One Million Followers by Brendan Kane
How I built a massive social following in 30 days.
Growth Hacks for Your Business, Your Message, and Your Brand from the World’s Greatest Minds
You were built to live the dream you have inside. Every person on this earth has a gift. Dreams are your guide. Do you have the courage to grab your dream?
The impact of gaining one million followers around the world.
Justin Bieber is a perfect example of someone who intuitively mastered the power of digital media. He started off creating videos of himself on YouTube, covering songs that were already popular at the time and today is one of the biggest stars on the planet. He didn’t have to do anything especially innovative.
He started off as just a talented unknown.
We all have things that make us unique and worthy of inspiring others.
The main issue today, however, is that nearly everyone wants to make an impact, so it’s harder than ever to be heard in our increasingly globalized society. There are more than sixty billion messages shared daily on mobile platforms alone.
You need to know what makes people want to share your message. When one person shares your message, your exposure and range grows exponentially it eventually reaches hundreds of their friends and can potentially reach their friends’ friends as well. The velocity at which you get people to share your content dictates the success of your organic growth. This also means the more people sharing, the quicker you grow.
The average Facebook user has 338 friends, so if each of her fans shared those images she could potentially reach up to 1,014,000 people.
You don’t need to spend millions of dollars on marketing to reach the masses – you just have to get people to share your messages for you.
Building a huge audience and cultivating real engaged fans takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and work.
Social media numbers are becoming increasingly important and can have a huge effect on your ability to get in the door and build important partnerships.
The problem is most people don’t have a strategy behind their methods – and the ones who do have a strategy tend to keep it a secret.
Beyond generating a one-to-one connection to quickly build fans and create messages that touch your audience emotionally, another cornerstone is testing.
The reason Facebook is so successful is because its model (and Silicon Valley’s model in general) is based on the principle of “failing hard and failing fast.” Some even say “fail faster” because that’s the only way you learn. By testing, learning, failing, and underperforming, you will eventually succeed.
Chapter 1 – How I gained one million followers in 30 days.
Building the audience is actually pretty easy. It’s maintaining and engaging that audience that requires hard work over time.
Three phases to the process
The foundation of my methodology for gaining one million followers consists of these three steps:
Hypothesize – Quickly identify a hypothesis of a format, story, or theme that engages audiences around a specific message.
Test – Produce a low-cost proof of the concept or message that can be tested and validated and learn everything you can about what does and doesn’t work from the results.
Pivot – If it’s disproved, quickly repeat the process again with a new format, story, or theme.
Hypothesize, test, and pivot is your new mantra.
Visit onemillionfollowers.com/test to watch a video where Brendan breaks down this process further.
The model is simple – the hard part is figuring out what to test and when to pivot. You need to test many different variations that have a strong hook to catch and hold people’s attention. Then, based on those tests, you figure out which variations yield the best results and keep investing in the ones that do. Or, if none of them are working, you need to pivot – go back, set a new hypothesis, and start the process over again.
An advantage of images over videos here is that it’s much easier to create a high quality image than a video. There are so many variables that go into making a great video: tone, pacing, the first three seconds, captions, title cards, length, and so forth. With a photo, on the other hand, you just have to choose the right photo with the right quote-fewer variables have to come together to make it successful.
Why my system starts with Facebook
The internet has been designed to capitalize on the free sharing of user data. This won’t change until businesses, consumers, and regulators decide to adopt a different model.
There’s also a difference between using data to help people and using it to exploit them. Creating fake news (with malicious or manipulative intent) is irresponsible and not advisable to anyone. On the other hand, gathering data that allows marketers to know their customers’ needs and better understand them can serve in providing value to potential customers.
The number one key to success in scaling massive audiences is getting people to share your message for you. The more people share your content, the faster and more cost effectively you can scale your audience.
Facebook is used to share content more than email or any other online social platform
If you have a great piece of content, people will rapidly share it on Facebook, maximizing the potential earned lift of your content.
Facebook lends itself more readily to scaling than other platforms because it was built around the concept of sharing.
Facebook is the largest platform. It gives you access to a community of more than two billion people (and rising).
Three Ways to Generate a Following on Facebook Fast
There are three ways you can grow a following on Facebook. The first is by growing organically.
The second two ways are by using the Facebook advertising platform, which enables you to (1) make a piece of content go viral to gain mass awareness with the correlative effect of people following you based on this exposure or (2) use a page likes ad unit (any ad with the goal of creating more likes/followers for your page) to target potential new followers.
Because of Facebook’s algorithms, even after you hit a million followers, the content that you post will only reach on average between 2 and 5 percent of your audience. Most people have liked hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. When people look at their main feed, Facebook can only show them so much content.
There’s always a CPA (cost per acquisition) for a follower. If you’re building a fan base, even from an organic perspective there’s a cost to acquire a follower or subscriber.
You’re paying with your time by doing all the work – shooting, editing, posting, monitoring, and the like – yourself.
No matter which route you take there’s a cost, whether in time, commitment, money, or a combination of all three. You have to invest to gain followers.
No matter how shareable a piece of content is, you have to use paid push. There’s just too much noise and clutter out there. You have to boost your posts and pay to ignite.
There’s a misconception that when you use the ad platform you’re just buying likes or followers, but this isn’t true. You’re paying Facebook for the opportunity to put a piece of content in front of someone. Then that person has to opt in and like that content, which you can’t force them to do. It’s like paying for advertising space in a newspaper or magazine. You can pay for the ad, but it doesn’t mean that people will call or come in to your business.
Quick Tips and Recap
- There are two ways you can use the Facebook ad platform to generate a following: (1) Make a piece of content go viral to gain mass awareness or (2) use a page likes ad unit to target people to follow your page.
- Content is the most critical factor when it comes to growing and engaging large audiences online.
- The key to scaling a massive audience in the shortest possible time is an agile approach of producing, testing, and measuring how people are responding to your content in real time.
- Hypothesize, test, learn, and pivot.
- You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; look around and borrow ideas from what works for other people.
- Facebook is one of the easiest platforms on which to gain one million fans because it’s centered on the concept of sharing.
- Building an audience requires an investment in either time or money.
- This system does not allow you to buy followers. It allows you to pay Facebook for the opportunity to put a piece of content in front of people.
- To drive down costs, stick with Facebook’s suggested bid amount. Only spend more by duplicating the ad set with a different interest or piece of creative.
- Always think about your ROI and work backward. If an ad isn’t meeting your goals, turn it off.
Chapter 2 – Target Your Audience
Targeting the right people allows your business to thrive. And if you know exactly who your target audience is, the internet – social media in particular – has made it easier than ever before to listen to consumer feedback.
A targeting checklist
Think about whom it is most accessible or useful to.
What is the GENDER of your target audience?
What is the AGE of your target audience?
What is your DESIRED MARKETING GOAL?
Where is your audience LOCATED?
What INTERESTS do people who buy your product or brand have?
What is some additional LIFESTYLE information you know about your audience?
Who are your top-level COMPETITORS and what do their fans look like in regard to the questions on this list?
Targeting the exact demographic is a great strategy when the sole focus is getting the members to perform a specific call to action (CTA) – for example, click, buy, register.
Quick tips and recap
- There are two strategies for targeting:
- Targeting the exact demographic is a great strategy when the sole focus is to get them to perform a specific CTA (e.g., click, buy, register).
- If you’re able to generate highly shareable content, you can leverage a strategy of testing to identify advocates who will share your content and brand for you.
- If you’re struggling to create highly shareable content and are focused on direct-response marketing campaigns (i.e., selling a specific product or service), taking a narrow approach with the targeting checklist is the best place to start. Paint a picture of your audience by exploring aspects of their personae, including gender, age, what action you want them to take, location, interests, and lifestyle.
- If you’re running broad-base campaigns and trying to drive mass awareness, start broad with your targeting and see where Facebook’s algorithms push it. Keeping your target audience wide generally brings down your cost in the auction.
- Use Google Analytics and social media data such as Facebook Insights to help you mine data about your target audience.
- Analyze prior purchase orders and conduct surveys with your existing fan base to help you determine with whom your content, products, and brand most resonate.
- The campaign objectives’ priority is post engagement or video views if you have good content, and a conversions objective if you’re just trying to sell a product and have average to below-average content.
- Test a gazillion different target groups.
- Don’t assume you know who your audience is; allow new target groups to be discovered.
- Retarget your content to whoever engaged with the original content.
- Build look-alike audiences of the people who converted or took desired actions like sharing or clicking.
- You can’t be 100 percent certain who your audience is until you’ve actually put your content out in the world and seen who responds.
Chapter 3 – Choose a message for the masses
There’s no point in building up followers if you can’t have active engagement. Creating content that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to share it with their social friends and connections is key.
What makes what you do different? And how can you make that important to others? You have to come up with a succinct, attention-grabbing way to get your information across. And it needs to be relevant. You must associate yourself with topics that are timely, interesting, and meet your audience’s needs. The hook point is what gets people to stop and pay attention.
The Psychology of Communication
Process Communication Model (PCM), a behavioral observation tool that allows you to communicate more effectively, has been highly influential in the way Brandan, and many major corporations in the world, create content and communicate with others.
In PCM there are six personality types: Thinkers, Persisters, Harmonizers, Imaginers, Rebels, and Promoters. Each personality type experiences the world in different ways. Thinkers perceive the world through thoughts, and logic is their currency. Persisters perceive the world through opinions, and value is their currency. Harmonizers perceive the world through emotions, and compassion is their currency. Imaginers perceive the world through inactions, and imagination is their currency. Rebels perceive the world through reactions, and humor is their currency. And last, but certainly not least, since they are often very powerful people, Promoters perceive the world through actions, and charm is their currency. All the personality types are in each of us, but we have a base personality type that we’re born with and that doesn’t change over the course of our lives.
To reach the majority of people in the population, it’s best to focus on feelings/compassion, which speaks to Harmonizers, who make up 30 percent of the North American population; logic, which speaks to Thinkers, who make up 25 percent; and humor, which speaks to Rebels, who make up 20 percent. King recommends focusing on those three personality types to create content that teaches a very broad audience.
Popular content that gets shared often can be grouped into five categories:
Inspirational, motivational, and aspirational
Quick tips and recap
- Define your hook point by knowing what makes you unique.
- Choose a great headline by making it specific and relevant.
- Adapt your content to what your audience is already interested in.
- A/B test your headlines against each other to discover which is the most relevant and useful.
- Use psychology and human behavior to communicate your message clearly to different types of audiences. Speaking in a way your audience can understand is key. Remember, according to PCM, focusing on LOGIC, HUMOR, AND EMOTIONS will resonate with the majority of the North American population.
- Find messages that make your audience ask themselves questions they’re already thinking about but don’t know the answers to.
- Determine whether political, comedic, inspirational, entertainment, per-based, and social currency can be leveraged to attract attention to your content.
- Create content and messages that move people emotionally.
- Know which topics are trending on Facebook and online.
Chapter 4 – Fine-Tune through social testing
The value of testing
Testing is not a new concept – everyone from scientists to business owners have used it. Deliberate experimentation was even the key to Thomas Edison’s success when he created the lightbulb, and currently it’s Facebook’s secret weapon. In fact, according to an article on Medium.com, Facebook usually has ten thousand different versions running to test what will be most effective for users. Founder Mark Zuckerberg says that experimentation is the defining strategy of his company’s success.
The basic principle of testing comes from science where it’s laid out as “theory, prediction, experimentation, and observation.” In business, the model is broken down as “plan, do, check, act.” In my system, it’s “hypothesis, test, pivot.” Essentially, it’s all the same. To create anything, this is the process that works.
The beauty of social media is you can immediately see who’s doing well and get inspired from what’s already working out there. Go out, test content, measure the response, and iterate quickly.
Ask your consumer questions by giving them different messages to choose from.
Listen to your community and let it guide you on where your company and your brand should be focused.
Quick tips and recap
- Test and learn. Then use that learning as fuel.
- Testing is used in all aspects of creation – from medicine to business to science. It’s the foundation for learning.
- It’s one thing to record analytics and data and quite another to actually learn from them. Observe how and why people engage with your content.
- The more intelligence you glean from your tests, the better you’ll be at producing content that resonates with people. This will help you dramatically drop costs around your key performance indicators.
- Ask your consumers questions by giving them clear, distinct messages from which to choose.
- Think from your consumer’s point of view.
- Don’t get complacent. Push the boundaries of the platforms.
- Listen to your community and let them help you decide which content will be most effective.
- Google Trends and AdWords help you tailor your content to what your audience is most interested in and allows you to observe trends over time.
- Practice social listening by looking at your community’s comments on your posts and content. Also, go to your competitors’ pages and observe how their content is performing.
- Tailor and test content individually for each platform.
- The testing process is a marathon, not a race.
Chapter 5 – Create shareable content
Shareability is the most important metric when looking to grow quickly on Facebook and online in general.
To create a massive following and a steady sense of growth, focus on creating shareable content.
Sharing is the key to the Kingdom
Getting someone to like or view a piece of content is easy, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a great vanity metric, but it doesn’t help you produce results. Someone who shares your content is taking an action. This is feedback that you content is resonating. As Latham Arneson puts it, “Taking action is essential. At some point, you need your audience and consumers to do something, whether it’s engage, or buy a product.” Having followers sit back and passively like your page doesn’t do you any good.
A share on Facebook is the greatest indicator of a successful post.
Sharing leads to sales and direct actions
The irony is that the less you try to sell the more you will sell. When you focus on creating value for people instead of gaining customers, it drives sales and direct actions.
The best way to get content to go viral is by providing service and value to others.
Social media is all about building relationships.
The secret to content: make something so great that is moves people to take action.
When developing content, stay authentic to your brand and message.
Don’t force people to share
Your job as a marketer is to give people a reason to involve others, not just to tell them what to do. Ask yourself why they would want to bring people they know into the conversation.
If you want someone to do something for you, make it seem like you’re helping them do what they already want to do. Don’t ask them outright to do what you want them to do. Let them do things their own way. Don’t ask them to share. Make them want to share.
Have a clear message
Shareable content needs to have a really clear message and narrative.
Quick tips and recap
- Shareable content is the number one way to grow quickly and keep fans engaged.
- Serve others. Being service minded will get you further than thinking about yourself. Always try to give to others and think about them first.
- Using a good headline will up your shareability factor because it helps the messaging become clearer and your audience will be more likely to look at the content.
- Connect with your audiences through emotions. Make sure your content makes your audience feel something. Whether it gets them to laugh, cry, or feel in any way, try to reach the audience at the heart level.
- Don’t assume that people are watching your videos with sound. It’s always good to subtitle your content and ensure that your message is crystal clear when distributing on Facebook and Instagram.
- Keep video introductions to a minimum. Go straight into something fast paced and exciting. Remember that you only have a second (or three max) to hook someone and grab their interest.
- Play into the unexpected. Have twists, especially at the end of videos.
- Don’t force an obvious call to action. Get your audience to share by giving them a reason to involve their friends, not by saying something obvious like “Follow me!” or “Go check this out!” Think of something creative and fun to engage people into performing a specific action.
- Each piece of content should stand on its own. Don’t rely on the fact that everyone has seen all your content. Even if they have, you can’t expect them to remember what they saw before.
- Don’t be afraid to create content or leverage content that’s related to your subject and not necessarily about your subject. Content that shares moments from your brand’s lifestyle can be just as powerful. (And when in doubt, sunsets and videos of dolphins surfing work like a charm.)
- Follow your gut and be authentic. Social media is a two way conversation. When you’re genuine and connected to yourself, it’s easier for others to connect with you.
Chapter 6 – Strategic Alliances
Creating strategic partnerships can help you scale very quickly. They’re especially helpful if you have less money to spend to grow your platform or want to grow using pure organic strategies. They allow you to go where the audience already exists so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Focus on forging relationships with superconnectors-people who are attainable and that are connected to a lot of other people.
For example, if you want to collaborate with Taylor Swift, you’re probably not going to get ahold of her directly. You have to find people who already know her.
Find your potential collaborator’s trusted advisers.
One or Two Will Do
Don’t message five people and get discouraged if none of them respond. Message a hundred more people, and then another hundred people after that until you find people who will advocate for you or the right collaborators to work with. Even if only two or three people want to work with you, it’s something. It’s quality, not quantity, that helps you grow. Focus on one or two valuable connections or partnerships.
So if you have a unique offering and can find the right partners, you can position yourself for massive growth.
YouTube is another company that grew because of its offering and a strategic alliance. It was built and acquired in twenty-two months for $1.6 billion because it strategically leveraged the Myspace platform to direct traffic to its own platform. YouTube created a snippet of code (now referred to as an embed code) so people could embed videos into their Myspace profiles. This was novel at the time; it acted as Myspace’s first video player. When users saw that their friends were embedding videos on their Myspace profiles, they often wanted to follow suit. YouTube grew because it was seen on Myspace profiles, and users were sharing the word about the company without even realizing it.
Myspace tried to acquire YouTube but lost out to Google.
Collaborating with the right people helps build and foster your audience.
Reach out to your peers and ask if they would like to partner and be in an engagement group with you.
Build a massive following and then approach content partners to license their content for free in exchange for exposing their brand to your newly built audience.
Quick tips and recap
Strategic alliances can take you to where an audience already exists so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Partnerships help get messages and brand awareness out there in larger ways.
Find strategic partnerships that drive growth. You want quality, not quantity.
Find the superconnectors you can reach that will connect you to other people.
Put yourself in your partners’ shoes to think about what could be valuable to them.
At first, look for partners who are attainable – they don’t have to have a much larger following than you to help you.
Chapter 7 – Go Global [An Opportunity]
Going global can be extremely valuable. Today there are 323 million people in the United States, yet there are 7.6 billion people in the world. the biggest celebrities and influencers always have a global plan for building an audience in other countries – it’s a great way to scale into a true megastar.
Retention and Attention
If you target people in Indonesia, or Brazil, the engagement is often ten times what you’ll see in the United States or the United Kingdom. You’re going against fewer competitive sources of content and fewer advertisers from domestic companies. Carey adds that in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Middle Eastern markets, people typically spend four times the number of hours per day on their phone than people in Western markets. People in the United States
In most cases, people don’t really know or ask where your followers come from, just the fact that you have fans automatically makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. And your value also goes up when you have access to an audience that very few other people have.
Quick Tips and Recap
- Acquiring a follower or a like in India, Indonesia, Brazil, or Mexico is far cheaper than in the States because there aren’t a lot of people fighting over those countries, which creates an excess of inventory in the auction.
- Followers in emerging markets can cost less than a penny, versus eight or nine cents in the States.
- In emerging markets, there’s often less competition and users spend more time on mobile devices.
- Good content travels well. Create content that’s not language-specific. Create with global in mind.
Chapter 8 – The strategies I used to generate a million followers on Instagram.
With more than one billion monthly active users, Instagram is a platform that can’t be ignored.
In addition to distributing your content on large accounts, growth and virality can be achieved by getting people with status to like and comment on your content. On Instagram, status is defined by two metrics: (1) number of followers, and (2) lifetime of an account. Those who’ve been on the platform longer have more clout. The algorithm is created this way to prevent people from cheating the system.
Rapid growth on IG
Getting featured on the Explore page, which is Instagram’s general search page, is the best way for content to go viral and for you to drive engagement and reach.
If you’re in a network of big pages posting your content, you’ll receive more attention.
Quick tips and recap
- Growth is slower on Instagram than on Facebook. Be patient and consistent over time.
- Use the Explore page to drive reach and engagement.
- Get high-profile accounts (those with a large number of followers and those who have been on the platform for a long time) to like, comment, mention you, and repost your content.
- If you are a brand, use visual and behind-the-scenes moments on this platform.
- Target smaller influencers first and work your way up.
Chapter 9 – Growth drivers for YouTube
YouTube is one of the hardest platforms on which to grow quickly and on which to go viral.
Similar to SEO, the goal is to rank well enough within YouTube’s algorithms to get your content filtered to the top of search results and to be included in suggested viewing.
One strategy for growth is to leverage the viral and rapid growth potential of Facebook to build a large audience and then drive those fans to follow your YouTube channel. As we have discussed in earlier chapters, advertising dollars go much further on the Facebook platform than on YouTube’s advertising platform-they-re a lot cheaper and you can achieve faster growth. Once you establish rapid growth on Facebook, it becomes easier to push people to your YouTube channel.
The best way to grow on YouTube is a combination of paid media, collaborations, optimizations, and playlisting.
Collaborations lead to quick organic growth – One of the best ways to build a community on YouTube is through collaborations with other YouTubers. Sharing audiences isn’t a novel concept – it’s something that people have been talking about for the last ten years – but it really does work. Your collaborators’ biggest fans will subscribe to everyone in the collaboration group.
Approach your content from a single point of view and you’ll have a better chance of finding your audience.
You should be talking to your audience, making them feel included as if they’re your friends.
Make sure that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about the topic you discuss on your channel. This authentic passion is what people respond positively toward. Plus, you’ll enjoy learning everything about something you love. It will help you stay motivated and give you fuel to put in the necessary effort to create a channel that thrives.
Growth happens primarily through algorithms, search, and collaborations.
Chapter 11 – Substantial business growth with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B targeting, searching for jobs, and for reaching business-minded people.
Your level of access to people on LinkedIn, including those that can buy your product or give you jobs, is only limited by your ability to reach out.
When connecting with others on LinkedIn, find a way to provide value. Start with a compliment or something that builds a relationship first. Don’t sell them your service or product; instead, offer unique value to them through your product or service.
Chapter 12 – Staying Power
You need to become a brand, a name that people know and trust.
The most essential way to make a brand persist is by being trustworthy.
How you can create staying power, relevance, and credibility to build a long-lasting and powerful brand.
Trust is at the core of everything. People need to know what you stand for, what your values are, what drives you – the mind-set behind how you create products and services.
If we’re too realistic, we wind up pessimistic. But if we shoot for the moon, we wind up among the stars. (exactly where we want to go).
Famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky always said, “I never skate to where the puck is; I skate to where the puck is going to be.”
Go beyond what you think is possible. Envision something greater than that which you think you can achieve.
Personal growth must happen before you can have professional success.
Focus on who you are
Everyone has a gift to give to the world. To find it, stay still, listen to your intuition, and know that you are complete as you are.
Use multiple channels
Create your opportunities
“Create your own buzz and the bees will follow,”
No one owes you anything, so work hard to make your opportunities yourself.
Create a strong feeling of connection
If you treat your fans like friends they’ll probably give you some good insight and advice. They might tell you what they like best about your company or page and help you improve over time.