#12 Podcast: How to gain millions of social media followers

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to Startup Revival, the number one podcast for Christian entrepreneurs, with your hosts Matthew Bell and Rafael Simpson. The world needs more entrepreneurs. Build something.

Matthew Bell:             Hello everyone, this is Matthew Bell. Thanks for tuning in to Startup Revival.

Before we get started, I just want to remind you of a few things. Startup Revival is all about the community. So if you have any feedback or comments or questions you’d like us to address in the podcast, feel free to let us know. You can send us an email at [email protected]. And also, be sure to join the online community. Go to Facebook.com/groups/startuprevival. It’s a great place to meet other entrepreneurs and learn some new and interesting things. Thanks, everyone. Enjoy the podcast.

Hey everyone, this is Matt Bell again with Startup Revival. Before we get to the interview, I just wanted to take a quick moment to introduce more formally today’s guest. His name is Brian Lane. He is a social media manager and a master of growing audiences on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “How do I grow my social media audience for my business? Or my ministry? Or my church? Or my organization?” this is the podcast you want to listen to. So, without any further ado, I want to introduce you to my good friend Brian Lane. Enjoy this week’s show.

Well, everyone, welcome to Startup Revival. This is Matthew Bell as always, cohost of Startup Revival, and as I mentioned previously, we have a really interesting and exciting guest that I want to introduce you to. His name is Brian Lane. He is a self-taught social media master. He has grown Facebook pages from zero to over three million in likes and followers and he is going to share with us some of the best practices and tips for how he has done it from start to finish. So Brian, it is a great honor to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.

Brian Lane:                  Well, I’m super-excited to be here and I just want to say thanks for having me.

Matthew Bell:             Well, great. The privilege is all ours. I hope you are doing alright. I know you just endured and went through Hurricane Irma in Florida. We want you to know our prayers are with everyone in Florida and we are glad to hear that you were not affected by the storm personally.

Brian Lane:                  Well, I mean, I was affected by it. I definitely had to sit through the storm and hunker down, not so much as other people. I mean, however, the power to the city that I was living in has totally just wiped out all the telephone poles on the ground. [00:02:54] It’s like we had some tornadoes roll through. And so it was a big mess, and so I actually had to go get into a hotel so that I could work and do some of the social media things that we’re here talking about today. And yeah, so it was definitely an experience. It’s good to have some sunshine. I’m enjoying the Orlando sun and, like I said, I’m happy to be here, and alive, breathing, talking to you post Irma.

Matthew Bell:             Well, that’s great, yeah. Well, I’m glad to hear that you’re safe and sound. That first and foremost is most important. We can deal with a little—power is the least of our worries.

Brian Lane:                  Oh yeah.

Matthew Bell:             As long as you’re safe, that’s first and foremost, so we are happy to hear that. So listen, at Startup Revival, we like to share spiritual, motivational and inspirational guidance and content for Christian entrepreneurs and folks who want to start their own businesses. We also like to share practical stuff, stuff that you can take from this podcast and go out and start doing it, and no better person can I think of than yourself to share some of that practical stuff. You are self-taught. You have grown Facebook audiences and social media audiences into the millions. Tell us first and foremost, how did you go from not being involved in social media to getting involved in it and ultimately becoming a master? What was that first step that you took? How’d you get started?

Brian Lane:                  Well, first I wouldn’t say that I was master. I’m still mastering the art of…the algorithm or the…but I appreciate the compliment. But for me, it’s always been about providing the kind of quality content that I know people are going to resonate with, which means for instance that if I find something that I think will do good on a larger audience, I’ll probably test it out on a smaller audience. If it does well there, I would take it and put it in front of the larger audience. But a lot of the skills and techniques that I learned have just come through trial and error. So I’ve just moved through and one like at a time have been able to inspire people.

And I’d say this. I think I heard you ask me what kind of got me going in that direction in the first place, what was like the aha moment for me. The aha moment for me was I think, first off—I would say this to anybody—you have to love people and you also have to love entertaining people or getting people information. And you have to have the gift of connectivity because if you don’t you’re going to be disconnected from your audience, you’re not going to really look forward to [00:05:34] think it’s going to bless them—depending on what field, it could be secular or Christian—or it’s going to inspire them or give them information that’s relevant to their lives. So just having those prerequisites down, knowing that you love people, knowing that you want to inspire people, having your why, the what just takes care of itself.

Matthew Bell:             Interesting. Got it. So obviously you’re passionate about people. I know that from knowing you personally. But tell me a little bit on a practical level, first off, one simple question, out of all the Facebook pages, out of all of them together, what’s the audience size that you currently manage as far as likes and followers?

Brian Lane:                  Well, I would say that I have about—well, depending on all the pages combined total or just one specific page?

Matthew Bell:             Go total, because it’s all accredited to the work you’ve done.

Brian Lane:                  I’d say close to eight million folks. There’s a couple of secular projects that I’ve inherited some pages that I manage, I’ve also built some pages, so probably close to eight million. Close, not quite, and I haven’t really done the tally because I really don’t—I do care, so when I say I don’t care it’s in context to saying it really doesn’t matter. But I love being able to reach out to those people. So around eight million.

Matthew Bell:             Well, see, that’s incredible right there. I just want to pause and just say that there’s a lot of people out there and one of the most effective marketing platforms in the world now is Facebook, really Facebook and Instagram. They’re the two number one social media platforms. Instagram is continuing to outpace the growth of all the other platforms. Facebook has more users with an audience [00:07:26] there’s a lot of people out there who know that. They know that Facebook is so important and you need to be on it, but they might only have a few hundred followers on their page. They might only have a small audience and they want to grow it. So on a practical level, what’s the first piece of advice you would recommend to someone who’s wanting to grow their personal Facebook audiences either for their business or their personal brand? What are your recommended first steps that they should take?

Brian Lane:                  Well, I would say this. Based off of whatever their theme is or their brand, making sure that you stay faithful to that, and as always and [00:08:09] I said this before a few moments ago, it’s always about your why. A lot of people want to do a lot of what but they never have a why to what they’re doing. And so when you get your why down and understand that, everything kind of flows from inside out. It comes from your natural desire to get whatever you’re trying to convey to people, whether it be a message or a product. It gets it there in front of them. It gives them a personal feel.

And I always tell people, “What’s the difference between a what and a why?” Here’s a what and a why product right here. You look at Android. That’s a what product mostly. But if you look at iPhone, that’s a why product. And you look at the difference in the appeal, you look at the difference in the marketing, you look at how it feels, and it’s self-evident right there.

But getting back to Facebook, and I heard you say something, you were saying that Instagram is far outpacing a lot of these social media platforms, and I think the biggest hang-up—and I know I’m going kind of in a different direction—is people look at Facebook and they see all of these pages out there with all of these followers and they don’t feel like they have a place. Well, I could tell you this: All of [00:09:19] them followers are always looking for something new. They’re used to watching the same channels, they’re always used to watching the same people, and they’re always looking for that next best thing, something that’s going to enhance their life, improve their quality of life or give them information.

And that’s the biggest thing. A lot of people get out there and they create content without any kind of understanding as to what they’re trying to convey. So for instance, if somebody wanted to create a prank video, a lot of times that’ll do so well it gets you so far, but if you’re not enhancing people’s lives, really people are not going to pay too much attention to that. They’re going to go to it but then they’re going to move away from it naturally over time. You may retain the like but you’re not going to retain the audience.

So I would say for anybody who’s starting their page right now, relationships are essential. I always tell people and you can even ask Matt, I’ve told you, obviously I’m [00:10:16] sitting here talking to you, but the thing is I don’t work based off of working like employee-boss. I work based off of friendships. I’ve got to be able to be your friend, and making those friendships between you and other entrepreneurs who are on Facebook or people who are building similar platforms or doing something similar to you is essential because those relationships go on to help you later on as far as what you’re trying to do, cross shares and just support from those people, people who are going to support your brand and to speak highly about it and recommend it to their audience.

But finishing up—and I know I’ve kind of gone all over the place—just remember, the famished mind, there’s never enough. He’s always hungry. He’s always looking. There’s never enough for him. But the person who sees the wealth, there’s plenty to go around. You have to have a wealthy mindset and literally is, “There’s enough out there for me. There’s plenty of people who want to hear what I have to say.” Having that positive attitude and just being dedicated, like I said, to those relationships, I say that that’s the starting point because that’s your why. When you work from within to without, everything kind of falls into place.

Matthew Bell:             Got it. Really interesting. So what I hear you saying is you need to be passionate, well, you need to have a commitment and a passion for the type of brand or content that you will be creating, and then you also mentioned that it requires dedication. Obviously this makes sense from a high level of understanding, but for me and the audience who’s listening, if I wanted to go and start a Facebook page tomorrow, I have a good idea of my brand, I have a good idea of the content type that I want to create, and I’m very passionate about it so I’m never going to get exhausted by that content, and if I can create good content, how long typically does it take to surpass a hundred thousand likes and then a million likes? I mean, is there any clear timeframe typically that you see or does it differ by product and brand?

Brian Lane:                  Well, I think it does. I think all of those things factor in. But I’d also say—are we talking about financially growing that page or organically? Because organically is going to obviously be a slower thing. But I want to tell you this.

Matthew Bell:             I’d say both, yeah. Let’s focus on organic first.

Brian Lane:                  Alright. So we have no capital to work with. We’re just starting out. We’re trying to get going. We get our page looking nice, professional. We have everything filled out. Everything’s just ready to go. We have our content. We have our ideas. So we just start out like that.

First, you start out basic. You got friends and family. Invite them all to the page. And also, I would say create a group of people who are dedicated to sharing your content. So it’s a lot of painstaking getting people to help you get your hustle on.

And that’s kind of how I started, is literally I went down my friends’ list and reached out to each individual, and there was like 4000 people. And I talked to people, “Hey, would you be interested in sharing this content for me once a week?” just becoming creative about it and getting those people to share that content, to watch it, to engage in it, and then to put it on their timeline. And so I was able to grow organically that way at a faster rate, but like I said, it takes time and patience and dedication. Those relationships—I can’t stress it enough—those working friendship relationships that you’re building with people are instrumental.

So it can go from anywhere. I’ve seen people who start out a page and you look at the page a year from now and they’ve only got 712 likes or a thousand. And I’m like, “Dude, what have you been doing?” It’s more than just creating a page and [00:14:35] getting out content. You have to make relationships with people, because if you’re not making relationships nobody’s going to know. You’re only going to have your little specific demographic and those people may not be really high-engaging folks.

And so to me, that’s kind of where you have to engage things from. You have to look at, “Okay, am I really reaching out, making the effort to get the word out about the brand, or am I just sitting back hoping things just take off themselves?” because I’m going to tell you this – you’re going to be sitting there a long time. And even some of the bigger guys like SoFloAntonio or [00:15:22], [00:15:22] and Prank Invasion, they had the help of their buddy SoFlo. And so everybody—like I said, it’s about getting that content, making those relationships, and reaching out, and the faster you get the word out the faster your brand grows. I hope that makes sense because like you said, I’m self-taught, so my mind kind of thinks in those terms.

Matthew Bell:             Yeah. No, it does make sense. I mean, you’re speaking from obviously—so being self-taught, that’s one of the best ways to learn, so absolutely no problem there. The performance speaks for itself. So you have millions of Facebook followers and millions of audience.

Brian Lane:                  Right.

Matthew Bell:             So you’re definitely someone who has an expertise and a mastery of the subject matter. It sounds to me—obviously you took the approach that would be very logical for someone who’s hustling and self-taught, which is, “Hey, I have a Facebook page. Can you help me market it?” and then you started networking and then you went working with… And that’s a model that works really well, and I think that’s a model that Facebook likes because it creates user engagement, it creates engagement on the site and it gets users talking to each other on Facebook, which is all things that Facebook likes because it keeps people engaged in their platform. So that’s interesting. That’s really interesting.

So it sounds to me like the number one thing from your point of view, and correct me if I’m wrong, is to really network and build relationships within the platform to get a network of friends, family and business partners sharing your content, and that has been one of the most effective ways that you’ve grown your pages. Is that accurate?

Brian Lane:                  I would say that that’s part of it. That was the start of it. And I’ll tell you what, their timelines look a lot like my page by the time we’re done [00:17:20] because they’re dedicated to helping you, and that’s what it’s all about.

And I was starting in Facebook, here’s the biggest thing and this is for anybody: They’re going to tell you a lot of things. They’re going to tell you this works, that works, this doesn’t work, try this – a lot of them are guessing. And I’m going to tell you this: It all starts with relationships. Bottom line, if you can hammer down in relationships, the sky is the limit literally. Because I’m telling you, obviously you need to put an ear out, hear what people are trying, what’s not working, and just getting tips. If you can connect with somebody who has a bigger page than yours, not even just for a share but also for mentorship, “Hey man, how did you do this?” “Well, I did this, I started this, and have you heard about that?” And so you get that tidbit of information and then you’re able to build a page.

But there’s not one-size-fits-all when it comes to growing your page and everybody does it differently. But there are some core characteristics that mark the sign of a person who’s going to be successful in the social media space, and that’s relationships and working well with others and loving people.

Matthew Bell:             That makes a lot of sense. I mean, at the heart of it we’re talking about social media and you can’t be social without relationships. So obviously that makes a lot of sense.

So hey, before we wrap up here, this has been really helpful. I hope it has encouraged a lot of people because you went from not doing social media to building the beginnings of a social media empire by being self-taught, so some folks I’m sure are hearing this for the first time and they’re going to be excited and motivated. What would be one or two pieces of advice for someone who wants to go and get started with Facebook right now on a practical level to just kickstart their social media presence?

Brian Lane:                  Well, number one, and folks, I want to say this, there’s going to be a lot of hours put in where you don’t get paid and if you’re doing it for the money, I mean [00:19:36] I could give you all the clichés, you’re always going to be chasing the wrong thing. You have to do it for the people. You have to focus on the people because if you focus on the people, money and things will come. Finances will take care of themselves. There’s just going to be a lot of long hours. There’s going to be a lot of times where you’re just like, [00:19:55] “Dude, this isn’t really working,” but don’t give up because it will pay off and you’ll be able to get the content out there that you want.

So I would say this to the person who’s sitting there listening to this right now. If you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, “Man, I really want to do this,” well, you have to ask yourself, why do you want to do it? And then once you come up with that why, then basically it’s, “What are you good at? What’s something you’re passionate about? Is there some injustice that you want to see fixed? How can you offer a solution?” Always think solutionary. Don’t think problematic, “Let’s address the problem,” because those pages, they come and they go quick and you’ll have a hateful audience. Think about how you can better somebody’s life based off of your passion.

And I always tell people, “When your potential meets your passion, you walk into destiny.” You got to dig down deep and find out what really matters because if it’s coming from the heart, it’s coming from within, [00:20:53] it becomes a why and the what takes care of itself. It’s something similar to what Christ said in the Scriptures. He said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all of these things shall be added unto you.” Basically, here’s the construct of that. Put first things first, priorities straight, and everything else is going to work out. So focus on what matters to you, focus on how you’re going to improve the quality of those around you, and then set out to do what you know you’re going to be good at, and don’t try to be like anybody else. That’s my tidbit of advice.

Matthew Bell:             Awesome. Hey Brian, I appreciate that, and I know the audience has probably been blessed and encouraged to hear your story and just hear the practical guidance for how to go out and do it themselves. So thanks for coming on the show. We really appreciate you. And to everyone who’s been listening, we hope this encourages you, blesses you and motivates you to go out and pursue your own passions in the social media realm.

 

That was Startup Revival, brought to you by your hosts Matt Bell and Rafael Simpson. Tune in next week to hear more stories from entrepreneurs and businesspeople to inspire, encourage and motivate you in your business journey. Have a great week.

[00:22:33]

The aha moment for me was you have to love people and you also have to love entertaining people or getting people information.
Brian Layne
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