Everyone has business goals tied to enterprise content. So how do you get a handle on your content marketing success? 

Yes, you can track social shares, conversion rates, organic traffic, or any other key performance indicators (KPIs). But that doesn’t show how one piece of content has been used and repurposed across multiple channels. 

We tackle this and more with Katie Ryan O’Connor, VP of Content at Okta, on this week’s episode. We also dive into the role of TikTok for B2B brand awareness. TikTok can enhance your content marketing efforts, but can be tricky to navigate for B2B companies. Katie shares some tips for how you can maximize your TikTok success.

Tune in now to start measuring content performance through the lens of the assets themselves, as opposed to Google Analytics. 

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Hello, Katie. Welcome to the show.

Hey Chris, how are you?

Fantastic, just excited to be here. Let’s go ahead and jump right into this. Quick fire. I’m gonna say a thing. Quick answer. 

Amazing content is …

Amazing content is relevant to the people who you hope to consume it.

Concise or descriptive?

Why not both?

Okay. The company with the best brand voice is?

Well, now I’m supposed to say my employer, but we just launched a brand evolution. So we’ll give it a little time to bake in there. I’m gonna go with an outlier here and there’s a teeny tiny brand called Baboon to the Moon

I have the orange 40-liter backpack!

Do you? Yeah, these aren’t attractive backpacks in any way. But I happen to have consumed their content on TikTok and was blown away by the sophistication of their brand voice. Because they did something incredibly difficult very, very well, which is roasting their actual customers. 

Now, this is about as dangerous a prospect as one could ever attempt, right? But it has the impact of building a really unique community. And by the time I had consumed two to three TikToks, I was like, “surely I need a new backpack!” 

I mean, talk about creating demand, right? We have it hard enough just capturing demand, just doing good inbound marketing — and these people are searching for our products and services and we can’t even capture that. They’re like, “please tell me more about this thing that matters to your products and services.” And that’s hard enough. 

But to have me sitting here and I don’t need a backpack. I honestly don’t need a backpack, but now I want one. And do I want a large bulky one that looks like a Lego brick? I don’t know. 

You always need a new backpack.

It’s so different from what I thought it was going to be. But I travel with a full-size foam pillow rolled up like a backpack so that I can open it up on the plane and sleep into it. And that’s why I bought it. It’s perfect for that.

Best piece of content advice?

There’s so much good advice. Build a great team. Great teams build great content.

And when I’m creating content, I always …

Get really nervous. If you’re not nervous, you’re probably not trying hard enough.

Oh, that’s fun. 

Right now we’re talking in a world where content is everything. It’s the water that fuels the business. And I think that’s interesting for somebody that sits in your role as a VP of content. As marketers, we’re already the target of everybody who knows how to market. 

Now with content being everything in a business, everybody is a content creator. Do you feel that? Do you live with that in your business?

Absolutely. In fact, I was thinking about this not so long ago. 

So I’ve been with Okta for almost a year. And I think when you’re in any new role for almost a year, there’s a time when you reflect back and like, “gosh, if only I knew what I knew now, I would do everything differently” or “I would do most things differently,” or at least I think that. 

Build a great team. Great teams build great content. Click To Tweet

There’s so many amazing content creators within a company and it doesn’t even have to be a huge company. You may have in enterprise SaaS, just as an example, your customer success managers, your sales people, your product marketers, your brand marketers, all these roles. Some even have a not-for-profit within their purview, and they’re all creating these great stories. 

So I was reflecting that I could have come in with a singular content strategy just to focus on user-generated content within the company. How do we elevate the voices within a company to really tell the stories? We do that for customers. There isn’t a customer marketer that you don’t think is a great storyteller or doesn’t have storytelling as a core part of their customer marketing strategy. 

Our customers have amazing stories about business, about how they use our product, all of that kind of stuff. But, turning that lens inside your company and really understanding who are these expert people you have and how do you elevate their voices? I think it’s the most underutilized asset in terms of content and content strategy that a company can have. 

So I would love to do that in the future. To just come in and be like, actually, we’re just gonna use the people you have. And sorry for all the agency people out there, but you’ll always have to use agencies. But I think that’s a really underutilized resource.

Well, it puts a different focus on what you do as a content leader in the business. You’re not just going out and organizing the agencies. You’re not just running the 10 people that work in your content group. You’ve got to get your arms around a lot of the business. 

Because a byproduct of what we do when we go to work is the creation of content that’s used to fuel the business. So everybody kind of reports to you when it comes to the way they communicate in writing. How do you get your arms around that?

I haven’t yet been successful. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. I did something really interesting. A lot of companies have an “org wiki,” whether that’s in Slack or in a Confluence, they have everybody’s titles. 

I did a search for every single person within Okta that had content in their job description. There were 180 people that had content specifically in a job description they wrote. So they believe that it’s a core part of their job. And I think a subset of that surprisingly had it in their actual title. 

So when you found that out, you immediately ran to your boss and were like, “I need a raise. I have 180 people on my team!”

Exactly, I have 180 direct reports! But what would you do if you had 10 extra resources, really? It’s both an opportunity and like everything else in life, it’s a challenge. 

So for example, we were doing some content exploration the other day and we’re like, “oh, you know, this webinar is our most popular webinar and it’s tied to this really popular white paper.” And I really want to understand, how are people discovering this organically? Because we’re pretty dialed in on the paid side.

We're talking in a world where content is everything. It's the water that fuels the business. Click To Tweet

So I wanted to see, what are our optimizations in terms of organic? So I just did what you do. I went to Google and I Googled the company name. I Googled a couple of keywords in case people weren’t associating it with our brand yet.

This isn’t unique to my company, but it’s every company everywhere, there were four different versions of the same webinar that were all indexed on Google, right? Because think about it, you had a team before a team before a team that was creating that content and you don’t wake up with really great content rigor, you know? It’s something that has to develop over time. 

So I think that there’s a huge opportunity, not only leveraging internal content resources, but an enormous challenge in wrestling that down so that you don’t have four versions of the same webinar just out there on Google. And it’s happening to every company. I could go to any company right now, find your best webinar, Google some keywords associated with it, and I bet I could find different versions of it.

100 percent. It’s a thing that I actually care about a lot. The idea of a singular piece of content. For a thousand reasons. 

One, because people change things and it evolves over time and I don’t really want that. 

Two, because how do you really know what content is most impactful if there’s a thousand copies of it out there? And the idea of, with my content management system, my repository: does it have a player, like a viewer for content? Where content can live inside that viewer and be the one copy, and I just send the viewer out? 

And so I have the analytics tied to every use of a piece of content, internally, externally, with partners, with consumers, everywhere it’s opened, everywhere it’s viewed, I learn everything about it. It increases the overall value of that content. It also provides all kinds of business signals. There’s so much to it. 

Turning that lens inside your company and understanding who are these expert people you have and how you elevate their voices. I think it's the most underutilized asset in terms of content and content strategy. Click To Tweet

We’re nowhere near being in that world right now in my company. But that would be so amazing, to not have a thousand copies of the same thing floating around because it could be your most impactful asset, but you’re actually pulling analytics from the wrong version of it. The one that doesn’t get touched.

One thousand percent. And I do believe — I could talk about this for days — the days where one piece of content in one channel can carry the day are over, right? 

There’s not going to be that one blog post that rules them all. It’s going to be the one concept or the one idea or the one theme. And then it’s gonna be, how do you aggregate all of those metrics back to the business? 

You can say that it’s the webinar, plus the blog post, plus the eBook, plus the social collateral. We have to focus on creating an eBook that’s chapters, those chapters are blog posts, those blog posts are 15, 30 second social collateral and all of that stuff. We now know how to do that, I think the challenge is then how do we report back to the business in a way that really articulates that wider vision?

Because as content leaders, a lot of people are like, “well, how did my blog post do? That doesn’t seem like a lot. Maybe blogs are like a bad investment.” So we have to be the people who are the ones saying that it’s not ever again going to be about that one thing, unless we somehow have a secret formula to become viral, right? 

But virality isn’t a content strategy. If it was, I’d be enormously rich right now if I could do that. So I think it’s something that anybody in our position is going to be thinking a ton about. What is that, for lack of a better word, aggregated vision or aggregated outlook of content?

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Absolutely. And just to be fair, I do have, I think, a hundred views of my new TikTok video with the bold glamor filter. So I’m on my way to going viral.

Okay, so the emotional journey that I’ve been on, starting with the teenage filter. You just never know how good you have it until it’s gone, you know? And then I went into that bold glamor and I couldn’t recreate it for this. But I was showing it to my kids and they’re like, “honestly, stop, stop, stop, stop!”

I’ve never thought of having my lips done, but maybe I need to build that in my plan. 

I don’t know. I had a lot of new plastic surgery thoughts after that filter.

Fair enough. Well, filters are moving very fast. So who knows what’s gonna happen next week? There’s just a lot of movements on the filter front. Whew. 

Sorry, I could talk about TikTok forever. We actually just launched our corporate TikTok channel.

Did you really? Tell me about that.

So I’m a personal fan. I have, I was going to say three teenagers, but my oldest is now 21. So I have two teenagers. So, they consume TikTok for sure andI’m a fan.

Social media rolls up to me now, which is like a pleasure and an honor in my new role. And you could really see how Facebook was declining as a channel to invest in. That LinkedIn was by far and away where most people experience social content from an enterprise B2B SaaS company, no shocker there.

A byproduct of what we do when we go to work is the creation of content that's used to fuel the business. Click To Tweet

We started to look at how we could reinvest in Instagram because I’ve been really interested in their interface for content downloads. I think that there’s a really cool way that you can consume and download eBooks there. We haven’t cracked that code by any means. 

Our other investments frankly are YouTube and TikTok. And I think TikTok probably has the best value from an employer brand perspective and really shows the behind the scenes content. 

So we’ve been doing a lot of, “what’s it like for a marketer to go to our flagship conference? How do we prepare for it?” Those translate really well. 

Then we do some thought leadership too. There’s actually a guy on TikTok that’s not affiliated with our company that does an amazing explainer of why you should care about identity. I’m like, we should be telling that story. We’re like the world’s identity company — shameless plug there. 

So I think there’s an opportunity for thought leadership on TikTok because I see it. I’m not the smartest content marketer in the book. I’m like, if I see it, somebody’s doing it, we can probably do it. 

But I think from an employer brand perspective, you can do so many amazing, cool things. And I’ve just loved every single one of the TikToks we’ve done.

I think a lot of people in our world wonder about that. I spend most of my time on TikTok rage scrolling through political topics. And so I don’t really see work stuff in general. 

We’ve experimented with Instagram, Facebook isn’t really our target. We do a lot on LinkedIn. But, like you said, building the brand for the purposes of hiring, telling a story, moving into word talk, which does exist, because we’re a linguistic company, all of that makes sense to me. 

I just think that we all wonder how B2B software equates to the audience that’s on TikTok. But you’re figuring that out. The inspirational comment for me from this call is: this is a thing that we can do, because it seems to be working for you.

Absolutely, and I always challenge myself to not overthink something. One of the great beauties of digital content is you get a scorecard. 

You can’t over index on it just because something doesn’t work once — it doesn’t mean you should stop, right? Because then we would just create content and never create again. It’s a journey and it’s iterative, but you do get a scorecard. 

Virality isn’t a content strategy. Click To Tweet

So we’re looking at how many views something got, obviously. We’re also looking at how it performs on different platforms so that we can really cross pollinate. We had a great TikTok that performed very well on LinkedIn, which was awesome. And then sometimes they fail on another platform, because it’s a completely different audience. 

So all of this is just like a lab. I think when we empower our teams to have the room to test, to learn, and to grow they do amazing things. So I told my team, start the TikTok channel, see what works, see what doesn’t. And they’ve run with it.

And obviously you’ve created an identity management dance?

No, not yet! But thank you for the wonderful idea.

I feel like that’s a thing. So you recently went through a brand evolution. Tell me a little bit about that. 

So we just celebrated our 14th “Okta-versary”. Very successful. But 14 years is a long time. 

It’s like you’re a teenager. Like, “Who am I?” I think you gain new identities and new areas of focus. We had a major acquisition with Auth0. So how do you bring that all together and articulate the vision for the next 14 years? 

I’ve had the incredible pleasure of being next to the brand team through that entire evolution for the past 12 months. It was an amazing education because content teams can live in so many different places within companies. I’ve been in comms, I’ve been in product marketing, I’ve been in brand, and there’s no one right way to do it. But I will say that when you’re closest to the creatives and to brand marketers, I think that it’s just really exciting. 

I saw how much thought they gave to every single detail, like the kerning of the font. I don’t even know what “kerning” means, am I using it correctly? I don’t know. 

But, when I think about it as a content person, it makes me think, the details really do matter. They really do. We should be sweating the “kerning” of our sentences and really getting back to the stuff that matters. 

It’s been great and it was super well received internally, externally. We’ve got a brand new way to talk about our products. And I think it’s been amazing.

How are you measuring the success of the internal adoption of the evolved brand?

We’re actually talking a lot about that. I think one of the tools that I’m most excited about is, going back to our UGC (User-Generated Content) discussion earlier, what if we looked at every single person who worked at Okta as a brand ambassador. Which we do, by the way, no secret there. 

Content teams can live in so many different places within companies. Click To Tweet

I think every company likes to say that. Like, we’ve got 5000 brand ambassadors, go forth. 

Well, if you don’t really empower them or you don’t give them the right tools, people get paid for being brand ambassadors. It’s a job, it’s a thing, right? And people have skills and strategies associated with that. 

So we’re really focused now on: are we giving them the right tools? Are they going through brand training? Is that brand training accessible? Do you have examples? 

Because it’s one thing to say to a professional writer and editor, here’s a new brand voice

Let’s just say for sake of argument, your voice is candid or clever. You may assume that they have some idea about what that means when it comes to the words on the page. But for somebody whose main job is to be a customer success manager or an account executive, they may be just as eager and in fact just as capable, but they actually don’t know how to do that. So we want to empower them with the tools to do that.

Then from a social media perspective, there are some great tools out there that are really helping you input social collateral so that people are using things that are on brand. So they’re not going to their individual tools, like Canva or something, and tapping into their inner graphic designer. Which may be wonderful, I’m not a graphic designer, but you do want them to have the right brand colors, the right stuff. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity for that.

Fantastic. Last thing I’d like to touch on: the provocative statement of the day. What do you got? What’s provocative in your world?

I’ve been waiting for this question. I like nothing more than to be provocative. 

Are there possibilities for AI? Absolutely. Will we A/B test email subject lines in a hurry using ChatGPT? Probably. Am I gonna change my entire content strategy based on this new thing tomorrow? That's bananas. Click To Tweet

This is my provocative statement of the day: if you can’t look your CEO in the eye and say “we have a content machine that delivers business value” and you’re talking about AI, you are crazy and you shouldn’t be talking about AI.

Ooh, interesting. Fantastic. Now, explain a little bit about where you’re going with that. I like that a lot. 

I think in terms of content impact and what we’re trying to do for the business, everything that we write has an outcome. Where are you headed?

I think that it’s really easy to get caught up in like the shiny new thing syndrome, right? 

Are there possibilities for AI? Absolutely. 

Will we A/B test email subject lines in a hurry using ChatGPT? Probably. 

Am I gonna change my entire content strategy based on this new thing tomorrow? That’s bananas. Why would I do that?

Don’t worry because your Information Security team is going to block it from the business anyway, so give it a week.

Right! I think it’s like anything else in life. 

I came up through journalism. So I know what it’s like to see an industry not recognize the market forces around them or the major changes. But journalism didn’t die. It changed. 

So I think you have to be aware, but not swayed. Because it’ll take you down a road that ultimately should converge into one place, which is: can we put great content out that’s relevant and interesting? That tells a great story to the people that we want to consume it, at scale? 

I think that the really interesting thing is being able to use our humanity to figure out which pieces of this technology make the most sense in the business, because not all of it’s going to make sense. Click To Tweet

If you haven’t answered that fundamental question, all the AI in the world isn’t going to help you because you still haven’t figured out who you’re writing for. How would a machine be better at figuring that out than an actual person who could go talk to a customer? And say, “hey, customer X, why did you buy our product?”

They’ll be like, I Googled, and your SEO is pretty good. Or more accurately, they’ll be like, I did all the research myself. I didn’t consult you in any way, shape, or form. 

And then I went through your self-serve funnel and you’re taking all the credit now for something that I did myself. I didn’t even use your marketing. How about that? That’s how I found your product. 

So I think as marketers, I think we have to be really humble. There’s plenty of work to be done. We don’t have to jump ahead to the shiny new thing. Unless of course you figured it all out and then great!

Well, we’re not near that yet. There’s a lot of shiny and new right now, and 90 percent of it’s additive, but it’s not the answer. I think that the really interesting thing is being able to use our humanity to figure out which pieces of this technology make the most sense in the business, because not all of it’s going to make sense.

Katie, thank you very much for being on the show. I’m sure that people can probably find you on LinkedIn. That’s probably the best way to find you if they want to continue this conversation.

Absolutely, yes, I would love that. Thank you so much. 

I’m Katie Ryan O’Connor on LinkedIn. You can find me there. I’m probably not the only one, but I’m the one that works at Okta. And I would love to connect with people.

Thank you so much. These questions were amazing, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Thrilled to have you on the show. Have a great rest of your day.

Thanks, you too.

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About Katie Ryan O’Connor

Katie Ryan O’Connor is the VP, Content at Okta where she leads a talented team of writers, editors, and marketing managers based in the U.S. and EMEA. Her team is dedicated to expanding the conversation around cloud-based identity and furthering the reach of Okta’s content across a diverse range of formats and channels. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family and loves hiking, crochet, and TikTok.

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