Strategies for social media success

Social media is an ever more powerful force in both our personal and professional lives.There are over 60 billion digital messages delivered via smartphone every day. Success on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube can often seem more a matter of luck than planning and work. Opaque algorithms summon videos out of the depths and propel them to viral status for no apparent reason. It’s still relatively unexplored territory and there are few solid models for building and scaling a social media following. In his 2018 book One Million Followers, Brendan Kane provides exactly such a model.

Brendan Kane has built a long career by creating online followings for celebrities, corporations, and brands, from Paramount Pictures to Taylor Swift. In order to really put his model of social media success to the test, he applied the methods he had used to build celebrities’ brands to himself, then a relative unknown. As the book’s subtitle states, Brendan was able to go from 0 to 1 million followers on Facebook in just 30 days. The book tells how he did it.

The basic model of the book is based on a cycle of hypothesis, test, pivot. First, you need to brainstorm and get think up different ways and means of packaging your content so that it generates the most interaction. Once you have a hypothesis, you need to create a low-budget proof of concept to put out. You shouldn’t invest very much time or money in this second phase. Once you release the test, gauge the response closely. What’s most important is content that generates shares and new followers.

After that, you pivot. If the test worked and brought in a high level of engagement, invest in that idea further, beyond just the proof of concept. If it didn’t work, come up with a new hypothesis and repeat. It’s a simple enough idea, but effective and most importantly flexible. You can adapt it to virtually any kind of content.

And speaking of content, Kane recommends photo content maybe with simple caption or inspirational quote above video. It’s a lot easier to produce high-quality photo content than video content. It’s also a lot more measurable as there are much fewer variables you have to account for.

Another big element to One Million Followers is ads. You have to buy ads on Facebook in order to elevate your brand above the crowd and constant deluge of new content being produced every second. This is presented as an absolute must if you want to build a large following on social media, probably because it is. He focuses in on Facebook in the book, precisely because ads on Facebook are very visible and can easily reach a wide audience.

One more interesting idea presented in the book is that of the Process Communication Model, a theory of personality that divides people into Thinkers, Persisters, Harmonizers, Imaginers, Rebels, and Promoters. Each of these types have a different “currency,” a different sort of medium that they best respond to. For Thinkers, it’s logic. For Harmonizers, it’s compassion/emotion. Rebels respond best to humorous content and so on. It turns out, most people in North America are Harmonizers, 30% to be exact. So making content that appeals to people’s compassion is inherently going to resonate with more of your audience. Thinkers and Rebels are also very common.

Kane elaborates on the specifics of other platforms, like YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn to conclude the book. These chapters are to a greater or lesser degree extrapolations on the principles laid out earlier in the book to become successful on Facebook. For instance, he advises would-be YouTube success-stories to build an audience on Facebook first, which they can then direct to subscribe to their channel on YouTube. The reason: You get a lot more bang for your buck purchasing ads on Facebook. YouTube’s algorithms are much more fickle.

The book is somewhat outdated, having been written in 2018, a veritable century ago in terms of social media trends. And while it is somewhat tempting to write it off as simply an encouragement to buy ads on Facebook, One Million Followers is definitely more than that. The book will do little for you if you do not already have a product or brand to sell. Brandan’s guidance does not enable you to create interesting content out of nothing. But the principles outlined in the book are solid and systematic and give a good starting point for establishing longterm social media success.

One Million Followers is available for purchase here.

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