The very first ever “Dirt” –
Content Is King – But Kings Need a Kingdom.
An oft-repeated, little-understood saying is “Content Is King.” I’m like 80% sure it’s a Gary Vee saying that took a life of its own. You’re essentially hearing this concept any time anyone talks about putting more time into the quality of the communication (social media post, video, design, so on) than they are putting into the paid amplification of that communication. Some use it as a way to justify putting NO paid amplification behind their content, which is a topic for another time, but I have never understood the ego behind making something that had some virility without putting any dollars behind it. Your time should be treated like money for you. We’re not artists here, we’re marketers, and if your time is worth $100 an hour and you spend 20 hours making something it still cost $2,000. If you could make something that did its job better in 2 hours + $1,000 amplification, than all you’re really standing on is ego. Beyond that, why not utilize $200 amplification (Youtube Ads, Facebook Ads, Etc) on that 20-hour masterpiece you made? Quality content and paid content are not mutually exclusive. That 80/20 mix of creating quality content and utilizing a budget to strategically amplify it IS the winning equation.
So, is content king? YES. 100%. But what in the actual hell does that even mean? Telling someone to go “Create Engaging Content” is not actionable (*Scribbles down next Dirt topic) but what I want to cover here though is the exercise in futility that is a new business or creator pouring time and effort into amazing content when they have no audience. It does not matter how amazing your content is if no one can see it. A king needs a kingdom. Except for Aragorn I guess he was pretty cool. You’re not Aragorn though.
When you see something going viral, or performing well, it’s important you shift your thinking away from only how good, bad, ugly, or engaging that piece of content is. You need to start thinking about the months and years that person spent building their followers so that they even had a CHANCE to see it and decide whether or not to engage with it. Don’t just look at that one post with a bagazallion shares, there were millions of crappy posts that didn’t take off before that, and a steady growth of followers that enabled every post to do better than the one before it. “Viral” is not a sustainable business model. It’s like financial planning with the lottery. In today’s climate even if you made something truly viral tomorrow, without a massive audience, it would STILL perform better after it got picked up by a meme page or something like UNILAD. Your focus should be on building your following with your perfect audience, period.
So, if our “Cloud” today is “Content is King” – Our “Dirt” today is “Kings Need a Kingdom.” – How do you get that initial following so that it even matters how good or bad your content is? Let’s get our feet planted and start looking at the next step instead of the destination. Here’s your action plan to that first 500 followers on your choice of platform.
1- Get Inspired
Look at 100 large social media accounts in your business type (Retail, Food, B2B, Services) and pick 10 of them that are your favorite. Follow everyone you really like, but you need to pick 10 to hone in on, follow, see first (An option under “Following”) and then you need to sit in a quiet place and study everything about those 10 accounts. What posts did well, what posts did poorly, what % of followers, on average, are engaging with their content, how do they interact with the people that engage, etc. Write it down. Now do it for local/regional accounts, if you can’t find 100 then do 20. Same exercise, write it down, compare it to the large accounts. This should take you 2-3 solid days of work to get all your thoughts written out. It’s then easy to look at your notes and see a plan and tactics developing.
2- Put your ego in the freezer
You are going to look, sound, and come off stupid and desperate, and you are going to make mistakes. Let’s just get that out of the way. Don’t miss an opportunity to get a relevant follower because you’re afraid of asking. If you are afraid to make mistakes you will never post anything awesome. It’s always going to be safe faux-inspirational, memes, and weird random obscure holidays. You cannot worry about looking and sounding cool all the time. That’s the truth, that’s the dirt. It might not feel like the cool kids mass invite people to like their page, but the cool kids have nothing but strong opinions and half the followers they should. Who cares if your mom likes and comments on everything you post? How crappy must your content be if you can’t even engage your own mom? Get it together, kid.
3- The first 500 followers and 9 posts are like decoration
You need to treat your first “batch” of followers like audience plants. These should be colleagues, friends, family, employees, etc. If someone comes to your restaurant and every table is empty you have probably already lost them, regardless of how good the food is. Your first posts and a well-followed account gives you a chance to earn the next follower, and you don’t have much of a chance without it. When we’re launching a new Instagram account the very first thing we do is post 9 of our best pictures. Will we post them again as regular content, yes – but we aren’t going to build an audience if they come to peek and it’s empty. Decorate your walls. Relevancy is important, very very important but it’s also an excuse a lot of people use as to why they have no one following their brand on social media. It’s a stupid, avoidable excuse. Beyond that these first 500 being closer to you and your brand, even if it’s just socially, means they’re more likely to cheer, like, share, comment, etc. A post that is being engaged with already is more likely to be engaged with more. It’s a snowball, both algorithmically and psychologically. Only thing you should 100% not do is purchase followers. It’s worse to see 10,000 followers and 2 engagements per post than it is to see 100 followers and 4 engagements. Much, much worse. You are very unlikely to ever recover from bloating your following numbers without engagement to go along with it. Just don’t.
4- Friends, Family, Colleagues
Ok – You’re in the right mindset, now it’s time to really roll in the dirt. You, and everyone that works with you, needs to invite everyone they’re connected with to follow their page or account. If it’s Facebook you can use the invite tool (Suggest using Desktop -> It’s on the right sidebar of your page) if it’s other places you have to ask. Pop it in your email as a PS “Hey I followed you guys on X – Here’s my account if you want to follow us back!” Get out your phone on networking events and follow their social media – They will usually do the same. Invite your friends, family, co-workers, employees, mailman, everyone. You are not going to feel cool while you do this, so good thing your ego is in the freezer. There is nothing wrong with making a post on your personal social media and asking people to follow you.
5- Run a -GOOD- Giveaway
Be very careful not to include hashtags in these types of posts or you will get spammed by bots, but a great giveaway that requires someone like your page or profile can be very effective to get that first “Batch.” Make it a thoughtful prize, include a photo of it with yourself or a teammate, and write out the rules and go. Make very sure you make a BIG deal about the winner and deliver promptly so it doesn’t look fake (There are a lot of fake giveaways and people sniff it out pretty easily) – If you want to go the extra mile here live stream a drawing for the winner.
6- Follow other people
This doesn’t work as well on Facebook, but on Instagram and Twitter, you should be spending an hour or two a day following, commenting on, and liking other people’s accounts and content. They will, in many cases, reciprocate. You can find a good list of people to follow by checking out a relevant accounts followers. This does more than just poke the person you want to follow you, when they do follow you it will notify their followers.
7- Boost, Invite, Ask
The steps above should never take more than about 2 months to get you to that 500 number. If you want to expedite it then put a modest boost on a well-targetted post – For the targeting think broad matches, not niche conversions – and then invite, personally, every person who interacts with your ad to follow your page. If after a day or two your boost is not getting engagement, refer to your notes from step 1 and try again. It’s OK to delete a post or ad that isn’t performing. These mistakes and pivots are the data you need to create your REAL marketing plan after you’ve got a tiny little kingdom built for your content to rule.
That’s it, folks. 500 followers in 7 easy steps. Now that you have a little bit of a kingdom, we can worry about content. That’s a different pile of dirt for a different day. Subscribe (Check the sidebar) to keep up with “The Dirt” and – oh yeah, why not like us on Facebook? 😉 facebook.com/valamarketing/
About “The Dirt”
As a definite “not-writer” who is fully dedicated to publishing 52 blogs in 2019, I am creating this content series “The Dirt” as a way to discuss important topics without any pretense of journalistic, technically accurate, SEO-Optimized, or even “good” writing. It’s going to be raw, in my voice, (Which includes plenty of emoji’s and gifs) and cover what we’re calling: “The Dirt.” The Dirt is functional, actionable, fluff-free topics that involve real honest talk about its nemesis (The Clouds) and ways to actually plant your feet and get things done. This series is in and of itself a study on “The Dirt” – I know I want to have an awesome, transparent, under-the-hood, value-based blog at Vala, but I am just not that great of a writer. I am going to learn by doing. I am going to learn by publishing some terribad blogs that get no attention and correcting it little by little. That’s the dirt. The first step. The inch forward.
Let’s slap down some definitions:
The Clouds – Endgame entrepreneur, marketing, vlogger/blogger, and business coach talk like “Start with Why” and “Be Authentic” and “Be Engaging” and “Content Is King” and “Why you need ___Insert thing I am selling___” and all that business lingo.
The Dirt – The actual, real life, actionable steps you have to take to move the needle towards any of these endgame targets. The in-the-trenches real talk about what some of this even means, how to start, when “done” is better than perfect, and real honest talk about the 10 failures that proceed a lot of these successes you’re seeing, and some of the bloat and duct tape behind the curtain.
Excited to take this journey with you all.