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Meet Team Sprout: Matt Born, Designer


Matt Born’s official title is Designer, but throughout his three years at Sprout, he’s worked across both the engineering and design teams to tackle front-end development, visual design and now product design for Bambu–our employee advocacy platform.

In this month’s Meet Team Sprout, Matt offers his thoughts on great product design, discusses mentoring new designers and explains how Sprout has helped him reach his personal and professional goals.

Name: Matt Born
Department: Design
Started at Sprout: August 2012

Tell me about your career path and how you got to Sprout.

I was 12 or 13 when I wrote my first line of HTML. I got into web development as a hobby, which led to people asking me to make websites for them. From there, I went to school to get a BFA in graphic design.

Before I started at Sprout, I freelanced for about 10 years. In 2012, tech was booming and I wanted to get into the product world. At Techweek I met Pete Soung, Director of Web and Mobile Engineering and Co-Founder. I was weighing a few offers but Sprout was the most attractive. I haven’t looked back since.

Your role at Sprout has covered a few different areas over the years. What are you working on now?

I was hired as a Front-End Engineer, then moved to design. Now, Product Designer would probably be the most accurate title. I’m basically both the UX and UI person for Bambu. I’ve done everything from mockups to front-end coding to helping with QA (Quality Assurance).

Sprout champions this idea of carving out your own role. I feel like I’ve done that. It’s been important to understand and contribute to other parts of the business in any way that I can. It’s helped me stay curious and has let me indulge my creative side.

How would you describe your approach to product design?

That’s a question I’m trying to answer every day. I don’t consider myself an expert and hope I never am. I’d rather be less of an expert and more of a student who’s capable of learning and applying knowledge quickly. There’s a constant influx of information around how to create great products, what users expect and how to get users to form habits around the things you’re building. I’m a student of that.

What does it mean to be a good product designer?

Being a good product designer means being a really good learner. That means being open-minded and trying the best I can to execute and create tangible products that are valuable to the company and to users.

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at Sprout?

It sounds basic, but figuring out how to communicate more effectively with my team has been huge. Getting better at presenting and explaining ideas gives everyone greater clarity and potentially saves second-guessing.

Staying involved with the broader tech and design community is something you value. Do you have any favorite industry related publications or organizations?

I try to stay inspired and read product designer blogs. InVision has a great email newsletter and blog. Laura, a designer at Sprout, was interviewed on it awhile back. I read books by people like Jason Fried from Basecamp/37signals. I apply a lot of his principles into my day-to-day work. He has a strong understanding of what it means to design a product.

I’m a part-time mentor for Bloc.io. Being a mentor and teacher has made me a sharper designer and allows me to give back. My wife and I just had a baby so it’s harder to be as involved in the community, but that’s even more reason to have regular tie-ins.

When you’re working with students who are pursuing a career in design, what advice do you always give?

Jim Coudal, a designer here in Chicago, gives some great advice: steal things. When you’re just getting started, definitely steal things, definitely give credit. The more you expose yourself to work that you think is good, the better you get. It humbles you to realize that a lot of what you’re doing isn’t original. While that can be depressing, it’s exciting that there’s still so much room for innovation even if you’re borrowing ideas.

My friend Mig has a website called Humble Pied, which is where I first heard that advice. I tell students to go there and watch all of the videos. Each video contains one piece of advice from a famous designer. It’s a great resource.

You’ve gone through some significant changes outside of work since joining Team Sprout–you mentioned that your daughter was born recently.

If I had to identify a theme since I started at Sprout it’s growth, both personally and professionally. As I’ve matured in my professional life, I’ve matured in my personal life–I’ve become a husband, I’ve become a father. I’ve taken on more responsibility and Sprout supports that.

Paternity leave was huge for me. It gave me an opportunity to really be there and be present for my family. I know every company has benefits, but it’s really good to have a company that truly cares.

You’re a parent and you’re teaching and mentoring. It sounds like you’re pretty busy. Any other fun hobbies outside of the office?

I was climbing for awhile but got sidelined due to injury. Last year I did the Ragnar Relay with the Sprout Run Club, and we’re going to do the Bourbon Chase again.

Outside of that, I’m a family guy. Any extra time I have is spent with my wife and my daughter. We have memberships to the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute; we look out for free days at the Museum of Contemporary Art and other museums in the city. We live in the West Loop, so I’m kind of a foodie by default.

What’s your go-to place to eat in the West Loop?

That’s tough. I love Randolph Row. The short answer is anything by Hogsalt, the restaurant group that owns Au Cheval, Donut Vault, etc. They just opened a new coffee place called Sawada; that’s my favorite spot.


This post Meet Team Sprout: Matt Born, Designer originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild

Hey, friend, have you heard the good news about podcasts? 

Given the most recent stats, it’s highly likely you have. Over half of all Americans over 12 years of age have listened to at least one. Podcasts have well and truly hit the mainstream. In other words, the gold rush is on for brands looking to connect with a highly-engaged, long-attention-span audience.

However, getting a podcast up and running isn’t as simple as publishing a blog. We recently published an entire B2B podcasting webinar to walk you through the entire process, from conception to publication. This post will zero in on the choices you need to make and the steps you need to take to release your podcast into the wild.

B2B Podcasting Launch Checklist: 10 Steps

Sure, you could just upload your audio to your web server, add an RSS feed, and call it good. But if you want people to actually find and listen to your podcast, there are a few extra steps you should take. This checklist will help your podcast find an audience and start building a subscriber base.


#1: Choose Your Hosting Platform

A podcast syndication platform makes it easy to publish your podcast and get listed in directories. Think of it like WordPress is for your blog — it hosts the files, makes them look pretty, and makes it so people can find them.

Most platforms will also give you embed codes for embedding episodes in blog posts or on a landing page. You’ll also get stats on how many people are downloading episodes, and on what program they’re listening.

We prefer Libsyn as our hosting platform. Podbean, buzzsprout, and Blubrry are also solid options. They all have a free tier of hosting, but you’ll want to pay a few bucks a month for bandwidth and analytics.

#2: Upload Your First Three Episodes

Podcasting is all about establishing a regular cadence (more on that later). But for launch, you’ll want to have at least three episodes ready to go. There are a few reasons for publishing multiple episodes for your debut:

  1. One episode may not be enough to convince people to subscribe. 
  2. Multiple episodes show you’re committed to keeping the content coming.
  3. Most importantly, Apple podcasts requires at least three episodes to qualify for their “New and Noteworthy” section. 

So before you publish, have at least three episodes completed, and be ready to follow up with more at your promised publishing cadence.

#3:  Register with Podcast Directories

Podcasts are peculiar in terms of content delivery. Your hosting platform makes the files available, but most people will listen to your podcast on their chosen podcast app. Each app maintains its own directory — think of it as a search engine for podcasts. 

Your podcast needs to be listed in their directory, or people won’t be able to find you. I recommend registering with at least these six:

  1. Apple Podcasts
  2. Google Podcasts
  3. Stitcher
  4. Podbean
  5. Spotify
  6. TuneIn

Each of these sites will ask for the RSS feed of your podcast, which your hosting platform will generate for you.

I created a podcast tracker to keep track of all these directories — sign up for the webinar and you can download it for free.

B2B Podcast Tracker

#4: Promote Internally

Gaining visibility on a podcast directory is tricky business. Apple and Google are where the majority of your listeners will be, and each employs an algorithm to promote podcasts in search results and feature pages.

How do you get an algorithm’s attention? Engagement! Start by promoting your podcast to all of your employees. Encourage them to subscribe on Apple or Google, give a rating, and write a brief (and honest) review. What’s more, draft some social messages and encourage everyone to promote the podcast to their networks, too.

That base level of initial engagement will help your podcast start finding its audience.

#5: Activate Your Influencers

Most podcasts are Q&A-style interviews with influential guests. If your podcast includes influencers in your industry, make sure they know as soon as their episode goes live. Give them the tools to promote the podcast easily:

  • Sample social messages
  • Social media images in the correct sizes
  • Embed codes

If your podcast doesn’t feature influencers, it’s worth re-evaluating your strategy for your next season. Influencer content not only is more valuable to your audience, it’s an indispensable channel for promotion.

#6: Publish Blog Posts

The one downside of audio content: It’s not super crawlable for SEO purposes. Granted, Google has started to auto-transcribe episodes and add them to search results, but the technology is still in the early stages.

To truly get some SEO juice from your podcast, we recommend embedding each podcast in a blog post. This example from the Tech Unknown Podcast by SAP* shows how simple it can be. All you need is an introduction, a few pull quotes, some key takeaways, and a transcript.

#7: Add Paid Promotion

As with any content, you want to use every tactic available to make sure it gets seen by your target audience. That’s especially true with podcasts, since podcast search engines are incredibly competitive.

Targeted, paid social promotion can help establish your subscriber base and get your new podcast some much-needed visibility.

It’s also worth considering cross-promotion on other podcasts. Consider both paid advertising and trading guest spots with a podcast that shares your target audience. 

#8: Solicit Listener Feedback

Ratings and reviews are essential to your podcast’s success. They’ll help provide social proof for new listeners and boost your search visibility in podcast directories. 

The best way to get ratings and reviews? Ask for them. Make it part of each episode’s sign-off. You can even encourage thoughtful reviews by reading the best ones on future episodes. You will engage your listeners and solicit more reviews at the same time.

#9: Keep Up Your Cadence

As with blog content, there’s no single “right” frequency to publish a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts publish weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. The best cadence for your podcast is “However frequently you can reliably, regularly publish quality content.”

Choose your cadence with an eye to long-term sustainability, and tell your listeners explicitly how frequently you’ll publish. Whether it’s “See you next week,” or “PodcastTitle is a monthly podcast that…” listeners will find it easier to make your podcast a habit if you stick to a schedule.

#10: Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose

In my last post on the content marketing benefits of B2B podcasting, I mentioned that podcasts are a content machine, and I’ll say it again. It’s easy to finish an episode, publish it, then forget it and move on to the next thing. But don’t do that! 

Pull snippets of audio content for social media. Turn them into short videos, too: Add a still image or a simple looping GIF for visual interest.

Use your transcriptions as fodder for future blog posts, quotes for influencer marketing, or even a stand-alone asset. 

Any way you can reuse that content can help bring more listeners to your podcast. What’s more, putting the content in a different medium can reach an audience who might not be into podcasts (yet). 

Check, Check, One Two

Launching a podcast is a little trickier than launching a new blog, especially if you’re new to the format. But if you follow this checklist, you can make sure your podcast is available on all the right channels and is ready to start attracting an audience.

Need more podcasting help? Check out our B2B Podcasting Webinar. In addition to learning the Four P’s of podcasting success, you’ll see me make this face:

B2B Podcasting Face

*Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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