Episode 86 – Turn Followers Into A Community Behind A Cause

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Episode 86 – Turn Followers Into A Community Behind A Cause

Cyclist | Turn Followers Into A Community Behind A Cause | Sideways8

My guest on the show today is Zach Monette. Zach is in his seventh season at Team Novo Nordisk, where he leads the team’s digital and content strategy and oversees all digital platforms. Since launching in 2012, the Team Novo Nordisk digital following has grown to more than 7.8 million – the largest in pro cycling and diabetes.

Zach is a Florida native, an alumnus of the University of Central Florida and prior to joining Team Novo Nordisk, he worked in marketing, PR, video production and copywriting. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and dog.

Highlights from this Conversation

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Telling their story in a compelling way
    2. Going beyond the races
    3. Creating great content that resonates with their audience
    4. Understand your audience as a whole and the audience segments
      1. User data
      2. Different users respond differently to different kinds of content
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Trying not to be everywhere – he can’t be at every race
    2. Snapchat doesn’t work at a distance
    3. Pick the platforms that work for you and your needs
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. Turning followers into a community of people behind their cause
    2. Empowering their community

Connect with Team Novo Nordis:

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:11] Hi, welcome to the Good People Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so that good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that will build forty eight websites for forty eight nonprofits in forty eight hours. My guest on the show today, today is Zach Monette. Zach is in his seventh season at Team Novo Nordisk where he leads the team’s digital and content strategy and oversees all digital platforms. Since launching in 2012, the Team Novo Nordisk digital following has grown to more than seven point eight million. Yes. Let me just say that again. Has grown to more than seven point eight million, the largest in pro cycling and diabetes. Zach is a Florida native and alumnus of the University of Central Florida and prior to joining Team Novo Nordisk, he worked in marketing, PR, video production and copywriting. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and dogs. Zach, welcome to the show.


Zach: [00:01:14] Hi Adam. Thanks for having me. Great to be here,


Adam: [00:01:17] Man, so that number just still astounds me. So I just want to make sure that our listeners fully understand what I’m saying here. So the way I understand it and I want you to make sure I’m correct here, is that you started working with Team Novo Nordisk when they had basically no digital following at all and you’ve gone from basically zero to seven point eight million followers. Is that correct?


Zach: [00:01:42] That’s right. I turned on the channels, started the pages and have been very fortunate to grow the audience that large.


Adam: [00:01:53] Wow. That is unbelievable. I mean really congratulations man. That is a really amazing accomplishment. So obviously you’ve got a lot of amazing things to share. Hopefully we can dig into at least just a few good nuggets and then I’m gonna see if I can pigeon hole you into coming back on at a later date, that’d be great.

Zach: [00:02:15] Sounds good.


Adam: [00:02:16] Well let’s dive in man. So related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that’s working well for you?


Zach: [00:02:24] So our team, Team Novo Nordisk is a pro cycling team and we’re the world’s first all diabetes pro cycling team, which means that all of our riders have type one diabetes and they’re out there racing against the world’s best cyclists. So being able to leverage that intersection of sports and diabetes has really worked for us and that’s the reason that we’re able to have more Facebook followers than all the other teams combined is because people are really eager for that message. There are a lot of people around the world who don’t know that people with diabetes can go out there and chase their dreams and so they’re really hungry for our message. And so being able to develop strategies to maximize exposure in our target countries that go beyond the races has been something that we’ve really worked hard at achieving.  We say we like to keep the circus in town, and so being able to work closely with our title sponsor and Novo Nordisk, they’re a Pharma company that specializes in diabetes medicine. They’re based out of Denmark, but they have affiliates all over the world. And so if we’re racing at a country, we’re able to work closely with them to maximize activation and then I can kind of generate content based around that. That’s going to be, something that we can really just kind of engage and double down on our message of inspiring, educating and empowering everyone affected by diabetes, and then also make sure that that resonates with our global audience.


Adam: [00:03:57]That’s great. So when you say you’re creating content that resonates with the global audience, those are broad terms. Can you bring that down to a specific example of something you’re doing?


Zach: [00:04:15] Sure. So we’ve done analysis of how people in different countries… So being a cycling team, we race all over the world. We raced in I think twenty three countries last year. And so it’s very different. It’s not like, you know, a basketball team where they just are in their home stadium all year long. Our stadium moves every time we race. Sometimes we’re on top of a mountain in France, sometimes we’re in Brazil, sometimes we’re in China. And so we really have to understand our audience as a whole but also the segments. And so we’ve done analysis on how our audiences respond to different content and so we’re able to focus our efforts based on how they’ve responded to content in the past. For example, in Italy, people in Italy really love stories about our riders, our Italian riders specifically. And so we make sure if we’re racing in Italy, that we’re highlighting our riders, what they’re doing. I don’t have any influence on this, but I always try to encourage the Italian riders to do something special in the race.


Adam: [00:04:15] Haha, they’re interested in racing, not doing anything else, right.


Zach: [00:05:44] Yeah. But then we make sure that we highlight that aspect. People in Spain are really interested in Spanish races, and the team’s appearance in the races, people in the UK for example, are really interested in the message of the team and our social good. So we really highlight that.


Adam: [00:06:12] That’s fantastic. That’s really smart that you’re able to segment your users in that way and really begin to understand which story to tell to each type of user. And I think that’s something that we’re often missing in our marketing is really understanding at that level. So that’s really, really, really smart. And I’m assuming you gathered that just through general data and analytics across platforms to understand, okay, we were in Italy and when we talked about this Italian rider and this background, it got a lot more play than it would have over here in Spain or in the UK, that sort of thing, right?


Zach: [00:06:45] That’s right. Yeah. Shout out to our analyst Mark Butler. He’s been a great help in helping me to figure all that out and to come up with a good strategy.


Adam: [00:07:00] I love that, you know, we’re always tracking so many things. I feel like we do a terrible job of actually looking at the data and really understanding what it means.  And so I think it’s fantastic that you’re doing that. So next question, related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked well, that we can learn from?


Zach: [00:07:23] This might be obvious, but for me it was a learning moment, just trying not to be everywhere. Like I mentioned we’re racing all over the world, but I’m not able to be at every single race and our PR team, they are terrific. They are my partners in this and they do a wonderful job of collecting content and creating content for me. But their job is to focus on the press and so they’re not able to do all this visual media stuff when they’re out on the road. So try not to be everywhere. For example, Snapchat, you have to be there with your phone and you have to have the phone pointed at the subject. So if I’m in Atlanta, we’re racing in Poland, we’re not going to be able to do a good job on Snapchat. So instead of trying to put, you know, a half effort into snapchat, I’m going to focus more on Instagram, Instagram stories and try to get a bigger return out of the things I know I can do well.


Adam: [00:08:32] That’s really smart, I love that. That’s the thing right, is market. We can’t just jump in and, “Oh, Snapchat’s the big thing, let’s do Snapchat” because to your point, you realized Snapchat doesn’t work at a distance, so why do that? When you can do something else that’s going to be far more effective. It’s going to give you leverage because you’re working, like you said, from a distance. Right?


Zach: [00:08:57] That’s right. But also having said that, I was keeping an eye on Snapchat because if Snapchat becomes a priority, then I will need to shift my resources in order to do more on Snapchat and less somewhere else. But for the meantime, I’m going to just do the best with what I’ve got.


Adam: [00:09:18] Right, as you should. As we all should. I think keeping an eye out on new and emerging technology, new and emerging platforms is really important in general I think. I think the balance to that is being aware of the platforms, being aware of how they’re gaining exposure, being aware of what audiences are using them, but not putting all of your eggs into that basket just because it’s a new and exciting platform because if you do that, you’re going to lose the other audiences that you’ve worked so hard to build over all this time and you’re going to be far less effective.


Zach: [00:09:48] That’s exactly right.


Adam: [00:09:48] That’s very, very smart. I appreciate that wisdom there. That’s great. All right, last question related to digital marketing. Tell me something you’re excited about.


Zach: [00:09:59] I’m excited about continuing to turn our followers into a community of people united to inspire, educate, and empower everyone affected by diabetes. I feel like we’ve amassed this very large following on social, but I think there’s a great opportunity for us to empower them to participate with us and hopefully get active, get healthier and so we’re always looking for new opportunities to bring them in and to create that community.


Adam: [00:10:34] You might be the first person that’s ever said you’re excited about turning followers into a community of people united behind a cause. And in considering that I’m often talking about nonprofit digital marketing, there’s a gap there, right? Because we should all be doing that. That’s kind of the point of having a nonprofit typically, is that we all have a cause, we all want to create a community around that cause and we all want to help solve the problem that we’ve designed our nonprofits to solve. And you’re actively doing that and you’ve got seven point eight million people that are connected to you that you’re creating this community around. That’s pretty amazing and I love the idea of empowering that community and the angle of helping them realize they can get out and physically do more than they really otherwise thought they could. I think that’s really unbelievable. So I have to ask, do you have any particular strategies around that? Are you in the early stages of that, in the late stages of that? Do you have anything in particular that’s working around that or can you give me any more detail around it?


Zach: [00:11:40] We’re in the early stages of that and we’re kind of looking around for the right platform that’s going to allow us to bring in that community. And so I don’t have any…


Adam: [00:11:47] You’re going to create a Myspace page, is that what I heard you say? I’m pretty sure that’s what you said. That’ll be great.


Zach: [00:12:00] I’m excited about the potential of digital. I mean we have people from all over. We have a lot of followers from Indonesia, we have a lot of followers in Europe and the potential of digital to bring t hem together. I think a really good example is there is a young boy in Denmark who reached out to the team after he found out he had diabetes and he said he’s not going to be afraid of diabetes because he knows about our team. There’s a young girl in Poland who was told that she couldn’t ride her bike because she had diabetes. And then our team came to Poland and she’s like, well, these guys are doing it so I can do it too.


Adam: [00:12:42] That’s amazing.


Zach: [00:12:42] So she started chasing her dreams again. These guys, these two kids found each other via our Facebook page and I am able to see them kind of communicate and I can kind of see how they’re linked and had these conversations on our pages and they’re not alone anymore. They’re talking to each other. This guy’s in Denmark and this young girl is in Poland, but they’re united because of our team. And I think that’s the power that digital has and I really feel like we can do more to empower everybody and bring them in and kind of get them to participate in our mission.


Adam: [00:13:23] That is unbelievable, man. That’s a fantastic story. You need to tell that constantly. That’s a really, really, really amazing. I really appreciate you sharing that. So let me see if I can recap our conversation thus far for some good takeaways for our listeners. So related to digital marketing, what’s working well: telling your story in a compelling way, going beyond the races. I think the phrase you used was keep the circus in town, which is fantastic. That’s so great. Creating great content that really resonates with your audience, but then also being able to understand your audience as a whole, but then in individual audience segments based on user data so that you can speak to them directly to what interests them in particular. I think you said like in Italy, it’s the Italian riders and what they’re up to, in the UK, it’s about the cause and the overall story of the whole thing. So you can begin to shift your conversations around to better engage the communities that you’re in, which is really, really smart. Number two related to digital marketing. What has not worked well that we can learn from? You said trying to be everywhere…you can’t. You personally can’t be at every race. Therefore snapchat really doesn’t work at a distance and so yes, you keep your eye on snapchat. You keep your eye on these other emerging technologies, but you’ve got to focus in on what is tried and true, what’s worked well, and be sure that you’re really owning that experience for everyone and so I think that’s really smart that you’re doing that. And then number three, related to digital marketing, what are you excited about, turning your followers into a community of people that are united behind your cause, that are empowering people with diabetes to push beyond what they thought their limits were. Man, that is really, really amazing. I’m really excited about that. I’m excited about that. That’s unbelievable man. So, did I miss anything?


Zach: [00:15:09] No, that’s great. Just where people can follow us at Team Novo Nordisk on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.


Adam: [00:15:15] Thanks man. I’m about to go and follow everything. I’ll make sure all those links are in the show notes as well so that anybody that wants to can go to the link and follow there. That’s really amazing. So Zach, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share? Any nuggets of wisdom on the way out here?


Zach: [00:15:42] Just to use digital and tell your story. Focus on what your story is and who you want to tell it to and then just find the right channels that are going to support that.


Adam: [00:15:53] I mean I feel like if your story is compelling enough to have a nonprofit focused on it, and that’s usually the case. A nonprofit typically is focused on one story, one cause…if your story is compelling enough to have a nonprofit solely for that story, it should be compelling enough to move people if we tell it well and get them really on board with what we’re doing. I think you’re doing that in just an amazing, amazing way. So congratulations to you my friend.


Zach: [00:16:23] Well thanks very much Adam, I appreciate that.


Adam: [00:16:23] Well I’m going to have you back. I’m just going to assume you said yes already and we’ll have you back on the show and that’d be great man. Thanks for joining me today.


Zach: [00:16:34] Thanks for having me. It’s been great.


Adam: [00:16:37] Thanks for listening to the Good People Good marketing podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me your host, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker and on my blog at adamjwalker.com, where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks and tune in next time.

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