Social media is on everyone’s minds these days — and for Millennials, in particular, it seems like if we’re not posting something, we are watching something.
Like it or not, the newsfeed has become somewhat of a second home for many of us.
But can you build a business there?
For Millennial entrepreneurs like Daniel DiPiazza, social media isn’t just somewhere to consider looking — it’s literally ground zero.
DiPiazza, who is the founder of the popular money and lifestyle site Rich20Something, used social media almost exclusively to go from a relative-unknown to widely regarded as a leader of his generation in just under two years.
And he did (almost) all of it from his mobile phone.
On building brand recognition and visibility with Instagram
Not one to skirt around the important issue, Daniel is honest about how he built his massive following on Instagram — which totals over 230,000 people the platform.
He says, “When I got into Instagram in the spring of 2015, it was still early days. So there was definitely a ‘first-mover’ advantage for accounts like mine that wanted to dominate the entrepreneurship space for Millennials. But I also offer something quite unique to my followers — I actually listen and respond.”
According to Daniel, it’s all about accessibility.
“At the end of the day, people go on social media to be SOCIAL! We’ve been programmed to mindlessly scroll, but we are desperately craving that human interaction. It feeds us! When new followers find my page on Instagram, they’re always surprised at how active I am in my own community. I’m responding to comments left and right. I’m actually answering my DM’s. At a time when everybody expects these types of things to be automated or ignored, I was able to stand out by simply being accessible. That accessibility allowed my following to skyrocket far past those who just wanted to post random ‘feel good’ quotes.”
The value of depth
Ever the innovator, DiPiazza was able to take things to the next level by bringing back an old trend — writing long form essays and thought pieces with the built in feature on Facebook called Facebook Notes.
“Facebook notes were pretty much out of style until I started using them again. And here was my thought process: we’re so focused on reducing the length and curtailing of our content. The videos are getting shorter, the captions are getting smaller. But what if we were to do the opposite? What if we were to say everything we needed to say — and put THAT type of material out into the social space?”
He goes on to say:
“I began using Facebook Notes as a way to test whether Millennials actually wanted to read more than 140 characters — and it turns out, we do. I started using the platform to spark much deeper conversations than were possible on any other social platform. For instance, one note I wrote, entitled: “If You’re Hustling Hard And Things Still Aren’t Happening For You, Read This…” received almost 4,000 shares and was read nearly 30,000 times in one month. All because the power of the idea + the fluidity of the Facebook platform made it easy to share. Millennials love long-form content if it speaks to them, and this only reinforced my brand as trustworthy, honest and thoughtful.”
Why you shouldn’t hit that retweet button just yet
One of the most attractive elements of social media is how easy it is to share each other’s ideas — and in a sense, that’s half the fun. But Daniel takes a slightly different approach to growing a social media following.
“Look, here’s the reality: most of us are consumers. Only a few of us are creators. That means that 99% of the time, the things we see on social media have been posted other places first. One strategy for getting more likes, follows and shares is to just find the ideas that are performing the best and copy them. Sure, it works. But now you’re no different than everybody else. You have to create some new ideas and throw put them out there. If you want to stand out, you have to start asking your audience questions they’ve never been asked before. You have to start reading more books and putting the ideas into practice with your followers. Forget reposting an Abraham Lincoln quote — figure out what you have to say, and say that. Don’t just be part of the social echo chamber.”
Daniel’s blog, Rich20Something, is dedicated to teaching young people the fundamentals of money, mindset and motivation — and he is also the author of a new book by the same name — Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business and Score the Life You Want.
Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising agency in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at the world’s top publications. Brian is the Founder of Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures.