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Mike Allton: Now, in NLP, we talk about how important it is to build rapport with other people in order to effectively communicate. The more someone else knows, likes, and trusts you, the more likely they are to do business with you. And we teach tactics like matching and mirroring, making eye contact, and more to facilitate rapid rapport building.

When it comes to social media, utilizing these kinds of tactics is challenging if not impossible, and yet we still need to build relationships with our audience, connect with them, don’t we?

How are we supposed to create connections with people digitally, and how, as social media community managers, can we ensure these efforts benefit the brand?

That’s exactly what Dana Malstaff is going to talk to us about. Dana is the founder of Boss Mom and creator of Nurture to Convert. She’s a mother, author, speaker, podcaster, and movement maker. She believes that too many brilliant moms are struggling to figure out how to grow their business while balancing all the costs—all that is required to be a good mom, partner, and a woman. Dana teaches nurture marketing to thousands of boss moms, so they can authentically get visible and grow their businesses, even with their inconsistent schedules.

The Boss Mom Model: Turning Your Struggles Into Successes

Mike Allton: I’m so excited to dig in, but let’s start with talking about Boss Mom.

What is The Boss Mom and why did you start it?

Dana Malstaff: I started Boss Mom because it was an accident. Everything we all do in life, I feel like ends up being an accident.

I wanted to write a book about marketing, and I was in a mastermind with a couple people. One of them was Azul Terronez, who helps write the book. He said, “Hey, if anybody wants to write a book, I’ll do it at a low cost.” And I was like, “I’m in. I want it.” I was pregnant with my second, my daughter who’s almost nine now. And my son was less than two years old, so not optimal time to sit around and write a book.

And I sat down, and we were going to write. It was going to be called Expand Your Reach, which is what I was calling my business at the time, and it came out that what I really wanted to write about was moms and how fricking hard it is and how hard it is to really lose your identity as a woman.

You are one thing and this independent person, you have all these dreams and all these things that you want, and then you become a mom. I’m assuming men feel this in some way, but I think it’s different in its intensity for a woman. And just how hard that is. The guilt you feel for wanting more than just being a parent. The times you want to just shut everything down over here and just be with your children.

I was talking with my brother about this morning, that feeling you have of being with your children but not actually building or creating anything meaningful or that has a ripple effect. That your children are the ripple effect, and how that messes with your brain in terms of the value of the time you spend, all of those things.

The Boss Mom book was out in 2015. And what happened was that everybody was so excited about it, that someone was talking about it, it was real for them, and they got to verbalize it or at least be around somebody who would verbalize it, that we started the Boss Mom podcast, we started the Boss Mom Facebook group, and we just started Boss Mom-ing everything.

That was almost a decade ago. And still to this day, by the way, you talk about the social media that works, still to this day, creating something that talks about what we call your industry opinions.

What is broken with the world? What are the things that we are scared to talk about that we feel guilty about liking or not liking or, or the way we feel or the way we act, things that are wrong culturally, things that are wrong in your industry, in life, all of those things?

And then talking about your shared vision of the future of what it could be, and how your product or service or thing helps create that shared vision of the future.

That’s what’s been working since the beginning of time for marketing, but more so now because there’s so much disgruntledness about life and things.

And we are now just becoming brave enough with social media to talk about it. There’s all the things about social media that really suck that people talk about and the way they can be mean and harsh and blah, blah, blah, all those things. But we don’t look at the other side where people who have never had a voice feel like they can’t say it out loud. Feel like they’ll be judged if they say it. Don’t know how to find their people. Those people are finding that space.

We are creating a social space of bravery, of connection, of collaboration, of your village, and that is intensely valuable to people. And if you can tap into that for whatever brand you’re working in, you can move mountains, and you can sell a hook a lot more.

For Boss Mom, we’ve tapped into that for moms, and it’s just a really powerful tool, and you can make a positive effect in people’s lives. While you’re doing it, which is one of the big benefits, obviously that makes you help helps you sleep at night.

connecting with your audience

Mike Allton: Okay, well, folks, we could probably just end the podcast right there!

I asked Dana to introduce her company and in the process of doing so, you shared this completely succinct and yet powerful truth about marketing, which is that the real key is to figure out what it is that your target audience is struggling with.

What are you going to be able to relate to them from a negative perspective? But then also find that truly magical perspective of a vision of the future of how things could be different, maybe with your help.

And that’s how really good marketing happens. There are plenty of people out there that can simply just honestly bitch about whatever, if it’s social media, or anything like that. But they’re not offering solutions. They’re not offering a vision. That I could potentially see myself being a part of that, right? And it’s that kind of a message that really resonates with people. That’s a really powerful marketing strategy and I can’t believe that you just laid that out as part of, “No, this is who I am. This is this organization, this platform that I started.”

Industry Opinions, Permissions, and Belongings

Dana Malstaff: It’s interesting because I’ve been really, really thinking about this. We teach what we call the Nurture to Convert system.

What I just talked about is what we call nurture messaging.

There are a few key components to it, but one is your industry opinions, and one is your permissions and belonging.

  • Your permissions and belonging start with: You’re not crazy. This is normal, right? When you want to say, “We want to normalize this,” if you did a post on social for your clients, and you said, “We want to normalize blank,” what would that list of things do? It mixes basically your industry opinions where you say, “This is what’s broken with this industry or culture or whatever.”
  • And then we want to normalize it. Us, people like us, like we want to normalize 5 a.m. runs to start your day. I would not fit with that because I joke that when I get the urge to run, I lay down until it passes because it is not my thing. I don’t like running. I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t know why you do it. I have a different version of what healthy looks like. So those aren’t my people, but those would be right. And so there’s all different things that can work for that. There’s a couple other things that go into that space of nurture messaging.
  • But ultimately what I have discovered is that everybody’s trying to grow their business. Grow their sales, do everything on social media, but ultimately what social media does most for companies is it just gets them in the door, right? It’s the thing outside that gets you to walk in the restaurant or the bar, gets you to walk in the rec center, gets you to walk in the store, and decide that you like it enough to spend some time there.
  • And we’ve lost sight of that because we’re all trying to build all of this content where we actually live on social media. The living is on social media so that everything they could possibly need to know about you and what they need. There is no intrigue. Like in the Matrix, (which makes me super-old), there is no red dress. There’s nothing that makes somebody turn around.
  • What we’re trying to do is exist entirely on social media so that the only thing they have to do is click “buy.” And there is a lot of buying on social media that’s happening. So don’t get me wrong. There is a place for certain things like that, but ultimately what we want—what I think we will end up as people get more and more annoyed with social media just becoming an entertaining platform—is I think they’re going to move towards, “How do I create your intrigue of going, ‘This might be my place, this might be my new Cheers,’ that I go to, that I hang out with, that I have friends with, that I’m there, that we all have the same brands, that we all do the same thing, that I can associate my morals or my principles or my belief about the world or whatever it is, here, and now I’m going to come in and I’m going to live in your space.'” I think there’s going to be more of that, where social media is the doorway, is the thing that gets them in the door, and then we start to move them in other places.

Nurture Messaging and the Era of Messy Marketing

Mike Allton: We’re talking with social media community managers with retail brands. And so they may not necessarily have their own businesses, but they definitely work for large brands. They’re managing social media audiences, often creators in their own right and one kind or another. I know one of the areas that you excel at is helping folks understand how to make that audience feel seen, this goes into that nurture idea. Can you talk to us about that?

Dana Malstaff: Someone will write back [to our Boss Mom emails] and they’ll go, “I needed to hear this today. Like, I needed this. Are you in my head?”

Those kinds of things are what we need our audience to come back to it because that’s where the loyalty lies, right? Because everybody knows, like, if you went and you said, “Wow, would you rather me get you a million views on this one thing, or would you rather me get you 10 loyal followers that buy from you for the next 10 years?”

What is most important to you?

And they would tell you the lifetime customer value is always the most important retention is always the most important because I would rather keep clients forever buying my shoes, buying my windshields, buying my whatever it is, over and over again, then trying to acquire the cost of acquiring new people consistently.

And so when you start to do the right kind of nurturing, you get the engagement of people going, “I feel seen. How did you know I was thinking about that? How did you know that bothered me? How did you know I felt judged about that? How did you know this, or this is frustrating me, or I wish this was the case, or I love this, and other people think I’m crazy for loving it.”

Those are the things that if you’re putting those things out on social content, that’s what people go, “Oh my gosh. You get me.” And when they believe a company gets them, that’s where the loyalty lies. That’s where they are sharing their content. Now, all of a sudden you’re spilling things that get shared out, right?

Which is actually why we’re in an era of unbranding because we are in an era of sharing, which means I want my content to not just be viewed. I want you to be shared with other people. And people are more likely to share it if it’s not your brand, but it’s just white, black color, big color.

So I tell people, “Stop putting your logo on stuff. Stop putting your client’s branding on things.” And it freaks everybody out because they’re like, “No, no, no, no, no. We have a brand. It’s supposed to look a certain way.” That’s not actually helping you.

Mark Schaefer calls it the era of messy marketing. It’s the disruption of having things look so clean cut that they don’t feel real.

The more real and raw it feels, the more people are likely to feel like you’re a real person or a real company that cares about real people who are messy.

And so all of that comes into it when we’re starting to try and reach more people and reach the right people is we’re trying to humanize the company you work for and make sure that they create loyalty, like loyalty is more than views, like loyalty will win out over views any day.

And I think it for social media managers, they have to teeter on the realm of their employer wanting to see view results because that’s a matrix and start actually plugging in loyalty retention and start using that engagement and those reply backs of what people are saying and showing that to the people that are above them and that they’re on teams for to show what engagement and loyalty and retention looks like and start tracking more of those numbers.

And then I think we can change the game for social media managers of where their value lies. Because the problem with social media management is you’re constantly trying to prove your value to whoever you work for and it feels like then you could be let go at any point if you’re not proving growth.

So let’s change what we decide the metrics are.

Mike Allton: This was terrific. We’re definitely going to come back to this idea of proving value, but I wanted to mention you’re a hundred percent right about the feeling and the vibe and the tone and the tenor that has changed in recent years with social media, particularly video, thanks to TikTok.

I was actually interviewing one of TikTok’s product managers recently, we were talking about UGC content, both specifically content that users are creating, but also brand created UGC content. In other words, the brand created this content, but it’s designed to look like a user created it. And I shared this funny example where I had seen a TikTok video where a gentleman was in his garage showing off a product in the garage. It’s next to his car. It’s crappy overhead garage lighting. He’s putting it as a background against the inside of his garage door. And I’m watching this, and it was kind of compelling. The product was pretty cool, and it dawned on me. This is the brand. The brand did this. He’s not an influencer. The brand created this video to look like it was some Amazon influencer who decided to just turn a camera on in their garage and make something look like that. That’s where we’re at.

Now, I’ll add the caveat. That’s the current trend. Brands do need to pay attention because in six months, people may have moved on. People may have decided that there’s a different kind of video. You don’t think so?

Dana Malstaff: I think we have a couple of years before something else goes. I don’t think so because I think we have a lot of years and years of this pent-up feeling [of] everything looks like it’s too good to be true.

And then it turns out it is too good to be true. Too much of bad customer service and things like that have built up where we’ve lost trust in the things we buy and how we buy them. I think all of that, we’ve got a couple of years before that stops being what people are just scrolling and sharing because you have a few seconds of somebody to feel like it’s real.

I don’t think that’s going anywhere. Even, when Hermozi. If everybody comes out and says he’s literally going to stop editing his videos and make them more real and more raw, we’ve got a couple years before everybody realizes that’s what he’s doing.

Everybody who is a video editor changes their style and gets rid of all the stupid emojis and all the things that everybody did. And the more in front of that you can be for your clients that messy marketing is what is working right now, yeah, I think we’ve got a couple years before that trend goes away. Now, I will say, the more you can recognize when that’s when that will work and when that won’t is important. So, for instance, if you’re going to do something where you’re going to have somebody just get in their car and quickly feel like, “I just have to say this.” And those are phrases like: “I’ve just got to tell you guys this thing that I’m thinking, or this thing that I just found.”

Don’t use good audio, right? Like, who on earth would tell you to not use great audio? But if the audio sounds like it’s coming from your phone, that’s real. People are starting to pick up on the fact that, “Wait, but that’s got perfect audio and perfect lighting, but you’re in your car.” Okay, now, and what people are going to do is—that’s the thing I think we have to be careful in the next six months—is people that aren’t paying attention that are trying to create these situations and these feelings, but they’re not actually doing them authentically.

And then people are going to pick up on that. It’s like when you’re like, “Wait a second, that thing doesn’t have a shadow. What’s wrong with this? That’s supposed to have a shadow. Okay. That’s not really there.” Like you’ll see that sometimes it’s supposed to look like something’s hovering or something’s doing or something’s stepping down, but you can tell it’s AI-generated because they’re not actually stepping, or this is the best one. Someone in a show is holding coffee, but you can tell that there’s no coffee in it. It’s like something in your brain knows that it is too light, that there’s nothing in that cup, and it bothers the crap out of me. And then you notice that nobody’s actually holding coffee or drinking coffee. It’s all fake.

That’s what’s going to happen in the next six months. Be careful that you recognize the dynamics of what authenticity looks like and what people are going to know. Are they going to know that cup is empty? Are they going to know that audio shouldn’t be so good? Are they going to know that lighting shouldn’t be perfect?

If you don’t get those things right, that’s the stuff that people are going to go, “Mmm, I think something’s not right. Something’s amiss here. I think they’re trying to dupe me.” And when people feel duped, they don’t like it. So I think that’s the thing to watch out for is that authenticity is actually there, even if it’s something you have thought out and created. It can still be both, I think.

connecting with your audience

AI and Authenticity

Mike Allton: Well, it’s interesting you’re talking about authenticity.

You’ve mentioned trust many, many times, and then you did that little thing where you mentioned AI. And you and I mentioned this before we started recording how much AI is impacting everything we do, of course, but it’s obviously going to have an impact on how we share what we’re sharing.

You talked about this before we started recording about how we need to be transparent about whether this was human created or AI created. And I think that that plays into what you’re talking about just now.

Dana Malstaff: I just did a video for a summit. I’m actually happy to share it with anybody. It’s not out and about, but I can give you the link to how to use AI to brainstorm your messaging.

Avoiding Jargon

I have a deep belief that AI actually doesn’t help you with marketing or a lot of the brainstorming of your ideal client and those kinds of things in the way that people are using it right now, because what they’re doing is pulling from a collective of information.

So what it’s going to do is it’s going to give you the most trendy, jargon-y way of saying it. And jargon doesn’t work, by the way.

I tell people all the time, “You do the industry test, and you do the jargon test, is what you’re saying, could it apply to multiple industries?” And if it could, it’s not going to work if it sounds too jargon-y. If it’s a word that is used so much that even words like focus and stuck and happy and those big words—they’re all jargon, which means each person who sees it is going to interpret its meaning in a different way.

Then it’s not going to work, and AI does an amazing job of giving you the most succinct, jargony way of saying something, but rarely does that actually work right now.

And so I’ve come up with a way to ask the right kind of questions where it does give you actual, authentic things.

Making AI Work For You

For example, I’m having coffee with somebody who is a retail fashion store, like a chain of fashion stores, like Nordstrom’s, for instance.

You go in, and you’d say, “Hey, I am sitting down with a woman who has extra income. She is very important to her, how she looks. It also is very important to her how she is treated when she is in a store, feeling like she is respected and looked up at, feeling like if the customer service makes her feel important, right? Feeling like she is dressed in a way that is trendy, but still elegant, still higher class while not being too luxury, and she’s wanting to buy her new wardrobe for the next season.”

And so there’s a bunch of questions that I ask, and now it tells me, “Oh, well, she wants to go, but she feels bad about spending a couple hundred dollars on a pair of shoes when her kids have to go. She’s got to get by summer stuff right now, right?”

I ask it questions about what’s happening in summer right now. Play me the scenario when she’s in a happy marriage. Play me see the scenario when she’s in an unhappy marriage. When she’s above 40 or below 40. And so now I get to start doing that.

But here’s the thing. Your clients, the person who is in Nordstrom’s, and not the social media manager, right? The other people, they don’t know how to use AI. They won’t ever know how to use AI because they don’t actually know what the result is they want. They would go in and do a search and everything that it comes up with. They’re going to go, “Well, that sounds great.” And then it’s your job to go in and say, “No, it doesn’t and it won’t work, right?”

It’s your job to start getting the one liners and the things because AI, in my opinion, is years away and maybe will never be able to pull together everything that you need for it to work. You will always need humans, just like you should have humans instead of drones in places.

You will always be able to read the room better than AI will be.

So there will always be a place, I think, [where] ignoring that AI has its benefits. And here’s the biggest thing: Ignoring that AI can save you or the company you’re working for time. If you could be 10 times better at your job in half the time, and you got to use that half the time to go on vacation or take a nap, wouldn’t you want it?

I think AI has immense potential to be our assistant because odds are a lot of you social media managers don’t have an assistant.

But what if you did, right? What if you did? And, Mike, for you and the companies that are providing tools that help you with social media and do those different things looking at it and going, “How can AI actually make us look better?”

It’s like the Crock Pot. They did a bunch of studies on the Crock Pot, and women didn’t care about talking about it, making dinner, making dinner easier. They care that it made it look like they were magical. How did you go to work and cook a pot roast? Like you’re the most magical human being, and they didn’t want them to know how easy it was. They wanted everybody to think they slaved away. As social media managers, you want to look magical to your employer, right? In a lot of ways, AI can help you look magical, but the human factor is you’re the one taking the little strings of ideas and pulling them together into something that works and then reviewing those things and tweaking it because marketing is all about tweaking until it works right.

And you’re the one that’s the human that’s going to your boss and telling them the things they should care about and why and what their market is saying, what they’re doing, and making those strategic ideas and shifts. AI is just your assistant and in my opinion, that’s all it will ever be because everybody says AI is going to be smarter than us and it’s going to take over.

I don’t think that’s true because we’re all a bunch of messy, emotional humans and unless AI becomes messy and emotional, it’s just always going to be too cold for us to actually hand over the reins to, I think.

Mike Allton: Dana, this is so cool. We’ve covered a lot of grounds. I actually just have one more question for you. I know a lot of the social media community managers that are listening, they struggle to balance work against their personal life, particularly when they’re on social media all day long as part of their job.

What advice would you give them to try to help them find balance, whatever that means, whatever that looks like?

Dana Malstaff: There’s a couple of things.

  1. I think we feel like we have to be consistent. And then that consistency has to go across like every day and all the time. I think recognizing that there’s a ton of outside factors that make us feel a certain way that take our time and energy that motivate us or deflate us, that take up our time because you have family members. Maybe you have children, you’ve got hormones, right? And all those things that are happening. And so I find that first the recognition that we have. That there is an ebb and flow of our energy, motivation, time commitments, and our boundaries or ability to have them. That alone can really, really impact your ability to move through certain times that might feel harder or feel more difficult. Like, it’s hard to get through because a lot of times what we do is we just start to judge ourselves. Feel like we should be doing better, feel like I should be getting that thing done, and not giving ourselves grace of what’s going on, and all the things that are happening in our life at that particular time, and then if we start to feel that way about ourselves, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re not good enough or you’re not doing what you should or if you just push harder.
  2. Number two is, when you have time and you’re trying to get things done and do stuff, how do you decide what to do? And that is where I like doing. There’s a bunch of different systems that I like using. It depends on my mood.

The Ten-Minute Rule

But the one that’s the easiest is the 10 minute. And it basically is ask the question of what are things that I could get done in 10 minutes? What are things that I can take three levels of different cognitive ability, right? So it’s the low, medium, and high cognitive ability. If I’ve got a brainstorm a bunch of content for a client, and that feels like it takes a lot of brain power, and you’ve got a bunch of other things going on, then maybe that’s not the thing that you’re doing. But maybe if you’re just putting text over visuals and or scheduling content and that feels easy. Then you do that thing.

So what—especially when I had little toddlers, running around—I would go, “Okay, like I can’t type emails on my computer if I’ve got a kid running around, because I’ve got to have low cognitive things that I can do.”

And I could decide on the things in my job or in my life that take low cognitive ability, and I could do with a bunch of noise and distractions or feeling low energy or motivation, or feeling sad because sometimes you just have a sad day.

And then I go, “Okay, what’s medium and then what’s high?” And then that way I just have this list of this rating of all the things that I’m doing and things that need to get done. Then, depending on all the random things that happen during the day—a kid gets called home sick or something happens and somebody needs me or I just have this deep motivation to deep clean my apartment or something because I’m looking at it and someone’s coming in for that weekend to visit—those are the things where I can do that.

Like what can take 10 minutes? If I’ve got something on my list, it takes more than 10 minutes. How can I break it down? And then what’s the level of cognitive ability?

And that allows me to actually get a ton done that flows with my schedule as opposed to getting pissed off at myself or the rest of the world, because the thing I wanted to get done right then doesn’t fit with what my life is, and what’s happening in my life that those two things alone have made a huge.

It just allows us to be humans and still get things done and feel good about it, as opposed to lying to ourselves as if we are robots that don’t have a bunch of other stuff besides our job weighing on us.

That’s all we’ve got for today, friends. Please don’t forget to find us on Apple and leave us a review of the Social Pulse Podcast: Retail Edition.  

How to Connect With Your Audience