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Insight from Experts: The “Connection Economy” with Ted Rubin

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Author: Mark Nardone, Chief Marketing Officer at PAN Communications, headshot
Mark NardoneChief Marketing Officer

Mark Nardone, EVP at PAN Communications speaks with Ted Rubin who is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. Watch the video or read the transcript below as they discuss the connection economy, employee advocacy and how brands are relating to their customers.

Interested in learning more? Check out other sections from the conversation here: Employee AdvocacyThe Empowered Customer and Key Learnings from B2B Companies.. 



Mark Nardone, EVP of PAN Communications, Introduction and Welcome:

I’m thrilled to have you. You know what I think, as we talk further, Ted, anybody that is going to be viewing and listening to this realizes that you’re one of the most influential marketers out there both in social advocacy, employee advocacy. I love your focus on relationship-to-relationship. I think it’s so spot on. I know you created it a few years ago but it’s still resonates as it evolves and grows. So thanks for joining us. I think it’s going to be a really insightful session here and I look forward to many more moving forward.


Mark Nardone Intro: The Connection Economy

So I thought maybe first and foremost we can kind of start the conversation around that whole connection economy: your viewpoints on that and the relevancy to brands. Give the viewers your thoughts on that whole approach that’s happening right now.


Ted Rubin on The Connection Economy:

Mark, I’m really excited to be here with you and talk about how things are changing in the world, in the way people connect, and most importantly with respect to what we do, with the way brands connect with people and people connect with brands. I just want to say in the beginning that a lot of what I’m talking about is about all brands. It’s not just about B2C; not just about working with consumers. It’s about B2B also, because I think there are a lot of correlations now and I think a lot of that has changed with the way the world has changed. In other words: I think B2B marketing used to be here, and B2C here. And I think they’ve really come together in the methods. Because of the way people are communicating and putting all their thoughts, their worries, their concerns, their comments out there. It’s given us an ability to help all types of brands to, first of all really listen, and I want to start there; I want to start with listening.

There’s no excuse not to be listening to what’s happening. But I’ll tell you, I think the biggest majority of brands aren’t. I think that there are a select few that are doing a great job of truly listening. And when I say listening, I’m not talking about listening software. To me that’s just the first step. That gives you an idea into keywords and some things people are saying and you’re hearing about things that are trending. But it’s not truly listening. Truly listening is stepping in on conversations.


Mark Nardone Intro: Listening & Engagement

The listening side is something that really resonates both in our client base, but things we’re seeing across marketing. I think the ability to analyze data – a conversation is a stream of data. You can kind of gather and can see the consistencies, you can see a whole bunch of different behaviors and traits coming out of that. Some brands are a little bit hesitant to go full steam on the engagement side. Fundamentally they should be listening and monitoring to everything that’s happening in relation to their brand and their advocates.


Ted Rubin on Listening and Engagement:

When I speak, there’s a slide I put up on the screen at some point through my presentation – almost every time – and it’s a fly. And I always ask people, “Do you know what this is?” Some people get it and nod their heads. It’s the proverbial fly on the wall. We all know that expression: I wish I could be a fly on the wall in that meeting. What’s killing me is that every consumer in this country is inviting us into their living room as a fly on that wall. And the vast majority of brands are not going there.

I will invariably ask a room of a few thousand attendees – all brand marketers – “How many people in this room, either themselves or the people on their teams, go to the pages of their fans, followers or consumers to see what they’re posting and what they’re talking about?” And I’ll tell you that maybe a handful of hands go up. Maybe.

And my advice to them is that every single person in this room, and everybody on their teams, should be going to the pages of people that follow them instead of worrying so much about bringing them to their pages. Because it’s on the people’s pages where the really valuable conversation is happening. So for me, the start of all of this is our ability to interact, engage and hear people.


An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.