Meet the Experts: Callie Hitchcock
This is Meet the Experts, conversations with authority architects. These are the brilliant minds behind some of the most successful book publishing, digital strategy, and content creation projects in the world. In this series, you’ll get to learn their secrets, their strategies, and their stories.
We live in a digital world where every click and share can make or break. That’s why you need someone who knows how to navigate the online landscape and craft compelling stories that connect with your audience. That someone is Callie Hitchcock, our Director of Digital Strategy.
Enjoy this Q/A styled blog as you get to know our team.
Your Digital Strategy Expert, Callie Hitchcock
Callie has a wealth of experience in journalism, PR, and marketing. And she uses all her skills to create and manage effective digital campaigns at Advantage. But Callie is more than just a strategist. She’s also a storyteller who cares deeply about helping others succeed and grow, whether they’re a small business owner or a Fortune 500 CEO.
She’s always looking for new ways to learn and improve, and she loves to share her knowledge and insights with others.
What Was Your Journey To Becoming a Social Media Expert?
I think there’s a difference between saying you’re an expert and actually being one. Social media is definitely something that is like marketing—it’s changing from day to day. So you have to stay on top of the trends and know what’s coming next.
Social media for me started off a bit different than other people. I was one of those kids in high school who already knew what they wanted to do professionally. And funny enough, it’s not what I’m doing today.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I was in love with Katie Couric and the Today Show and how she connected with people. I’m curious by nature, so it was a great profession to go into. I could be curious and find information as a job.
So that’s what ebbed me into marketing. So social media, for me, was actually a way of marketing my stories for journalism and then connecting with people.
Whether it was viewers or people that I was looking for an interview with, resources, things like that. So social media for me was really more of a tool to connect with people and share information.
And it’s still that today, but it’s obviously taken a big turn as I’m now using it for marketing purposes.
What Is an Unexpected Component of a Successful Social Media Strategy?
I’d say making your brand approachable and engaging without sounding salesy is a great underused strategy.
Somebody that you might not normally think of in marketing is Ryan Reynolds. Whether you love or hate the product that he’s selling, he’s doing a great job of marketing it.
And one of the things that I think that he does really well is he makes it approachable for people, easily digestible, and relatable. And I think that’s something that’s really important when it comes to even our clients. Our clients are obviously in more of a professional setting than some of the products that Ryan is marketing.
However, I think that making it something that people can connect with can be applicable to anyone. This applies to what services you’re marketing or what content and messaging you’re sharing.
What Makes Someone an Authority in Their Field?
Authorities make sure that everything they’re putting out there is 100% organic. I know that not everybody likes to share the big, bad, ugly things about their industry. But I think you have to shed some light on the realities of every organization, every industry.
And so making sure that you’re not just highlighting the good things and doing positive PR, but talking about the things that no one else is.
That’s gonna get you more visibility. More clicks, more people that actually trust you, because you’re not only talking about the soft, fluffy, happy things, you’re actually talking about the nitty gritty and the things that they need to know.
One of the things that I love to do whenever we’re talking about content strategy, is to go into Google and see what people are searching for relating to that topic. Then answer that question with your content.
One of the easiest ways to start getting your websites to rank for SEO, is to start answering the questions that people are already asking.
How Do You Help Your Clients Stand Out?
A lot of the members and clients that we partner with, are experts in their own right. What makes them an authority is setting them up on that extra tier—taking them up a notch.
We hone in on what differentiates them from the competition. They’re different from other people that are doing the exact same thing. If we’re being honest, there could be tens of thousands of people in the exact same industry offering the exact same services and products.
How we set them apart from the competition is what makes a prospect want to go to that authority. Whether it’s their level of experience, or whether it’s a new, innovative way of doing their service, you need to show how you’re different.
A lot of our members are lifelong learners. And I think that actually is to their benefit because they are. Actively out there trying to make their products and services better. I hope we’re doing the same thing through our marketing services. We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to market our members.
What’s Your Approach to Helping Leaders Differentiate Themselves?
I think first it’s finding that key differentiator and then it’s reaching that wider audience.
The first thing we want to do is talk through it with the client and figure out what it is that sets them apart in their mind. Then we see if that really does set them apart from the crowd.
Nine times out of ten it is. However, if it’s not, then we need to find something else that can uniquely position them as the higher-tier leader in their field.
And so first, it’s figuring out what that x-factor is. And a lot of times I need to understand whatever industry they’re working in. So I feel like I’m learning a little bit about their industry every day.
I’m trying to increase their visibility and their reach and trying to get their message out to the people so that people can understand why their topic, their content, is important and why we should grasp it before moving into the future.
So I think for social media in particular, you want to take them to a wider audience. So that could just mean I do a lot of digital advertising. As great as organic content is, sometimes it’s a slow, steady burn.
If you really want to get content out there to the masses, a lot of times you have to throw fuel on the fire. That’s what I call digital advertising, just adding fuel to the fire. Then trying to help spread that fire as much as you can so that you can reach a wider audience.
What’s the Value of Storytelling with Content?
It really is all about storytelling. That’s what a lot of our job comes back to and why a lot of our marketing products and services are bundles.
All our packages have content included. It is really important to have something that you’ve authored, whether you write a book with us or need long form content like blogs.
Authored content can reinforce your thought leadership. If you have no thought leadership to reinforce that you’re the expert, then how do people know that you really are one? And how do people know what you’re saying?
We’ve been saying “content is king” for decades. It’s still true today, but I think video content’s really gotten a lot more amplified, especially now with TikTok.
Obviously it’s not the most viable network for most of our clients. Most of our clients find LinkedIn to be the most relevant for them, but I still think even on LinkedIn you could do some video content and long form content as well. It just depends on your target audience and how they like to consume their information.
But, storytelling in many different forms is vital—whether it’s social media or your website.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For the original content listen to the audio link below or listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts through Forbes Books Audio.