Mike Allton is an award-winning blogger, speaker, author at The Social Media Hat, and the Head of Strategic Partnerships at Agorapulse, a social media management solution. As Head of Strategic Partnerships, Mike strengthens relationships with social media educators, influencers, and partner brands.
Mike is also the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing alongside Jenn Herman, Stephanie Liu, Amanda Robinson, and Eric Butow. Additionally, he is the Co-founder of 360 Marketing Squad, a private membership group where business owners can receive live training on the latest marketing trends and techniques.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Mike Allton describes his transition from blogger to an in-house position at Agorapulse
- Why Mike loves the Agorapulse platform
- Mike’s secrets for virtual summit success
- The key to promoting your online event: make it simple for others to share and promote
- An inside look at the new podcast from Agorapulse, Agency Accelerated
In this episode…
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In this episode of Agency Journey, Gray MacKenzie is joined by Mike Allton, the Head of Strategic Partnerships at Agorapulse, to discuss his strategies for social media and virtual event success. Mike talks about his favorite Agorapulse features, his tips for promoting your agency’s events through social media, and Agorapulse’s new podcast, Agency Accelerated.
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Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Mike Allton on LinkedIn
- Mike Allton on Twitter
- Agency Accelerated podcast
- Agency Summit
- Gray MacKenzie on LinkedIn
- Ecamm Live
Welcome to the Agency Journey podcast where we connect with agency leaders to uncover the hidden systems and processes that drive their success. Now let’s dive into today’s show.
Gray MacKenzie 0:17
Alright, welcome back to another episode of Agency Journey. This is Gray MacKenzie. This week, I’ve had the pleasure of bringing on Mike Allton, who’s the head of strategic partnerships at Agorapulse. And Mike, I’m excited I first came across Agorapulse. Again, I think I looked it up when you and I first chatted, but it’s 2013 or 2014 is super, super early on and cool to see how far it’s how far it’s come. So I’d love to a welcome to the show and be loving to hear a little bit about your role, how you get hooked up with Agorapulse, you can give us a quick 30 second summary on what Agorapulse is. And then let’s jump into to what you’re doing. With agencies. Yeah,
Mike Allton 0:52
yeah. So thanks a lot. First of all, for having me. It’s always fun to do podcasts. And I love talking to fellow marketing geeks, and entrepreneurs and so on. I’ve been using Agorapulse for five or six years, I think I met Emeric at Social Media Marketing World 2016. And he showed me the app on his phone, I fell in love. And I use it for a couple years, wrote about it as just a blogger, spoke about it and became a ambassador for the brand. And within a couple years, he reached out to me because he’d been running personally, the ambassador program. So the CEO, the company was running their influencer marketing, that was never a good idea because he’s obviously doing other things. So they brought me in, in 2018, specifically to run their influencer marketing. And that role has expanded over the past couple years to include our brand partnerships, our events, sponsorships and our entire affiliate program.
Gray MacKenzie 1:49
That’s awesome. I will this is one point that was talking to a couple folks in similar roles. Moving on super deep into the story. What was that transition? Like? Going from an influencer on the outside did going in house? Was that a good time of life to make that transition? What was it like what what prompted that switch?
Mike Allton 2:08
Well, it worked out really, really well for me, because when I first met Emeric, I had a full time job. And then I had my side hustle, which was my blog, social media had my full time job was CMO of a global website building company. So like, think Wix, Squarespace. It wasn’t any of those two brands, but it’s a competitor of theirs. And because I had great personal conversations with Emeric over the next couple years, as I got to know him and use the brand and wrote about Agorapulse, he felt the pain that I was going through in that other role. It was just, it wasn’t a great culture. It wasn’t a great fit at that particular company. And I wasn’t doing things that I enjoyed. Just to highlight one of the issues with that particular company, I was the CMO. I had a staff of, I don’t know, five or six people, we were a distributed company, I’d never met face to face, anybody that I worked with Not once, particularly the people that reported to me, and there were several people who would use avatars on our communication platform. That’s what I never knew what they looked like they they would not activate their camera on video calls. This was five or six years ago. So zoom wasn’t a big thing. But still, I never met them. I never saw them. And that was just one example of the kind of strange impersonal informal culture that was there. So Emeric and I talked for Gosh, three months starting in late 2017. Going into the spring of 2018, to kind of formalize and figure out okay, what does this role system be a good fit for me? Is it gonna be a good fit for Agorapulse? Are we gonna make wonderful things happen? And I was excited to show up a Social Media Marketing World 2018 that was like my first day on the job rotor the rotor bustling up the different influencers, that we had signed up that particular year to do video testimonials. So that’s a great trial by fire for me, and it was definitely a good fit. It’s been our grand jury journey ever since.
Gray MacKenzie 4:05
That’s really cool. that transition finding the cultural fit, whether whether or not it’s funny, you mentioned that only this podcast for the first three years at least was all Skype zoom wasn’t guessing over zoom wasn’t a thing. Different World in a very short, yeah. So Agorapulse itself, known for social media scheduling, and mentioned a large percentage of the audience or our customer base is agencies. Can you give us kind of a quick overview of Agorapulse for agencies kind of in the competitive landscape a little bit, you know, yet throughout social and the different platforms that are out there, but what do you guys see yourself kind of benchmark against in the space and what’s the Agorapulse value prop?
Mike Allton 4:53
You know, and it’s funny because before I met Emeric, I was actually known as the Hootsuite guy. had developed. I mean, you talked about Skype, I’m gonna throw it back even further, I developed a huge audience at Google Plus, I had a quarter million followers on Google Plus back in the day. And one of the reasons I developed such a huge audience back then on that particular platform was I talked about Hootsuite all the time, I would tell people how to do it. I would decipher these bizarre streams and tabs and all these different things. I helped people figure out how to use their ridiculous 50 point system to generate reports. And I turned that into a book, I actually wrote the book on Hootsuite. And it was around the time that I met Emeric, it was that same year that I published the book. And for whatever reason, Hootsuite didn’t actually like that I wrote a book about their product. Yeah, your face like what? Why wouldn’t? Why wouldn’t any company like it, if somebody outside the company who wasn’t paid I mean, that I didn’t ask for money, went out and wrote the manual on how to use my product that that would be free advertising, it was free advertising, I still sell copies today on Amazon, even though it hasn’t been updated in years. So all that’s to say, when I met Emeric, I was already heavily invested in a different platform. And he showed me what Agorapulse could do. And it was like an amazing light bulb went off in my head, angels singing from on high was really dramatically different and better than what I’ve been using and teaching people how to use. So that was an easy transition for me right away to go from using Hootsuite to Agorapulse, so that gets your question. One of the things that made it so easy, was just the intuitive way that Agorapulse approaches, management of different social profiles, you have an inbox, where all the different communication that’s coming at a brand, or clients of an agency, direct mentions, replies comments, all that stuff is filtered into a single inbox, that makes it really, really easy and fast, to take care of all those things. And that’s been kind of our bread and butter, since the beginnings of the app is how can we make the agency life a lot easier. So we make it super easy to add client profiles and make it really easy to create schedules of content, and then send that particular client a link to a calendar that they can open up and just quickly see at a glance, oh, I’ve got this content scheduled out at these different days, approve, approve, approve, I don’t approve this one, here’s why. And all that gets back, sent back to the agency, without them having to log into Agorapulse, or some other platform or a Google Sheet and, and sort all that out. So that’s been our focus. And recently, we’ve decided that just as a marketing company, trying to, you know, enhance our own marketing, oh, we need to identify what our ideal customer profiles are icps, and do a better job of talking to those icps. We’ve always taught to agency owners, but we’ve never been so focused on providing them documentation, resources, blog, posts, webinars, all that sort of thing to really help them with their entire life, not just here’s how to use Agorapulse. So that’s been a shift of ours this year. And we’ve recently added a bunch of new features, we’ve now supported monitoring of Google My Business, we’ve added an asset library where people can upload drafts of posts and video assets, and so on all to help agencies manage multiple clients, so much better and more affordably. And that last point, I’ll stress and I’ll throw it back to you is that when we’re looking at agencies, who have multiple clients with multiple profiles, and we’re comparing what we do, and what we offer, and at what price to like a Sprout Social, this is a big differentiator of ours, we don’t like to hammer on price. But the fact is, if you’re a growing agency, you’re adding a lot more clients a lot more social profiles, you’re going to be able to use Agorapulse at a much affordable rate than someone like Sprout Social, where your rates gonna probably double every single time
Gray MacKenzie 9:00
you add a new client. Right, kind of a nuanced point there. Which is it’s one of the things when I’m talking to somebody who’s using Agorapulse as one of the things that they mentioned, they love. from a marketing perspective, you don’t want to go to market saying they were the cheapest or the cheapest, but it’s an important point to bring out. It’s not Yeah, lead in the marketing. Hey, look. But in terms of agency overhead, it is a lot more compelling from a price point perspective than a bunch of the alternatives out there. You mentioned kind of the focus on the ICP stuff that you guys did you just ran here. Well, that just ran but a month ago, you ran agency summit. And you’ve been involved in virtual events for a while. Can you give us kind of a quick overview on agency summit. And then let’s talk about I guess from an agency perspective, if I’m looking at running a live event, what are kind of the key pieces that you figured out? Hey, here’s what actually makes these worth it to put on.
Mike Allton 10:03
Yeah, so I’ve been doing virtual events for years, started in 2018. And I’ve explored different platforms every time. I’ve come from this live video, live production, remote live production backgrounds, I know how to run a live video. And I’ve been kind of approaching my virtual events the same way 2018, I did a whole series of live broadcasts using livestorm.co, which was okay. And every time I’ve done this, right, I’ve learned and improved on it. So like, one of the things I’ve learned with livestorm was that it was basically a series of 16 individual webinars, instead of one cohesive summit, which the feedback I got right away from users was, Hey, Mike, I just had to register 16 different times to watch all these different sessions. Okay, we fixed that. So from that point on, I use a platform called hay summit, where they can register once in view all the content, we ran a summit for a few quarters, and then I switched to what I use for a while I used run the world once or twice, and I’ve used air meet most recently. And every time. Obviously, I’ve tried very much, trying very hard to learn and also provide a much better experience much more robust experience for users. It’s bigger, better content every single time, but it’s also more engaging and more immersive. And that’s probably why we’ve settled on air meet most recently, because it’s the most engaging, most immersive platform when I ran agency summit in q2. When agency owners first got in, we had 2500 agency owners from around the world when when they first entered this venue. They saw this huge, massive full screen graphic that explained where they were. It was a picture of Paris in the background, and it had an auto playing video of our Customer Support Manager Christelle with her beautiful French accent. Singh Bienvenue. agency summit welcome agency owners to the agency summit by ricotta Paulson, I’m doing a lousy French accent, hers is much prettier than mine. But it’s a two minute welcome video, with music and everything, making people feel like oh, I’m not sitting at home in the middle of a pandemic anymore. I feel like I’ve gone to the sun. And I’m enjoying a cafe in Paris, while I’m learning from some of the best and brightest speakers in the industry. So that’s how that has evolved over the past few years. And this this agency summit was kind of the culmination of our learning. We had nine live workshops, speakers with Jay Baer, the golf and you know, other agency coaches, definitely Lou and so on, with dozens of pre recorded sessions for people to go deep dives into how do i do client contracts? Or, you know, how do I set up messenger marketing and start getting into that with my agency? So that was fantastic. From a content perspective, to the next part of your question. What should agencies be thinking about if they want to get into this? Give yourself time. First of all, you’re not going to want to put an event like this together in 30 days, you’re going to want to give yourself plenty of time to collect speakers settle on a platform, determine your strategy for the entire event. And then also give yourself time to create all the promotional assets and then promote it. You know, one of the things that I realized early on was that I was doing these every single quarter. And often, I wasn’t giving myself enough time to promote, you know, we might have everything finalized, like maybe three weeks out from the event. And that’s not enough time. We need at least a month, just to promote, which means the landing pages got to be done, your speakers had to be lined up, all of your assets had to be created. And there’s a lot that goes into it, I now have this whole list of asset, for instance, requirements that I give my graphics team, hey, every speaker needs to have a landscape a square and a portrait image, a graphic that’s just them and their talk. And of course, the date and the link and the hashtag, and you know, in the branding, which means you have to have their picture, their name, their Twitter handle, their talk title has to be finalized, that’s all got to be like six to eight weeks out of we’re working backwards. The other thing that I often didn’t do well, and I’ve since learned is I would decide the format of the summit, right? I will decide for instance, I’m going to do eight or nine live workshops with Q and A’s. And then I also want to have dozens of pre recorded sessions. And I want to have sponsor bits, and then go out and find a virtual event platform. And I’m here to tell you there is no one virtual platform that is perfect. There’s no one virtual platform that does everything. Well. They’re all great in one respect or another but they all have strengths and weaknesses. And one of the things that I’ve found is as an actor Most platforms are either really, really good at live content, or they’re really good at pre recorded content. But I haven’t found one that handles them both. Well, like me, super customizable in terms of the venue, and the the live stages, and the sponsor area, the expo hall in the lounge. So it felt like a really immersive event. But what I wanted to do a full day of live sessions, and have dozens of pre recorded content available just on demand added kind of funky, you know, doing a funky way, I had to have all the pre recorded content of scheduled for the day before a half hour intervals, which meant it was confusing to people who are coming into the platform and seeing today’s date, but also yesterday’s date, it kind of made them feel like they missed stuff. So the advice that I’ve learned is decide that you want to do an event, decide what your overall strategy is, what did you want? What do you want to accomplish, like in our case, it’s, frankly, lead generation, we just want agency owners to come sign up so that we can develop a relationship with them, then pick the platform. And then design the rest of the event around the strengths of the platform. So if I’m using eremita, again, like I’m probably going to use them again next quarter, it’s going to be a single day of probably almost exclusively live content at first, because I know the platform handles that really, really well. I know it’s not going to be confusing to my audience. And I know that if I try to just have a bunch of pre recorded content, it’s going to be confusing, it’s not going to result in the in the best overall experience for my attendees,
Gray MacKenzie 16:42
right? That accent. Level up for me, obviously, hoppin is raising absurd, absurd amounts of money
Mike Allton 16:52
out of cash over their
Gray MacKenzie 16:56
promotion perspective, I think like for agency summit, so you’ve got these speakers, obviously, they’re featured, they’re getting exposure to the Agorapulse audience and internally for Agorapulse. you’re promoting it, obviously via social the your email list. How much of that strategy is consistent where you’re then taking speakers and say, hey, you’re going to promote to your list as well. How have you structured that? How have you encouraged folks to do that? Is that a requirement? You make that kind of a requirement to say, Hey, we’re going to speak, I want you to distribute your list. But how do you think about promotion ahead of time, because at any agency running an event like this, obviously, you’re trying to, that’s the key thing, the key for a lot of folks is once we have the content strategy, and we know what we want to deliver this event and who it’s for getting in front of those people.
Mike Allton 17:48
Yeah, and this is a bit of a dance, there’s a lot of new ones here. So are agencies working on behalf of a client, you’re going to have two different kinds of speakers. And maybe you have both the same event like I’ve had in the past, you’ve got speakers who are volunteers, you are not paying them to speak, you’ve invited them to speak, and they’re getting exposure, maybe they’re getting access to the registrant list, but they’re not being paid. And on the other side of the spectrum, you’ve got speakers who are being paid, there’s a contract there. And and I mentioned that at the outset, because the speakers who are under contract, you can work into that contract requirement to promote, like I’ve had, I’ve had speakers in the past, it was part of their responsibility, they were delivering a keynote. But there was also an expectation that they were going to promote the event. With a speaker who’s volunteering that time, at least Personally, I have a hard time telling what they have to do, other than delivering their content. You know, that’s kind of the extent of what I’m going to tell them they have to do. Now, the other angle that I want agencies to think about is sponsors, partners want to stress that word partners, this has been a huge factor for us. Over the past probably three or four events, I started to bring on other brands, who could partner with us who offer non competing services to Agorapulse. great examples, ecamm, I’m using Ecamm right now, to kind of stream into this zoom call. He cams a live remote, live streaming tool, right? fantastic company in and we’ve come alongside them many times to partner because we talk to a lot of the same audiences. So we give them access to our event, set them up with a booth, maybe even let them have, you know, some presenting speaker kind of platform, give them access to the registrants. Big deal. So now it’s a co marketing collaborative event. And of course, the requirement is they’re going to promote their audience. So that’s the requirements side, right? You’ve got speakers, or if they’re paid, you can absolutely work into that contract. And it should be in a written contract that they’re going to help promote and what that looks like. And then of course, you can bring on partners You can require them to do that. This is like in lieu of a paid sponsor, if you again, if if you’re doing paid sponsorship options, you know, you’re going to charge me a couple $1,000 to be a sponsor of your event, well, then you can’t require me to, to promote it, I’m putting up cash to be part of it. So that’s the first part is how we structure. The second part of making sure that we get the kind of promotion that we want with an event is to prepare all the assets ourselves as the event organizer, or the agency who’s doing the event organization in advance, and provide them to our partners and our speakers in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them to actually utilize those assets. So don’t just throw everything in an email. Don’t just dump everything into a Google Drive folder. One of the things that I did was with this last event is I start using HubSpot. we’ve adopted HubSpot as our CRM, I created a custom list of all of our speakers and all of our sponsors. And I created some custom fields. For each one of those types of contacts where they would have their own event tracking link, they would have their own Google Drive folder with their own personalized assets, like if the speaker, they could go to that folder, and they would find their square image, their landscape image, their portrait image, you know, anything else we might have for them. And then in the emails that I would send out, I would use hub spots mail merge feature, so that I can put like tweets in the email itself, and the tweet would have their unique link inserted, I would have email copy sent to them, I would give them timeframes. Again, maybe it’s suggested, maybe it’s required, it’s just how you frame it. But I would give them maybe three emails that they could send out over time, here’s an email that you can send out right now, here’s one for when we’re a week or two out. And here’s one for the week of the event. And the last thing that we would do is every single event that I put together, I create a spreadsheet. And that spreadsheet has a couple tabs. The raw data tab has columns for each session title, each topic that’s being presented, right like how to add remote live streaming to your agency’s services, you know, or how to handle client contracts for your agency, then I would have the speaker’s name. And I would have their Twitter handle and our Twitter handle, I would have the event hashtag and a link to their individual session. And I would concatenate all that information on a new tab into the content of a tweet, and the link for a tweet. And so now we’ve got a sheet that I can export as a CSV that has the tweets built in, and I would tell them, Hey, if you’re interested, I’ve already gifted you Agorapulse. That’s usually part of the deal with anyone that works with me on our events. Did you know that with Agorapulse, you can bulk import a CSV of posts, and I would tell them or maybe even do a quick loom video that says hey, here’s how you can set up a queue. And you know, there’s 30 days between now you can have this, you know, just repeat once a day and do a bulk import. And not everybody does it. But some do. And so and that’s really the key is to make make all these options, super easy and available. Not everyone’s gonna do everything, but some people are gonna do some things. And so as you go through your event, at least in my experience, all of a sudden now I’ve got speakers who are tweeting out each and every single session, and they’re tagging every single other speaker at the event. I’ve got brands like like e cam, and call rail and growth channel and so on. This is me who are tweeting out links to the event tweeting out links to their CEOs presentation and making a big deal about how your payment ties speaking at agency summit is really cool. And it’s a really effective way to get outside of our own box or your clients box in terms of you know, I’m Agorapulse I’ve got 100,000 followers, okay, well, they’re gonna to me out Yeah, after a while, right. But now I’m talking to call rails followers in Canvas followers and Asana as followers in Asana is talking to their followers and saying, hey, our agency audience, we’ve got this great event we’re being you know, we’re part of this, here is the link show up. That’s how we run our event promotion.
Gray MacKenzie 24:29
That’s hopefully get a carrot inside look in some of the technical stuff that you have there. Is catnip for the fellow nerds out there. But the promotion piece. Running agency summit is really cool. I think you mentioned you’ve got tentative plans, in terms of timeline to run it again and as well as some other events that you’re building out but in addition to the live stuff that you’re doing the influence or stuff that you’re doing Agorapulse Come out with a new podcast, right?
Mike Allton 25:03
Yeah, so we started a live show, this quarter called Agency Accelerated. And it’s quite honestly a lot of the same strategies and tactics, just repackaged into what is initially a live video interview. So we have a host Stephanie live who’s spent a decade in the ad agency world and, and she spent years doing live video and live hosting. So she’s a really fantastic host. She understands agency language. And then for each episode, it up a partner. Yes, like I mentioned payment tie earlier, right? He was our first guest back in July. He’s the CEO and founder of izmi. He came on the show and Stephanie is asking him all these questions about what is this media? Why is it good for agencies, you know, he also had an agency before he founded this mean. So again, he speaks that language, we had john Lee, who is with Microsoft advertising, plenty of other amazing guests. And then we use this repurposing strategy of taking that live video interview that went out to all of our channels, all Stephanie loose channels, entrepreneurs channels, we repurpose in your blog post, and repurpose it into a podcast which just launched this month. So the Agency Accelerator podcast is on, you know, all the podcast channels Apple, Google’s Spotify, and so on. And it’s it’s just taking that same content and getting it out to a wider audience. And, again, taking a lot of that same strategy that we we’ve learned from our summit years after each episode has filmed, it’s been repurposed and published within an email to payment and say, Hey, here’s your recap, here’s your video, here’s three video snippets here’s some quote graphics because you said some things that are really awesome. And here’s the podcast if you want to subscribe or share your episode, or maybe leave us a review of your team take a look at it Listen, because we think it’s really awesome.
Gray MacKenzie 26:55
That’s awesome. I think the live show in the podcast we’re not currently doing it we used to stream these interviews live into our Facebook group. And then I’ve gotten the podcast leave around the podcast feed you know, a month or two months or whatever down the road, we should get back to doing that again. And in some cases, it provided the opportunity for kind of a little bit of live q&a which that so we do the podcast itself in that transition of the recording or you will Hey, we’ll cut the rest of this and then it’s live q&a and there’s financial benefits there. A lot of creative stuff to be done with repurposing content and just doing the same work but putting in a little a little bit of extra work due to get a lot more value back out of it and deliver a lot more value to folks. So I think that’s that’s a great tip that you guys are taking that repurposing and so many different ways. Mike as we wrap up for folks who want to check out obviously we’ll link up Agorapulse and all that stuff that’s in our tech stack recommendations for agencies are then by the customers then that’ll be familiar but we’ll link up agorapulse.com domain and that kind of stuff but are folks want to connect with you or any other point place the point then? Where else should folks go? Yeah, so if you’ve got
Mike Allton 28:20
questions for me, Twitter’s usually the easiest place because anybody can DM me you know, you don’t be connected. I’m at Mike _Allton on Twitter. You can hit me up on all the socials but that’s the easiest one. And, you know, definitely get the podcast to listen. We’d love to know what folks think about the first six episodes. And by the time this comes out, we’ll be in the season two. We’ve got Guy Kawasaki and jerick Robbins and Alan camp. So excited. We’ve got Alan Kay coming up. For those who don’t know, he’s the advertising legend into the Xerox commercial with the mumps that was a superbowl commercial years ago. He came up with the if you see something say something slogan for New York City after 911. So really excited about that. And I just appreciate you giving me the time to come on here and have a conversation with you about the fun things we’ve got going on.
Gray MacKenzie 29:14
Absolutely awesome. Wasn’t been fun, Mike, appreciate your time, we’ll make sure that your Twitter is in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for being willing to come on and share.
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