In this informal series, I like to ask content marketing leaders 5 questions about their background, pet peeves, and strategies! This time it's the turn of Hans van Gent, he is the founder at Inbound Rocket and Head of Digital @ The Oval Office. Next to that Small Business Trends said he is one of the 20 Content Marketers to follow online, and he’s behind startup organisations like Angel Island, StartupBus, the Startup Experience and others. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Claire Trévien: Looking at your biography I feel a little exhausted, as you seem to be juggling four different roles: Head of Digital at The Oval Office, Founder of Inbound Rocket, Chief Happiness at zerocontent, and organizer of Angel Island. How do you manage these while still having a life?

Hans van Gent: The key to still having a life, two-fold. 

First of all, you need to be doing things you love. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it truly is like that. If you want to get the most out of life and move up the ladder as fast as possible towards whatever outcome you want. You need to be able to do the stuff you love. Otherwise everything, all day will start to feel like a drag, and that will hold you down and lets you waste your time.

Second, you need to have relentless energy and not need that much sleep. I can easily go with around 5-6 hours of sleep maximum during a night and still go on. My personal record though, at one point when I was the director of the StartupBus as well, and we had the week of our event, according to my sleep tracker was around 1,5 hour per night on average for a week ;-)

But of course, the above two don't matter if you don't have a loving and supporting family to keep yourself sane and to help you take some distance now and then to assess and move forward. And thankfully I've got a fantastic girlfriend and little boy who help me do that.

CT: You spend a lot of your time helping startups to grow successfully (including your own!). What is a key piece of advice you would give a budding entrepreneur?

HvG: Never just listen to anybody. Consume the content, the wisdom of others, make up your own ideas and experiment. Not all companies are created equal; not everyone is operating in the same space. What gave spectacular results for me half a year ago, doesn't guarantee the same result for you.

Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups so treat them like that, and validate them for yourself.

CT: What is your least favourite marketing or business buzzword, and why?

HvG: I probably use a lot of buzzwords myself throughout the entire day, but one from a couple of years ago you would never have heard me say, that was the SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile). What a terrible word was that.

CT: What big trends do you predict for digital advertising in 2018?

HvG: Something that has been on the rise slowly already in 2017 and the years before, is the growing importance of audio content. Podcast consumption has been on the rise for some years now, and there is a reason for that. Audio lets you consume content WHILE doing something else. It allows for the ultimate way of multitasking.

In 2017, the app Anchor had a constant flow of updates making it something to really keep your eye on. Not only do they make the recording of audio so easy, but they also take it to the next level by having the option to automatically submit your recordings as podcast episodes to the big players, interact with your listeners etc.

I adore the application, but now I just need to find some more quiet times where I can record more audio myself.

CT: We’re both Quuu fans, and I remember you saying recently that you were doing a Twitter experiment where you’d only share Quuu content. Can you tell me more about it?

HvG: I started a very small experiment to see what it would do if I would start a new Twitter account from scratch and only share content and not create anything myself. It turns out, in general, it works as expected, yes you will get new followers etc. but what is the real value of these people?

They probably automatically followed the account as well using some scripts or robots. Because the moment I tried asking questions from the account (not using Twitter handles of people to point to them, but just asking general questions), there came zero to none response.

So the vanity metrics were there. But the real value of having followers online, the option to engage with your audience easier is something that can't be automated. People love to follow and engage with real people and not some random account that shares (inspiring) content. To build an audience online, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty and do the hard stuff yourself.