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An Investor’s Personal Social Media Tech Stack: In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 followers

What tech stack should a microinfluencer use?

Most investors including me spend most of our day doing the same things people have always done in the job: in my case, due diligence, deal execution, etc.  However, being a “microinfluencer” is now also part of the job description. 

In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 followers. Traditional celebrities or influencers with millions of followers have a large service industry and tech stack to serve their needs. But the standard toolkit of a microinfluencer is still evolving.  

The challenge is that my time and money budget for “influencing”–content creation and marketing– is minimal. Also, since I’m not trying to be a full-time marketer, I can’t use some of the standard celebrity techniques. I can’t pick fights on Twitter; date other celebrities; or swear a lot at conferences. These vectors work for a lot of celebrities, and for some businesspeople and politicians, but I’m uncomfortable with them and it will impede my ability to do the rest of my job. Plus, my wife doesn’t let me date celebrities.  

Another difference: Traditional influencers rely heavily or purely on virtual marketing, because that scales. But for B2B sales, meeting people in person is often mandatory. Sadly, no one is buying a ticket to my latest blockbuster movie for $10.  They’re taking a $1m check from me, or giving $5m to me as a limited partner. Gordon Platt, President, Gotham Media, observes, “You may meet people on-line, but when’s the last time you really made a long-term, financially meaningful commitment exclusively as the result of a virtual interaction?” This is why I do speak regularly at various conferences.  (That said, I think videoconferencing will supplant more in-person meetings over time.)

In the venture capital/private equity business, investors are B2B microinfluencers.  We market primarily to four populations:

  • High-potential founders
  • Other investors: Limited partners, other VCs who are coinvestors, later-stage investors, etc.
  • High-potential prospective employees of portfolio companies
  • Executives of large companies which may acquire or become clients of our portfolio companies

We don’t worry too much about marketing to the broader world, who are less relevant.  

Tech stack

I’ve listed below my current social media toolkit.  This may seem like a long list, but most of these require no time at all, once set up.  I use IFTTT and Zapier to automate the process of maintaining these platforms. Almost all of these are free, except for the ones I mark with a **, which require payment for my usage level. 

Collectively this helps me to generate awareness in my target audience.  Cindy Machles, CEO, Glue, says, “In this noisy world, you are more at risk of stretching yourself too thin than overmarketing.”

The first three tools are only relevant if you’re going to generate significant content yourself:

  • Teten.com, my blog and content marketing strategy. I agree with Fred Wilson on the value of owning your own platform. My design inspiration is Craigslist (no joke), because Craigslist has the highest signal to noise ratio of any major website. I only write about once a month; my priority is quality not quantity. The reason I’ve been able to generate a significant amount of content is that almost everything I write is a sanitized version of a memo or presentation I made for my work, not marketing for the sake of marketing (more on this below). I typically publish essays in an established media venue, and then cross-post it on my blog. I host on Hostforweb**. Thanks to Ella J Designs** for helping me with the design and maintenance of Teten.com and PEVCTech.com for many years. 
  • PEVCTech.com, a community for investors and technologists responsible for investing in private companies, primarily at private equity and venture capital funds. Our focus is on sharing information on technologies and systems that make investing in private companies more efficient and effective. 
  • Mailchimp.com**, to manage my mailing lists, which people join by registering on Teten.com or PEVCTech.com. I only send out mailings approximately quarterly. The mailings are just roundups of recent blog posts, so don’t require extra work.

The tools I use below are relevant even if you’re in a role where your public communication is very limited, e.g., for regulatory reasons, or if you don’t want to allocate the time to write significant public-facing content.

  • Google Drive**. I use this to host my presentations, which are all embedded at teten.com.  Google Sheets supplants Slideshare and Scribd, which I used to use but are far inferior for my purposes. Plus it’s free.  
  • Salesforce**, my current CRM. It’s not right for everyone, but they do have the advantage of being integrated with numerous other other services, like the ones I list here. This of course is why VCs love platform companies.   
  • FullContact**, to track contact updates and scan business cards, which I pull into Salesforce via Zapier.
  • Superhuman**, my email client.  David Shadpour, CEO, Social Native*, recommends Mixmax**, a gmail enhancement to track email activities (opens, clicks), schedule emails, and create reminders. He says, “My personal tech stack includes Boomerang as my core solution for prioritizing email and more importantly staying on top of important threads. I also obsessively use Gmail’s starring system to help prioritize.” 
  • Linkedin.  I use Hootsuite to post 3-5 times per week, typically with a link to one of my past essays. In Linkedin preferences, I changed the default Call to Action on Linkedin to “Follow” rather than “Connect”, which makes sense given most people who visit my page are not people I know personally. I only link to people whom I’ve met. I know a number of large financial services firm which use Hearsay Systems to empower their employees to use Linkedin and other social media tools in a compliant way.  Gil Eyal, CEO, HYPR, recommended, “The “commercial” world of influencer marketing is centered in Instagram and Youtube (with some spillage towards smaller networks like Snap, TikTok and Twitch). Influencers who are professionals do better on Linkedin and Twitter… I do recommend active Linkedin users master the use of hashtags. The reach they can create is significant and also serves to make the post discoverable later on. Acknowledge comments to your posts, as they create visibility for people who are connected to the person who engaged with your post and you want to encourage them to continue engaging with your content.”
  • Twitter. I occasionally tweet out interesting content, about once daily on average. I don’t have bandwidth to engage in substantial conversations on Twitter. 
  • Hootsuite.  I use Hootsuite to post simultaneously on Twitter whatever I post on Linkedin, since there does not appear to be a way to automate this using IFTT or Zapier.  Note that according to Dave Kerpen, Chairman, Likeable, you can increase your reach by posting organically to each platform (i.e., not via a tool like Hootsuite), especially when posting native video.
  • Diigo.  I use this social bookmarking tool to keep a record of useful websites.  I use IFTTT to share on Twitter automatically anything new i post on Diigo.
  • YouTube. I post there the occasional video in which I’m featured.  
  • Google My Business, which helps me manage my Google presence. 
  • Facebook.  I’m not active on Facebook at all, but I do have a business page I manage passively. I use IFTTT to re-post there anything that I tweet. I also have a low-profile personal Facebook page which I just look at occasionally to see what my personal friends are up to. I post there typically only every time I get married, have a child, or have another major lifecycle event.  (Only married once, just for clarity…)  
  • Goodreads. I record here the books I’ve read, not as diligently as I should.
  • Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. I maintain these accounts for R&D, and so my kids think I am less uncool. I’m not active there. I do recognize that two years from now, all the top investors may be on TikTok, but I just can’t justify the time required to take a leadership position on these platforms which are not yet heavily used for B2B purposes.  

I’ve thought about using a tool to increase distribution/viewership of my past blog posts by drip marketing them, but haven’t signed up yet. Today, I do this manually. Ideally the tool would automatically add relevant tags and distribute on relevant platforms (including email), without looking spammy.  Missinglettr and Evergreen both help solve this problem. 

I also use these tools, which are specifically for investors and others who work in the tech ecosystem:

  • AngelList, where I post my public portfolio. 
  • Crunchbase. I haven’t taken the time to update my investment information here, so my profile is not very accurate.  I can only do so much unpaid work for the social media companies.
  • Signal.  This is hosted by NFX.

I have a tiny audience compared with the B2C influencers, but my audience are overwhelming businesspeople in tech and finance. I think there’s a market opportunity for a talent agent for microinfluencers, who would help me better leverage my audience. There are numerous companies which help brands identify microinfluencers, e.g., Klout* (acquired by Khoros), Hypr, Little Bird (acquired by Sprinklr), Thoughtleaders .  But I’m looking for the reverse business model: someone who will help me better grow and leverage my audience, comparable to traditional celebrity talent agents.  I welcome suggestions.

Jourdan Urbach, Managing Partner of Brandt & Co., advised, “The [online] places you maintain an active presence build a picture of who you are, and are not. Founders and LPs will read into your personal vacation pictures on instagram, just as much as they’ll consider the amount of time you spend responding to comments on LinkedIn articles. Likewise, orphaned accounts such as Twitters languishing untweeted for months are a bad look. Lock those down to maintain the username, and put a link in the bio to where you do spend your time. When you test social platforms intermittently during diligence, use a clean identity. For my money, I like to draw a clear distinction between work and play. Work goes online…Play goes “offline,” in private WhatsApp or Telegram groups where it belongs.”

Creating content

A big challenge for many investors is creating value-added content.  I have a simple content generation heuristic: I write about topics for which I can’t find a good result on Google.  My solution: almost everything I publish publicly is something I had to write anyway. My heuristic also means that I’ll likely rank high in SEO for that particular topic.

I write almost everything I write for one of three reasons: 

1) To answer a question I’m asked.  I find I send different people the same emails repeatedly, and so I just publish a sanitized version and point people to the link, e.g., Here are all the relevant categories of investors and how to find them; here’s how to make money from consulting to the private equity and VC industry.

2) Researching a topic.  I typically share my draft article with relevant domain experts, which makes me more educated about the topic I’m digging into. Examples: free support for your startup from the Fortune 500; free money for your impact startup.

3) Documenting best practices. As a manager and business-builder, one of my key responsibilities is identifying, documenting, and training in best practices.  Examples: best practices on launching a new VC fund, microcredentials for new VCs.

Matt Joachim, Head of Growth at Fundera, observes, “Having a substantive and authoritative post on a subject (some will even say that 2,000+ words is a must), is becoming more and more critical to getting content that is easily discoverable on search engines [in lieu of backlinks and SEO]. As you drive more traffic and engagement from your readers, you can create a virtuous cycle of growing domain authority that will inherently raise the rankings of all of your content.”

I don’t have any set budget of time, or set quota for number of posts. Whenever I get an idea for a post which fits into one of these categories, I set it up as a Google Doc, and then I start adding notes into it. Sometimes it can take me several years to finish accreting to even a short article, until I think it’s worth publishing.   

April Rudin, CEO, the Rudin Group, and the #1 Online Influencer in Wealth Management, observed, “Today, instead of simply relying on referral information (a la Bernie Madoff) people will use Google, which is the most essential element in anyone’s online toolkit. People will vet you before they’ve met you, so make sure that your online presence is clean and clear. I recommend Grapevine6, which curates relevant online content, for which I’m a reseller.”  I personally don’t use a tool to recommend content for me to share, since I prefer to just market primarily my own content.  

Benjamin Gordon***, CEO of Cambridge Capital, an investor in logistics and technology companies, says, “You have to stay on message. I’m known as “the Supply Chain guy.” So my online presence, comments, and writings revolve around that focus. I’ll typically write at least one article a month, either on my blogs, on an industry site, on general media sites like Fortune, or on my Medium publication, Supply Chains. I’ll also write or post daily on Twitter and LinkedIn. And I’ll occasionally record videos on Youtube and Vimeo. The core themes typically address logistics, technology, ecommerce, robotics, automation, and new opportunities in the supply chain.”

Distributing content

Abigail Rogers-Berner, Content Strategy, Bionic, wrote, “Our social media platforms serve very different purposes. Instagram is primarily a place to showcase our culture. Our hires want to be able to find us on Instagram and get a sense of who we are and what we do together. Our Twitter is intended to be a platform where we establish ourselves as thought leaders, engage with others in our space, and share partner news. Our LinkedIn is somewhere in between the two.  Cross-posting is a great strategy, but even whipping up a few assets from that content and putting them on other social sites can be a huge time saver, a way to direct traffic, and an easy way to post more regularly (which really does matter, regardless of your field). Having bits of high-quality content in snackable bites every day is the way to go in terms of engagement and pleasing the algorithms. For example, our newsletters go out every other week, and they’re one of our best marketing assets. We make them by pulling suggested articles, podcasts, and books from our team’s Slack channels; writing up little descriptions; and putting them next to a picture of the recommender so that it feels personal. We add news from our partners and book recommendations, as well as Bionic’s hiring page and a signup link to share with the subscriber’s friends. We then tweet about each recommended article over the course of the next few weeks and make a few separate tweets and LinkedIn posts about signing up for the newsletter. Sometimes, we’ll work with a designer to make a great quote card or a video summary of a recommended podcast. Tagging recommenders and the news sources that they recommended also helps with followers and engagement. “

Sabena Quan-Hin, Marketing Manager, Flow Capital, said, “I used Buzzsumo last year to inspire my Top 15 Conferences in North America for Startups in 2020 article. My goal was to write an article that would attract the types of companies we were looking to fund: growth-stage startups looking to scale and/or growth capital. I used Buzzsumo’s content search function to look up articles targeted towards “startups,” and discovered that articles that provided a list of resources (e.g. software, tips, growth tactics) had high view and social sharing rates. I published my article on Medium.com in August 2019 because I wanted to be the first person to provide conference information for 2020. Views have been increasing exponentially since mid-November with 95% of views coming from external referrals (primarily Google search results). ”

Kevin Lee, Executive Chairman of Didit, emphasizes the importance of having a content syndication strategy alongside a content creation strategy.  Having one’s own platform is key, but content syndication with op-ed or guest contributions dramatically increases one’s reach.  The content has to be unique and high-quality to get top placements. Kevin recommends creating a target list for syndication using this 5 step process: 

  1. “Start with the industry trade publications, using SEMRush and Ahrefs to broaden the list based on overlapping keyword coverage.
  2. Identify new publishers (via domain name) for consideration. Repeat the same process for each domain, digging deeper into the layers of publishers. 
  3. Run domains through Similarweb and Alexa to confirm traffic.
  4. Append social media data to your list including social reach (social impact and influence is harder to determine). 
  5. Score the opportunities based on the combination of social reach with readership.

After scoring opportunities, Kevin suggests you don’t pitch the most prominent ones with your submissions until you have great content on both your own platform and some smaller, well-regarded publishers.

Jack McCarthy, Account Coordinator, Stanton Public Relations and Marketing, suggests, “People and brands hesitate to have a social media presence because they mistakenly believe they have nothing to talk about, when in reality, many of the thoughts are already produced. Are you speaking to press? Does your team conduct research? Are there decks you’re putting together? Even if you aren’t already producing content, your water cooler conversation about a story you read is the type of inside look that could be great for your audience. The biggest mistake we see on social media is consistency. Social media isn’t something you can do here and there – the platforms prioritize people and brands that post and engage consistently, so there is a minimum commitment in order to see a return. “

“Lastly, it can’t be just a megaphone. Social media is, inherently, social, so if you want people to read and engage with your content, it’s essential that you’re doing the same. The good news is that this will help you in producing your own posts and content – share someone else’s post with your own perspective, comment underneath a post with a meaningful question, or tag another connection on a post that’s relevant to them. Doing this for just five minutes a day – in the time you’re waiting for your coffee order – can drastically change the engagement you see on your own posts.”

My VC Microinfluencer Role Models

Reid Hoffman: Those who teach can do 

Jason Lemkin: Jason Lemkin and How He Raised a $70m fund  

Mark Suster: Should you blog?  Yes and here’s how

Fred Wilson: Should VCs blog? 

Paul Graham: How to write usefully

Further reading:

How private equity and VC investors are eating their own dog food: Using data and technology for investing

How First Round Review Separated Itself from the Content Pack (Camille Ricketts interview)

UpHabit, Dex, and the Stilted Rise of the Personal CRM

Inside the murky world of social media influencer talent representation

Select service providers in this area (none of which I’m endorsing): 

Harbinger – B2B Sales & marketing

Cleverly and SocialBee – lead-gen on Linkedin (I haven’t used any of these; I’m nervous as to how much I can outsource the “me” in “social media”.)

Superpath.co – community for content marketers

* I’m an investor.

** I am a paying client of this company.

*** Friend and someone with whom I have a business relationship.

Thanks to Scott Allen, Dave Edwards, Yoni Frenkel, Nachum Kligman, Jay Mandel, Sabena Quan-Hin, Raphi Salem, Eilon Shalev, and Arnie Singer for thoughtful contributions.

Contributed to Techcrunch.

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