Lusha’s Dani Peterman: Don't Undersell the Value of Brand-Led Content

Dani Peterman saw great potential in organic social and brand-led content, but others weren’t so enthusiastic. Here's how he won them over.

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For most of Dani Peterman's career, marketers and other company leaders haven't valued organic social media. To hear him tell it, that's not to say his managers were bad, but rather that the industry “lacked maturity."

"In B2C, everybody knows you need to talk to your audience and find someone to sell to," says Dani. "But if you look at B2B from the same perspective—being revenue-oriented—you won't see the immediate organic impact. It took some years for the B2B world to see the value of organic content."

Today, Peterman heads up social media and employer branding at B2B data platform Lusha. He’s helped craft Lusha’s playful brand voice, launch a new employer branding initiative, and drive relentless growth across the company’s social media accounts.

I caught up with Dani to talk about the power of brand-led content and why it’s taken marketers so long to realize its potential.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What happens when companies wake up to the value of brand-led content like social media?

In my second year at digital adoption platform WalkMe, I saw the switch first hand. I had a new manager who was much more open-minded. I also got promoted to team lead and had the autonomy to focus not on revenue, but impressions, engagement, and those sorts of metrics. 

I could pour everything I’d learned into our content. We saw massive growth. We grew our LinkedIn page from about 35,000 to like 85,000 in around six months. That’s unprecedented.

Social media, especially B2B social media, is still very new. It’s easy to mistakenly say, “There's no impact.”

Where does social media sit within Lusha’s organization?

I'm in charge of social media, but I also wear a second hat as part of the creative team. We produce creative campaigns for whoever needs it. It could be PPC copy, a YouTube creative ad, recruitment campaigns, whatever. 

Did Lusha consciously create an internal creative agency?

For sure, it was intentional. When I joined two years ago, Lusha was about 70 people and the marketing team was eight. Now we're about 300 with a marketing team of 28. I joined under a new VP, Chen Guter, who came from the B2C world. She knew the power of brand. That's one of the reasons Lusha is doing so well. We’re a B2B company, but we’re producing B2C kind of content. Our voice and visuals and everything are designed to be this way.

I was our VP’s second hire. Her first was a content writer. She hired my manager, Gilad Hirsch,  who has an advertising background, and he brought in two of the biggest creatives in Israel, Shay Israel and Itzik Cohen. They had a history of producing campaigns and TV commercials for some of the biggest brands in the country. They didn't know anything about sales jargon like pipelines and leads, but they had advertising mindsets that are rare in the tech world.

We meshed well together. We create all our own things. We built a studio in-house. We have video editors on staff. People are surprised that the things we produce are in-house. It looks professional. I'm lucky to be working with top-notch people.

We get briefs from all different departments. We sit down and start the brainstorm session. There are no presentations. We don’t bring in an outside agency from the other side of the world. We write the scripts. We act in the videos because we don't have actors. We do the editing and deliver the finished product. The full cycle is internal. 

A lot of companies treat social media as a simple distribution channel. How do leaders elevate the function and contribute strategically?

The fact that someone is posting content means that they’re part of the process. If your team is part of the process, you can ask to be involved earlier in the chain. You can say, “Considering I'm gonna post it, do you mind if I attend the kickoff meeting?” If you get yourself involved in a prior step of the process, suddenly you have a voice. I have an opinion about the creatives. I have an opinion about the design. I have an opinion about the headline.

The second thing is that you have an “in” to work with multiple departments. That opens the door for more opportunities. One of the things I did when I joined Lusha was empower employees to write content on LinkedIn. We did this whole program focused on helping employees write posts. I did lectures to the entire company about the importance of being active on LinkedIn. That gets a ton of exposure for my channels because I was helping my peers improve their personal branding. It also forges connections and involves you in more projects you wouldn’t otherwise know were going on. 

For example, one of my “ins” was to our HR department. We had a goal of hiring a bunch of people, and the HR team needed support. They knew we were the go-to team for everything on LinkedIn, so they asked us to come up with a bunch of strategies. We grew it into a major campaign with the creative and HR teams.

David is a former craft beer journalist turned writer and digital strategist. He now helps ambitious technology brands tell narrative-driven stories.

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