Content Marketing – Growth Secrets from Swayy [Interview]
Updated on September 28th, 2014
Not long ago I wrote a post titled ‘7 Practical Ways to Find Content Your Followers Will Love’. In that post I mentioned the company Swayy. Swayy is a platform that helps you discover and share really awesome content with your audience through social networks (It’s linked straight to your social media pages like Twitter or Facebook).
After hitting the publish button for that blog I was keen to get people to read it and see what everyone thought. So I took it straight to Twitter (Practicing what I preach when it comes to content promotion). In the past I have encouraged readers to mention industry influencers in blog posts as a method for increasing their social shares. This time I was attempting to target brands such as ContentGems, Swayy and Hootsuite, not individuals.
That’s how I met the founders of Swayy!
Within hours of posting my first Tweet about the blog it had been re-tweeted by Lior and Ohad, two of the co-founders of Swayy. Something like this always amazes me, a simple blog post empowered me to connect with two dynamic entrepreneurs halfway across the world. Sometimes we forget the power of our generation to connect.
To cut a long story short, I communicated with Lior and Ohad on LinkedIn and earned the chance to interview Ohad for this blog post.
I’m just an ordinary dude with a pack full of dreams, failures and lessons learned. I talk and write mostly about social media, content marketing and startup culture.
I’ve gained extensive experience in product management, UX and online marketing while working in different industries including Telecom, SAAS and Online Gaming for the past 8 years.
I’m one of the co-founders at Swayy – a personalized content curation platform that helps you discover better content to share with your audience across social networks.
I’m also a contributing writer at The Next Web, Social Media Today, TheMarker and Lifehack.org and proudly serve as a mentor at the Elevator Fund accelerator program. (Source: LinkedIn)
Here’s how the interview played out (plus some additional reflections from me about Ohad’s responses!);
Military service, a business idea, and a failure
Me: What were you doing before Swayy?
Ohad: Right after my military service (in Israel it is mandatory to serve 3 years in the army) I spent 5+ years working at a few tech companies here in Israel and at the age of 26 I started my first company (it was shut down less than a year later) and at 27 I founded Swayy with Lior, Shlomi and Oz.
Me: You mentioned you started a company at 26 and it was closed down a year later. What did that company do, and in reflection what made it fail?
Ohad: We wanted to allow people at conferences to have an easy way to change business cards with one another via their smartphones. Why did it fail? A mix of several reasons, but I guess we weren’t ready to build our own company. I learned some valuable lessons throughout this experience which later helped me & my team when building Swayy.
Reflection: It’s amazing how often entrepreneurial success stories start with a failure. This resonates with me personally, as cliche as it may sound; ‘Don’t Give Up The Dream’. More recently I’ve been living by the mantra that we are all as equally capable as each other, and if I or you don’t take the chances laid out in front of us someone else will.
Work with people that excite you
Me: What lessons did you learn on your journey before launching Swayy?
Ohad: One of the most important lessons I have learnt is that I should always get excited about my work and the people I work with. It allows me to actually enjoy and constantly improve on what I do.
Reflection: The harsh reality is that a large chunk of our life is dedicated to work. Don’t spend all of your time with people you don’t like. And more importantly don’t spend all of your time with people that don’t excite and challenge you to be the best you can be.
The experiment that started Swayy
Me: How did you come up with the concept of Swayy?
Ohad: Swayy was actually an experiment. We wanted to allow our community manager to easily discover and share content about social media on our Facebook page. we setup a daily email based on pre-defined topics and surfaced the web a few times a day to find the best content based on those keywords. It was a great experiment which allowed us to realize what we should do next.
Reflection: Every start-up success has a cool way they discovered their idea. It’s a little bit like how you met your life partner. My hypothesis is that we all have these great stories to tell, but many of us don’t think our story is special. I’m telling you right now, your story is just as awesome as Swayy’s, maybe it’s time you started telling people about it.
It’s also interesting to note that Swayy materialized from a problem that Ohad and his team were experiencing themselves. If you’re searching for that elusive business idea, perhaps you can sit back and reflect on the day-to-day difficulties you experience?
Swayy’s tech advantage
Me: Do you think coming from a tech-based background helped or hindered the launch of Swayy?
Ohad: My tech experience helped me to look at things differently. I’m sure that my years in the tech scene helped me to better understand how to think, design and build products. I don’t think previous experience in tech is something a start-up founder must have, but it definitely helps.
Accelerating growth with content marketing
Me: What’s been the most effective strategy with your marketing and growth?
Ohad: We started dedicating a lot of resources to content marketing. Through content we are always trying to spread the word about Swayy and share our experience with the community.
Me: You mentioned content marketing as an effective growth strategy. What channels have you seen the most traction with? Are there any recurring challenges you face in creating engaging content?
Ohad: I’d say that guest blogging is definitely something that helped us with our brand recognition and growth. It’s a great opportunity to get your content in front of a new audience. Definitely one of the main challenges we’re facing when creating content is distribution, that’s also one of the main problems we’re trying to solve here at Swayy.
Reflection: I love that these guys back content marketing as a growth strategy. It seems this is certainly where we all need to be spending our valuable marketing dollars (Inbound/Content it’s the same mindset). If you create regular content that addresses the fears, dreams and challenges of your ideal customers, you will build a community that no competitor can break down. Similarly to Swayy, I have found guest blogging a great way to gain exposure and boost my credibility. It’s certainly not dead, as long as you do it right.
Personalizing content – Swayy’s differentiator
Me: What is the number one thing that differentiates Swayy in the market?
Ohad: Our content personalization technology. For the past 2 years we have constantly try to improve it and learn what makes people decide they want to read or share a piece of content. As we see it, personalization should allow the user to discover the content he/she is really interested in.
Note: You can learn more about Swayy’s personalization technology by accessing their free app here.
Learning from other people makes a difference
Me: Who do you learn from?
Ohad: I’m lucky. I have surrounded myself with people I admire who always make me smarter. I have my partners, investors and other friends with so many years of experience. This is one of the main reasons why I love building stuff – it allows me to constantly learn from other people’s experience, mistakes and success.
Reflection: One of the best decisions I have ever made was establishing a mentoring relationship and getting a ‘coaching staff’. Once I realized I wasn’t the smartest person in the room, and surrounded myself with people who complement my skills and experience I began accelerating my personal development. Who’s on your coaching staff?
Accelerate success with trust and a shared vision
Me: What is the one bit of advice you would give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Ohad: Build a team that you trust and enjoy working with. Every successful business starts with a few talented folks that share the same vision and work together to make it happen.
What I learnt from Ohad at Swayy
It truly was a great experience interviewing Ohad and getting an insight into how Swayy started. I’d like to send out a big thank you to Ohad and Lior for being so welcoming!
My key take outs from this interview were the following;
- Failure is often an essential part of the journey. Don’t give up the dream.
- You or I are just as qualified as the next person to start a successful business. So if not us then who? And if not now then when? Let’s do it!
- Surround yourself with people who excite, support and challenge you. Get your coaching staff of colleagues, peers, partners and mentors.
- People crave content and the companies that provide the right content are the ones that are winning, and will continue to do so.
I’m ready to take action and chase my dreams, are you?