FinCon Marketing & Creative Director
Libby Gifford serves as the Marketing and Creative Director of FinCon, a digital marketing event and community for content creators in the personal finance niche. In her role with FinCon, Libby oversees content marketing and communications, as well as creates visuals and interactive experiences on-site for the annual event. Before working with FinCon, Libby freelanced as a graphic designer, illustrator, and art director for 6 years, and owned a children’s apparel company.
What You’ll Learn
- [0:59] Libby shares her experience before FinCon, and how she decided to go full-time as its marketing and creative head.
- [2:05] The essence of FinCon, how It developed over the years, and the goals of this annual event
- [4:46] How does FinCon relate to its audience? What are the types of content Libby’s team produces to drive visibility and educate?
- [6:09] Libby discusses the importance of having guests, and how they encourage collaboration and community through their content
- [7:51] The process of creating content for FinCon, and the importance of video in driving visibility to their brand
- [11:41] Is having a Facebook group a viable tool for promotion? Libby weighs in on how it could help with your brand
- [14:13] Libby shares some of their best performing content and the processes to share them to their audiences
- [19:00] The importance of figuring out how unique your social media channels are and how you can tailor content to perform their best on each platform by repurposing them.
- [20:38] “It’s okay for us to put the same thing out on a blog post, on the YouTube, on a podcast, because not everyone’s consuming the same way. So we’re hitting more.”
Shaina Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns long-form content into optimized videos and images for high engagement social media strategies. Shaina has a background in video production for digital marketing and is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content that they already have. She has taught about content in many publications including DigitalMarketer, Inc., and Startup Nation, and continuously offers valuable takeaways by interviewing industry experts from world-recognized brands such as GoDaddy, HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and more through her video podcast, Content Karate. She loves to laugh loudly, be obnoxiously competitive on the volleyball court, treat her dogs as her kin, and recover from tripping on or running into almost everything within a five-foot radius. Learn more about Shaina here: ShainaWeisinger.com
Shaina Weisinger: All right, hello everybody. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Contact Karate. Today, I have got the amazing Libby Gifford with us. She is the marketing and creative director for FinCon Expo. Now FinCon is not just an event. Their whole tagline is where money and media meet, but they do so much for the personal finance industry to help them learn how to create awesome content and just be present online more. So they’ve got tons of resources online. They obviously have their killer event that they do every single year, but there’s just so much more to what they do to help content creators in their niche, which is finance. But I’m just super excited, Libby, to have you on the show. And thank you, thank you so much for spending some time with us.
Libby Gifford: Yeah, I’m so excited to be here with you today.
Shaina Weisinger: Awesome. So tell me a little bit about how you ended up with FinCon. What’s your journey been like?
Libby Gifford: Yeah, so I was a freelancer, solopreneur for myself, doing art directing and graphic design for a long time. And FinCon was my largest client and it’s a very small staff with a founder and the event director. The three of us actually went to college together, so we’ve been friends for 20 years. So when it came to just freelancing every year, I was doing more and more for FinCon, and over time, the business and the event grew. So about three or four years ago I came on board full time, just doing creative directing. And now here we are. We are running the show, running the event, doing marketing creative, still doing design work, a little bit of everything in a small company and everybody puts on lots of hats.
Shaina Weisinger: And you have it on right now. For those of you who are listening, you cannot see, but yes. [inaudible 00:01:49] the big interview hat. Got you. You had mentioned this… Well, obviously we’re in this weird COVID scenario, so this would have been year 10 that you guys were going to. In a year, usually it’s September, right?
Libby Gifford: Yeah, September, October each year.
Shaina Weisinger: That’s it. So now we’re pushing to 2021, but 10 years, that’s super exciting.
Libby Gifford: It is. I started freelancing with the company on year three when it was maybe 300 people. So this year for year 10 we were looking at 3000. So it’s been a cool journey for me personally and professionally to just see how the company has grown, how the business has grown, and the event, as well as there’s just so many people talking about personal finance on the internet and they want to be a part of a community. So it’s been really a cool thing to see how it’s changed over the years.
Shaina Weisinger: And I can say, we have been sponsors. We were sponsors last year, we had a booth in the whole thing. It’s a really cool event. It’s big, but it’s still intimate. It’s definitely like people are… It’s very friendly. It’s like a community. And I’ve been to events all over the place of different sizes, and that was one of the places that I felt the most…. It was a very, very cool event.
Libby Gifford: Well thank you for saying so. That’s a goal that we have is… Because we started, our founder came from this community, so when we started, he was like… He just wanted to get together with other people like him that are talking about money and they need to learn how to be better digital marketers. So one of our goals each year is, in addition to the content, how are we connecting people with each other? Is people who are at home all the time, working on their own, or doing a side hustle late at night, and they have all these internet friends they’ve never met. So when we plan it on the backend, sometimes we talked about it like camp. How can we make this a camp experience for adults? And we would never say that out… We don’t market it that way, obviously, but that’s a feeling we want to have, is this is a community, let’s connect people together. So I’m glad to hear that that was the experience you had as well.
Shaina Weisinger: Yeah. You’ve definitely done it. So kudos for making that the goal, because that’s what it feels like for sure.
Libby Gifford: A lot of people even come and they don’t even go to the sessions or anything, which is fine. That’s our goal. We would rather have people in the hallways connecting with sponsors like you, connecting with each other, collaborating, than go and sit in, an education class that they can watch online later. So I’m so glad we achieved that goal for you.
Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, definitely. So in addition to the event, like we were saying, you guys have a massive online presence. The amount of content you put out is impressive, especially for how small your team is. Some people think that creating these massive content strategies is next to impossible when you don’t have a team of 30 in marketing, and you guys have proven that no, you can not only just do it, you can do it really, really well. So I want to hear about what types of content you guys put out and then we’re going to dive into what your strategy is behind it. Because I know because I know how you guys work your content in some aspects that you guys aren’t constantly chasing new tiny pieces of content. You’re really savvy and strategic in how you go about it. So just off the top, what type of content do you guys consistently put out to your audience?
Libby Gifford: Although our audience is people who… We say people who are talking about money on the internet, so personal finance content creators and brands. They already are educated on that topic. They know about money. They don’t need us to teach about it. But they want us to help them… We do three buckets. Our content either falls into how to create better content, how to promote that content, or how to make money from that content. So when I am curating our content, it’s got to fall into one of those three categories, and we want it to be really how to, really specific. Somebody can walk away from our content, put it into practice and change whatever their platform is immediately.
So that’s topically what we’re looking for. I mean, obviously we’re an event, so sometimes we’re going to throw in event updates or specific things about that. But that’s sort of what we’re looking for, and platform wise we’re putting out a podcast and that’s our tent pole piece. And then we create a blog post based on that. We might create a YouTube video based on that. So we’re doing exactly what you guys are talking about doing. We make one piece and we repurpose it in lots of ways.
Shaina Weisinger: It’s funny because I feel that is what we keep saying on repeat with all of our guests. Make that pillar content. Do it. And I am always a huge advocate for making that pillar content a podcast with guests. Why do you guys do it with guests?
Libby Gifford: Yeah, we do it with guests probably because we are a business built around a community of people that already exist. So we recognize… For one thing, we are asking our community to collaborate with each other, and that’s how we build that event that feels collaborative and feels small. So we want to set the example ourselves. We are not the experts. There are people that know more about mail, email, or more about social media, or more about creating a podcast than any of us do. So why not have them on and collaborate with them for these pieces, because they’re going to know way better than we are. And additionally, in the long run it gets us a bigger audience as well if I’m really honest. If I feature this great YouTuber on here teaching about YouTube, anybody in his audience now is going to pay attention to us. So it’s multilayered in that way. And also from a standpoint of just entertainment value, it’s way more exciting to hear from someone new every week while we have the same host from week to week.
Shaina Weisinger: I totally agree with that. I think that the cross-promotion value with having really cool guests is massive, but also the really nice thing is what you’re saying. You don’t have to be the know all of all things content marketing. You get to pick other people’s brains and allow them to, but what’s super cool is that FinCon now gets to be the place where they at least come together to gather all that knowledge. It’s just such a smart strategy to me, to be able to take other people’s knowledge and make it your own offering to your audience. It’s just the smartest. So, we’ve got the pillar content that is the podcast episode. What happens from there? I know you rattled off a handful of things, but let’s go with it.
Libby Gifford: So basically structurally for us, we just have three full-time staff members, so then we have client contract workers who each are great at one thing. So I have a guy who hosts our podcasts and then I have people who are from our community that write for us. So they’ll take that podcast interview and I’ll pass it on to a writer and then they write it into more of an article format. So we have that that comes out. When we record the podcast, we record it on video as well, so then we have somebody that’s great at editing that does that for us and then we pop it onto YouTube. So those are the main ways that we repurpose that. And then obviously we send it to you guys and you guys whittle it down to smaller pieces for us, so then we have that representation on social as well.
Shaina Weisinger: Awesome. Why do you think it’s important to have it on video and to then put it on YouTube?
Libby Gifford: For us it’s just another format. YouTube has been the last platform frontier for us that we have tried to develop, and as it’s growing, we recognize, “Whoa, we’ve not focused on that at all.” And there are new content creators that are killing the YouTube game. And for us as an event, we have a video track, so if we want people to see us as somewhere they can learn from, we ought to be putting out content on that track. I always a multifaceted reason for doing that, but we do find that there are people who prefer watching something… I’m a watcher versus a listener, so let’s put it out there for that.
Shaina Weisinger: You got the pillar content for the podcast. Do you put any other content on YouTube, like your speakers engagements from the…
Libby Gifford: We don’t have a system or a formula for that necessarily. We record 120 plus sessions at our event itself. So what we’ll do every once in a while is we keep track on those that are replayed, so we have a virtual pass option. So we all track those and I know what people are watching and I can say, “Oh man, people are really into this right now.” So I’ll either pull a short clip from that to put on YouTube, or I might throw the whole thing out, or in our… We have a Facebook group with 4,000 members, and a lot of times people are chattering about certain things.
You might see a whole thread about freelance writing and how to get gigs or something. And I’ll remember, “Oh, we have a great session from FinCon 19 about that. Maybe this would be timely to put it out there.” So it’s an opportunity for us to put out content from our event also on YouTube so people go, “Oh, this is great content I can watch here. What if I want to go in person?” So that’s a promotional opportunity for us as well as just a kindness to the people who want to learn.
Shaina Weisinger: I think something you said that was so important is listening to the chatter, listening to what’s going on in your groups and on your content, to then give more content that speaks to what exactly they want, because then you know that what you’re putting in that group is something that they’re already excited to learn about instead of just being on your side of the veil and being like, “Well this is what I think they should hear.” Let your audience determine what it is that you’re going to send to them next. I think that’s super smart.
Libby Gifford: Yeah. And for us, because we’re not talking just YouTubers, just a podcast, or we’re not talking to people in one specific platform, the range of things we could talk about is really broad, and in the past we found ourselves only talking about X, Y, Z. So we’re like, “Okay, we know we need to expand. How can we figure out what direction it goes?” So listening to what you’re saying, the chatter that’s already happening, is super helpful. To say, “Okay, we haven’t heard about Pinterest in a while or ever. Let’s figure out who among us knows about that and is expert, and let’s bring them in, because people are asking about it, honestly.”
Shaina Weisinger: I know a lot of businesses who have dipped their toe in the water or are thinking about creating a group, Facebook groups. What are your thoughts on that? Obviously it’s been successful for you guys, but I know that doesn’t happen overnight. So what are your thoughts on that?
Libby Gifford: I mean, for us, it’s been really helpful. Number one, honestly, the reason we have a group is not really about promotion, and it’s not really about any of these other things that are nice residual effect. The reason we have a group is because we want to cultivate something within our community. We want to cultivate within our event attendees this collaboration idea, this help each other out… What is that, rising tide lifts all boats? That’s the goal of our group. Because if we understand that that is what is happening in that group, then that’s how our event will be. So we use it, again, less marketing, less promo, more this is the culture we want, and this is how our group is. And because of that, we police our group heavily. We have really strict rules in our group so that it becomes people are not coming in there and promoting their work. They’re not promoting like, “Hey, this is the amazing thing that I did.” If you’re going to tell us the amazing thing you did, we sort of require that you say how you did it.
It’s not just like, “I hit two million downloads.” It’s, “I hit two million downloads and here’s how that happened.” Even for me coming in, that was already established and I was just scratching my head like, “Wow, we are so strict.” But it makes a huge difference. I’m in other Facebook groups where I can’t get anything out of it because people are in there just chatting about whatever they want, talk about how amazing they are. And I’m like, “I know you’re amazing, but you’re not helping me out.” And I love it when people come in our group and they’re like, “Hey, I’m writing an article for Forbes about renting versus buying a home. Who on here has experience and wants me to quote them?” And then you’ll have 20 people come in. And I just think that it’s really unusual that people are able to collaborate or lift others up in that way. So our group is heavily… We know what our goal with the group is, and we guard it with that in mind.
Shaina Weisinger: That’s awesome. And then, like you said, the nice residuals are you get to listen to them and really build your content and your event after what they are creating in the group themselves. And to be able to just take action based on what you’re seeing is really something that I think a lot of businesses don’t get a chance to do because they don’t have something set up like that.
Libby Gifford: The group has been… Sometimes it’s hard work to keep it that way, but it is so beneficial for our attendees, our audience, and for us as well.
Shaina Weisinger: Yeah, awesome. So do you have one particular piece of content that just crushes it for you guys?
Libby Gifford: Ramit Sethi was our keynote this past year, and I mean, anything you do with Ramit just crushes. So we milked that piece a lot, just because his talk was really great, it was really inspirational, and it was really helpful to us. Number one, we can put it out as a marketing piece for the next year to say, “we have these keynotes. It’s going to be just as quality this coming year.” We can put it out in one of those other buckets that we have. His talk was so good you could break it down and get little pieces out of it. You can play the whole thing. So I would say that piece of content has really worked well for us.
Sarah Guidas: That’s awesome. And that really speaks to something that I talked to a lot of, actually, podcasters about, is that if you have… A lot of people are so focused on the newest piece of content and getting that put onto social media or whatever. But if you have one guest or one piece that’s so good that you get tons of engagement on it, consistently be putting that out in front of people, because it’s funny that the phrase that I get is, “Well, everybody already heard that episode,” or, “Everybody already saw that video.” I’m like, “Everybody saw it? All people that would people potentially be interested in it?” And I’m like, “No, keep on…” Don’t post the same clip every week, but there’s got to be so much in that that you can get new audiences, new listeners, new viewers on that original piece if they see something that’s repurposed and that speaks to them. If it’s one piece that kills it, you nailed it, keep on putting it out there.
Libby Gifford: And something like that keynote was almost an hour long talk, so if you… And people are not consuming hour long things unless they’re sitting down on a podcast, listening to that or in the car or whatever. So for us, if we can cut it down to, here’s a ten minute segment or a three minute segment, and that piece for whatever reason really was not designed for that, but it’s worked that way. So that’s been really helpful to us. I know you only asked me for one, but I’ll tell you [crosstalk 00:16:14].
Shaina Weisinger: No, it’s good, please.
Libby Gifford: We do a series coming into our event each year that we call our guides to FinCon. And this is unique because they’re event focused, obviously, but those kill it for us. So we do a guide for first-timers, a guide for podcasters, a guide for YouTubers. We do 10 of them for the different niches that attend our event. We do one how to make money at FinCon, and those kill it, because I think it’s taking things that we already have on our website in a post form, and we put it into a format that people are excited to watch. For the guide to FinCon for podcasters we interview a podcaster, they tell us what their experience is like at FinCon, and then these are three things you ought to do as a podcaster while you’re there.
And those do so well, I think because they speak to our event. We time them really well, so when people are beginning to think about how they should prep for coming, and then they break down really well too. So I can take those questions and break them down into shorter video pieces and put them on our website, put them on our social media. Those are actually our highest ranking pieces for us on our podcast every year. So those are nice things for us.
Shaina Weisinger: And what’s cool is you haven’t just made your guide to FinCon. It’s what are you interested in, and then you have a specific guide for that instead of just trying to blanket it on one person with amongst all the different types of mediums.
Libby Gifford: Yeah. And those are actually… We’ve done those three or four years in a row now, and we’re not having to redo a ton each year. I made the outline four years ago, and then each year I bring in a new person to help us talk through the outline and add their own opinions to it. So it just changes it just enough to feel fresh, or maybe there’s something new about the event. So it’s reworking it each year, but it’s not killing myself to make it from scratch. To me that’s just repurposed in a different way, and that’s been really, really… Makes it a more streamlined process.
Shaina Weisinger: Oh man, I love that. That was gold for sure. Make the outline and then just tweak it based on the guest that’s going to come in there and then edit… Crushes for you. That’s awesome.
Libby Gifford: And I just sent them the outline and I’m like, “Hey, this is what we usually say. What would you add to this? Or does this not resonate with you? Should we remove it?” And they give us great feedback because we do have a goal with that and I want them to hit those goals, but I also want them to recognize they’re a different person. What can they add to it? So again, it’s that idea of collaborating that is just such a pillar for us.
Shaina Weisinger: Yeah. Heck yeah. I love that. Well, is there anything that we haven’t touched on content wise that you think is really important that needs to be shared? I mean, you’ve given so much. I’m excited to implement some of these things.
Libby Gifford: I think for us, as far as you guys have really helped us figure out how to use some of these things on different social media platforms. I’m personally more of an Instagram person, so when I’m able to break these things down and figure out, “Okay, what does this look on Twitter? What does this look on Instagram? What does it look on YouTube, on Facebook?” And I’m not trying to brown nose to you or anything, but I’m going to toot your horn a little bit and say it helps me… As my team is thinking about what are we going to send to Repurpose House and what are we going to get back? It’s helping us tweak just enough to go, “Okay, this is better for Twitter. This is better for Instagram.”
So that’s been really helpful. Those platforms are always changing. So figuring out what engages where has been helpful to us, and that it’s okay to have the same thing across platforms, because a huge segment of our audience that’s been with us for all 10 years are all living on Twitter. But people who are new to our event, they’re all living on an Instagram. So it’s okay to say the same clip is going on both places because it’s hitting totally different people. And it feels like we’re overdoing it, but that means people are just now catching it.
Shaina Weisinger: And also people maybe see you on multiple platforms and maybe Monday they missed it and Tuesday they see it on a different platform or they’re in a different mindset. For me, when I’m on Instagram, it’s different than when I’m on LinkedIn. So if I see a piece of content on each of those platforms, I may or may not be receptive to it based on my mindset on that platform. I’m glad you guys are spreading them all over the platforms to get attention all over the place. That’s great.
Libby Gifford: And that goes across the board. Not even just social, but it’s okay for us to put the same thing out on a blog post, on the YouTube, on a podcast, because not everyone’s consuming the same way. So we’re hitting more… Our numbers may lower across the board, but we’re getting bigger numbers collectively, if that makes sense.
Shaina Weisinger: For sure. Just give them the content as they want to consume it the way that they do. And leave it up to them on how… Awesome. Awesome. Well, this was so great, Libby. Thank you so much for hanging out. I was bummed that the dog didn’t come barreling in. She kicked her dog and your roommate-
Libby Gifford: My sister, yeah.
Shaina Weisinger: – her sister out.
Shaina Weisinger: Kicked them out of here. They’re too noisy for this kind of thing.
Shaina Weisinger: I’m going to let you go so that you can allow them back into the premises. Thank you so much. And everybody who’s watching or listening, if you found this helpful or in any way impactful for your marketing strategy, which I can guarantee you have, please share with anybody else who you think could get some awesome info out of Libby and the things that she shared with us today. Thank you so much. Thanks, Libby, and hope to see you guys next time.
Libby Gifford: Yeah, see you!
Shaina Weisinger: Bye!