a cost and we’re building brand. But when you are able to be more intelligent about your investments in marketing, in storytelling, in content, it’s going to do you a world of benefit when you fast forward over your career, because you are able to really speak to meaningful, measurable results for the companies. And that ultimately will ensure that you don’t get let go whenever there is a crisis.

Azeem Ahmad:
I love that. Thank you very much for that question and answer was fantastic, which made me think more about ROI, especially given your previous answer. On distribution then let’s say companies and brands are listening to this. And at this point in the episode, they’re thinking, look, we’ve got our content distribution strategy. We’ve got that wrong. We really need to rethink it. Hopefully that’s happened about 20 minutes into this episode, a little light bulb has gone off.

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah. Right.

Azeem Ahmad:
What would you say to them now? Where can they start to address their distribution strategies?

Ross Simmonds:
So the first thing that everyone is going to say, in as it relates to their content distribution strategy, is we don’t have time to do it. Like we don’t have time to distribute our content. We have so much more content to create. And by the time you’re actually listening to this episode, I would assume that over the last 12 months, you’ve probably created some content, maybe a lot of content. And I would say, you’ve probably not distributed the content that you’ve already been producing enough. So where do you start? You start with the content that you already have, and you start to look at what pieces of content that we publish in the past that we can start to distribute in the future and for the years, if not months, to come, because oftentimes we make that mistake of pressing publish and thinking that job is done and onto the next one. Let’s start creating more content and publishing more content.

Ross Simmonds:
What I would say they need to do is stop thinking they don’t have time into just potentially stop creating so much content. Scale back on the amount of content that you’re creating so you can actually allocate your energy and time to distributing some of content that you already have, because here’s the thing. That piece of content that you might have published in February, 2019 has not been seen by anybody who now follows you in March 2023. Nobody is still seeing that content. Yet the value, the asset, the pieces in that content that you created way back then is still just as valuable to your audience as it would be today. So what do you need to do? You need to take that same piece of content, update it with some new stats, if it’s required and if it’s necessary, but then you need to distribute it.

Ross Simmonds:
You need to share that on Twitter. You need to share that on LinkedIn. You need to take that same piece of content that you created back in 2019, and turn it into an email. You need to take sections of that same piece that you created back in 2019 and start giving them to your sales team so they can share them as LinkedIn updates with just screenshots. You need to take sections of that, turn it into a PDF that can be uploaded to LinkedIn as a carousel, or upload it to Instagram as a carousel. You need to then take all of those and screenshot them, turn them into vertical imagery, and start uploading those as a story on your Facebook account, on your Instagram account, on any of the platforms that allow you to have a story. You’re going to also take that same concept. And you’re just going to go on Twitter spaces and read the piece.

Ross Simmonds:
But you’re going to add a little bit of commentary around what this element was and what this thing was that you created. You’re even going to take elements of it and re-upload them to LinkedIn.com as a full article. You’re going to take that same piece. You’re going to update the date and you’re going to share it on Medium.com as well. You’re going to go into groups like Reddit, Facebook Groups, Slack groups. You’re going to go into Stack Exchange. You’re going into various communities where your audience is spending time. And you’re going to see that community with the same post that you published in 2019.

Ross Simmonds:
That’s not what you’re going to end with though, because there’s also a bunch of questions that that piece that you created in 2019 answers that your audience has also asked on a site like Quora. So you’re going to find those questions on Quora that people asked that this piece that you created back in 2019 answers, and you’re going to take sections of it. And you’re going to answer those questions on Quora with links going back to that original piece. When you do this, you have now replaced all of the time that it would’ve taken for you to create one new piece of content. But by doing this, you are now taking an asset that invested in back in 2019 and reaping the reward and gathering dividends from it in 2022.

Azeem Ahmad:
Solid gold, absolute solid gold, literally the blueprint there to go ahead and nail distribution. I wanted to hone in on something you said at the very start of that question though where you said we don’t have time to do this. People, listen. We don’t have time to do this. Often I’ve heard it in the past, we have this piece of content, content X. I’m a CMO. I’ve said, right, content X, put it out across every channel.

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah.

Azeem Ahmad:
Do nothing of what you just said. Just put it out on every channel. Scatter them. See what sticks. And we’ll do more of that. If there’s somebody listening to this who heard exactly what you’ve just said, but still thinks scatter gun approach, put it out, same message, multiple channels. What would you say to them?

Ross Simmonds:
The people who are consuming content on Twitter have an expectation for a certain type of content. The people who are consuming content on Instagram are expecting a certain type of content. People on LinkedIn are expecting a certain type of content. So when you make the mistake of assuming that everybody wants the same type of content served up the same way you’re going to fail. Right? Like you’re going to fail. You have to take the piece of content and tailor it for the audience and the channels that you’re going to be sharing it on. I have a very brutal experience with this. Like when I first got started on Reddit marketing, I took a piece of content. I used the exact same tweet headline, and I uploaded it to Reddit. And I included a link and I pressed submit, and I thought that I would break the internet. I thought this is going to generate tons of engagement.

Ross Simmonds:
You know what happened? I got banned. I got blocked from Reddit. They said, you’re out of here. Bye Felicia. Get out. You’re gone. You’re done. Like you are not allowed here because of what you’ve done. And that was a eyeopener for me that you have to realize, as a marketer, there’s people on the other end of the dashboard. There’s people on the other end of the pixels. There’s people on the other end of the keyboard. And when you put yourself in their shoes, what do you think they want? They don’t want the same exact piece of content that would be delivered on one channel to delivered on the next. You have to understand that every single channel is different and you have to deliver them different types of content.

Azeem Ahmad:
Love that. That’s brilliant. Thank you very much. Selfishly, and I’ve got you on the podcast and we’re crossing this divide.

Ross Simmonds:
Indeed.

Azeem Ahmad:
This is why the eye would definitely love to learn more about you from. A lot of my friends, and I had a conversation with one very recently, we were talking about this podcast and we were talking about distribution. And I have said, look, this is when I release an episode. This is how I’ll release it. And here’s how I’ll share it. I don’t think I should do any more than that because it would probably be over posting. They said to me, this is such a British thing that they don’t want to be seen as self-promoting or posting too much. So my question to you is it is often seen as a British thing that we don’t want to do too much. How much distribution is too much?

Ross Simmonds:
Right. So here’s something that a lot of people often don’t even realize I’m Canadian and we don’t want to promote anything ever. Canadians just are like we’re too humble to ever want to promote things and amplify things. It’s a whole different dynamic of not wanting to do anything. But here’s what you really have to realize is I think that a lot of it is rooted in something that is fundamental across the board. And as much as a lot of folks in North America would say amplify amplify, amplify, promote, promote, promote. I would still say today, the vast majority of creators do not promote their content as much as they should. And the reason why is a fear of judgment. We are afraid of being judged. And I think that that is one of the biggest things that not only holds us back from promoting our content, but it’s also one of the biggest things that holds us back from achieving the life that we want to live.

Ross Simmonds:
So I challenge everyone to try to really spend time understanding, and it’s a lot of self-work, but figuring out why you’re afraid of what other people think of you. You have to think about why should I care so much about what other people think when I’m doing it with one intent, which is to add value to the world. If you share your podcast episode and you can impact somebody’s life in a positive way because you were promotional, who cares that one person thought you were promotional and spammy? Who cares that one person unfollowed you? At the end of the day, if you are adding value to the world and you believe truly that the content that you’re creating is good, this is the blanket statement that you need to ingrain in your mind.

Ross Simmonds:
There is somebody out there right now struggling and having a very difficult time with a problem that your content could solve. But because you do not feel like you want to be seen as too promotional, that person’s never going to get help. And that person is going to continue to struggle. They’re going to continue to have challenges all because you won’t press promote or retweet or publish or reshare because you won’t spend the time to reshare something you created a few weeks ago, a few months ago. So you’re doing a disservice to the world by not promoting your content. So when you have that mindset, it hopefully changes everything.

Azeem Ahmad:
Hundred percent. You’re going to see on my Twitter feed now.

Ross Simmonds:
I love that.

Azeem Ahmad:
Before we part ways, Ross, I would love to pick your brain specifically about…

Ross Simmonds:
Let’s do it.

Azeem Ahmad:
… Twitter and how much it’s changed. So for me, I’m very active on Twitter. And just talking back to the last question there, not out of choice or I want to keep a specific ratio, but I don’t follow many people because I want to be able to manage the amount of time that I spend on Twitter. So I only allow myself maybe an hour a day tops on the app. If I go past an hour, boom, I can’t access it anymore. Otherwise I’ll be too long on there.

Ross Simmonds:
How do you do that?

Azeem Ahmad:
There’s a setting on my phone, like a timer for the app.

Ross Simmonds:
Nice.

Azeem Ahmad:
And if I go over that, the app greys out and it says you’ve reached a limit for today. So say for example, I’ve passed my hour and somebody tweets me or DMs me, I won’t see it until the next day.

Ross Simmonds:
Awesome.

Azeem Ahmad:
I found that during the pandemic, for example, my screen time was through the roof.

Ross Simmonds:
Right.

Azeem Ahmad:
I say during the pandemic as if it’s ended, but my screen time was through the roof. So back to what I wanted to ask you. In terms of discovering new people, so rather than content discovery, people discovery, and discovering new people to discover new content. For you, what’s your process? Say you open up somebody’s Twitter feed and say you saw the first 10 tweets and it was all about themselves. Like for example, you opened up my feed and my last 10 tweets, here’s my podcast last week. Here’s my podcast last month. Here’s my podcast from 18 months ago.

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah.

Azeem Ah

mad:
For me, having only been on Twitter for a handful of years, my perception of it is for people to gain followers in an audience, you’ve got to try and provide some sort of value to them as well, which you could argue that your content would do, but most people would say I didn’t follow Azeem because his last 10 tweets are all about himself.

Ross Simmonds:
Right.

Azeem Ahmad:
Where’s that medium? How do you find providing value to someone without really just saturating people’s feeds full of the same stuff?

Ross Simmonds:
Good question. So what I think is happening on Twitter is people are looking at your last few tweets to make a decision, but more than anything, they’re also so looking at your bio. I think bio is more important now than it’s ever been in terms of like converting people. And you have to think about your bio in a way that’s going to demonstrate why someone should follow you. And I tell people in my bio, I believe, what they can expect. So these are the types of things that I’m going to tweet about. And that is meant to kind of let people know, this is what you can expect by following me. Now in the first few tweets that you have, I think the pinned tweet is one of the most important and valuable tweets that you have also. It’s kind of like your Twitter billboard.

Ross Simmonds:
And what I would encourage people to do is don’t just pin your most popular tweet, but pin a tweet that you want people to really use to better understand why they may want to follow you. So that could be an insight into what you talk about. It could be an insight about the stories you’re going to tell. It could be a link to your best clips. It could be a series of your best threads, whatever it may be, but you want it to be value filled to give people a perspective on what you offer. Then the first few tweets that you have, I think there’s a blend that you are looking for, a blend between content that is driving people off of Twitter and content that is native to Twitter. So for your situation where you’re sharing your podcast, I think that’s fine.

Ross Simmonds:
I think that’s good. But what I think to also be thrown in the mix there is a few pieces of content that are native to Twitter without any call to action of trying to get people to go somewhere else. So you’ll notice oftentimes I will share tweets that don’t have any links in them, but it’s just like, here are five things that I’m thinking about on marketing. And then I will just list those things with no links any where included in them. I will sometimes come back to these tweets when they are generating traction and reply to it with a link to a newsletter or to something that I want people to dive a little bit deeper into.

Ross Simmonds:
And I do that because once that piece has generated its engagement and has started to spread, it’s now showing up on other people’s feeds because they’re retweeting it. And most people will now click into the comments to see the thread and what dialogue took place. And if I can be the first person there with my own content, it’s going to drive the conversions that way. So long story little bit longer, the goal that I would say is to find a mix between native Twitter content, as well as content that takes people off of the site. And when you can do that at close to a 50/50 mix, then you’re in a really good spot.

Azeem Ahmad:
Solid gold, again, as this whole episode has been. Thank you very much for sharing that. Before we part ways as it is the finale of this season, I’d love to open the virtual floor for you to discuss anything you want to, within reason, of course, but virtually the floor is yours.

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah. I think, for me, I really hope folks get a lot of value out of this. And I think one of the key things that I would also encourage people to think about is experimentation. Right Experimentation and marketing and business is one of the key things that allows us, as people, to continue to improve. When you look at the pandemic and you look at where we are, we are only there because of experimentation. And when you think about experimentation in marketing, it’s something that we often shy away from. And it’s oftentimes something that people just kind of think, oh no, you can only do an AB test on buttons. You can only do an AB test on subject lines. No. You could run fundamental experiments that change the way that marketing is done within your organization. So when you are experimenting with a new distribution channel, you’re experimenting with a new info engagement, you’re experimenting with sponsoring sub stack, you’re experimenting with all kinds of different things.

Ross Simmonds:
I encourage you to realize that this is how you find breakthroughs. So I push you to constantly be thinking about how you can experiment because it’s through those experiments that we, as an industry, are going to be able to push each other forward. And it’s how we are going to be able to continuously level up our skill sets. So experimentation is something that I would really encourage folks to lean into heavily. And also to wrap this up, my hats off to you, Azeem, for pouring in this to life. I think we need more people creating content like this on a regular basis in the industry, because at the end of the day, the world is becoming more borderless. And we are now at a point where we can connect with people all over the globe and have a massive impact that lasts beyond even our years on this earth.

Ross Simmonds:
So my hats off to you for making the time on a consistent basis to add this type of value to the community, to the culture, to the industry, because we need to see it. And the more that we can do this type of thing for each other, we can elevate the entire industry because there’s no reason for somebody graduating from high school to think to themselves marketing isn’t for me, because of where I come from. Marketing is for me, because I’m not technically savvy. Marketing isn’t for me, because I’m not somebody who already has access. I don’t care where you live, where you’re from, what your background is, you should have a space in marketing and be comfortable in the idea that you can come into these spaces and do amazing, game changing, industry changing, potentially world changing work. So my hat’s off to you for bringing this podcast to life. And it’s been a pleasure to chat with you today.

Azeem Ahmad:
You are amazing. Thank you very much. Do you know what? It is almost 9:00 PM, for me. I’ve been awake since 5:00 AM. There’s probably enough caffeine in my body to kill a horse, but that right there has made it worthwhile. So I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Before I let you go, Ross, I have to give you the chance to, if people want to find out more about you, if they want to follow you on social media, connect with you, more importantly, get that awesome newsletter of yours. How can they do that?

Ross Simmonds:
Yeah. So hit me up on Twitter. You can find me @TheCoolestCool. That’s my Twitter handle on pretty much all of the various platforms. I’m also on LinkedIn so just send me a connection request. I do have a lot of them. So send me a note in the comments. Just say I heard you on Azeem Digital Asks, and I’d be sure to connect with you there. And then if you’re interested in the newsletter, check out the link in my bio on all of the different platforms or send me a DM and I’ll get it over to you. But FoundationInc.co is the brand. We’ve got a newsletter that covers all of the latest and greatest insights around some of the fastest growing SaaS companies today, as well as a Thursday newsletter, that kind of recaps and summarizes everything you need to know.

Azeem Ahmad:
Amazing. All that’s left for me to say is thank you so much for being an incredible guest and what a way to close out the end of this season. So thank you very much. I hope the listeners have enjoyed this episode and when you finish listening, listen to it again and again, and then 10 more times, and then make sure you hit subscribe, but from me to you, Ross, thank you so much.

Ross Simmonds:
Likewise. Thanks for having me.