5 takes on Discord, channel selection and the content lifecycle from Foundation CEO Ross Simmonds
By Daniel Murray
Stoked to share my convo with Ross Simmonds (AKA @TheCoolestCool).
It’s my delight to report to you, dear reader, that Ross is in fact the Coolest of the Cool.
He’s founder and CEO of the content agency Foundation. Ross has been at the top of the content game since college. I’ve learned so much from him.
Back in the day, Ross ran a fantasy football blog, and he got GLOBAL traffic. 🗺️🌎
As a former D1 Football player — GOOOOOO BEARCATS! — when I hear fantasy football blog, my ears perk right up. TELL ME MORE. 🏈
Ross’s blog allowed him to come to the realization that marketing lectures were stuck in the past. They were about… billboards.
“In my spare time, I studied the internet,” he says.
Turns out, that was a good call. He’s run Foundation for 8 years now — and he’s worked through a complete change to how people consume content.
Here’s what he learned along the way, in his own liiiightly edited words.
1. WHY CREATING CONTENT IS LIKE INVESTING:
The longer I’m in this industry, the more opportunities that I see from content that I produced 5 years, 8 years, 10 years ago.
Content is like an investment.
When you invest in a stock, the longer you’re able to hold, typically you’re gonna see better returns. You see better ROI.
With content, it’s similar. A piece of content that you produce today is going to actually generate more results for you 2 years from now than it will in the 24 hours in which you press publish.
A lot of marketers fixate on this short-term thinking.
THE DAY WE PRESS PUBLISH ON CONTENT IS THE DAY WE PROMOTE IT.
But what you should be doing is treating that content like an asset that you’ve invested in that should be paying you dividends long term.
And the way that you get those dividends out of that investment is to share it.
Continuously optimize it.
Continuously improve it.
Ensure that it has PAID MEDIA BEHIND IT.
This perspective is very important.
2. HOW TO PICK YOUR CORE CONTENT CHANNELS:
You want to find channels where your competitors aren’t spending time.
On these channels, you have the opportunity to be early.
You see that a lot of B2B brands, a lot of SaaS brands are kind of ignoring TikTok today. That presents opportunity.
Is it risky? 100%.
But when you look at some of the most successful YouTube accounts, podcasts, blogs — everybody’s thinking they got lucky.
In reality, they got into the game EARLIER, they were producing CONSISTENTLY.
3. HOW TO GET BUDGET FOR SOCIAL CONTENT 💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸 :
Buying decisions today aren’t as linear as they used to be.
If you want investment in organic social, you need to be having this dialogue:
What could the ROI be?
How can we track it?
How can we measure it?
Is it measurable?
And if it’s not measurable — what is the more soft yet valuable implication of this investment?
Then you’re talking about the fact that BRAND MAKES EVERYTHING EASIER.
If you have a strong brand, it’s going to reduce the cost-per-click on ads.
If you have a strong brand, it’s going to increase the amount of people going to Google and typing in your brand name.
If you have a strong brand, it’s going to increase the response rate to your SDR outreach.
You’re educating your C-Suite so that they know, just like you do, that this is truly an investment and there will be an ROI.
But on the social side, it just might not be as linear.
4. HOW NOT TO COLLAB WITH CREATORS:
Here’s what most agencies, most partners, most brands mess up with.
They think that they know the influencer’s audience more than the influencer does.
And they put together a description: This is exactly what you need to do. We want you to create a YouTube video like this.
Instead of saying, this is what we want. If you can come up with a creative way to do that, we want to work with you when you have that dialogue.
Then the creator knows their audience and they feel EMPOWERED to do something special.
The ROI is typically through the roof because the creator has skin in the game.
5. WHY MARKETERS SHOULD JUMP ON DISCORD:
Brands don’t have a clue what to do with Discord. The messages are going so quickly.
But if you can tap into it, I’m seeing ridiculous, mind-blowing results on the back of it.
Discord communities are the next Facebook groups.
I think the folks who can own a Discord community are sitting on a major skill set, a massive opportunity. They are tapping into the next wave of internet culture.
The lingo is DIFFERENT.
The acronyms are DIFFERENT.
You can’t pull the old marketing tricks. You can’t go into a Discord channel and just be like, “Here’s a link. Go read this.” It’s not gonna work.
You have to be immersed into the community a bit. Have a reason to be there. And then people are starting to see you’re not just there to spam, you can unlock some amazing results.
If I was 16, I would be all in on Discord.
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