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This week, Travis and Stewart interview Jason Miller, head of content at LinkedIn, who shares everything we need to know about door handles and marketing, rock ‘n’ roll, and what the future holds for content marketing. He not only drops a succession of marketing knowledge bombs in our collective laps, he also blows our minds with stories of his amazing live music photography.

In the news, Travis and Stewart discuss all the startups in Israel, companies attacking ad fraud, the use of AI to analyze blog posts and automatically create a compelling video, and customer survey tools. The duo also chat about a marketing-focused AI startup — this one claiming to automatically recognize and label video content.


By listening to this episode of VB Engage, you will hear:

  • Welcome to VB Engage episode 68! [0:10]
  • This week, Stewart is in Tel Aviv, but he previously spent time with guest Jason Miller in a dingy bar, where he learned about unique door handles (Tease: more on that in the interview). [0:53]
  • In Tel Aviv, Stewart is enjoying hot, sunny days and tours of the incredible startups in the Startup Nation. [1:31]
  • In Kansas City, Travis is enjoying hot, sunny days and tours of the incredible KC BBQ joints. [1:45]
  • Travis notes that investors are interested in Israeli ICOs. [2:00]
  • Stewart gives a shout-out to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for inviting him to tour the startups and attend the DLD Innovation Festival. [2:22]
  • Stewart had an exclusive this week with The Trade Desk, tackling the huge issue of ad fraud — in collaboration with InMobi and Rubicon — and working to make the industry more transparent and keep the internet free (“…nobody wants to pay for content”). [3:15]
  • Travis is reminded of days past when he gamed the system to capitalize rank on Britney Spears terms. [5:00]
  • Travis mentions the browser from Brave — which launched an ICO for basic attention tokens — a blockchain-based digital advertising platform from the founders of Firefox and Mozilla and the creator of Javascript that’s designed to eliminate fraud. [5:30]
  • Travis mentions a VentureBeat article featuring, which uses AI to analyze video holistically. [7:15]
  • A company called Lumen 5 is also using AI to analyze blog posts and generate video content. [10:15]
  • Stewart wrote an article about Survata, whose new survey tool, Survata Customer Research, is connected to the company’s publisher network and gives marketers access to a treasure-trove of self-reported data. [12:30]
  • And now, a warm welcome to guest Jason Miller! [14:30]
  • This former music industry pro and rock ‘n’ roll photographer has not only made a move to LinkedIn as a content and social media marketing guru, he has a Kickstarter for his new book, Down in Front; hosts LinkedIn’s critically-acclaimed podcast; and is a renowned keynote speaker.
  • Promised dingy bar/door handle story: The hidden door’s door handle was a…. hand. “Real-life content marketing,” says Jason. [16:30]
  • Jason says emoji have made writing a lost art. :-)   [17:00]
  • Ann Handley received correspondence stating that “GIFs are the future of communication” (followed by much laughter and derision).  [17:45]
  • How do you pivot from music exec to tech? [18:30]
  • Jason had a passion for tech and social and sharing legacy music tapes and interviews, from Springsteen to Miles Davis. But it was an uphill battle.
  • So he quit. [20:00]
  • He went back to school for his masters, but it was taking too long, so he went to UC Berkeley and submerged himself in digital media courses.
  • And then he hustled (in a good way). Got involved in a startup, attended every conference he could, met as many people as he could.
  • Mistake a lot of people make: They lead with their personal brand, hoping to plug it into a company somewhere. “If you do good work for a company, then the personal branding stuff will follow.” [20:00]
  • Stewart once did cryotherapy with Russell Simmons in West Hollywood (yes, he said that out loud).
  • When Jason asked Russell Simmons “Do you think the music industry could have been saved?” Simmons replied “Absolutely not, they did this to themselves” and recounted a story about Shawn Fanning approaching the industry and not being allowed through the front door. [22:35]
  • Stewart talks about painting millennials in broad brush strokes as disrespectful. How do you understand the people you’re marketing to and create content for them? [23:10]
  • Jason: You can’t judge people for what they share in their closed circles. Person-to-person: Don’t differentiate based on age. [24:00]
  • Jason’s bigger question: How do you create content that will resonate with your audience? [25:00]
  • All the content is out there in a conversation. Start with keyword research, map that back to competitive search volume, then break it down into topics.
  • Do your research first. THEN it goes to creative to create the content. [25:30]
  • Jason: “Content that is informed by insights and research is the content that will not fail.”
  • Jason: Any good content strategy has two elements (paraphrasing Andy Crestodina): [27:00]
    1) Research — gets linkbacks
    2) Strong opinions (editorial mindset) — gets shares
  • Brands are often afraid to take a stance.
  • Jason: “My first blog post was terrible.” [29:00]
  • Find Jason on LinkedIn and @jasonmillerca on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. He is NOT Donald Trump’s former advisor.

Next week on episode 69, we chat with the head of mobile acquisition at Match, James Peng! We talk about how to engage customers and what it’s like to swipe right on a job like you would on Tinder and Match.

If you missed last week’s episode, we interviewed Stan Bokov, who managed to promote his “social network of fintech,” TradingView, to millions of users for free. He explains how this was possible, and what lessons were learned along the way.

As always, thanks for tuning in to VB Engage.

If you enjoy the show, please give it a quick rating or review it on your favorite podcast platform. Just search for VB Engage and make magic happen.


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