The Engagers: Dana Oshiro

The Engagers: Dana Oshiro

Dana Oshiro is a writer, marketer and content strategist with an interest in technology and how it affects our lives and businesses. After 3 years of working with top publishers like MacRumors, Phandroid and Computer.org she recently took a break to explore content strategy and consulting for Heroku and Salesforce. In September 2012, she gave a compelling TedxTalk about the importance of feedback on the web, expert word of mouth and how we are no longer the sole proprietors of our online image. She is currently slated to begin a new position as the Senior Marketing Manager of Code for America.

Dana, in your TEDxTalk – Growing Up Clueless: How Your Persona Can Be Your Purpose, you explain that other people are defining our reputations online. If we don’t have full control over what people think of us or our brands, what can we do to make sure we are perceived the way we want to be perceived?

The only way to control your brand is to reach a large audience with content that is consistently useful, entertaining or both. This means we have to embrace our value and earn an audience with it. We have to be consistent in producing something that others are proud to cite. Our true success can be measured in the sentiment and frequency of people reacting to content through links, comments and social shares. We have to be capable of outweighing the bad with the good.

Engaging is hard for many people. Fear of rejection, not knowing where to start, some other irrational fear… When we see people who excel at engaging like you, we tend to think it comes easy to them. But everyone has their own kryptonite. What’s the most challenging part of influencer engagement for you?

For me, the toughest part of influencer engagement is knowing how to take a punch. In the past it was easy to create content when I knew no one was reading it, but now there’s this chance to incite shock and awe. Rather than neutralizing myself, I try to write in the same way I would’ve in the past and I try not to take disagreements too seriously when they come. I mean honestly, I’d say most of us are only really impressively competent 20 percent of the time online. The rest of it really is cat videos and fancy food photography.

One of the things you’ve passionately spoken about is the notion of the web as one big community where everyone should be contributing and pushing the collective forward. With the rise of social marketing, many marketers are out there trying to get on the radar of their customers. How do you recommend we balance business objectives and being an active member of our communities?

The best organizations are those that encourage thought leadership and community contribution from within. People don’t connect with brands, they connect with other people. So if we offer content guidelines and then let employees own their expertise, they’re far more likely to have fun producing content and as a result, audiences are more likely to have fun reading it.

Have you downloaded The Engagers yet?

As a journalist, PR pro and marketer, you have what I’ll call the perfect mix of Super Engager Powers. When you set out to build a new influencer outreach strategy, what are you thinking about? Where do you start?

First I look at an audience’s makeup and make a decision as to whether or not I can add value. I literally look at the engagements of 150 key influencers I think will move the needle for that company’s business. From there I look at patterns such as common keywords, common follows and common mediums. And finally I decide whether or not my internal team has the capability of stewarding a relationship based on common topics of interest. If they do, then we come up with a content plan, build an editorial calendar and ping the influencers for feedback.

You’ve spoken about how 92% of consumers trust expert word of mouth and friends over advertising. That seems to suggest there is a huge need for marketing to change their focus from paid to earned media. What advice do you have for someone who needs to convince their organization to spend more time cultivating relationships with experts instead of pouring dollars into paid channels?

I don’t think it’s paid vs. earned media so much as it is brand voice vs. authentic customer voice. Nielsen’s reports that 92% of consumers trust earned media and friend recommendations over advertising. This means that seemingly unbiased outsiders are defining our businesses. The most trustworthy messages are in testimonial, recommendations and news stories. Rather than pushing out brand crafted messages, we might want to pay to amplify what others are saying about the brand.

If there really was a team of superheros named the Engagers and you were on it, what name would you give yourself?

I suppose I see myself as a Mighty Mouse character. I’m small and unassuming, but tenacious.