Q&A Session: Janie Ho
Janie Ho Q&A Session is happening on February 10th 2021 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)
Janie Ho is a LinkedIn, social, digital and growth-marketing speaker and corporate trainer.
Janie teaches companies, entrepreneurs and job seekers to drive ROI from their time online for personal, business and career.
A former global account analyst at LinkedIn in NYC, she is now a senior editor in growth and audience at the New York Daily News under Tribune Publishing (Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and more).
She manages the Daily News audience team and 10-plus growth products, helping to push the Daily News’ organic Twitter following from 670,000 to over 800,000 in her first two years, at a rate of over 1,200 per week, topping overall Twitter trends weekly, and Facebook followers to over 3.3M, while also helping the Daily News to be selected as a Facebook News partner.
She is an adjunct professor at SUNY FIT and a guest lecturer at NYU and Boston College School of Management.
She is a frequent speaker at conferences, events, companies, universities and nonprofits on how to leverage LinkedIn, social and growth marketing. She also enjoys speaking and podcast-guesting on how to leverage online dating and dating apps, and has consulted with leading companies in this space.
She combines tech, creative and journalism skills to train companies in content and marketing in industries from finance to hospitality, having been a business, restaurants and nightlife writer.
She is a former hard news and lifestyles journalist (GQ, NY Mag, BusinessWeek, CBS News), turned SEO and digital strategist (Trump Hotels), turned analyst at LinkedIn, where she managed the marketing, communications and data storytelling for some of LinkedIn’s largest Fortune 500 clients for 3 years.
On the side, Janie is a portraits and events photographer, where she shoots personality-driven, storytelling profile photos (60+ current peoples’ LinkedIn photos), and events (weddings, social, corporate).
Janie graduated from Boston College, where was a cheerleader and named a top-five writer on the school’s main newspaper, The Heights, which counts Mike Lupica as an alumnus. She is from Staten Island and lives in NYC.
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Janie Ho – Transcript
AMA with Janie Ho @ New York Daily News
February 10th, 2021
Hi everyone! Please welcome Janie ho from the New York Daily News. She’s the Senior Editor of Growth & Audience Development there. Ask her your questions about LinkedIn, social, digital, and growth-marketing topics. She also manages the Daily News audience team and 10-plus growth products. On top of all this, Janie is an adjunct professor at SUNY FIT and guest lecturer at NYU and Boston College School of Management. You can also ask Janie about online dating topics – she’s worked with some dating and networking apps as a consultant. And now, she’s ready for questions!
Thank you, Sammi. ~ Hi, everyone. So nice to meet you! I’m Janie Ho in NYC.I’m a Senior Editor of Growth + Audience Development at the NY Daily News, a Tribune Publishing company (Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, etc.).I run a small audience team, covering nearly 24/7 of news + breaking news for our newsroom’s 8 units.I work with Daily News and Tribune leadership in running our 10+ growth platforms and developing others.Now and then I’m an adjunct professor of social and digital at SUNY FIT. Guest lecturer at NYU, Boston College.I was an analyst at LinkedIn in NYC, a restaurant critic for NY Mag, and an avid current speaker and former consultant in the online dating space.So … Ask Me Anything 🙂
How did you get started in your career?
Hi Adam, I started writing for newspapers and magazines in college. I wrote for my college paper, The Heights, at Boston College (which counts Mike Lupica as an alum!) but also real-world pubs.It all started with a free subscription to TIME Magazine in high school as a gift from the Princeton Review. That inspired me. One gift goes a long way at that age.
With a team that size and so much to juggle, do you have any tips for productivity or prioritization? Anything you use and swear by?
As Sheryl Sandberg said, you have to ruthlessly prioritize. I care about everything, how every tweet is doing, how every story is attended to. My boss had a struggle getting me to “focus” / stop caring about some things for first few months.I’m a little over 2 years now. He still has to push me to stop this, focus on that.And sort of have your “priority matrix” in your head, even though you won’t adhere to it.Stop to make to-done lists, to-do lists and list of what you need to focus on, maybe weekly. I don’t do this, mind you. Very hard.
Hey Janie! I would be curious about your take on increased consumer brand switching in crisis recovery. Some studies I have read are showing as much as a 4x increase in brand switching behavior. Do you agree? And what is your organization (or organizations you consult) doing to engage this challenge/opportunity?
Hi JC, meaning 1/ people have many serious things to attend to and devote their attention to nowand 2/ many choices for news orgs / media content?We need to diversify our platforms and rev streams and evaluate every day now.And with what content pushes to do, it’s balancing need-to-know with want-to-know every day.You need that to boost return-user rates.It’s very hard to predict but eventually you get better at it. You want to get it to where statistically you’re cutting more losses than not. That’s all you can do.My team is actually prob drowning in that as I take this luxurious 1 hr lunch break as we speak.As far as loyalty, looking at cohorts to ensure retention, and using loyalty programs and perks, incentives help. But don’t offer too many freebies. People should want to come back because you are creating a habit-forming, valuable experience.With user / reader loss, unfortunately, you have to leverage what you have and try make up for when you give ppl reason to leave.
Hi, What trends are you seeing in the market for great content? In your opinion, is there there growth potential in media? Or is branded content the way forward for editorial writing?
There is always always growth potential in media. In fact, it is a must that you find them, while carrying out what’s already working.Trends — Well every news org is eyeing all the emerging platforms. Even if they’re not emerging to mainstream anymore (TikTok, Reddit, Clubhouse).News folks might be behind in emerging platforms because any work has to bring in pageviews and subscriptions. We just don’t have bandwidth if they don’t.We do spend time on things without PV and subs potential, but we have to be mindful of that opportunity cost too, always assess.I like our voice-tech and “funner” social media work but few have helped conversions as well as the others yet. They help brand, awareness, but, you know.We’re not doing branded as a news org. Have to look at that chunk of revenue share. Hard to find a good deal commensurate with effort.
Do you find you get to use both your creative side & technical/analytics mind every day? How do you focus or switch one part on and the other off?
OMG. Well I was a journalist then I took years of continuing ed courses to learn tech and data, which news orgs don’t teach you.Start with some free General Assembly courses, seminars, etc. In-person is the only way I can learn as primer, but we make do with what we have now.Working at LinkedIn was eye-opening in how they train and upskill current employees. Now I use both concurrently every second. You have to if you want to get ahead in your career.
What do you think is a progressive approach to growing an audience today? i.e. How are the best growth leaders shifting their approach?
Hi Jessa, you need to talk about what’s happening cuz you will get lost. See how others are shifting via advanced FB groups.Social, like dating sites, is a single-person sport. No one talks about their activity. They just do it and think it’s the smart thing to do. That’s what dating coaches say anyway.One thing we do, though, and it’s quite easy using a reasonable vendor to help, is work in email, desktop and other alerts, and then voice tech — we write the script and they voice and distribute it.Progressive. Ah I wish I were, so I could answer this.Early tester, late adopter. That’s the mantra … unfortunately when you’re severely understaffed and responsible for millions you can’t be progressive as much as you’d like so I don’t have a good answer here.
SM Audience Growth tactics: What’s 1 underrated activity, what’s 1 overrated activity in 2021?
Hi Josh, underrated — this seems simple but finding your lead runners. What content is doing well and how to recirculate and build on that.I used to do monthly analysis on Tw and FB for us, our bigger social platforms, and now I’m so busy that’s fallen by the wayside, which is ridiculous.Avinash Kaushik (sp) has amazing blog posts on how to find (and communicate) insights and not data throw up.That was beaten into me at LinkedIn, cuz I had to make the presentations for laymen / executives, but that was never as well put as in Avinash’s stuff.Overrated — when you have a small team being active and good at all platforms. I’m still trying to believe that cuz I have anxiety not being better at some platforms for us
Thanks for answering, Avinash is masterful in that way. And agreed on trying to do too much.
Also, PS overrated and obvious but hard to internalize (for myself included): The number of followers vs. depth/value of a smaller number of followers who do more for you.Once you have social proof in a few thousand, and your static components look good, don’t care about your follower count (as a primary).I have trouble with this myself.
Everyone does, cuz people are vain and insecure.
What type of projects did you work on as an analyst at LinkedIn?
Hi Al, I was chief of staff, so to speak, on the global strategic accounts team — the top 10% of accounts in the world. It’s all in my LinkedIn profile under “LinkedIn” as the job, ha.LOTS of analysis and PowerPoints but also data storytelling. Which they beat into you. I can’t speak enough of the employee training there. It was like 30% of my job. I also managed all the exec meeting content. Amazing experience.(We’re talking CEOs of LinkedIn and Microsoft, and I was in the room remotely for hours taking meeting notes.I huffed and puffed when they asked me sit on the phone from New York to do that.Yet I still remember every word of some parts of that meeting, many years later. Lesson: Don’t be an ass.)Again refer to Avinash Kaushik’s blog posts on communicating data insights. Else your work is in vain. Few do this really well. One message per data slide!
Hi, if I am starting a brand new LinkedIn business page today, where should my focus be to grow it’s following? Obviously the goal is to become a respected thought leader in our market (sports + business) via quality content and imagery. Any tips for building community that extend from LinkedIn, to IG, to Twitter as far as digital strategy?
Hi Alex, the real thing is getting your employees to be ambassadors for that. If you don’t pay for LI Company Page (LCP as we called it) it’s hard to get traction, unless you’re like NYT which posts every few mins with stuff people are just waiting for.I always try to cross promote on other platforms. That’s good for awareness and leverage. Not sure much else.You can see tips on SlideShare for LCPs and the LinkedIn blogs. Or really other infographics (my primary way of learning, lol) under “LinkedIn company page tips” or “LinkedIn content strategy” or so.
Hey Janie! I’ve been looking to get more active on my LinkedIn, any recommendations on where my time is best spent for organic growth? I’ve heard everything from “join groups and comment on everything” to “write good posts and hope they get shared”, etc. I used to use LI automation which obviously doesn’t work as well these days, so trying to see where my time is best spent.
Hi Robert, only 1% of LI users post on LinkedIn so there’s so much upside but no one wants to look like a tool to their professional network. That stuff is DESIGNED to go viral, to your relevant 1st, 2nd even 3rd degree.Groups are not optimal right now. I would focus on posts (yours and interacting with others’) and LI article interaction first.You need gauge where your expertise is best. Comment on big posts you see in your feed, and try posting different topics and check the in-post metrics. You can see more on SlideShare and LI blog. Sorry I can elaborate if you DM later.
As a SM Pro, and Publisher, what are your thoughts on the IDFA sunset?
I’m not as familiar with identifier for advertisers on Apple. Apple takes all our damn $ if we partner so, very few news orgs work with them.
Hey Janie! What’s the part of your job you enjoy the best?
Hi David, thanks for having me. What I like about my current job, and what my audience intern said in his final preso, is that your content changes every day, every hour. So now I am doing something important (news) but also advancing skills I need to be (tech, media).
OK this one’s just for fun – do you think a lot of people on dating sites could benefit from some kind of consultant service to improve the marketability of their profiles?
Hi Sammi OK so not because I am an online dating / dating app / IRL dating consultant (and have podcast-guest episodes on this. See my twitter and IG under Janie Ho, I hope I do well in search). I think people should look at it as something they need to “read into” via articles, best practices, etc. Cuz we spend SO much time, energy, but also … emotion, on that. And yet no one tries to gauge how do it well based on what how the apps are designed and push behavior.It’s not really designed to “work” for most who just blindly do it. I am happy to give talks on this topic to groups, for free.
What’s a common mistake people make when building / growing an audience? Can be specific to a social site or not.
This is so obvious but I so rarely see it done well. And I’ve had speakers in my college course that I teach say differently. But you should have a good, basic optimized presence across all of them. All of them, even if not very active yet.Then make sure all your static components are optimized — on your company profiles, but also for each and every employee, your biggest ambassadors.That means profile pic, banner image, bios, links, first few posts. I rarely see that level-set. Then in growing — One Metric that Matters. OMTM. Have 1-3 goals and every platform, every person, goes all in on that
How did you get involved in instructing and lecturing, and what marketing/social media topics do you think universities should be covering that most are not?
At LinkedIn, you find every group (job seekers, small biz, univs, networking, etc.) is starving to learn how to use the damn thing. So LinkedIn is largely sales / sales umbrella (analysts, etc.) outside of Calif. So everyone speaks in the community.I started there and loved it. Then I network all the time. I’m active in journalist-turned-media-digital-pros groups in FB. That’s how I got my first teaching gig.Some have found me to thru LinkedIn and offered me. Then snowballs.I’ve hired like 25 ppl for free using FB groups btw. I give and get jobs through FB Groups. Crazy value there.
Level-setting the understanding of social + digital “so-what” or value of doing it, plus its strategy, how to keep updated and why you should do that are things that should be taught the same way basic personal finance should be.They are not.Teach for the world we live in. Social and digital for personal, business and career.That’s what all my talks are titled.Huge disadvantage if not taught. Or not taught how to self-teach and where to learn these skills throughout your life as things evolve. Negative impact on people’s biz and career.
How do you seen print and digital working together? I have clients that publish specific niche industry magazines and they are struggling to find how to merge the 2. How would you recommend moving from an old school monthly print magazine to a digital first “publication”?
Hi Alex, I always saw print sort of as curmudgeons but in audience and print, at least in news, we’re actually the same thing — we’re pushing out stuff other people wrote / created, not knowing if it is “optimized” or missing selling points — and trying to grow it.So yeah, I find (and I worked at BusinessWeek before NY Daily News) in most cases, the lion’s share of rev is still print. Sort of. Don’t fight me, lol. The top leadership is focused on digital subs. 2nd is now print + digital combo.You can’t rely on ads anymore. We all saw our business fall out from under us during COVID. Advertisers are gone, yet we have record viewers. Retail is gone, it’s very sad.I am a huge champion of print. Books, even our home delivery, have seen uptick, defying industry trend.But we will have to tweak on what makes it and how / how big / and when to make it digital first or print first. Always assessing.It’s a struggle cuz one version will always have to be edited for the other platform and you don’t have resources for that.
As a follow up, are you thinking that the typical print/digital ad selling for industry publications (say https://www.foodprocessing.com/ for example) going away and these publishers needing to find alternate revenue streams? I definitely think that is coming personally.
Me personally, I think any ads-based model needs to diversify.What happens when ad rates hit rock bottom? When every industry is wiped out? Ad money is their first to go.Partnerships, rev share, subscription models. But, obvs don’t go for every rev opportunity. I get pitched every hour. Need to gauge, using some “priority matrix” (Google-Image search that term) in your mind.
You’re awesome for investing your time here, thank you!Non-publisher brands are often told to think and act more like publishers in order to grow their audience. Do you find that the volume and quality of content published to social is the most influential factor in growing followers on social channels (generally speaking)? LinkedIn Company Pages and Facebook Pages are examples of channels that require a seemingly herculean effort to grow, for instance.
Hi Josh, yes I agree it’s a huge effort and sometimes doesn’t pay.This may not be a great answer but I am not a fan and pushing everything out there, though with news you do need to, even the small or dumb stories because statistically you’ll have more wins if everything gets a chance.(Although sometimes crappy engagement on poor content hurts you overall.)LCP and FB Biz pages are not helped by the algo so I would put that in the crappy realm of the “priority matrix” — Google that in Google Images if you haven’t. I had it beaten into me at LinkedIn.LinkedIn first should be push employees to share as their own original post. But they need to know and see the value in it and be able to “endorse it” legit if possible.FB is in Groups, people’s personal posts (not “sharing” from anywhere else) + Stories, Marketplace, photo posts (I am hearing), maybe the News tab, and they say even hashtags now. Go where the algo helps you — but also where it helps you OMTM, or few metrics that matter, not just one.
Even though your focus obviously has to be more high-level these days, are there “in the trenches” things you still enjoy doing from time to time?
Hi, well, during COVID my work comp is my person comp so yeah I get in and tweet during the Super Bowl for the NYDN account. I am on Twitter way too late at night tweeting for NYDN actually.It’s a lot of power and awareness you control — big pols and celebs reacting to your every move on social. And I can see it instantly. It’s very bizarre. I wish I could RT my own damn account, lol.
Do you ever think the Daily News will totally get rid the paper and only be on digital?
NO I DO NOT. Ha, I wanted to make that clear. The trends and push are not for the legacy platforms anymore but the lion’s share of rev is still legacy platforms. It may have to scale back eventually like mags and other papers have.And ugh, media ownership can be ruthless these days, but no, that is not on the table for higher ups. And I’m in those meetings all the time.Digital needs to sustain itself with its own rev generation. Then everyone can leave you alone.
Hey Janie, thank you for being here. Just one question: which journalism concepts/frameworks are transferable and useful in content marketing?
Hi Sydney, yes, we do have the luxury of people hungry, thirsty for our content. And brands have it the other way around. They need to make their case.Shit, I need to make my case with Daily News content too sometimes, lol. But I mean, when I came onboard, the Twitter account of NYDN had no engagement, no traction.Now we’re double, triple-digital engagement on every tweet. And Tw puts us as top national trending tweets every week. We had to build that in algo like any other company.You need to write in PLAIN ASS English. (Not you, but you know.) And think of what will make ppl pounce on a post. Not salacious but give them something to work with, to reply, RT, quote tweet, etc.And not just on Tw, I mean, but for now, I live and breathe it cuz that makes the most noise for news orgs to get picked up — BUT also, Twitter traction and speed on there is important for Google.
Do you have a morning routine or anything social-network wise that helps you?
Hi Robert, don’t tell my bosses this, even though it will be published on the inter webs. I can’t even wake up in the morning anymore.I Slack from my bed and have to pretend that I was able to get up. But I work on breaking news, so that is not smart.COVID era has me up all night doomscrolling. I only say this nonsense in case it helps people who are doing the same. I need to sleep earlier and wake up like a normal human being.I check notifications on our Verified NYDN accounts to catch whatever is going viral for us.Twice a day I check Tw and other platforms’ “top posts so far” analytics to make sure I am not missing any of our viral stuff.I know a million social listening tools exist, we have them but I’m a Luddite and I just go in-platform. Shit, if they’re lying to me about their own posts.
You mentioned getting employees to be your company’s ambassadors on Linkedin. I’ve been working on this, but haven’t gotten traction. I hosted an internal session to help people get familiar with Linkedin and to share ideas about how to be active on the platform, plus how it is helpful for personal and company brand. There was some action for the weeks following, but now crickets. Anything that helps employees want to be LI ambassadors?
Funny enough, LinkedIn turned this into a paid corporate product. LinkedIn Elevate, or something. For the big companies, this has very big payoff and opportunity cost for them if they don’t do it.LinkedIn is a less a social network (though it is that) and more of an enterprise software.It’s for hiring / talent management, sales, marketing, ambassador-ship, learning and probably a few others by now, enterprise software-wise.Companies and mom and pops use it to do their work, measure it and manage it. And at corp-tool level, it’s not cheap but they renew every year cuz it still saves them money.If your employee profiles aren’t leveraged or “good” then all the other areas of use have opportunity cost.So internal training (decks, videos, self-paced or live) is keyEstablish —
1/ why LinkedIn matters for their own personal and career, maybe business
2/ why it matters for y’all’s company
3/ how to do it (just get them started)At LinkedIn, our marketing team in Silicon used to send out the posts and flyers as is and ask us to share it on each platform.And yes they wrote it custom for every platform for us. That’s a lot of time, but just get them started.Then tell them where to look to gauge its reach and success. You have to teach them cuz people don’t know shit.PS – as an appendix — LinkedIn ended the corp product of Elevate but you can still Google its webpages from LinkedIn to borrow its content and strategies for press.Elevate rolled into “marketing solutions” product suite at LinkedIn. Glint looks like a new tool, similar but not the same. Maybe read their strategies and replicate what you can for free.
Sounds like you focus on more high-level stuff like Sammi said, but are there any specific metrics or KPIs you look for when launching a new campaign / plan?
Hi Brad, I create the pirate metrics funnel for myself (AARRR — for those not familiar, Google Images that, it’s key for growth marketing)I determine 1 or 2 metrics that matter for each phase. So in awareness phase, it’s impressions. How many people in theory saw my shit.I compare that to this other topic’s impressions — how was it written, who is sharing us, what time was it done. And evolve from there.But I look at it in context of each of the 5 stages.So I have 1-2 overall goals (pageviews, for programmatic ads, but also now subscriptions, conversions) … but then also 1-2 metrics for each phase.You can see the common metrics for each AARRR phase in Google Images or articles under “pirate metrics.”
Whew. : ) Sorry some if I couldn’t get into some of my answers as much as I’d hoped. I can take a few more. Yay I don’t think I missed any!
Awesome, thanks so much, Janie Ho!!
Alright my breaking news team is probably like, Where is that girl?Was fun to chat with everyone in this community! I’ll check this channel for little while.
- Please DM on Twitter, IG, FB, LinkedIn. (all are linked in my Twitter bio – com/janieho16)
- Open DMs always — and I love connecting.
- And happy to give talks to orgs, groups, podcast-guest, etc. too. You can see topics on all my social — it’s usually pinned somewhere.
- Social, digital for personal, biz and career. And online dating.
Thanks again, all! Happy Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day!
Thanks Sammi Dittloff and David — thanks, everyone, for all your questions as
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