“Everything comes down to content. You cannot be successful online without solid content. You can build a million followers and if you don’t have solid content, it means nothing.”
So, how do we achieve that success?
For Brendan Kane, it begins with your value proposition — finding the thing that makes you unique and different. Once you know what that is, you look for the people who are currently reaching your audience. They might be direct competitors or work in a similar space – either way, you want to dissect what makes them successful, what content formats get the highest return, and how you can apply them to your brand.
We’re mostly going to be looking at Instagram in this article, but it’s important to acknowledge the difference between using Facebook and Instagram so you don’t fall into a one-size-fits-all strategy that yields less-than-ideal results.
The difference between Facebook and Instagram growth mainly stems from Facebook functioning as a democratic platform — you put out solid content, people share it, and your audience grows. It works beautifully as an advertising platform and market research tool because you can control the individual elements, test them, segment the tests, and learn how different language, formats, and themes work. Then, you grow by pushing the successful content.
For Instagram, you can generate growth if you hit the explorer page and are lucky enough to go viral (keeping in mind that most explorer page posts generate at most a few hundred followers), OR you grow by distributing your content on other channels that drive traffic back to your page. The best way to make that happen is to test your content.
Testing Your Content for Instagram
You need to test your content to understand how your content performs against specific audiences. You can’t just blindly post and expect it to work.
If you want to generate more followers in a short period of time, you have to leverage the platform as a market research tool to test and scale the formats and themes people share the most.
Brendan distributes his content on 7 to 10 different channels, using one channel to test the effectiveness of specific content to drive followers and traffic back to his profile. He then keeps testing to find the piece that generates the most effective opt-in rate. Once he figures that out, then he distributes that content across all of the other channel partners to drive traffic back and generate more followers.
“Once you dial in on the creative messages that work, then it’s just about scaling that and just feeding more traffic to those formats and variations that are working.”
Where to Start With Instagram
Make a list of all the accounts that are reaching your audience. Don’t focus on big brands because they most likely won’t post your content. Instead, hunt for individual accounts that have grown a large audience and try to get your content on their network.
The best way to do this is to either make super valuable content that people want to post because it adds value to their audience/will grow their audience, OR buy a shout out on people’s accounts to get placement.
Obviously, you want your content to be valuable and to get shout outs for free, but most importantly, you’re spreading the word to a wider audience about what you have to offer!
Interview Content Strategy
If you have a podcast, video podcast, or generate other interview-based content, there are some key strategies to employ in clip selection and clip titles that will boost traffic and increase the likelihood of people watching the whole video.
Know your audience, but know your guest’s audience, too! Think about Brendan’s example with Katie Couric interviewing Elizabeth Banks. They knew that the biggest things Elizabeth was known for were The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect, and Feminist Activism. So they structured the clip headlines as “hook points” that would capitalize on each topic.
Think of a hook point as a magazine headline that would make someone stop and read if they were passing by and caught the title. Pair the correlating clips and hook points, then test them against each other to find which are shared at the highest velocity — those are the clips that will drive traffic and get people to consume the rest of the video.
If “you bring people in with that strong hook point and make it very compelling, you earn the right to say, ‘Hey, you should watch or listen to the entire interview!’”
If you want to dig deeper and learn even more about digital content strategy, make sure to pick up Brendan’s book One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days http://onemillionfollowers.com/