All the content strategy lessons that we can learn from “The Humans Strike Back” project.

It must have started with a Facebook Ad. Or maybe I just saw the post on Linkedin.

The claim got me immediately. The Humans Strike Back. To summarise, THSB is a podcast format where the Hotjar team interviews different business leaders of different SaaS businesses to understand how they put the humans at the centre of their business strategy and how this became an essential leverage for success.

My social media channels are well packed with content produced by hard-working content creators of the tech industry. I never miss a post about the ultimate winning SEO strategy, the power of visual content over text, the new renaissance of blogs, and of course the most updated sales techniques and — since the launch of Bekudo — the stories of failures and success of startup founders. Everything accurately branded and self-referenced.

Don’t take me wrong. I also see a significative amount of content regarding the importance of empathy, the leadership skills, the neverending debate about the apparent war between those with a tech background and those with a humanistic background. However, a SaaS company sharing something so heavily related to the importance of Humans and not using generic references to “users” or “customer-centricity” really got my attention.

So after I saw the link I landed on the landing page of The Humans Strike Back project. It was pre-launch, therefore I was just expecting a countdown and a box for collecting email addresses. I would never ever expected to find one of the finest pieces of branded content I have ever seen.

Let me try to summarise what I mean with some highlights.

OMG, What an Onboarding (aka Soap Opera Sequence as it should be done)

After the sign up, I received the first out of six emails from Louis Grenier, the Content Manager of Hotjar. Effectively it was a perfect storytelling exercise to explain how the idea of the podcast The Humans Strike Back produced by Hotjar was ideated and why. And what as a follower of the saga you should expect.

The technique used is the email marketing Soap Opera Sequence. It is a sequence of email that engages the target audience through time, releasing a bit of additional value at every step. You can find more about it in this detailed article on SOS from the Lean Labs. The key stages of an SOS sequence are:

  • Set the stage
  • Hight Drama
  • The Epiphany
  • The Hidden Benefits
  • The Call to Action

Louis perfectly set the tone for presenting the upcoming podcasts series, the details on the format, the takeaways that the listeners will gain, the meaning of the project in the overall customer-centric vision of a company like Hotjar. I read all the email because I didn’t feel trapped in a marketing strategy, but because I wanted to know more about the upcoming project.

The quality of the content (aka You Gotta Love the Content You Create)

Then I was able to listen to the first podcast. An interview with the legendary Rand Fishkin. The interview is about two situations were the founder of Moz (who now left for starting a new adventure) pushed for simple changes in the product to improve the experience of the Humans using Moz. And how being the founder doesn’t necessarily mean that people listens to you. Rand also explains how he is always curious to understand how other humans “do things”, because it is the best way to build products that people actually use.

If you know Rand Fishkin you know how clear he talks. And how he is good in explaining things, without sounding pretentious or over-confident. I don’t want to spoiler the episode for you, but he even answered “I don’t know” to a question. Do you know how rare is that? To get a sense of his contribution to The Humans Strike Back just listen to the first episode of the series.

I have a thing for podcasts. And they are not as easy to create as it seems. Louis from Hotjar is very good in doing one thing: asking questions!

He doesn’t just prepare the questions and record the answers. He asks his speakers to explain concepts that are not necessarily known by every one. He summarises the previous answers. He highlights the takeaways in the middle of the podcast and at the end. Basically he makes you feel immersed in the content. And you feel that you are learning, and that you are not wasting your time.

It takes a lot of love and care to create this type of content.

The Community of Humans

A few days ago Hotjar also launched the closed FB group for The Humans Strike Back. There, we talk about the challenges and the opportunities of putting the human first when developing products and technological solutions. At the moment there are 689 members in the group. And I didn’t see yet any self-promotional link. Only thoughts and a positive dialogue between people that don’t know each other.

Hotjar is not over positioning its brand

They are interviewing leaders from other companies. It is clear that the initiative is branded content from Hotjar. But you never never never have the feeling that sooner or later you will be brutally put in front of the Hotjar products.

I already knew the company — they are particularly interesting for me since they are one of the most successful distributed teams in Europe — and I use the free version of their product. So maybe I am biased. But I believe they are doing a great job. Doing what they preach: putting people first. And giving back to the community of the web.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great lesson of marketing. And business. And, ultimately, humanity. And we all need to learn from this.