The Engagers: Michael Troiano on Social Marketing & Relationship Marketing

The Engagers: Michael Troiano

Michael Troiano is Chief Marketing Officer at Actifio. He spent his early career at top advertising agencies before launching, building, and marketing venture-funded technology companies. He writes about brands, social marketing, and startups, and serves as a TechStars mentor, New England Venture Capital Association Board Member, and an advisor to many Boston startups.

You started a blog in 2009 called Scalable Intimacy on the premise that building relationships were at the core of social marketing. Tell us what “scalable intimacy” means.

What customers want is intimacy… they expect to be understood as individuals, and to be treated like people. What marketers want is scale, the ability to touch lots of people at the most efficient CPM possible. The reason to get excited about social marketing is that it offers the promise of “Scalable Intimacy,” really the first medium to do so.

Concretely, can your tell us how you go about relationship-driven marketing?

It’s a process with 5 steps:

  1. Listen, monitor the conversation already underway.
  2. Curate third-party content useful to your target.
  3. Create original content worthy of attention.
  4. Engage with people willing to engage with you.
  5. Activate, by asking for what you want.

Do those things with an authentic enthusiasm for building relationships, and you’re going to succeed.

Process for Relationship-Driven Marketing

When you are hiring for marketing positions, what type of person are you looking for? What signals indicate someone can excel at scalable intimacy? What are red flags?

I look for people comfortable in their own skin, people with the confidence to be themselves instead of adopting some kind of professional persona. They have to be smart, have to have empathy and great communication skills in person and through media, and have to value relationships over transactions. That’s the foundation, really, you can develop skills on that base. A red flag is anyone who comes across as a full-of-shit marketing person. If I can smell that, so can the customer.

You played on both sides of the digital world: agencies and brands. What are the key differences between them when it comes to developing influencer engagement programs?

I’m generally very cynical about the role agencies can play in engaging influencers on behalf of clients. They can create the context… manage the “plumbing” and make it easier for clients to engage. But would you rather interact with a staff member or a paid intermediary? Authenticity is the currency of this medium. You can’t “fake it,” by definition.

As an advisor to many startups, what’s the one big mistake you see marketers make when in comes to social engagement? What’s our collective kryptonite?

Have you downloaded The Engagers yet?

They fail to create content worthy of their targets attention. I often tell startups the best way to leverage social media is to do something worth talking about. You have to find ways to break through the noise, to engage people with content at the intersection of what serves your interests and what serves theirs. I think people spend way too little time on that, and way too much optimizing their tweet frequency and measuring the reach of RTs or whatever.

As the CMO at Actifio, what role does influencer engagement play? What higher business goals are you trying to achieve via influencer engagement?

It’s critical. We’re trying to spread the gospel of what we call “Copy Data.” Copy Data is the data created by systems that make a copy of production data… systems like Backup, Disaster Recovery, Analytics and others. Today customers are spending much more managing copies of their data than they are managing their data. But most don’t realize it. That’s really the problem Actifio solves, and influencers play a key role in spreading the word.

My favorite quote about enterprise tech is that “All hegemony begins as heresy.” Right now we’re the heretics, and engaging influencers helps us create converts.

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

Pathos. I’d want the power to change what people feel.

If you can do that… you can change what they do.