Twingly is based in Sweden. During our years of existence we have gotten lots of support from the local blogosphere and social media scene. With a new interview series we would like to introduce you to some of the opinion leaders, influencers and well-connected bloggers from our home country. People who have been using Twingly for a long time, provided us with feedback and supported us in our mission.
Meet Micco Grönholm, a branding expert with a well-established readership and following. He is also known as “The Brand-Man“. Read on to learn whether he actually likes that name, how he has used blogging and social media to learn more about his profession and what he recommends people who want to create a personal brand online.
Hi Micco. Please tell us in a few sentences who you are and what you do.
My name is Micco Grönholm. I help international companies to succeed. Typically I work with business, marketing and brand strategy. I started in this field back in the 80s when I got the chance to work with the Converse brand in the Nordics. In the late 90s I was hired to create and launch the Bluetooth brand globally. Now, a little more than 10 years later, more than two billion devices with Bluetooth are shipped – each year.
You are a well-known blogger in the Swedish blogosphere. Do you find clients through your blog?
Many of the companies I work with aren’t based in Sweden, but most of them have some kind of connection to Sweden. Naturally my blog micco.se has created a visibility for my professional competence, as well as increased my reach. Probably it also has generated new clients, but I usually don’t ask.
What brought you to blogging?
The reason that I launched a blog in December 2008 was actually that I held some lectures about how to act on social media. Once I got the question about my own activity on the social web and I realized that I better get started myself. In the beginning the experience was not too pleasant, because I hadn’t shared my thoughts and opinions about branding and marketing with anybody else other than my clients before. Publishing publicly on the web and potentially being confronted with criticism and questioning was new for me and something I had to get used to.
Did you have goals you wanted to achieve with the blog?
I have always seen my blog as a compilation of my own knowledge. Especially in the beginning I blogged for myself. But already in my first post about the meaning of the word “marketing” in Swedish the CEO of the Swedish marketing Association wrote a comment. I couldn’t believe it since I never had been in contact with him before. Then I thought “wow this is powerful” and it motivated me a lot.
Slowly I realized that the blog was as a powerful personal brand booster as well. Back then I was fairly unknown in Sweden for what I did, also since most of my clients weren’t from Sweden. To validate my “authority” in branding I got the idea to let other, more well-known experts in the field of brand developing and marketing write guest posts on my site. I asked them, and since most of them knew me they agreed. Until now there have been more than 30 guest writers on micco.se. This also helped to gain readers and followers, both on the blog but also on other social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Now people in the industry know in more broader terms who I am.
So building your own brand is now the main goal of your social media activities?
No. But I recognize that as a very positive side-effect. My main goal has always been learning. And in the 3 ½ years I have been active on social media I have learned more within my area of expertise than during the whole time before (I started my career within branding more than 25 years ago!). Thanks to the blog, Facebook, Twitter and other services I have access to people and competences that I couldn’t think of before. I don’t need to find everything on my own anymore. All kinds of content and knowledge is more accessible than ever, especially if you build a good network of interesting, competent people in fields that are interesting and important to you.
Your blog is focused on branding and marketing. Do you always stick to the topic?
Usually yes. I actually tried to cover more broader, popular topics a few times which brought me a lot of new traffic. For many bloggers that would be a reason for celebration. But in my case with my emphasis on professional content and longer, more in-depth articles I realized that I got too much casual traffic – readers who weren’t really into marketing and branding and who didn’t comment on my other posts. Today I don’t really care whether I have 300 or 3000 readers a day. Most important is to me to have readers that are totally interested in what I’m writing about and who participate in discussions about a subject.
On your blog you are calling yourself “The Brand-Man”. What’s the story behind that?
It was a colleague who gave me that name. During that time I liked it, it served a purpose. Now I’m actually thinking about abandoning it. It has created a persona that I’m not totally comfortable with. I don’t want to be seen as a guru, but that’s what the name implies.
If you have to choose, what would you rather give up: Your blog, Facebook or Twitter?
At the risk of surprising you but I guess the blog. I feel that the discussion has become too fragmented, and even though the number of readers is still growing there are less and less comments. I miss the discussions and questions. Sometimes I also feel that there is nothing more to write about, which probably has to do with my aspiration to write long-form, factual posts with little opinion.
Wouldn’t giving up your blog harm your business?
In the short term I don’t think so. Hopefully some people in the small community of Swedish marketers and advertisers would miss my posts, but I think neither my business nor my personal brand would suffer short term. BUT if I seriously would quit blogging, I’d probably rebuild the site into a marketing and branding Wiki. And I guess I’d find ways to continue writing my thoughts anyway, even though likely shorter, more opinion.
What’s your recommendation to people who want to use a blog for personal brand creation?
First of all, having that as main goal decreases the chances for success. Instead, I seriously recommend that you think about the purpose behind blogging and then find a niche that isn’t already taken. You need to be really good at something and really passionate about it.
And your personal secret for increasing reach and visibility in the social media sphere?
Identify the opinion leaders and multiplicators out there and engage with them, comment on their content, share it, link to them. By offering value you increase chances to get favours back. I have followed this path quite consistently and I hope that all the people I have “used” feel that they got something back as well. I’m thankful for everyone who has shared my articles and spread the word about me. Apart from making use of your or other people’s network, being genuinely nice and helpful without expecting something back might be a good advice as well.