Mark Schaefer is the author of The Tao of Twitter, Return on Influence, Born to Blog, and Social Media Explained. Mark is a recognized educator, speaker, consultant, and author. His blog, {grow}, is one of the most acclaimed blogs on the topic of marketing. He's a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University, and he has lectured at many other universities, including Oxford and Princeton.

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I invited Mark to Marketing Smarts to discuss his latest book, The Content Code: Six Essential Strategies for Igniting Your Content, Your Marketing, and Your Business.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Build a heroic brand to get your content shared (07:17): "When I was just starting out in blogging, I didn't know what the heck I was doing and my blog wasn't going anywhere...even though I was following all the blogger rules. I was trying to create 'epic' content and I was trying to use numbers in my headlines and all those little tricks. So...I came across this blog post from Chris Brogan. It was 37 words, and it was basically: 'Whenever you give a presentation, don't read your slides. We can read. Stop it. OK?'

"Now, this thing was tweeted 400 times. It was tweeted more than my entire blog was tweeted in a year. And I think we could all agree—including Chris—that this was not epic content. So something else was going on here. This is one of the clues. How did this content move? If it had nothing to do with the content or the headline or all these other little tricks that people talk about, what made it go?

"It has nothing to do with the content at all, and everything to do with the person who wrote it. And this reinforces the idea that branding is more important than ever. All of us have personal brands, but Chris, and many others that we know, have heroic brands. These are people whose content moves beyond the content, beyond SEO, beyond social media. People love this person or love this brand so much, the content doesn't matter anymore. People share the content because of the emotional connection that they have created with this person."

Work to build trust, not traffic (09:04): "People share for emotional and intrinsic reasons, and one of the mindset shifts that I'm suggesting in the [Content Code] is that companies get people to share for economic reasons.... They're spending money on advertising, promotion, SEO. And those are ways to get people to click. You can trick them to click, but you can't trick them to share. There's no economic reason behind the reason that people share. They do it for intrinsic reasons, they do it for emotional reasons, and it is based on trust, and that's really what we need to focus on as companies, organizations, and brands: to build trust, not traffic, because that's what's going to move the content."

Cultivate a culture of prompt customer service, or brace yourself for an onslaught of social media negativity (18:13): "Maybe [companies] could get away with [slow response times] five years ago, but today they're creating social media terrorists, because what are they going to be doing while they're on hold for 10 or 15 minutes? They're going to be complaining on Facebook. So, that's an example of a part of the culture that has to change, has to be aligned. The fact that you're exposed today in a very public way also exposes the rocks and the problems in your company, and you better get your act together or your social media presence is going to be a disaster."

To learn more, visit or follow Mark on Twitter: @markwschaefer.

Mark and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by CallidusCloud.

Special thanks to production sponsor Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!

Show opener music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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