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12 - Facebook

Facebook remains the juggernaut of the social-media game, a platform on par with YouTube for personal brand building and wealth creation. That may come as a surprise to a few readers. Facebook is often thought of as the old-fogy platform, the place where Boomers and Gen Xers share pictures of their families and fill out questionnaires to find out which GoT character they most resemble, not the place where the young generation is spending its time and money. That’s just not the case. Here’s the reality: if you’re going to build a personal brand and try to monetize it, you have to have a Facebook page. Period. It has almost 2 billion monthly active users, more than half of whom use it daily.1 There are 1.15 billion daily active users on mobile.2 If you’re crushing it on Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram but don’t have a full-throttle Facebook strategy, you’re severely limiting your potential and growth.

Facebook 101

There are a few reasons for this. First, unlike any other platform, Facebook gives you the gift of flexibility. Written content and photographs don’t work on YouTube. Instagram allows for a maximum of one-minute videos on a user’s main page at the time of this writing. There’s no way long written content is getting traction on Snapchat, but on Facebook a thirteen-paragraph blog post will work. You can post pictures, and they’ll work. You can embed a SoundCloud audio play, and it will work. A thirteen-second video will work. So will a thirty-one-minute video. Facebook offers complete and utter creative flexibility and has the greatest ad-targeting product ever created. No one is too cool for Facebook. If you haven’t already done so, go to Facebook right now and register your fan page, because even if it’s not the place where you create the pillar content for your personal brand, it is where everything you do on every other platform will come to live for the remainder of your personal brand’s existence.

Facebook is not only a canvas where you can create original content, but also an imperative distribution channel. The DNA of Facebook is word of mouth. It is the place where sharing culture has thrived beyond measure. On other platforms, you generally either hit a grand slam or you strike out. Not so on Facebook. There, with sixty-one shares, you’re getting at least a single every day. If you’re good at creating content, on another day you could hit a double with two hundred shares. You might drop down to thirteen shares with the next piece of content, only to follow up with something spectacular that gets you seven thousand. With every share, no matter how micro, you’re building awareness of your brand in a native way. If anything, it’s the best place for people with no followers to begin their personal branding efforts.

Because of its incredibly detailed targeting capabilities—you can specify your audience by their interests, of course, but also by their zip codes or their employers—Facebook is also an incredible place for someone with a small budget. It’s an insanely valuable platform when a nobody launching her fashionista brand has to spend only thirteen dollars to boost or target her post of a pretty top and conceivably get as many as 2,600 impressions, depending on her targeting choices. (An “impression” is electronically recorded each time an ad is displayed on a user’s screen.) The cost per thousand impressions (CPM, the M standing for mille, Latin for “thousand”) fluctuates with the market, but right now it is still one of the cheapest yet most effective ad products in existence, comparable to Google Adwords back in the early aughts. That won’t always be the case. Eighteen months after this book is published, Facebook ad prices will have doubled or more. Take advantage of this wide-open runway while you still can and jump-start your brand awareness.

Finally, as big as YouTube is, by the time this book is published, Facebook will be emerging as a fierce competitor in video. Mark Zuckerberg called video a “mega trend” of the same nature as mobile3 and has made it clear that video is Facebook’s future. In 2016, he told BuzzFeed, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.”4 When Facebook wants something to work, it puts all its support behind it. The effect on the social-media landscape is generally something like a tectonic plate shift (the platform is in the process of working out deals to produce original content in partnerships with millennial-friendly outlets like Group Nine Media, producer of The Dodo, and Vox Media).5 Knowing that, wouldn’t it be foolish to bypass the opportunity to get in early?

You might be thinking, I already make YouTube videos. I’ll just put them on Facebook. Two birds, one stone, done. Not so fast. Facebook’s algorithm will always give preferential treatment to native Facebook content. You’ll get far greater reach by creating an original video for Facebook than by recycling something from another platform. Does the video have great copy alongside it? Are the first three seconds captivating? Does it show an understanding of the mind-set of the Facebook demographic that would love to share it with a family member or friend? Does it compel an action right there and then? Video is still something of a novelty on Facebook, which means it has the potential to be noticed faster and get greater engagement than whatever you might post on YouTube.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post on YouTube or anywhere else, of course, but do not underestimate the power that doubling down on Facebook could have on your brand. Facebook is the first platform that has combined the ability to do marketing, sales, and branding all in one place, and it is still vastly underpriced for the amount of attention you can get there from its nearly two billion monthly users.

Facebook 201

Facebook Live. Facebook has gone all in on Live, trying to give users a place to indulge in the raw, immediate experience of engaging directly with viewers in real time. It’s powerful stuff, but be aware that live video is the hardest art form. If you eliminate the news, sports, awards shows, and Saturday Night Live, there are very few live TV shows, and for good reason. It takes enormous skill to captivate an audience enough to disrupt their routine at the moment you want their attention. That’s a much bigger ask than trying to get people to watch you on their own time. And yet, the spontaneity can really work in your favor. If you can crystallize a special moment and share it with your fans in real time, it can become something truly special to them, too. Just ask Candace Payne of Dallas.

Never heard of her? You might know her better as Chewbacca Mom. On May 19, 2016, Payne opened up Facebook Live to show her Facebook friends a present she bought for herself—a roaring Chewbacca mask. She was so excited, she couldn’t even wait to get home; she filmed from inside her car while still sitting in the Kohl’s parking lot. She titled the post “It’s the Simple Joys in Life.” It was a funny look, but what really caught people’s attention was her infectious, unstoppable laughter as she delighted in her purchase. Maybe people were feeling jaded; maybe they were weary of heavy content about upcoming elections and other serious topics. For whatever reason, the people who saw the post loved it so much, they started sharing it, and so did everyone else who saw it. With 162 million views as of December 2016, it became the most popular Facebook Live video of that year.6 As many have pointed out, the vast majority of the people who saw that video viewed it long after it was no longer live, but the live format is what made that moment possible. Had Payne known she was posting for posterity, she might have been more self-conscious. She might have planned in her head what she was going to say. Instead, she just opened up the phone and started filming with her guard down, allowing her personality to shine as bright as two Tatooine suns. You can’t get more authentic, and people fell head over heels. For a little while, she was part of the celebrity circuit, appearing on talk shows and being featured in the media. She was rewarded handsomely by Kohl’s with thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards and merchandise7 and she was invited to meet Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. Hasbro, which made the original Wookie mask, presented her with a custom-made action figure with her head (in a removable mask) attached to a Wookie body.8 But what’s really cool is how Payne used her fifteen minutes of fame to continue building her brand as a positive, deeply religious person dedicated to spreading hope, joy, and optimism. She landed a TLCme video series, and her website revealed a long list of speaking engagements. She signed a multibook deal.9 Her first book, Laugh It Up, published in November 2017, was written, she said in a video she made while preparing to send her manuscript to her editor, “for those of you who think that joy is a frivolous thing that you don’t deserve.”10 Candace Payne’s story is the stuff of dreams, the kind of moment that can’t be planned. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend Facebook Live for most people unless they’ve perfected their video technique and seen success for a few years and are ready to up their game. It’s not generally the place to start from zero, because the experience might be a bit like a first-time rider jumping on a bike without training wheels. For those of you who are ready, though, Live could capture a one-in-a-million moment that you never saw coming and put you on the map.* John Lee Dumas, creator of Entrepreneurs on Fire, is a believer, too.

Without a doubt, Facebook Live is the next thing. I’m having incredible success using platforms like Wirecast and BeLive.tv, which are just tools that allow me to sit at my computer and do a Facebook Live, but they also have text overlay, pull people’s comments in, and have full-show interaction. And just the engagement that I’m having, the real time–ness—it’s just been a different level.

Everybody’s there; they get that little blip notification. “Hey, John’s hanging out live right now.” I actually call it Tea with JLD just as a cute little rhyme. I pour a cup of tea, I sit on Facebook Live, and I usually go on a rant about some topic for five or ten minutes, and then I start answering questions. Just hanging out—could be thirty minutes, could be an hour—and I’ll get hundreds of comments and thousands and thousands of views, all just from flipping on Facebook Live. So to me, that’s where it’s at right now. Facebook Live is where the attention is.

Collaborate. If you are building a brand based on jokes, cooking, bikes, extreme sports, or bathing suits—anything—go to the top of Facebook and do searches on terms that are relevant to your business. Find the fan pages with the most followers, message them, and make them an incredible offer that makes it worth their while to share your original content on their platform or to work with you in other ways. For example, if you’re a biker and you get a viral hit on your post about how a motorcycle helmet saved your life, the best thing you could do would be to spend hours getting in touch with every single popular motorcycle fan page and offering them a brilliantly funny PSA about helmets to share on their page. Collaborating through Facebook is a strategic move that has enormous potential to quickly build your audience.

Imagine This

Let’s say you’re a newly divorced forty-two-year-old real estate agent named Sally living in Sacramento, California. There are so many people buying and selling properties out there. How are you going to stand out?

You start by creating a pillar piece of content. In this case, your ideal pillar would be a weekly audio podcast that people can listen to as they drive around town scoping out neighborhoods. Biweekly would be OK, and monthly would be better than nothing, but you know that the more content you put out, the more opportunities you can create. (Stay with me here—you’ll see, Facebook is the star in this story.)

Your podcast explores the minutiae of daily living in and around Sacramento and establishes you as the “virtual-content mayor” of the city. Local residents tune in to hear your take on their beloved city. One day you might review restaurants and local dishes, on another you’ll dig into the history of the city, and on another you’ll interview local influencers. From then on, whenever anyone wants to know more about Sacramento or its future, everyone knows you’re the person to contact, because you’ve made it clear that no one knows the city better or loves it more than you.

As you’re doing your stories about the people, places, or things that make Sacramento a unique, vibrant place to live, you take notes and highlight details from each podcast that can be turned into ancillary pieces of content. For example, if you interview the superintendent of the school district and he mentions that five of its teachers recently received prestigious national awards, you’ve found another piece of content. Track down those five teachers, take their picture, and create a Facebook post that asks, “Did you know that five Sacramento School District teachers have been nationally recognized for excellence in education?” You include a link to your podcast interview with the school superintendent. More and more Sacramentans learn who you are and become regular listeners. When one of them finds out that his friend’s family is moving to town because his wife got a job transfer, he forwards the podcast link so they can learn more about the school district. Suddenly, a family who will need to buy a home has your voice in their ear and your contact information at their fingertips. That cycle repeats over and over until, within five years, you’re so established as the primo real estate expert of Sacramento that your new business comes in almost exclusively by referral.

Then you make more content. You go out and film or photograph the places you talk about in each podcast and post the files to Facebook. You link your podcast to the images, so that now people who don’t already live in the city can see for themselves what these areas look like without having to go anywhere else on the Internet.

Now, who the hell is going to see this content when you’re brand-new to the business and have only twelve followers, most of whom are family? Lots of people, because Facebook is the one place where you can spend unbelievably smart advertising dollars. Their targeting is unparalleled. You could spend maybe fifty bucks against all twenty-five-to-seventy-two-year-old Facebook users who live in Sacramento and potentially reach about ten thousand people. The details of the platform and its targeting capabilities are changing all the time, so you Google “How to run a Facebook ad” to get the most current rates and practices. Then, when people start commenting on your page or your content, you answer every single one, every single time (read The Thank You Economy). When you’ve got no audience, you should be taking every opportunity to engage with people who are taking an interest in you. To do otherwise is absolutely bonkers. The fact that this needs to be said speaks to many people’s audacity and laziness.

A podcast would be the best pillar for a real estate agent, but if you just can’t get comfortable with that but you’re an excellent writer, your pillar should be a weekly post for your blog, This Week in Sacramento, where you share all the same information I suggested for the podcast in written form, plus local real estate news updates. Now you’re not just the virtual-content mayor of the city, but you’re its newspaper, too.

You write a piece about the oldest doughnut shop in town. The owner mentioned that he was nervous about the new Walmart slated for construction right next door. You post that doughnut article. Then you draw (or pay someone twenty dollars to draw) a sketch of the corner where the doughnut shop is located, with a big Walmart logo drawn in. You post that arresting image on your Facebook feed as well; it’s striking enough that anyone who cares about the shop or about Sacramento might stop to study it more carefully as it scrolls through their feed. People click the link attached to your blog post, which raises their awareness of who you are and what you do.

As a real estate agent, your pillar could also be a reality show like my DailyVee. You hire an intern or professional videographer to follow you around as you show homes, have meetings, negotiate deals, and interact with colleagues, as well as while you attend your son’s baseball game or shop at the supermarket. You basically film a daily love letter (and occasional complaint, if necessary) to the city where you live and work, and share that love with your viewers, reality-star style.

Once you get comfortable with video, Sally, you try your hand at Facebook Live. Every Thursday from eight to nine p.m., Sacramentans and potential Sacramentans can find you in front of the camera ready to answer any questions they may have about the real estate market, neighborhoods, schools, doctors, tattoo parlors . . . all the people and places that make up a community. People enjoy being a part of your show, and you get to spread your knowledge, help people out, and build your brand. Everyone benefits.

You post each video to Facebook, then extract pieces to create hundreds of minivideos, like how to negotiate a contract, what to look for when touring a house, and home styling tips for the first-time seller.

While you’re busy posting original content on Facebook, you’re also joining as many Facebook communities as you can. You’ll join the national ones for real estate agents, of course, but you also want to join the Sacramento mom groups—but not to sell, because you know that you should never ask for anything until you’ve given twice as much or more than you’re hoping to get.* You join because you’re a mom or because you want to be a mom or because you have nieces and nephews and want to stay on top of mom talk for them. If you’re raising a family, you join other family-oriented groups. If you golf, you join the golfing groups. If you like Pokémon Go, you join the Pokémon Go Sacramento group. Get involved in all the lighthearted aspects of the city. If you engage like crazy and build your personal brand properly, people will learn that you’re a real estate agent, but they won’t shy away from you, because they’ll know you as a human being first, just as they would if they’d met you in person. Once you become an influencer within these groups, members will check out your Facebook business page and contact you when they’re ready to sell or buy a home.

This strategy sounds like a hell of a lot more work than just posing for a picture in front of a cute house while holding an Open House sign, doesn’t it? It sounds a lot more interesting, too. Which strategy do you think is going to attract the attention and loyalty of more consumers? You know the answer.

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