Contributing Columnist with Inc.com

I’m pleased to announce that Inc.com has accepted me as a contributing columnist. My column, Community and Conversion, explores the intersection of leadership and marketing. This is keen interest of mine, a differentiator for Three Over Four, and the main thrust of my book Leading in a Social World.

The name of the column comes from Nichole Kelly, a marketing exec in the DC/Baltimore area. Nichole’s work for a debt relief organization caught my eye as a strong example of building social capital in social media, and I interviewed her for my book. She sees her work as community building more than marketing, and told me that “recognizing opportunities for human connection is very different from opportunities for conversion.” What a gem of a thought.

Nichole is actually featured in my second Inc.com column, 2 Little Letters that Can Change Everything for Your Social Media Efforts. Here’s an excerpt, which is actually a decent distillation of the second half of my book:

Social scientists have recognized for some time that social groups acting together for a collective purpose while putting individual desires and goals in an ancillary position—like what Kelly was able to achieve and what social media marketers usually just fantasize about and promise—is what generates actual value in social groups. Namely, social capital.

This is called associability. Two little letters. Big difference.

How is associability achieved? A nuanced focus on the ties that bind the connections together (including structural ties), allowing for agency, and trust. In a word, leadership.

The first column I wrote is titled Why Your Marketing Team Should Go to Fewer Marketing Conferences (and Where They Should Go Instead and challenges marketers to think about influence and leadership more broadly as they apply their marketing craft. Here’s an excerpt:

Imagine a branding effort led by a team versed in John Kotter’s principles of change leadership. A team that understands the importance of and knows how to instill a sense of urgency for the rebrand; builds the proper internal coalition to advocate for it; creates a compelling vision for the future state of the new brand; enables others to act by removing barriers (as opposed to imposing talking points); and seeks to highlight early and small wins to build momentum.

Grasping those kinds of concepts is a lot to ask of a seasoned C Suite, let alone a team trained to create logos, set up drip campaigns, and report keyword rankings. And you just won’t find any John Kotter breakout sessions at your typical marketing conference.

Writing for someone else’s deadline is a completely new thing for me. Thanks in advance for your good-luck wishes. Or commiserations!

Aaron

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