Creating and distributing content is such a hot topic these days. In this episode, I chat with Laura MacHardy, the director and co-founder of Klusster an online group publication platform. We discuss why it’s important to create content and how Klusster can help further distribute content outside of your existing network.
Karen Swyszcz 0:00
I’m Karen and you’re listening to the bacon bits and bytes podcast. This is the podcast where a bit of business and a bite of technology come together.
Thank you everyone for tuning in to another episode of The Bacon Bits and Bytes podcast and today with me I have Laura MacHardy. Laura is a director with Klusster the group publication platform. She loves great content and seeks to help others unlock the power of a group to generate real value for their readers and real traffic for their content. Laura is a collaborator, community builder, business professional and entrepreneur who’s inspired by big ideas, leading strategies and the power of together Welcome to the show, Laura.
Laura MacHardy 1:01
Thank you so much, Karen. I’m super excited to be here.
Karen Swyszcz 1:04
Awesome. So first off, I would love to talk about your career path or not so traditional career path because you have an engineering background correct?
Laura MacHardy 1:13
I do. I studied to be an engineer and I spent a lot of time preparing myself for a career as an engineer. And I was you know, bound and bent that I was going to be in the consulting world in a specialized field of coastal engineering, if you can imagine that looking at beaches and shoreline erosion.But that wasn’t to be at the end of the day.
You know, the reality for me became that I was in front of the computer so much and I realized that you know, what I’m a social person. I want to be you know, speaking with people and you know, learning about new things going on in the world and it took me it to another a new direction. You know, moving more into a sales position in a sales world and I loved it, because I was learning about other businesses and what was important to them and what their internal structures were. And so it was B2B sales. And I spent probably seven or eight years in a big global company, you know, $1.3 billion organization with 11,000 employees, and learned a lot there. But also knew that that probably wasn’t my calling, because I was ultimately inspired to build something to be to have something that you know, I could call my own and my business partner had a that I have now has, it has a similar vision. And here we are today embarking on our journey with Klusster.
Karen Swyszcz 2:46
Awesome. So we know that entrepreneurs and businesses, they spend a lot of time creating content because they know it’s important, but not much get seen. So why do you think it’s that way?
Laura MacHardy 2:58
Well, yeah. So the content we know is important. And I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “Content is King”. A lot of that is driven by our friends at Google who really have dictated that, you know, in order to be found online, they need content to review in order for them to be able to lift you in search results. And part of that content criteria that they look at for search requires and and favors new content. So, and this in addition to that kind of need for Google, and because of Google and the Internet, and how this explosion of information really is underway.
Now, consumers also expect high quality content, they seek out information from businesses before making purchase decisions. So content is super important. There’s no doubt about it. That being said, the more content that’s being created, the harder it is for your own content, to be found in that sea of content if you will.
Here’s an interesting statistic. There’s been a sharp increase in the amount of content being produced every day. Here’s a little factoid or fun fact for you. WordPress reports 87 million posts on their platform published in May of 2018. So this is just over a year old. And two years prior to that, that’s a 47% increase of the amount of content that they’re receiving only two years earlier. And so here we are now a year past that 2018, 87 million post milestone that they reported and you can only imagine that that’s an exponential increase that where they would probably be reporting if we had today’s statistics. So as we said competition for getting readers and for having Google find you and prioritize you in search is fierce. But we know we need to do that. We need to have content we need to be there to be found.
But it’s no longer a build it and they will come environment. In fact, if you’re investing in content to promote you and your business, you need to be thinking about the 80/20 rule. So you need to be thinking, Okay, if I’m spending 20% of my time creating my content, I need to be spending at least 80% of my time thinking about how and where I’m distributing that content. So that distribution strategy is ever more important. Once you’ve established what the actual content development strategy is.
Karen Swyszcz 5:26
So true. So I know many people are familiar, like, Okay, I need to post share my content on social media. But what other options are there for content distribution?
Laura MacHardy 5:37
Yeah, so I mean, obviously, since social media has started to kind of take over in so many ways, we’ve all been working really, really hard at creating our own audiences, building up our followers, you know, one by one, and that’s important work and we need to continue to do that because these platforms aren’t going anywhere soon.
And in fact, you know, Facebook of course, is obviously a big leader in that space. Facebook, in fact, is evolving their platform and the tools that are available to us for our to increase our ability to distribute content beyond our own followers. So certainly post to your own audience. But in addition, you want to, first of all, understand who your audience is. And number two, find the places where they’re hanging out. And Facebook has created a very cool system for groups to kind of come together under a common interest and that’s the Facebook group function. And so if you find groups that are relevant to you, relevant to your content, relevant to your business, participate in those groups, post in the groups, be active in the groups and you know, promote your business, you know, either directly or subtly through that group function.
On Twitter, use relevant hashtags to increase your reach and consider re-tweeting posts from users who are sharing your content as well. Twitter is a very reciprocal kind of culture where you know, if you scratch your back, I might scratch you. If you excuse me, if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Instagram, obivously, is a platform where images are king. And leveraging hashtags, there’s another opportunity.
However, sharing links is a limitation in Instagram, but there are some creative workarounds that you still might be able to get your link seen. And if you share the link in your bio, and mention that in the comment or even share the link, and instead of using the actual period in the link descriptor in the link detail, just use the word dot and your users can just edit the word dot and put in the actual period to make the link accurate.
If you’re a blogger, guest blogging on someone else’s blog where you’re able to reference your own site and your own blog is a great way to expand reach. Commenting on blogs and including links to your content when and where relevant and appropriate. That is a great approach as well to kind of build on the conversation and perhaps even make new relationships and connections with other complementary bloggers. Link sharing is a great practice where if you find content that would make sense to link to your content, reach out to those authors. Ask them to consider your page, your article, your blog, as a potential link from their content, and perhaps you can offer reciprocation for their content. So there’s a win-win relationship there.
Karen Swyszcz 8:38
Yeah, lots of different ways. I forgot to mention. We’re touching about the Facebook groups of for our listeners, actually, Laura and I had connected through one of the Facebook groups. I think it was through me. Initially, I either shared like a blog post or maybe it was about one of my blog workshops on Yeah, she just reached out to me and we connected so really, when you think about it, always be consistent with sharing because you never know who is watching and you never know who might reach out to you based on what you put out there.
Laura MacHardy 9:08
It is so powerful and really so exciting to see the opportunity that these kinds of platforms offer for businesses or just individuals for that matter to really form meaningful connections beyond your own kind of immediate circle that you’ve created. It’s really awesome.
Karen Swyszcz 9:26
Hmm. So speaking of platforms, can you tell us about the inspiration for Klusster and how it works and even the name itself, it sounds really cool like a Klusster of content.
Laura MacHardy 9:37
That’s basically it. So this kind of, like exploding culture around groups and working together, and leveraging kind of technology to help you work together better is sort of layer number one, layer number two, kind of back before the internet was as powerful and as prevalent in our kind of day to day lives and these platforms didn’t exist.
So you know, just a few years ago really but here’s a real-life example. So the financial planner was looking to connect with high net worth individuals. And to do that the financial planner reached out into the various cities that they were doing business connected with real estate, excuse me, connected with accountants, lawyers, etc. Several other professionals in that market who were working with and targeting high net worth individuals, they’ve created an event. And at the event, they each had, you know, a period of time 10 or 15 minutes to present their information to their audience.
In addition, they were each responsible for bringing six guests with them who fit into that high net worth individual category. And so as a result, all these professionals came together with valuable content and they each kind of brought their own audience and as a result, business was done. All the business owners benefited from this event and most importantly, the guests who each of them brought benefited because they were all exposed to relevant information that they were, that helped them out.
So really, that’s the concept of Klusster. We brought that idea and this kind of momentum of groups and working together into its own platform where you effectively if you’re creating content to promote your business, or you’re creating content as a blogger, you’ve got content that you want more distribution and more visibility beyond your own social media audience. The idea is that you cluster your content into a Klusster publication or basically it’s like an e-magazine where if there’s 10 people, 10 contributors, you all load your content into your Klusster publication. And then you all work together to cross-promote and share your collective content. And by working together, the group is able to drive more visibility and more distribution than any one individual could deliver on their own.
And hopefully by aggregating that themselves with other complementary content creators, you’re delivering additional value to your audience because your audience is now getting exposure not just to you and your content, but to other relevant content that they might be interested in as well without them having to seek out those individuals on their own. The idea is that it becomes a win-win for everybody. Really, that’s our goal.
Karen Swyszcz 12:26
And not only that, it can save you a lot of time of having to reach out to individual people, which is very beneficial, especially for people who are entrepreneurs in business because, you know, they’re trying to wear so many different hats. So speaking of entrepreneurs, you were a startup exhibitor at the Toronto Tech Conference Collision. I’d love for you to share your experience there.
Laura MacHardy 12:52
We had the most amazing experience at the Collision Conference in Toronto. So the Collision Conference is, you know, emerging to be one of the leading tech conferences on the globe. And of course, Toronto has been highlighted as an emerging and exploding hub for technology kind of catching up and biting on the heels of Silicon Valley. So that’s why this global conference was hosted here in Toronto, and there was over 25,000 attendees. So you can just imagine the energy, and the like, all the stuff that was going on as part of this conference. So for us to be there, as an exhibiting startup really was, first of all, like an honor for us to be part of this stage and part of this platform. It gave us the opportunity to network with other startups in that tech industry, who we don’t have an opportunity to meet every day, and to bounce ideas off of each other and to get to see so many brilliant people all in one place. And never and you know, the speakers who are there who are thought industry leaders worldwide from a technology perspective, it was. Just I can’t say enough for how amazing it was.
Karen Swyszcz 14:04
I’m just kind of want to circle back to quality content, how it’s very important. So in your mind, like personally, what do you think constitutes great content? What would you consider to be great content?
Laura MacHardy 14:20
Well, first of all, you know, that’s a broad question to answer, but you need to understand who your audience is and what your audience will value. Once you have that, in your mind, the content that you create, to get to help that audience get to know you better, get to know your product better and to add value to their business to their lives, to help them save money, to help them save time, like this is the kind of information that people are hungry for and are going to kind of draw them to you.
So a content marketing strategy really is about placing helpful and valuable content in the like I said earlier, kind of in the places where your audience might hang out, and then they proactively discover your content. Because it’s something that you know they will benefit from, and it creates a level of trust. And positions you as a potential resource and/or thought leader, and because of that trust that’s established there that much closer to perhaps reaching out to you to do business.
The question, I guess, you’re asking what constitutes quality content? You know, that’s definitely you know, a big part of creating quality content. I mean, that being said, depending on who you are and what you’re trying to do, a really great promotion for something that you can offer in your business could be equally beneficial and considered equally good quality. When your reader is a little bit farther down the pipeline in terms of deciding to do business with you, and that piece of content might be the little hair on the camel’s back or whatever it is to turn the switch so that they engage with you and do business.
Karen Swyszcz 16:02
You may have already answered this in previous questions, but why do you think community and content go so well together?
Laura MacHardy 16:08
So we’re seeing this certainly with it with the kind of surge of, of the power of these Facebook groups, for example. And those are examples of very powerful communities who are coming together. And when you think about thoughtfully aggregating content together, and the power that kind of collective body of content, the power that can deliver, can far outweigh you know, the power, the value of content from a single source. And this isn’t new. This is the concept of publishing.
You know, when you think of, you know, why great magazines are great, why great, newspapers are great, etc, etc. And even when you think of, you know, if you think of content from a brick and mortar perspective, and you think of how stores leverage the power of a mall or of a plaza, effectively, their content are their products and they’re leveraging a common real estate to drive more traffic.
So, you know, by leveraging a community, you’re kind of doing that that same, that same thing, but just online. So quality content can be shared by a group. And it helps the entire group do more by working together, and it also helps their collective audiences. So I was mentioning that earlier. So you kind of have that win-win for both the content creators and the content consumers. For me, that’s the main thing is that it’s a win-win. If that aggregation is valued, not just by those who are creating the content, but by those who are consuming the content. To me, that’s the secret sauce and the value of community and combining content within a community.
Karen Swyszcz 17:47
Are there any big plans for Klusster in the near future that you could share with us?
Laura MacHardy 17:52
In terms of what we’re doing on a development perspective, we have our developers with a long to-do list of kind of future goals and future features that we want to be able to offer our users. But we’ll keep that a little quiet until we can. our full review, but it’s, you know, in the world of software, if you’re not developing and adding and refining if you’ve kind of stagnated that’s never a good thing. So the good news is we’ve got a laundry list, of exciting things that we have planned to come.
Karen Swyszcz 18:27
Awesome, you’ll keep us in suspense and we can’t wait to hear what the new features are. So for the time being, if people wanted to learn more about Klusster, I understand that you host webinars on a weekly basis.
Laura MacHardy 18:40
We do. We host webinars every Thursday at 11 o’clock, and that’s basically a general overview of what the platform is and how it works. Klusster is a free platform available to anybody to use, so there’s no cost. If you like the idea of creating clusters with you know, folks who complement you and what you’re doing and you want to work together. We’re here to show you how to do it and how to get the most out of the platform. I’m also available if you want to connect directly and discuss specific questions and specific strategies kind of beyond a general overview. I’m here to help. That’s my role.
Karen Swyszcz 19:16
Awesome. So I’ll include a link to the webinar in the show notes so people can sign up.
Laura MacHardy 19:21
Amazing. That’s great.
Karen Swyszcz 19:23
So if people wanted to get in touch with you on social media, where can they find you?
Laura MacHardy 19:28
Well, my personal page, my personal page is Laura. My name Laura MacHardy, you can find me on Facebook or Klusster.com, or Facebook page is there as well. And if you search Klusster on Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’ll find us there as well. And it’s cluster with a K and two s’s.
Karen Swyszcz 19:47
Yes, very important with the spelling. I just realized some people might think it’s c-l-u-s-t-e-r, you know, it’s a fun play on words. k-l-u-s-s-t-e-r.
Laura MacHardy 19:59
That’s right. Exactly.
Karen Swyszcz 20:01
Well, thank you so much, Laura for being on the show.
Laura MacHardy 20:04
Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s been a lot of fun chatting with you, Karen. I appreciate it.
Karen Swyszcz 20:09
No problem. And thank you, everyone, for listening. Stay tuned for more episodes.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai