Stephen: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Digital Masters Podcast. Today we have on Justin Simon, who does content and SEO at TechSmith, a video recording company. They run a huge YouTube channel. We’re going to be getting into why distribution of your content is as important or more important than actually producing the content itself.
So let’s get into it. Hey, Justin. Thanks for being on the show today. I really appreciate you being here, man.
Justin: Yeah. Glad to be here, man.
Stephen: So I saw a post that you did just a few days ago. You were talking about distribution being king, talking about why it’s important. You were talking about how your team actually gets together and huddles before you put together a podcast, a webinar, a video, whatever it is.
You guys really talk through what you’re going to do and how you’re going to distribute it. And I want to go into that conversation a bit, but before that, just tell me from your perspective, why is distribution so important and how are people falling short on that?
Justin: Yeah, I think to me, distribution is so important because as content creators, as marketers, as business people, the pressure is to [create content]. The post you saw was framed around this idea that content isn’t actually king — distribution is king. That’s what my take was on that.
I think that’s the truth, where if you spend all your time creating, creating, creating, but spend little time distributing that content and sharing that out, what you end up doing is not getting the most out of your effort. You’re actually making your job harder in the end.
That’s one thing, especially as I started to build up my team and how we do content, this idea of, ‘Why are we always working so hard?’ It was just that idea of, man, I feel like we’re constantly creating new stuff and making new stuff. But we just made it, this post or this thing, two weeks ago, two months ago, even two years ago.
In some cases, we’ll go back and look at [older] content. We just did that. We looked at content that was five years old and just updated it a little bit. It’s brand new to a brand new audience. We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to do it.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s amazing. I think what it takes is that people have to be a little bit thoughtful. They’ve got to carve out the time. But it has such a big impact. I can relate to what you’re saying because I’ve been in that situation, too. I just became this massive creator. And then I realized, ‘I’m just leaving all this stuff on the table!’
It was actually funny — I saw a post last week. I didn’t comment on it, but they were bragging about, ‘We produce so much content, we can’t distribute it all.’ It was a subtle brag, but I thought, ‘Actually, doesn’t that mean you have a distribution problem? There’s something to fix there. Something to think about.’
Cool. So then you guys talk. I thought this was so cool because this is what’s required. People have to sit down and have a thoughtful conversation about how they can use this stuff. Because once you dig in, once you start to talk about it, it all unfolds. You’re like, ‘Oh, I could do this. I could do that. I could do that.’
So take me into that conversation you and your team have. How does it start? How does it flow? And then I’ll ask you some questions as we dig through that.
Justin: Yeah. I think for us, that’s part of it, too, where you’ve got this idea, ‘It could be this, it could be that.’ When I’ve posted about distribution over the last couple of months, every time inevitably somebody asks me, ‘What’s your distribution plan? What’s your plan? What do you guys do?’ And what I always tell them is the answer nobody likes, but, ‘It depends.’ Because it depends, even for us. Are we talking about a blog post? Are we talking about a thought leadership blog post? Or one where we’re trying to go after organic? Those things are very different.
A podcast episode versus a webinar could be very different. What’s the goal? And so understanding the goal of that content is the first key. But then again, there are nuances, what works for you. You’re on TikTok. I’m not. So, it wouldn’t make sense for me to put a TikTok line in there, but it might make a ton of sense for you to put a TikTok spot to distribute that piece of content.
Some people might be really big doing YouTube. And that might make a ton of sense. So definitely, if you have a big YouTube following, that should be a key pillar of your distribution process. Or a big posting on Medium or Quora. There are tons of different avenues. The distribution is limitless.
Maybe you have a giant email list that you can send to. That would make a ton of sense to add to your distribution list.
I think it’s less like pure science or like, ‘You must post three times on Twitter each day.’ It’s a matter of just getting started. Come up with it. That’s what we did. We just came up with a basic framework of, ‘There is no playbook.’ That’s what I tell my team all the time. There is no playbook for this.
We made it up. So if we need to…
Stephen: Actually, that’s probably the best way to do it. Because that’s a recipe for disaster in marketing, right? That’s what people do. You see somebody successful? You’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to emulate that.’
And then by doing that, now you’re literally not standing out. Because you’re just copying somebody that’s a little further ahead of you.
Justin: You’re not looking at what’s working for you, in your audience.
Stephen: And that person already has the experience and probably is moving on and you’re copying their trails.
Let’s try and make it specific. So you guys run a podcast, right? Talk me through your distribution plan on how you guys do it. I know I can do it my way, but how do Justin and his team work it through?
Justin: Yeah, we have a podcast, the Visual Lounge. And that always starts with a live episode. We base our podcast off of a live show and that’s every Thursday at 2:00 PM. So we go live.
Stephen: So tell me that. You go live. And then the podcast is about the live?
Justin: The podcast is literally the live version edited down. So yeah, we take our live show and get it cut up and edited, and that becomes a podcast.
And so it’s dual-purpose. We get to go live and we get to try to drive people in with a live show. We formulate the live show in order to do well both in video and audio.
Stephen: So you have segments?
Justin: Yeah. So there’s thought behind it. Usually, our live show on Thursday is an interview. We’ll interview a thought leader in the space or somebody internally. And so that’s usually set up pretty formulaic with a standard. Segments are definitely popular if you can set that up with different segments and then cut those out as well. You could even cut those up into multiple episodes if you wanted.
Again, there’s no playbook to this necessarily. But we frame it up to where we get the live. We already obviously have the video cause we went live. We also have the audio. So then we can drop those both on podcast feeds and on YouTube. So that’s probably the main pillar of our podcast.
Then we also have another sort of side shoot off of it, which is video workflow. That’s a different sort of offshoot where three of us break down what it’s like to make videos from an expert perspective down to someone like me who’s not an expert in video making. I’m just getting started with a little video now.
Stephen: Yeah. It’s like you can do all this cool stuff and it’s like, I’m not a video editor. But you can do really cool stuff, for example, like Canva. There’s so much cool stuff out there.
Justin: Yeah. And, so we do make a video editor. I’ll just say that. We make Camtasia. Obviously, people don’t have to use it, but that’s why we create that show, is just to help people get better at video. That’s the whole idea.
We have an actual video editor, Andy, and our team that also jams on that with us. But those get put into a separate sort of show channel on our website. So we’re experimenting in a couple of different ways with that in terms of a show channel as well as going on YouTube.
Stephen: Quick question. Have you heard about the strategy on YouTube where you actually spin up multiple channels? And you create playlists that kind of intermingle between each other? Have you heard about that?
Justin: I have not heard about the intermingling playlist, but have heard about the split channels.
Stephen: And from your perspective, is that just to niche down as specific as you can? So this channel is hyper-focused?
Justin: Yeah, that’s what I mean, from my perspective, this has gotta be. I think it’s interesting. So we have a pretty big channel. Our TechSmith channel is pretty big, 75 plus thousand people subscribed there. It’s not the biggest, but not the smallest either.
But the interesting thing with that is we do sell different products that serve different purposes. And so I could see a world where rather than having one ultimate channel, you do have multi mixed channels to try to serve those different audiences better. And I think that’s probably where those creators or where those companies are going.
But not many companies are doing YouTube. It’s a huge missed opportunity.
Stephen: I think all of this stuff can be so overwhelming when you first look at it. You’re like, oh my gosh, ‘How do I create?’ And then they’re talking about niche and all these different things. I see that most people can’t envision themselves doing it, because they think they’re not the person they need to be to do it effectively yet.
Justin: I think that goes back to what we talked about earlier, and this is what I always have to tell myself anyway, which is it doesn’t have to be this hard, for one.
So we’re constantly overthinking what it has to be. I have to do all these things to make it work. When in reality, if you look at our podcasts, we go live once a week, that live gets put into a podcast feed, it gets made into a blog post. It gets cut into social things. So that one live, that hour you spent going live — and again, you can hire this out or do it internally — but that essentially drives all of the content that you want to get out there. And all of the thought leadership, quote, unquote, that you want to put out there just by doing a live.
Stephen: I think it’s cool too because I’ve noticed this already.
I did my live and I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to upload any video.’ I thought that was pretty cool. Because there are all these little things. It’s like there are all these little rocks in your shoe and when you can take them out and just run faster, it makes all the difference.
Justin: Yeah. I think it’s less about doing a bunch of big pillars, and instead doing one or two really good ones and then chopping that stuff up.
Stephen: And that’s hard because that makes you realize, and here’s why I think people don’t want to do that because you said an important word there: It has to be good. People say create content, make content, commit to content. I do too. That’s like a mantra.
Then right after that, okay, now that you’re doing it, it has to be really good for it to do what you want it to do. So focus on one main thing. The more you try to do… I guess the way to look at it is I see people bolting onto different things.
They’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to bolt on video. I’m going to bolt on SEO.’ And then all of these things are like a clunky machine and none of them are doing quite what they want. But with you guys, and like what I’m doing, too, is to have one centerpiece. Everything spins off of that. Everything has the same voice.
Even if you have a different writer come in, and you’re going to need a good writer to do it, it’s all in that voice. From the heart of the table of contents, the value, it’s all there for the person to do with what they need to do with it.
Justin: And good is relative. I’ll say that, too. Good doesn’t always mean excellent quality. Or an amazing setup. Good to me is relevance. In some of the studies we’ve done, even with videos, people don’t necessarily care about how the quality is. They do to some degree, but whether or not that video or whatever, if you take the larger context of that content, was it relevant to what they were trying to achieve is what matters. Do you know what I mean?
Stephen: The way I look at it is your content has to transition somebody from one place to another. Either it’s with humor, how-to information, whatever it is, their mind has to change states.
I always say you’ve got to make them say, ‘Aha. I’m glad that I saw that.’ Yeah. And then hopefully even share it.
Justin: Yeah. To me, one of the ultimate…it’s not even defined for any particular company or any particular piece of content, but just content in general. I want my team’s content or what I create to be so good that someone will be excited to see it.
There are very few emails that I get in my inbox when I’m like, ‘Yes!’ And so my question, when I started creating content and started taking over content, was like, ‘Why am I super excited when that company’s email lands in my inbox versus this company I always delete?’
Stephen: Yeah. People say email’s dead, but it’s because the emails are no good.
Justin: Or social content, why do I scroll? Every time I see that I just scroll past it.
Stephen: Yeah. If you get an email every week, maybe you don’t consume all of it, but you at least think, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’ll come back to this,’ then they’re going to open your email.
Okay. So just real quick. What are the channels you distribute your clips to?
Justin: Right now, our clips go on the big four or big five, depending on what you do.
We do YouTube, we do LinkedIn, we do Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So we have stuff all over and it gets spread out.
Stephen: But do you do your clips on your YouTube channel as a separate playlist, just clips?
Justin: We’ve tested clips and some do better than others, but typically what we do on YouTube is just drop the full episode, so if people want it, it’s there. Because we do have an audience there as well.
And that’s the other thing I think is interesting. You would think if I’m putting it on the podcast, if I’m putting it on social, why should I put it on YouTube? Is anybody watching? For us, we actually get pretty good traction on YouTube with people who actually consume that content.
So you just don’t know. I think the other thing is don’t be hesitant. Especially if it’s just taking an existing clip and you already probably have the description from when you tried to promo the thing, or you have your podcasts, just put it on YouTube. It’s easy, it’s a step.
Stephen: The one thing that’s interesting about YouTube that you mentioned is, and I’m surprised…Right now I have 40 subscribers, so I’m just getting going, but I have gotten business off of my YouTube channel.
Justin: There you go. Right?
Stephen: So like less than a hundred views.
I’ll also partner with other people, go on their webinar and then they’ll post it. And they’ve got like 400 subscribers, which is a lot to me. That’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but I got clients from that.
And one of my clients got 10 new clients in April and they only have 400 subscribers. They get like 400 views on a video.
That’s insane to me.
Justin: Yeah, totally.
Stephen: Cool, man.
So you’re the first one to go through this rapid-fire, “underrated, overrated.” You’ve got to tell me. I might dig into each one a little bit.
Justin: Love it.
Stephen: This first one is going to be too easy for you, but we’re going to start there.
So underrated, overrated: content marketing.
Stephen: Live shows.
Stephen: Yeah, I think so, too. I think everybody’s jumping on the podcast bandwagon. I think live is the next step. That’s why I’m jumping in there.
Justin: The one thing I’ll say too, that live gives you if you do it right. It helps you build a community. You can get it in the comments. Have people ask questions.
Stephen: Yeah, I love that. Like people come in and they’re like, ‘Hey.’ They’re just saying, ‘Hey,’ and it feels cool. I’m like, ‘Hey man, How’s it going? Thanks for joining.’
Justin: Yeah, exactly.
Stephen: Yeah, I actually haven’t been on it but…
Justin: I never was on it. Didn’t even bother.
Stephen: I just don’t understand it. I got the part with the iPhone in the beginning, but it seemed like it took a long time to do the Android.
Justin: Way underrated.
Stephen: Yeah. That’s what everybody’s saying. And it’s so busy there. So I think it’s cool that people say that.
Justin: Way underrated.
Stephen: Yeah, I think so too, because everybody’s pumping out the same thing.
So just commit to your own thing and your niche. I think you have a huge opportunity there.
Justin: You have reach there without spending money. Which is key.
Stephen: It’s been all over the place a little bit lately, but I don’t know what that’s about.
Justin: Reach is still there.
Justin: Ooh. Okay. I’m going to say overrated, but that’s funny…
Stephen: Okay. Why do you say that?
Justin: I think partially just out of ignorance. It’s not a platform I’m on, so it could very well be underrated. I’m just not educated on that.
Stephen: Yeah. Cool. The one thing that I’ve found interesting about it is that I’ve spent most of my time on LinkedIn until now.
But you get saturated with how content is created on LinkedIn. So the main thing I grabbed right away was, ‘Oh, I could create content in so many different ways.’ And that’s why you see me posting my TikToks. I can make a 30-second video and it cuts differently than those talking head videos that you see a lot, where it’s just the person talking to the screen.
So anyway, all right. One last question… Oh, go ahead.
Justin: I would say I like that. I think those are a good pattern disrupt. We’ve been thinking about social on our team, too. How do we start to shake some of that up?
Because they’re all starting to look the same, just with different colors and different faces, but yeah, how do you get that pattern disrupt in the feeds and still get the content.
Stephen: That was the thing that I noticed. Everybody’s doing the square, so this will be a vertical format. It’ll have the TikTok logo on there.
And I know people are wondering what TikTok is. So I felt like there were some ways to use it.
One other thing real quick. What I found interesting is that the content on both platforms performs very similarly. I’ve been posting on TikTok and when it doesn’t do well there I’ll post it on LinkedIn and it doesn’t do well there either.
And then I’ve had a couple on TikTok that had 30, 40,000 views. And I dropped those on LinkedIn and got 1500 views, which for me on video is high for LinkedIn.
Justin: Yeah, definitely.
One of the best videos I’ve ever posted, cause I post videos all the time..one of the best videos I ever posted, hands down, was a video I put in the feed, but it was shot as a story. Right? Walking. I walked and talked, I actually walked and talked about content distribution. It was one of the better posts I had because I think there aren’t that many, as you scroll down the feed, of somebody walking out in their neighborhood with sunglasses on just talking about content strategy.
Stephen: Yeah. The fun part about content is having a little bit of that creative edge to make it different.
Cool, man. I really appreciate you being on. I know you have a couple of things that you’d love to share with the audience. How can people get a hold of you and where’s the best place to reach you?
Justin: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn all the time. Just search for Justin Simon there. And then we’re also at TechSmith.com. Like I said, we put out a weekly live called the Visual Lounge. That’s also a podcast. So if you’re interested in learning how to create images and videos for better communication and helping share knowledge with people, that is definitely a great show to check out.
We interview experts all the time. And then every Friday we drop video workflow, which is nothing but helping people get better at creating videos and just having a conversation about it. Those drop in the podcast feed as well. Or you can check that out at techsmith.com/video-workflow.
Stephen: Yeah. And I’ll make sure to get those in the show notes as well. And I’d love to have you come on my live show and demo some of these tools, even from some of your teammates, maybe.
Justin: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. That’d be awesome.
Stephen: Okay. Cool. Hey man. Thanks for coming on. I really appreciate it.
You came on short notice and dropped a whole bunch of cool stuff, so nice to see you again, and looking forward to interacting with you more.
Justin: Yeah. Thanks, man. Thanks very much.
Reach out to Justin:
Or checkout their live show: