How to build or be a thought leader in B2B tech with Ashley Faus, Content Strategy Lead at Atlassian

Thought leadership is critical for B2B tech audiences who less and less trust companies and brands. They want to hear word of mouth recommendations and build a sense of community around the tools they’ve used throughout their careers. 

On this episode of the FINITE Podcast, you’ll hear from Ashley Faus, Content Strategy Lead at Atlassian – a global tech company that owns work management tools such as Trello and Jira

Ashley shares her framework on building or becoming a brilliant B2B tech thought leader, and knows what audiences want to see and what will help them trust you.

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Listen to the full episode here:


And check out more of the FINITE B2B marketing podcast here


Full Transcript

Alex (00:11):

Hello everyone and welcome back to the FINITE Podcast. Today we’re joined by Ashley Faus, who is Content Strategy Lead for software teams at Atlassian. Ashley is a renowned thought leader when it comes to B2B tech, content marketing and thought leadership. And that’s why we’re going to be using our time with her to dive into exactly that thought leadership is within content marketing, and as a B2B marketing strategy. 

We’ll be discussing how to choose thought leaders, how to build their profiles, how to measure their influence. She’s got a great framework for thought leadership in B2B marketing, which we’ll share as a link below. And who knows, you might even decide to become a thought-leader yourself. I hope you enjoy this episode.


FINITE (00:49):

The FINITE community is kindly supported by The Marketing Practice, a global integrated B2B marketing agency that brings together all the skills you need to design and run account-based marketing, demand generation, channel and customer marketing programs. Head to to learn more.


Alex (01:08):

Hi Ashley, welcome to the FINITE Podcast and thank you for joining me.


Ashley (01:12):

I’m excited to be here. Happy Friday.


About Ashley and the marketing function at Atlassian

Alex (01:14):

Same to you. I’m looking forward to talking all things thought leadership and content strategy, and yeah, it’s going to be a good one from what we’ve planned and what I’ve seen so far. But before we dive into it, I will let you tell us a bit about yourself and your background and your current role and team and all that good stuff.


Ashley (01:31):

So I’m Ashley Faus. I’m a marketer, writer and speaker by day and a singer actor and fitness fiend by night. So some people wonder they’re like, why do you include the personal stuff? And I’m like, in fact, I use some of that in the marketing and professional world. So there’s some good intersections. And I’m currently working on agile and dev ops related topics for software teams at Atlassian. 

So I’ve done a mix of all things marketing in the past, events and demand gen and social media and content. And it really settled into the place where I look at integrated marketing, looking across multiple channels, multiple asset types and different topic types. 

So I’m pretty all encompassing and sprawling, but that gives me a really interesting perspective on some of these different silos or disciplines under the marketing umbrella. So it’s been really fun to apply that and think through how we do that from a technical perspective for a technical audience versus in the past. I’ve worked for more business focused companies as well. So it’s fun.


Alex (02:32):

Yeah. Sounds good. Atlassian is a fascinating business. It’s one of those technology enterprise monsters that I guess if you’re in the B2B tech world, which a lot of our listeners are, may have come across. But a lot of people just haven’t heard about it and then discover the employees, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of people and it’s worth billions. So tell us a bit about it in general and the whole suite of different things that you do.


Ashley (02:53):

Yeah. So Atlassian is a collaboration software maker. Our lofty mission is to unleash the potential of every team. What that looks like in practice is helping people move work forward. So most particularly if you have a software audience they’ve probably heard of JIRA. We also have Trello, Confluence and Bitbucket. 

So a mix of developer and business focused tools. So the ability to plan your work, track your work, collaborate on your work, all of those things throughout the entire work management and software development life cycle. 


Alex (03:22):

Awesome. And what about the marketing organisation within last year and your team? How big is the marketing function overall?


Ashley (03:31):

Yeah, so we’ve actually been growing a ton over the last, I’d say 12 to 24 months. So I would actually have to look to see how big our marketing org is at this point. I know we’ve got a couple of hundred people there. We do have a much smaller spend, both in terms of head count and in terms of dollars compared to a lot of our competitors in the space. So we do keep things fairly lean. 

But we’ve got teams in content, we’ve got teams in SEO, we’ve got product marketers, obviously we’ve got marketing analytics. I think one of the unique things about the way that our organisation is structured is that the analytics team sits within the marketing department. And so you have people who really understand the flow conversion rates, what it actually looks like from a marketing perspective, just compared to purely a numbers perspective. 

And so I think having that mix of bringing those insights from a strategy perspective as well. It’s super interesting whenever you talk with our analysts and it’s like, Hey, what’s going on with this, that or the other? And they have really good insights versus just, this is the numbers. So they went up, they went down. Okay, well, why did you spend money on a campaign or did you work with an influencer or did you run something in the community? 

And it’s like, I did all of those things, I need you to help me parse out which of those things is working. So I think that’s one unique thing. The other interesting thing, especially over the last two years or so is the building up our community. So we’ve always had a really strong fan base and folks who built their career on building Atlassian tools, sharing Atlassian tools, working with Atlassian tools. 

And so really taking that, not just from smaller meetups, but creating a space online for people to have those conversations, find people like themselves and ask people who are solving similar problems, how they’re doing that. And this does tie in with some of the thought leadership stuff that we’ll talk about later. I’m talking a lot about Atlassian and it’s like, we actually have done a pretty good job at a lot of these things. And so it does tie in to that community aspect as well.


Building trust with thought leadership

Alex (05:32):

You definitely have. And I think it’s a common theme from what I see talking to marketers in particular, developer focused product businesses where I think that sense of community is really key. I think community is a big part or should be a big part of every B2B marketers approach. 

And maybe I’m a bit biased running a community, but I think within developers, the developer ecosystem, it’s once you’re in that ecosystem, you’ve got a really strong community that way. I think there’s some interesting nuances about marketing to developers and what kind of technical personas and people that are, maybe unfairly, but I think they often get described as being a bit more skeptical and maybe trust is more important. 

And they like referral and word of mouth and all these little pockets of the internet where you can advertise on Stack Overflow and Reddit and all these platforms that you might normally not go to. And it’s a fascinating world once you tap into it, getting into that whole developer community. But I guess the B2B is when you do it right, you end up with huge brand advocates, people that have kind of built their careers almost on Atlassian tools.


Ashley (06:42):

Yeah. It’s super interesting. I think the trust piece of it, we’re seeing that institutional trust is down across the board. I don’t know if you saw the latest Edelman trust report. They do it every year, but institutional trust has been declining, declining, declining, and now it’s at an all point low. 

And so if you think about how you’re going to get to people and how you’re going to build that credibility, build that report, they want to hear from people like themselves and particularly for more technical personas or developers, those kinds of people, they have no tolerance for marketing. 

And it’s funny to think that other places have tolerance for marketing because you hear people rant about like, I didn’t sign up for your email. Why, who are you? Or I just went through a new year’s resolution or often I just went through and unsubscribed from every retail sales thing that I have subscribed to. And now I have nothing in my inbox. It’s great, there’s no spam. 

And so we realised that people want to talk to people. They want to talk to humans. They want to hear from people like themselves and they just fundamentally don’t trust the company. And so when you go out and you’re trying to do this, like marketing and these, I’m going to spend a ton of money and it’s going to be super polished, that’s how we build the trust in some cases. 

That actually erodes the trust because people are like, man, what’s wrong with you that you have to be so polished and so fancy and you have to spend so much money to win me over you. Can’t you just let me try it or show me the product or let me speak to somebody who’s using this. You really need to gloss over it just to get me to buy. It’s super polished and super fancy, right? It’s a weird shift.


Why you should stop trying to solve problems 

Alex (08:22):

I was just before this recording an episode with the VP of marketing at Vidyard, a video technology platform. And we were just talking about the same stuff in terms of authenticity and how actually you can over polish stuff now in marketing. That you can almost alienate people even more, so in these developer communities when something is too polished and too neat and tidy, there’s an authenticity that’s missing. So yeah, it’s an interesting one. 

I think it leads nicely on to the subject, which is thought leadership, as a part of a wider content strategy. I’ve seen a framework that you put together on LinkedIn, which looked great. And I’m sure we can touch on that and you can explain some of the thinking. I guess we’re going to start with maybe a fairly obvious question. I suspect most of our listeners don’t really need the answer to why thought leadership is important, but I think it’s a good place to start.


Ashley (09:12):

Sure, we were just talking about that trust, that hearing from people like yourselves. The other interesting thing too I think is that people aren’t going to trust you. If you say that the only way they can solve their problem is to buy something from you. Whether that’s a service, whether that’s a tool, whether that’s a subscription, it comes across as nonsense. 

If I say the only way that you can solve this problem is to buy my thing, I fundamentally don’t trust you. I fundamentally don’t believe you. Like in theory, I’d be solving this problem myself in some way before I found you. So now you’ve insulted me to tell me that I’m stupid because I didn’t buy your thing. And clearly you probably weren’t actually solving the problem. And so I think that one thing that thought leadership helps us do is build that trust, build that credibility, but also not insult our audience. 

And so if we talk about things where we say, maybe there’s a trend or maybe there’s a new class of solutions, or maybe there’s a new class of problems. That’s much more interesting. You can engage with it, it makes your audience feel smart instead of coming at them and just being like, you need to buy my thing. You’re not solving the problem if you don’t buy my thing. Well, now I feel insulted and I don’t actually want to buy from you. 

We’ve all been with those people who are know-it-alls and condescending. And so it’s not about being so much smarter than your audience. It’s about making your audience feel so much smarter in their work and their problem solving and their solution implementation.


Alex (10:38):

And I guess a lot of our listeners will be thinking about thought leadership. I think pretty much everybody’s content strategy, marketing strategy in some way is probably thinking about how they will pick the right people to become thought leaders who are the right people within an organisation. 

I think particularly with technology products, there’s a lot of very smart people behind them and a lot of quite technical people, but not necessarily always people that want to be thought leaders. So I guess it’s maybe two questions. Can anyone be a thought leader? And how do you go about finding the people that you really should be starting to position as thought leaders?


Where to find the best thought leaders within an organisation 

Ashley (11:15):

Sure. So I have a framework that’s focused around four pillars. So we have a profile, we’ve got credibility, we’ve got prolific and we’ve got depth of ideas and those pillars have to work in tandem together. And so to your point where you’ve got maybe somebody who’s super smart, they may have amazing depth of ideas, but if they aren’t writing, if they aren’t sharing, if they aren’t speaking, then they’re not prolific. They’re not going to build a profile and they’re going to struggle to have that credibility. 

And so forcing somebody who fundamentally does not want to have followers means that they are not a thought leader. So you have to have thought and you have to be a leader. So the depth of ideas piece is basically attacking that thought piece. 

On the flip side, I see a lot of companies say, we need to make our CEO or our CTO or a CIO or a COO, that’s the thought leader. They probably have very high credibility, they may even have great depth of ideas. But again, if they’re not sharing because they don’t have a ton of time, then they’re not a thought leader. They may have great thoughts, but they’re not building a following and so they’re not thought leader. 

In other cases, they’re not close enough to the work. They’re so high up that the only thing they can really talk about is the super high level, very generic things. And so even if they’re quote unquote famous, they may not actually have any thoughts. And so they might be a leader, but they don’t have any thoughts. 

So it’s this interesting thing when you look across. You need to have people who are balanced across the profiles and you want them to be strong. I would say in terms of who should you try to elevate in at least one of those, if you have somebody who’s not really innovating, who’s not really codifying their insights, who’s not really making something someone else could take in. 

You have somebody who’s unwilling to write, speak, share, be on social media so they’re not going to build a profile, they want to be private. And potentially they’re not growing their own career or they’re not talking in a way that makes people believe them and trust them. So they have low credibility. 

If you’re starting with somebody who is red, all the way across the bottom, you’re going to struggle to build that person up if they have high credibility, but they’re low on being prolific, we know what we need to do. We need to get you started sharing. If they’re very high on writing a ton and sharing and speaking, and they have good depth of ideas, but they don’t really have a strong profile, maybe what we need to do is pair them with somebody who does have a big profile to lend that halo of credibility, halo of trust, halo of influence to build them that way. 

I think that you have to have people who are willing to write, share, codify their ideas and put them out into the world, but you also have to have someone who is starting from at least a little bit better place than like absolute zero.


Contrarian view of sales – sales is fundamentally broken 

Alex (14:05):

It’s such a great framework because I think it just nails down all of the key key components. It resonates with me. What do you think about the sales function? Because that’s where I see a lot of stuff on LinkedIn these days about turning SDRs into thought leaders or getting them to post more. 

I guess sometimes it’s like an employee advocacy type thing as well. It’s not always necessarily thought leadership, but it’s just like getting people sharing a lot on LinkedIn. And often there seems to be like SDRs and BDRs and those kinds of roles, but then on the depth of ideas front, unless maybe sometimes they’re very close to customer pain points, particularly for more technical products, they might be lacking and not speaking for all of them. But some of them, how do you see this framework and the sales function or sales team?


Ashley (14:50):

I have a little bit of a contrarian view on sales in that I think it’s fundamentally broken. I never want to sell anything to anyone. I want to help people match problems and solutions. 

And so if you’re coming to me or coming to a sales rep and they have to hard sell you, or they have to convince you to buy, that is fundamentally not starting off on the right foot. It’s starting off on an adversarial foot. You’re very skeptical of me, you don’t trust me, you don’t believe me and now I have to convince you in some way. That’s an adversarial relationship. 

So what that leads into with this whole, turn your salespeople into thought leaders on LinkedIn is it turns into that awkward sales pitch that you have this problem. Buy my thing to sell it, see it’s thought leadership because I posted about a problem. No. Why did you get into selling that thing in the first place? What is fundamentally broken? Sure. 

That’s fine that your product solves it, but there’s probably other products that solve it. There’s probably practices that could solve it. There’s probably management or culture issues that could solve it. Talk about all of those things. Talk about how to think about the problem. Talk about how to think about and evaluate the solutions. Not telling people they have a problem and insisting that you can solve it and pretending like that thought leadership. 

If your goal, I see this a lot too. We’re going to make a thought leadership podcast and it needs to generate X amount in pipeline. Thought leadership and pipeline don’t go together. Pipeline is a sales activity or a demand gen, demand capture activity. Thought leadership is not. Thought leadership is relationship building, its brand building, its reputation building, its rapport, its trust. And if you think that those things don’t matter, then no amount of glossing over and pretending that “we’ll do five posts that are brand building and then we’ll do two posts that generate pipeline.” Then those are separate tactics. They belong in separate strategies. They are not the same thing. 

And this mindset that you’re going to trick people into buying with your thought leadership is nonsense. And so if you look at what actually works from an employee advocacy standpoint, for example, I post a ton of Atlassian related content. And I talk about Atlassian, I talk about the work that I do. I talk about my colleagues. Nowhere in there do I insist that you must buy our product to solve your problem? 

So I reply to people’s comments where they say, I have this question or this thought. And I’m like, fun fact, we have this free playbook. And in parentheses, I literally put, it’s free and ungated so I’m not trying to sell you. I even had somebody on LinkedIn posting about something else. 

Our founders ended up on the, how I built this NPR podcast, which is awesome. So tons of posts were showing up in my feed, tagging Atlassian and the whole thing. And somebody said, oh Atlassian’s a super interesting company. I would love to know more about them. Like marketers, come talk to me. And I was like, oh you want a marketer to talk to you? In that case, somebody was specifically asking for product information and buy intent information. I looked at her profile, saw she was a program manager, pulled a couple of landing pages with features and said I did a quick skim your profile, here’s some things that you might like.

But when she went and looked at the rest of my feed and saw that I was posting about our team playbook, which talks about culture, that I was posting about the agile microsite, which is content that I own that talks about how you do these ways of working and how you implement them. 

Regardless of what tool you use, that builds trust. And she’s like, oh man, I actually am an organiser for the Project Management Institute and we talk about Agile and all the time, we’d love for you to come speak. That’s the marriage. That sure, yes, product is great. But if I had just come in hard and told her the only way she could solve any of her problems was to buy JIRA , I have no credibility, I have no trust. I have no standing to say that and it’s not thought leadership.


FINITE (18:49):

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C-suite execs aren’t necessarily the best thought leaders

Alex (19:08):

What roles do you see working? You’ve just described, I think, how you play this kind of role within Atlassian to some extent. But you’re a huge organisation. I was thinking whilst you were talking, and the previous question about the sales role, in technical environments, there’s quite often a sales engineer type role or someone that bridges that gap between depth of ideas and technical knowledge. 

And can also sell or get the customer pain points and isn’t so deeply technical that they are not customer facing. That feels like a natural role to tick a lot of these boxes of your framework almost, but what other roles do you see working well?


Ashley (19:47):

I have also seen it work really well for people who are senior level practitioners or almost like director, VP level where they’re managing a team, but they’re still pretty close to the work. It depends on what you’re talking about, right? We have a couple of different people in our engineering organisation. 

So obviously we’re product led growth, engineering is a large focus for us, both from a recruiting standpoint and from a best in class technical perception. Those are two big goals for us given our audience and the products that we make. 

And so having people who can speak about how you scale an engineering organisation, how do you improve quality? How do you do quality at scale and quality at speed? Those topics go beyond, how do you make the JIRA perform better, right? Like, yes, sure. 

That’s a piece of it when you talk about performance tuning or you talk about storage or you talk about scale or you talk about microservices or cloud versus on-prem right? Yes, you can talk about all of those things. And those might be topics within a bigger story, but the thought leadership piece of it that covers reputation both from a customer standpoint 

And a candidate standpoint, when you talk about excellence, both from a reputation for our customers and from a candidate experience standpoint, that’s a higher level that someone who’s maybe at the director or VP level, where they’re in charge of doing these reorgs, they’re in charge of mixing and matching the right skillsets across teams to help us grow and be where we need to be, to deliver the best experience for our customers in the next three to five years. 

Sometimes it’s hard to have a CTO be that spokesperson because there are such a high level that they’re not able to see the work as much. And so they’re speaking to a different audience. And so I think matching the person to the audience, it’s going to be really hard in most cases for a CTO to speak to a frontline developer, it’s also going to be really hard for a developer fresh out of school to really have that credibility and experience, to speak to people who are maybe higher up. 

So somewhere, a senior level practitioner or someone with management experience in that kind of 10 to 15 years of experience tends to be the right level to speak to most of your people because that’s where most people are in terms of what they consider their peer group. 

The other piece of this that comes in, and I have an additional framework that crosses into both the content strategy side and the thought leadership side, is this idea of content depth. And so you’ve got conceptual, strategic and tactical and where can people speak? What level do they address in terms of those types of things? So if you were to say, how to implement microservices with Kubernetes, that’s a very tactical thing. It might be a small blog post series. It’s a known quantity. 

And the reality is that pretty much anyone can put that content out. It’s a tutorial, right? It might feed into a bigger strategic or conceptual level conversation about the right way to structure your microservices, or is it time to move away from a monolith to microservices? How many microservices do you need? What does that tie into from an observability standpoint? There’s so many things that you could do within that. 

But a lot of people focus in so much on, Kubernetes is a big topic, we need to focus in on Kubernetes. And there’s a lot of people who can just read the manual and you’re fine. What’s the thing that you can up level into a strategic or conceptual level conversation about how you structure your infrastructure and how you structure your teams and how you run your practices and the culture to enable the thing. Kubernetes is one technology, it’s going to come or go. Docker again, you can have that whole debate, but that’s not the issue that you want to be talking about when you’re at a thought leadership level. Because that’s an implementation issue that pretty much anyone can tackle.


When people are too busy to be thought leaders

Alex (23:38):

So it’s moving upstream and really adding that, like going up a level to that level of strategic value beyond the what and the how. It makes sense. What about you touched on CTO and like, I guess even VPs or that 10 to 15 year career. I mean, everybody in tech companies are pretty busy. I think time is often the bottleneck for a lot of thought leadership activity. I’m sure part of your role is just like chasing people up and trying to facilitate getting stuff out of them in the right format on the right time. Any tips or processes that you use to do that, or is it just keep trying and don’t give up?


Ashleey (24:12):

There’s a couple of things in there. I think the first thing that we talked about in terms of who can be a thought leader and it’s someone that is bought into the process. And we see this a lot, especially with startups in the past where it’s like the founders have to be the ones. And it’s like the founders, especially for technical companies, did not get into this to be the face or to be the spokesperson or to be a writer. 

In a lot of cases, they got frustrated with whatever tool they were using or process they were using. They were like, I could build this better. And that’s why they became a founder. So you have to find people who are willing to do the work at the end of the day. And this goes back to the definition. If you don’t have any thoughts and you’re not willing to share them, you’re not a failure. 

And so no amount of lofty title is going to turn someone into a thought leader. And so if they’re not willing to sit down and flesh out and codify that depth of ideas, then they’re not a thought leader. And I would say that is the biggest hurdle. If you’re so busy that you fundamentally cannot make time for this at all, then that’s fine. But you’re not a thought leader and you don’t want to be a thought leader. And again, that’s fine.


On forcing thought leadership

Alex (25:22):

It can’t be forced, is what you’re saying. There it has to be the buy-in from the person to…


Ashley (25:27):

Yeah. So that’s the first thing. I think the second thing is that if, particularly in a larger organisation where you do have the resources, you’ve got a comms team, you’ve got an editorial team, or you’ve got a social media team, pair with them. They still have to get in the room with you and flush things out and explain things. 

Now, the smart way to do this is to record those conversations, have them get in a room, depending on how much content you’re trying to create, how many people you’re trying to support, have them get in a room with you, call it one to two hours a month and just do a brain dump about what they’re thinking about or give them some prompts and let them just talk if that’s a good medium for them. Record it, take transcripts, give it to someone who’s an expert in writing or an expert in video editing or an expert in podcast editing or an expert at creating social media posts. 

This is not to say that every thought leader has to be an expert at writing or speaking or social media or PR, but they do have to be an expert in their field and they do have to be willing to share that information. And so this is the other thing that I see a lot of people doing is they say, we’ll just get the PR team to a ghost write. Well, no, the PR team are experts in PR they’re experts in journalism. They’re experts in writing, they’re expert communicators. They’re not experts in whatever the thing you’re an expert in because if they are, then they don’t need you. You’re not the thought leader.


Ghost-writing thought leadership content – yes or no? 

Alex (26:46):

I was going to ask you about ghost writing specifically. Because I think it’s a question that naturally comes up. Like how much of, I guess if by the sounds of it, your perspective is that if people are facilitating the right people who are in the room and the brainstorming happens, as long as I guess like the origin of the thought leadership comes from the right person, then ghost writers can continue the process. But getting them to write a piece of content from scratch is probably not going to cut it.


Ashley (27:11):

Right. Unless there’s some seminal piece of work, we’ve seen this in the past where maybe somebody wrote a book or somebody came up with a proprietary method and then the answer is now, I did this big body of work, I’m going to give it to a ghost writer, parse out into smaller pieces of work. And then they’re going to get it maybe 75 or 80% of the way there, based on the work that I’ve already done. And then they’ll come to me to flush out the 10 to 20% to give it a unique element for this particular piece of work. 

But the idea that somebody is going to give you a feature sheet, which is what happens frequently is, just take the sales enablement material, just take the pitch deck that we gave to the investors. Just take whatever we give to the sales engineers and just read through that and look through the screenshots and ghost write a piece of thought leadership. 

It’s not about leadership, it’s sales or marketing and again, if somebody else can do it good enough, then you’re not the thought leader they are. And so that mismatch of, we just have to ghost write a hundred percent of it. If you’re doing all of that research and you’re the one coming up with the unique individual ideas, you’re the thought leader, not whoever’s name you slap on stuff. 

So this is my other big rant. Whoever these people are that you’re going to elevate as spokespeople, influencers, thought leaders within the organisation, they have to put in the time. At some point I get it that they may not have the time to make their presentations pretty. They may work with a designer for that, for the flow, those kinds of things. But if the core thoughts behind them and the core ideas and the core concepts and the core methods don’t come from them, they’re not the thought leader. And the reality is it’s going to show up, right? 

If you can ghost write all day long, but you can’t ghost present, somebody else can’t appear for me on this podcast to talk about this. Somebody else could presumably write the thought leadership framework stuff that I write and just slap my name on it. But I have to step on stage at some point, or if I do a podcast, I have to speak on it. And it’s obvious when somebody has not actually done the work or has not actually had the ideas. And they’re just parroting the marketing message and it doesn’t inspire trust and is actually damaging. So it’s not just a matter of, we need a fancy title because that has credibility. Again, if you’re lacking that depth of ideas, eventually it’s going to come out.


Alex (29:29):

You mentioned some people might have great depth of ideas, but they’re not prolific or they have a small audience. And part of the process is boosting them. Can you ghost-social media? That’s not a word. You know what I mean. Are there circumstances in which you’re helping to amplify and are posting on their behalf, can work in terms of that distribution amplification piece? Cause a lot of senior people are maybe not interested in social media and can really care less about LinkedIn but that’s their personal channel. What’s your experience been there?


Ashley (30:02):

I have to say I’m going through a mindset shift on this because I want to believe that the way to do this in a scalable way is to have people ghost posts. In past roles, I have been that person. I have been the day-to-day voice behind a CEO or a company. And the only reason I was able to do that with any sort of credibility is because it was a one-to-one pairing with the person. 

And I spent hours every day watching them, sitting next to them, listening to them, traveling with them. I slept in the same hotel room with one person, right? I knew them. And when you look at what I was able to do for their social media, it’s not because I’m so smart. It’s because I was very involved and I saw all aspects of their life, how they speak, their personality. I became them. 

And as much as I do sometimes still help to shape posts or I’ll put things into the employee advocacy tool. The reality is that if you don’t spend time in the communities that you’re trying to influence, and you’re not actually in the conversations, no amount of smart marketer or quippy writer behind you is going to do what it can do. And again, that example that I gave about LinkedIn, where somebody said marketers come talk to me. 

I can’t see that or you as a senior leader can’t see that if you’re not on the platform. You’re not going to see that when somebody goes tweeting or ghost LinkedIning for you. And so it’s hard because I’m struggling with this right now, right? Where I do less ghost writing these days, I’m more on the strategy side, but enabling people and training them about how to do this and share it in an authentic way. I don’t spend enough time with these people to be their voice anymore. 

And so it’s hard. And they’re not bought in on being a thought leader, they’re not bought in on doing the work and they’re not bought in on becoming part of some community. And again, it doesn’t have to be LinkedIn. It doesn’t have to be Twitter. I would argue that LinkedIn is a great place for business leaders today, more so than Twitter. Especially if you’re talking to more dev personas and those kinds of things. But if you’re not willing to do those things, the ghost writing or the ghost tweeting is just going to come across as marketing.


Alex (32:35):

So there are no thought leadership shortcuts by the sounds of it unfortunately. It takes commitment, buy in and there’s work involved whichever way you cut it for good quality thought leadership anyway.


Ashley (32:47):

Yeah. I mean, you can get a ton of support if you’re at a larger company and you have teams and maybe they’ve got a couple of storylines and they’ve got writers that they compare you with, then you can make it easier. But even on the upper levels where you’ve got a ton of support, the person themselves does have to be heavily involved and commit the time.


Alex (33:06):

Makes sense. Well, somehow half an hour has pretty much flown by already. I think we’ve covered off some great stuff though. I will make sure that we try and link it to your framework because I think it’s awesome. And I love frameworks like this that are substance and some proper thinking has gone into it. 

But it actually makes sense and it’s quite easy to break down. I think it gives people a good sense of direction. So thank you for coming on the podcast. Thank you for sharing everything so openly and sharing your thoughts and yeah.


Ashley (33:32):

Good to be here.


FINITE (33:35):

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