#116: Here's Why You Need To Own Your Audience Online (And A Cautionary Tale From DC)

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This is a podcast episode titled, #116: Here's Why You Need To Own Your Audience Online (And A Cautionary Tale From DC). The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- First there was Facebook. Then came Medium. And Facebook Messenger. And countless other channels that you can use as a business. But there's one thing to be careful of: you dont own any of them. Today on Seeking Wisdom, we're talking about why you need to own your audience this year -- and a cautionary tale from DC from his company Lookery. Say hi to @dcancel and @davegerhardt. AND DONT FORGET -- HYPERGROWTH 2018 is coming. You can get your tickets at hypergrowth.drift.com with the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM for just $199. That is the lowest price on the Internet just for SW fans :)

Speaker 1: Hold on, hold on. You were just... you just did a one- on- one, you were going for a walk and you went down to the lobby.

Speaker 2: I was walking downstairs about to go on a one- on- one with Elise. What's up Elise? And this kid, young kid, young buck comes up to me. I see him looking at me. I was like," Who's that guy?" And he's just like," Hey D. C." College age guy. I was like, crosstalk" Hello?"

Speaker 1: crosstalk You were like,"Who the hell is this?"

Speaker 2: Elisa is like," What crosstalk?"

Speaker 1: crosstalk What is this?

Speaker 2: "What's going on?" And he's like," I was coming upstairs to bring you a letter."

Speaker 1: What?

Speaker 2: And I was like," Oh."

Speaker 1: Did they stop him? Did he let him up?

Speaker 2: He hadn't gone past security yet. But I think he was going to come up. Nice guy. And he's like," I'm a BU student." BU crosstalk student.

Speaker 1: crosstalk Shout out BU.

Speaker 2: crosstalk Shout out Boston University.

Speaker 1: crosstalk Shout out BU.

Speaker 2: And he's like," Everything that I wanted to say to you is in this letter." And I was like," What?"

Speaker 1: What? Do you have it? Damn. And he's got the bolt.

Speaker 2: Look it's got a lightning bolt on it.

Speaker 1: Wait crosstalk hold on.

Speaker 2: crosstalk To D.C. and D. G.

Speaker 1: He tried to play me right now. He made this story sound like this was D. C. I got to crosstalk talk to you.

Speaker 2: crosstalk He didn't mention your name when he gave me this.

Speaker 1: This letter says D. C. And D. G.

Speaker 2: He didn't mention your name. See that? His name is... Oh his crosstalk name's on here.

Speaker 1: crosstalk That's insane.

Speaker 2: Cal Mitchell. Shout out Cal Mitchell.

Speaker 1: Cal, What's up?

Speaker 2: He gave me this letter right here.

Speaker 1: That's crazy.

Speaker 2: I have not opened it yet.

Speaker 1: Crazy.

Speaker 2: I need an FBI to check this for anthrax first.

Speaker 1: I don't know if I can let you open that. It's too much of crosstalk a risk.

Speaker 2: crosstalk No, I'm joking. I'm joking Cal. It's awesome.

Speaker 1: This is amazing.

Speaker 2: It's amazing. I just want to shout out young Cal Mitchell for having the...

Speaker 1: This is crazy.

Speaker 2: Having the... what's the right word?

Speaker 1: crosstalk Gusto?

Speaker 2: crosstalk Having the initiative. The gusto. Having the initiative and the gusto to come up here and drop off this letter.

Speaker 1: Yeah, this is amazing. And this is everything. Nobody does this today. They're going crosstalk to send you 500 emails," Did you get my email?"

Speaker 2: crosstalk This doesn't scale. Nope. Cal Mitchell.

Speaker 1: Also, I don't know of two of many other marketing channels that produce this, that come out of that.

Speaker 2: No. I can't wait to read his letter.

Speaker 1: All right.

Speaker 2: Thank you, Cal. All right. What are we talking about today?

Speaker 1: We're back. We've been on the road a bunch. Atlanta. We got a bunch of hot content coming from Atlanta that will have dropped on the Seeking Wisdom podcast feed. D. C... I don't think there's two D. C.'s. but we can let them say D. C. Of Atlanta. That's fine. We're going to talk about something different today. We want to talk a little bit more tactical. You sent me a couple messages yesterday about something that was really interesting. Which is more for the business people out there, the marketers. The people that are thinking about growing a business. About why you need to own your audience. Okay? I want to talk about that. This has been a lifelong question in marketing. You've built companies around it. Things come up, Medium. Should I have my blog on Medium or not? Should I have my own email list or somebody else's? Should I use Facebook Messenger or should I use Drift? I want to talk about that. You have a really interesting story too.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I have a couple of stories here. Go deep.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Speaker 2: The thing that we were talking about was this idea of like," Hey, you have to be able to own your audience." And everything today is about connection, about owning your audience, developing that. And you hear all these stories. Let's go back. Let's start with a story. Two years ago, everyone that I knew who was blogging or wanted to blog was talking about crosstalk...

Speaker 1: crosstalk Medium.

Speaker 2: I'm going to ditch my blogging... I'm going to ditch WordPress. I'm going to ditch this, I'm going to ditch that. I'm moving my blog to Medium.

Speaker 1: That was two years ago. I haven't heard anybody talking about that in years.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I was just going to ask you. Does anyone talk about moving to Medium now?

Speaker 1: No.

Speaker 2: Nobody. Because the people who were early... and we had some stuff on Medium, although we never moved everything over, we kept our blog. WordPress hosted blog. And the people that moved over... what happened was, Medium is a private company, their priorities changed. They changed it up and all of a sudden, like...

Speaker 1: That's crazy. I forgot about... Remember how much traffic we used to get from Medium.

Speaker 2: So much.

Speaker 1: Like two years ago. Medium was huge,

Speaker 2: But they changed their algorithm.

Speaker 1: They changed their algorithm.

Speaker 2: They made some business decisions. They're a private company and they can do that. And now all of a sudden, it's not the best place to host your personal blog.

Speaker 1: I remember we had a podcast, it was about why you never hire product managers. That post had a hundred thousand views. We don't have a single post on the Drift blog that has a hundred thousand views. Then they shut it off.

Speaker 2: They shut it off.

Speaker 1: Perfect example.

Speaker 2: It worked.

Speaker 1: I didn't even think of that.

Speaker 2: And that's a whole arbitrage thing we could talk about some other day.

Speaker 1: Sure, sure.

Speaker 2: But that was an example. Then I have a personal example. I started a company in 2007, something like that. 2008, maybe. And it was a company called Lookery, L-O- O- K- E- R- Y. And Lookery, we accidentally started this company because a lot of our friends... At the time, in 2007, Facebook had opened up their platform. They launched the FB platform. And what that was... if you remember was third parties could build apps, games, Mafia Wars...

Speaker 1: Zynga was huge.

Speaker 2: Zynga. Even before they were called Zynga. They were on there. And all of these dating apps and all of these apps, like proliferated. It was like the Apple app store, but on Facebook. And all of a sudden, there were hundreds... thousands, actually. Thousands of apps. Those apps needed a way... We had a lot of friends, personal friends who were starting those apps, including Zynga and other things. And they needed a way to make money. So we created Lookery, which was like this ad network for social apps. And what happened with that company was... big mistake. We built on someone else's platform.

Speaker 1: You built on top of Facebook?

Speaker 2: On top of Facebook. And these publishers who we were serving... these app developers were built on top of Facebook. But what happens. Facebook wakes up a bunch of times and decides...

Speaker 1: We don't want to do this anymore.

Speaker 2: Yeah, we don't want to do this anymore. Let's kill that.

Speaker 1: Wow.

Speaker 2: And then they killed all of those companies, all of that revenue disappeared. And then they kept for a little while, a bunch of game publishers like Zynga and a couple of others. And then those things don't exist anymore. Do you get Mafia Wars crosstalk on your thing?

Speaker 1: crosstalk No. I don't go on Facebook.

Speaker 2: They've pretty much gone away.

Speaker 1: That's crazy.

Speaker 2: But they got to decide to build on someone else's platform and they pulled it away.

Speaker 1: I have a similar story. I didn't build a company. I was just working there. But when I was at Constant Contact, it was 2011. They unveiled a whole product that was based on... Remember when you could gate your Facebook page?

Speaker 2: Yep.

Speaker 1: They had a product that was social media offers. And so you could create a nice banner, gate your whole Facebook page. And the way you used to build an audience on Facebook was you would say," Hey, I'll give you X, if you like my Facebook page." It was kind of like the original downloadable ebook. Like my Facebook page, I'll give you this ebook. And then one day Facebook, they changed to the timeline.

Speaker 2: And it was gone.

Speaker 1: Everything was gone.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Instantaneously.

Speaker 1: Crazy.

Speaker 2: And that's the problem with building on other people's platforms. Like you heard, there was this a YouTuber called Cutie Pie. I don't know his work, but D. H. D. Does. D. H. D. likes it. She's nodding his head. But Cutie Pie was a huge YouTuber generating millions of dollars in revenue, built a company around that channel. Said something... I don't know what they said... that YouTube didn't like. The next day YouTube killed the channel. The business is dead.

Speaker 1: There was another story. It was Giphy. I think it was Giphy. The way that they were indexing pages or something like that? Google didn't like that.

Speaker 2: They just shut them down.

Speaker 1: And so they shut them down.

Speaker 2: Yeah. There's countless examples of this happening. And the reason I'm bringing this up, is this is why... Everyone wants to rush to these platforms because there's arbitrage in them. But you need to own your customer base. And so in that world, you want to own your own... That's why email's still important. No matter how much we gripe about email, email is still powerful. Why? Because it's an open protocol. Meaning it's an open idea that nobody controls. You can always move your email providers. It's universal. And because of that, you own that audience. It's why you want to host your own blog. Because if WordPress decides to go out of business. It's still open source. You can still build on top of that or you can move to another blogging platform. You have that, it's portable. And it's why, when you want to communicate in real time with your customers, you don't want to do that over someone else's messenger product. Although that's cool. You want to have your own messenger product using Drift or something like Drift on your own website. Because then you own that audience. You need to own that audience because that's all we own today. Attention is the new currency. Attention is the new dollars. More important than dollars today is attention. And this is why brand is so important, because attention is more scarce than dollars. It's easier for me to go get some dollars than it is to go get some attention.

Speaker 1: It's more important than ever to own your own audience. You know what else is interesting about that?

Speaker 2: What's that?

Speaker 1: It's harder than ever to own crosstalk your own audience.

Speaker 2: crosstalk Of course.

Speaker 1: People want to play in that game.

Speaker 2: They want to go work on..." I'll just use FB messenger."" I want to use this thing." Those things are awesome. But at the end of the day, if you build your business on top of those... It's good, you want to use those as secondary channels. But if you don't want to build a business on top of those things, because the same thing will happen to you that happened to us at Lookery. Facebook or someone like Facebook will wake up one day and you're gone. Google will wake up. You're gone.

Speaker 1: I don't know how many people know this story. But rewind back two, two and a half years ago. The way we built Drift was it started with an email list.

Speaker 2: Yes.

Speaker 1: Before we were selling our product, before people could sign up for our product online, we had an email list. We said," Hey, give us your email."" We'll send you good content."" We're going to curate this newsletter about marketing content." And that's how we grew. And everybody wants to know like," Hey, what would you do if you're a starting business?"" What's the best marketing thing." It's always been.

Speaker 2: Create an audience.

Speaker 1: It's always been email.

Speaker 2: Yeah. crosstalk Create a...

Speaker 1: crosstalk I'd always capture email. This is important because we talked so much about messaging at Drift. And here we are saying, you got to own your audience.

Speaker 2: You got to own your messaging. You got to own your email. You got to own all the ways that you're going to communicate to that audience. You want to own that primarily. And then secondarily, you can use these other channels to help. But don't build an audience on top of those things. They will go away.

Speaker 1: Man, I love it. Today we came out, we haven't given you something... We give you a lot of knowledge, but this is some tactical business crosstalk advice right here.

Speaker 2: crosstalk Yeah, yeah. We got to get tactical for the people.

Speaker 1: Own the audience. The Tim Ferriss example is like, he's tried every other channel, but you said," Hey, he always talks about email."

Speaker 2: He talks about email, he talks about his blog. He talks about podcasting. Those are all... Podcasting is controlled a bit by Apple, but those are pretty open standards to build on top of. And you never want to be victim to someone else.

Speaker 1: Own your audience.

Speaker 2: Own your audience. Leave a six star review for us. Come to Hypergrowth. It's getting crazy.

Speaker 1: Please.

Speaker 2: It's going to be amazing. We're going to have some new things coming to Hypergrowth. And shout out to young Cal Mitchell for being a legend. A living legend right here and bringing us this letter.

Speaker 1: Hand delivered with the unofficial official Drift logo on top of it.

Speaker 2: Lightening bolt. And just so you know, Amy and I will be gone.

Speaker 1: Where you going?

Speaker 2: Take care. I don't know, we're going. We're traveling.

Speaker 1: To make some videos somewhere?

Speaker 2: UK. UK. We're doing drone footage. We're doing crazy stuff.

Speaker 1: All right. Let's do a ratings blitz. I want to give away some books.

Speaker 2: Okay. Let's do it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. It's been a little minute.

Speaker 2: Okay.

Speaker 1: It's been a minute.

Speaker 2: Leave some six star reviews.

Speaker 1: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Shout outs. I saw some shout outs for D. H. D. and Amy in there.

Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2: Tell us the last book you recommend.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Speaker 2: That you read, that you would recommend.

Speaker 1: Yes.

Speaker 2: And then we will send you some books. By the way, I have a whole new thing, instagram/ dcancel crosstalk.

Speaker 1: crosstalk Shout this out.

Speaker 2: Where I am putting up the highlights from my books that I'm reading. And I'm sharing with you. Maybe you're not a reader, maybe you don't like reading. You're going to get the best highlights from the books that I'm reading.

Speaker 1: The Cliff Notes.

Speaker 2: Shortcut. The Cliff Notes.

Speaker 1: All the answers are out there.

Speaker 2: All the answers. I'm going to give you more answers. Go to instagram. com/ dcancel, instagram. com/ heydrift. Subscribe to those two and we're going to be putting more content up there.

Speaker 1: That's it. Put your book recommendations in iTunes reviews. We're going to hook you up.

Speaker 2: Hook you up with lots of books.

Speaker 1: Lots of books.

Speaker 2: Stay tuned.

Speaker 1: All right crosstalk. See you.

Speaker 2: crosstalk Shout it out.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- First there was Facebook. Then came Medium. And Facebook Messenger. And countless other channels that you can use as a business. But there's one thing to be careful of: you dont own any of them. Today on Seeking Wisdom, we're talking about why you need to own your audience this year -- and a cautionary tale from DC from his company Lookery. Say hi to @dcancel and @davegerhardt. AND DONT FORGET -- HYPERGROWTH 2018 is coming. You can get your tickets at hypergrowth.drift.com with the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM for just $199. That is the lowest price on the Internet just for SW fans :)