How To Use Facebook To Grow Your Business

Hundreds of millions of people are using Facebook to chat, share pictures and waste time. Great for them. But if you’re a Mixergy fan, you’re more interested in how you can use it to grow your business. That’s why I invited Jeff Widman to do an interview on Mixergy. He runs BrandGlue, which helps brands like Mint, Microsoft & Seth Godin use Facebook to grow.

What you’ll hear in this interview are specific techniques you can use to grow your brand using Facebook. If you want to get started, this interview will give you a good understanding of what’s possible and how to jump in. If Facebook isn’t your thing, I still recommend listening to this interview because a lot of the techniques that Jeff talked about can be used on other mediums.

Jeff Widman

Jeff Widman

BrandGlue

Jeff Widman is the founder of BrandGlue, which helps companies build brands and acquire customers using Facebook. His clients include Microsoft, Intel, Seth Godin, Kiva.org & Mint.com/Intuit.

 

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: [00:00] Hey, everyone. It’s Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.Com, home of the ambitious upstart. And you and I have been watching hundreds of millions of people use Facebook to build connections with friends, to chat, to trade pictures, and all that stuff. It’s great and fun. But if you’re on Mixergy, what you really care about is. How can you use this properly without pissing anybody off? How can you this to properly build up your business? To engage your customers? To do something that’s gonna help your company grow, properly as I say?

We’re not trying to spam people. We’re not trying to into, interject ourself into their personal conversations with a business message. But we are trying to use it to grow our business, to engage with our customers and to bring in new people into, into our mission. So, that’s why I have invited Jeff Widman to Mixergy to talk about. He is the founder of Brand Glue. And BrandGlue has worked with companies like Intel, like Microsoft, like Mint, Intuit.

He’s helped all of them and others use Facebook properly to build up their relationship with their customers, and to bring new customers into their businesses. This is an audio only interview. We had a little bit of trouble with his video before we started. I think by the way he’s using Buntu or something. So we had a little bit of trouble with the video on that. But I called up his cell phone. And what you’re about to listen to is the cell phone conversation that we did and posted and actually and did live on Mixergy. The first ten minutes of the interview are about his time working for Tech Crunch. The audio is a little bad on that, so I’m editing that whole section out. And we’re gonna jump right into the portion of conversation where he was talking about how he helps his clients use Facebook. And we start it off with Mint, one of his first clients. Here’s the conversation.

Interviewee: [01:43] So you can see their page at facebook.com/mint. And what’s, what’s really. What they do so well is they’re firing on all cylinders. They’ve got their PR Jean who e-mails me regularly and says.Hey, can you sign some of the Mint fans to be interviewed. We’ve got customer support who regularly responds to stuff. We’ve got product designers and developers who ask for feedback there. Is there like a scale or a way for them to connect with customers? It’s not just a pushing out of announcements? And that’s just what. They just do a phenomenal job at that.

Andrew: [02:17] I see. So what you’re saying is that, that it’s their way of connecting with customers to do customer service, to do user interaction. But who needs more of that? How does that help them get more business? I love the touchy-feely aspects of business where you get to really connect with people and, and put a face to your business. But it. Does it bring money in the door to, to be on Facebook?

Interviewee: [02:38] Sure. Sure. Sure. So, a couple of the things that Mint at least had done is. We’ve been able to look at Facebook. And this is actually at a broader level what I do with all my clients. And say. How do you get folks to take action in public? For example, if I can get you to upload a photo to the Mint page or to another client’s page. And you tag yourself in it, it will appear in your news feed. When it appears in your news, or when it appears in, appears in your friend’s news feed.

They all suddenly say. Oh, wow. Here’s something that Andrew just took that’s related to Mint. So it’s like sneezing, almost like the Apple iPod headphones are so famous for, being a passive, communicate to your friends about. Hey, here’s Mint. So that’s, that’s one of the things that differ. I think the PR angle almost does help a reporter out doing it straight to your Facebook fans saves a lot of money, when you look at the exact amount of cost it takes for a PR company to find testimonials online. So that does a lot. And then also just in general having an active presence does increase the number of registered users for Mint in particular and traffic. If you want too look more like, not just Mint, but at a macro level of how Facebook marketing works for a fan page and that. I’ll be happy to cover that a little more.

Andrew: [04:06] Yes. But you mentioned a few. You mentioned a few times how it helps with PR. So let me see if I’m understanding that right. What you guys do is. If a reporter is looking say for people in their twenties who are saving more because of the recession. That reporter can go out on the Internet and spend an hour or two just looking for those kinds of people to fill out their, article on, on that story. Or they can come to Mint and say. Hey, Mint, if this is the story we’re doing. These are the people we’re looking for. And can you help us find it? And Mint will then go on Facebook and say. We’ve got a reporter who’s writing a story who wants to be in it. And then you guys are helping reporters. And in the process you’re getting mentioned in those stories. Is that the proper understanding?

Interviewee: [04:48] Absolutely. There’s. That’s like almost entirely except for one step in there. You. There’s a site called Help A Reporter Out, or HARO. It’s …

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Andrew: I’m going to actually have the founder of Help A Reporter Out here on Mixergy, here the guy does about a million dollars in business just from an e-mail mailing list, so yeah… HARO, Help A Reporter Out, very helpful. And what do they do for anyone who doesn’t know them yet?

Interviewee: So, they have become a go-to resource for reporters to e-mail and say, “Hey, I’m looking for… I’m writing a story about this, this is the type of person I want to interview.” And then PR folks… there are a ton of PR folks on that e-mail list who all say, whenever anything is even fairly relevant will go to their clients and say, “Hey this reporter is writing a story. Let’s send them some testimonials from our customers who will talk about the article, but will also hopefully mention our product.”

Andrew: Ah, so you guys look at Help A Reporter Out. If there’s anything that relates to finance, you then say to your audience, “Guys… this relates to… if you’re appropriate, we’ll make the introduction.” And that’s how you find out about the reporters who are looking for stories.

Interviewee: Yes. I’ve got the best things to say about Atomic PR, so… they just have done a great job. But yeah, it actually sounds so simple to do that, but I have a couple of different clients who have PR companies that are working with them and just… the channels seem to be crossed. They aren’t pulling off this introduction/networking with their customers.

Andrew: You know what actually? This is… I think that’s really exciting because that’s something that any one of us can do. So, I for example, I speak to an audience of entrepreneurs. I can go to Help A Reporter Out, to their three time a day newsletter, look for stories that relate to entrepreneurs, and if I’m not the right person… if I’m not the person that those reporters are looking for, I can go to my Facebook fan page and say, “Hey guys, does this fit you? Is this you guys?” And if they are, I can make the introduction and maybe even get myself mentioned.

Interviewee: Absolutely.

Andrew: All right. And Kirsten Winkler, who I mentioned earlier… she’s in education. She could probably do the same thing to her mailing list, if she sees reporters looking for a story about online education. And that’s a way for her to get some attention for herself in the media.

Interviewee: Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s like the… Those are some of the more unique aspects. There is a lot of marketing stuff about how you push out your blog posts, how you generate traffic and directly register users or sales… there’s a lot of interesting stuff about that. It’s just kind of two-way feedback that you can really leverage really effectively where it moves from soft skills to very hard-edged.

Andrew: OK. Let me say this, first of all. To anyone who’s watching us live, I’m having a little bit of trouble with the audio on my side. Let me know how it is on your side. So, I see Dewitt N. is telling people to come watch us. Dewitt, how is it? Is it coming clear to you? Peter Salari, I’m probably mispronouncing your last name too, but let me know, is it coming clear online? Can you guys hear us clearly? All right, so let’s explain a few things. Are there only three ways… actually, what are the ways to promote with Facebook? Is it ads, groups, personal pages and fan pages? So I guess four ways?

Interviewee: There are four ways. Only three of them are in accordance with Facebook’s terms of service, so you are not supposed to use personal profiles to solicit people and to reach out with them. On Twitter you can reach out to people you aren’t friends with who aren’t following you by saying, “Hey @ so and so.” On facebook, you can’t do that. It’s very much a permission pole-based marketing other than ads. But, I do know of several… multiple companies who are using personal profiles. It’s just something that can be very effective, but used at your own risk, and I am not recommending it. I’m just saying that it exists and it’s out there.

Andrew: I see. OK, so let’s talk then about the other… well, we won’t be talking much about advertising, right? So… or do you help companies with advertising?

Interviewee: I do help companies with advertising. I mean, my company… I’ve got a couple of folks working for me. We specialize in the branded side of facebook. Primarily fan pages, but also groups and ads, because ads are… for a fan page or something like that, you have to find a way to drive traffic there, and ads are one of the more powerful ways to do that. They’re also one of the more expensive ones. But, for small business and entrepreneurs like you have, I think ads are really important to understand as far as Facebook vs. Google AdWords or AdSense, so… I don’t know how time is going, but I think it might be valuable to spend at least a couple of minutes on ads.

Andrew: All right. What do we need to know about advertising on Facebook?

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Interviewee: so the biggest, the two things are that Facebook ads are about discovery rather than search. And by that I mean when you go to Google and you search for a product and you’re like, you want to find information, the advertisers are trying to put up ads that a relevant to solve your pain point right there and so but on Facebook, you don’t know that you have a problem. But these ads are up there saying hey you have a problem, we have a solution.

For example, I see the key point in your ad pop up all the time. There very much things you’re not going to be searching for teeth whitener on Google. They’re very much more of an impulse buy or something that perhaps you don’t’ even know existed. So if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got a start-up you’re trying to solve a problem that people don’t even quite realized that there’s a solution out there so they’re not really searching for it. Facebook ads can be very powerful. The other thing about Facebook ads, people, I mean the amount of click through are going to be very low just because people are on there to engage with each other and the ads are kind of a distraction.

That said, I think it’s, if you’ve got an ad, a company, or some sort of product, or blog or something that’s very focused on discovery then Facebook ads are a good way to go. The other thing, when you do Facebook ads you can target by demographics very, very tightly. For example, you can target, I could target all the women, who are 25-years-old, who live in Boulder, Colorado, who work for Google, who graduated from Stanford, who are now married. You can you can input those as variables and you can target in a way that isn’t even available to most other platforms. I know that Google has little bit it’s not near what Facebook has there. What you want to do then when you buy ads, is you want to try and target people in a tight niche so that you get not only the ads happening but get in the Newsfeed.

If you had a Fan page for example, and you were targeting really tightly then suddenly then I might, “Wow, I’ve seen this ad but now I see that five of my friends are becoming fans of this and it’s showing up in my news feed.” So it’s almost, it’s like I’m not sure how to describe this quite, this ongoing roll-up affect of what I may not realize, my friends became fans because of that ad but I’ll think, “Oh wow, they trust it enough to become a fan. Maybe I should become a fan.” That’s far more powerful than just seeing an ad. Did I explain that? I’m not sure, could you restate that maybe?

Andrew: Sure. Actually, I’m not sure that I did follow that. What you’re saying is that in conjunction with, if I understand you right, in conjunction with fan page, ads work, because they’re

Interviewee: Okay. Let me try again.

Andrew: Actually, I think there are multiple circumstances where ads work.

Interviewee: Yeah. So there’s multiple, so there are different places you can use an ad to drive someone. You can use it to drive them to somewhere on Facebook, such as a fan page or a group or an event. You can use an ad to direct someone off of Facebook to your own website or some other site. And if you’re an entrepreneur or a very small business, often times driving someone off of Facebook is often more useful. That’s kind of on a case-by-case basis, depending on your business but what I was more saying is, it, one things if you drive them to things a Facebook presence is if you get concentration. So if I targeted at, let’s say I’ve got $100 to spend I can either scatter those across the US or I can tightly target those to a very select location. Let’s use the Boulder, Colorado example. I could target that to all the women in Boulder, Colorado and $100 of that, it isn’t necessarily going to buy me enough, but if I, over time target at all these women, then they’re going to talk to each other, they’re going to start on Facebook doing things that are very much about what I’m trying to promote. So it’s almost like rather then getting a shotgun, it’s like saying I’m going to get a cannon and I’m going to punch it at this demographic. I’m going to hit it again, and again and again. Some people are going to convert right away; some people are going to convert a little bit farther along. But then farther on down the road the ones who are least likely to convert, are still going to convert not because they saw the ad, but because they’re seeing all the other people converting.

Andrew: I see. Am I converting them into fans of my site and that’s why they can see each other convert?

Interviewee: Yes. Yes. That’s where, the things that go on the newsfeeds are either when people choose to attend an event.

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Interviewee: -Yes, that’s where the things that go on the news feed are either when people choose to attend an event, when people become a fan of a fan page, when people join a group, any of those things, so yeah. That technique only works if you’re driving someone to somewhere within the Facebook ecosystem.

Andrew: I see what you’re saying, okay. Right, I’ve heard that before, I did an interview with one of the guys from Threadlist and I asked him how he was using ads on Facebook and he said that he was advertising to friends of his current customers or his current fans and he was just driving them to the Facebook fan page of Threadlist and trying to get them to engage before he converted them into customers and that worked well for them. So you’re saying something along the same lines, that if you use the Facebook-

Interviewee: Absolutely.

Andrew: -ads to grow engagement on Facebook then it’s going to be more effective because the you connect with are going to start telling their friends, they’re letting their friends know that they’re connecting with you.

Interviewee: Absolutely.

Andrew: Okay. All right, so that’s one way and we spent a little bit of time on advertising. I think we do a whole, whole interview just on advertising but I’m much more curious about how you’re using groups and fan pages to engage customers. So let me first ask you what’s the distinction between groups and fan pages?

Interviewee: So the biggest distinction from a marketing perspective is once your group has 5000 members, you can’t send them anymore messages. So suddenly if you’re expect at all [unintelligible] to a very small audience then a group is a viable option, if you expect at all to get above 5000 members or 5000 people you’re trying to reach who are subscribing to you, you should be using a Facebook fan page.

Andrew: Okay. And up to 5000 people you can message your group members just like any user would message each other so you’re going into that main inbox where with fan pages if you’re messaging users it goes into a separate inbox of just fan pages, right?

Interviewee: Yes.

Andrew: And that’s a big difference.

Interviewee: The other thing- That is a huge difference. So the other inbox is kind of hidden; when someone clicks on their main inbox it will say on a little tab, hey there’s so many page updates, but other than- not many people look at those. And other than that there’s no way for a fan page manager to be guaranteed of reaching all his fans. So absolutely. The other things that groups do is if you and I are both friends of someone else’s group and you write on the wall of that group then if I’m your friend and I’m a member of the group, your comment might show up in my news view.

Andrew: I see. So from what I’m seeing, and my own personal experience too, if you know that you’re not going to go above 5000 people, if you want serious, deep engagement with up to 5000 people on Facebook, you’re much better off going with groups because you do have a better way of connecting with them. You can go into their inbox, you can into their email inbox even cause those messages seem to get passed on but if you want to go beyond that then fan pages are the way to go.

Interviewee: Correct. The two things, the two other things that fan pages have working for them, and I actually have a couple of clients who have both a group and a fan page, but I think in order to do that it might actually be more interesting to have a fan page and a personal profile, again though that’s not something I’m recommending because it’s against Facebook’s terms of service, but fan pages allow you to have a widget that you can put on your website. That’s super powerful because then people can become a fan without ever leaving your website versus for a group you have to get them to click through the go see the Facebook site and then click to become a, to join your group and every extra click reduces the conversion there. The other thing is Facebook fan pages get a vanity URL so I could say Facebook.com/ brand glue. If I had a group for brand glue I couldn’t give you a URL.

Andrew: I see, okay. All right, so who should and who shouldn’t be using Facebook? We talked about before this interview about how it’s not perfect for everyone but who’s it right for and who isn’t it right for?

Interviewee: I think the people who see the best results are folks that are marketing to consumers, so if you’re marketing to enterprise it’s not something you want to put a lot of effort into. It’s not a bad place to be present but it’s not a place you want to sink a lot of time and resources into. It’s also a place where word-of-mouth tends to spread your product so because you can use Facebook- Facebook I see as-

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almost like grease or like oil, where it reduces the friction from person to talk to another person, whether that is a passive sharing through the news feed or whether it is an active like someone clicking the share button and actually inviting their friends to join a group or a fan page. So the other one if you expect to only have maybe 100 folks joining your fan page or your group or something like that, it is really not that worth it. If you only have a 100 folks I would be pushing more effort into an email, one of the distribution methods, the folks who would market really well through email, through twitter, through blog post, those kind of loose connection and pinning mechanisms, I would like to think of Facebook also like that, as another email list sort of that is a little bit different where you get a little bit less intimacy when you connect with someone, or a little bit higher frequency. It is a kind of in between email and twitter in that way. The other thing is, I am trying to think of, maybe we would come up with some companies, Mint is a great example of a company that is a consumer focused one, Salesforce is an example of an enterprise company where it might be they have a presence but not really. People don’t [] make a buy or no buy decision based on the Facebook presence or Salesforce. That would clarify a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I could see the difference. I could see that when you are talking to consumers, you are going to have a much more valuable conversation on Facebook than if you are talking to enterprise, they are not looking to Facebook to talk to you.

Interviewee: The other one is folks who have done like applications that were focused on [] people have tried to do like due to the application things like that, and they just have not done lot on Facebook, people are more into the social games, the entertainment. I think similarly if you got to start up that focused on productivity, you may not feel at all the results that you have if you are more of entertainment focused.

Andrew: How do I get more word of mouth going on my fan page?

Interviewee: You need to do a couple of things, the first one is you have to understand that the news feed is now in algorithm. Facebook switched it a few months ago, so it is no longer everything that I post is shown in my fan’s news feed, so I need to get to them to engage a little bit, whenever I do a news feed post and so ways you can do that are asking a question and it is really important to keep it a short simple question that people can answer in or two sentences. You don’t want a paragraph long question, you don’t want a question like ‘hey, how would you change life’ because that is still big and so broad and instead the tighter you constrain it or opt the more controversial. So one of my client is a music focused company and they have all types of music but I had still just gone on there and said things like ‘yes now do you like jazz’ and that gives folks to comment or writes, on the post and whenever someone comments or writes on the post it is far more likely to show up in their news feed. So that first off is really important just to stay present in your fans because it is not just how do I get them, it’s how do I make them valuable. Then what you want to try and do is come up with events, you want to come up with different, like for example Mint had a software beta that was coming out for their new financial fitness and we ran an event on Facebook for this non-tangible non-physical event and said ‘hey invite all your friends’ because it is very easy for our fans to invite their friends to an event, you don’t feel quite so spammy as it is like they get a free software using this new beta, and we got almost a thousand people who applied for the beta program.

Andrew: Ah, that’s interesting. Okay, if somebody is listening to us right now and doesn’t have live events going on around the country and might think the events, he can’t use events on Facebook, you are saying think of doing something virtual. They might even do a chat on Ustream, the way that I am doing it right now where they go on live on Ustream and they create an event on Facebook to promote it, and they encourage all their fans to tell their friends to come and watch live. That is something they could do and get their users to both engage with them and engage with each other.

Interviewee: Absolutely. The other thing is Facebook has this feature called, I mean there is a ton of little features, and we don’t have time to cover them all.

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Interviewee: …and we don’t have time to cover them all. I think the one other one that is useful is training your fans to understand how Facebook works, because people use Facebook all the time still and have no idea about these fancy little features. I think that one that is really important is if you’re typing a status update and you hit the @ sign, there will be a drop down list of all your friends and all your fan pages. So, I will have posted before on different clients and said, “Hey, did you know you could type @ and then the client’s name to reference us, to tell your friends about us in your news feed?” And we’ve seen you can track using Facebook statistics how many people, it’s called mentioned or @Mentioned, how many people are doing that. So training your users to @Mention you every so often is really valuable.

Andrew: I see. Where are you training your users to do this? Just on the wall of your fan page?

Interviewee: Just on the wall. When you look at Facebook marketing, there’s about four different steps that a user goes through in this funnel of inviting someone to come check out your presence on Facebook. Then once they come check out your presence on Facebook, they make a decision, “Do I want to be a fan or not? Do I want to join this group or not?” On fan pages, you can build a landing tab, and that’s really important to increase that conversion rate from visitor to actually becoming a fan. Then from becoming a fan, they can decide “Am I going to share with my friends?” and “Am I going to purchase products, or become a registered user, or visit this site?” So, most of the engagement for existing fans happens through the wall. These side things of events, or photo tagging, or videos you can do, some of these other things are side things that are like gravy on top of meat and potatoes. But, the meat and potatoes is still going to be really well crafted questions, really well crafted status updates in your news feed time after time.

Andrew: OK, let’s go back to the questions. You’re writing those questions on your own wall of your Facebook fan page and encouraging your users, your fans, to have short answers to those questions and that’s what will go into their news feed. Did I understand that part right?

Interviewee: Yes.

Andrew: OK.

Interviewee: So, I’m a fan of a lot of different pages. Only about 10% of those pages ever show up in my news feed because those 10% are the only ones I’ve ever commented or liked. For the other 90%, their fan page managers are going to look at it and say, “Oh wow, we have a thousand fans,” and I’m a part of that thousand fans. But, I never see any of their messages. I may be a statistic, but I’m useless.

Andrew: I see. So what you’re saying is that having them answer your question with a short answer will both make that answer appear on their friends’ news feeds and it will make it so that your interaction with them will be more likely to show up in their news feeds. So they can then see you more.

Interviewee: Yes, except if I, let’s say on the Mixergy fan page, I went there and I commented on something you had already left a comment response to something you had posted, that will not show up in my friends’ news feeds.

Andrew: Oh really? So they won’t see that. So if I ask a question on my fan page like, “Did you guys like the interview I did with Jeff earlier today?” and a few people say yes, their friends will not see that they said yes.

Interviewee: That’s exactly true.

Andrew: OK, but the next time I post something on my fan page, they will be more likely to see it when they log into Facebook.

Interviewee: That’s exactly true. Once you have them active, then you can do things like you upload the videos there. If you have fans who ask you questions, you can tag them in the video. When they’re tagged in something, it will show up in their friends’ news feeds. You could invite folks to an event. You could say, “Hey, if you liked this video, why don’t you share it?” or, “Why don’t you @Mention it?” There’s some more things there. But, it’s not as easy as people think of just, “Oh, I get people to comment and it shows up on their friends’ news feeds.

Andrew: Gotcha, OK. The other thing I’m learning from this is if someone out there maybe has five hundred people as their fans on Facebook, and they don’t get any engagement, and nobody’s paying attention when they post something, it’s not because Facebook isn’t working. It’s because they’re just not showing up in their fans’ lives on Facebook. The only way they could show up in their fans’ lives is if they first get their fans…

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Andrew: …fans to start interacting with the pages.

Interviewee: Exactly. So once a fan becomes live, you have a limited time-window to really reach them. The algorithm is secret sauce, but it’s generally, the more recent someone became a fan, the more likely you are to show [xx] the news-feed.

There is also a rule of randomness, where you’ll randomly show up at someone’s news-feed every so often, but they’re very rarely, if their fans have lots of different companies and lots of friends. But… What you… So it’s really important to be doing that. What this also means is that companies like AllTop or TechCrunch where they’re spitting out tons of news stories all the time, are not going to get seen that often unless someone [xx] their fans, so it is more important to put out one, maybe two posts a day that are crafted in a short, compelling way to get a little bit of engagement and just put whose out drip, drip, drip, day after day, versus: don’t just hammer it like you went on Twitter where you’re putting out like twenty posts a day.

Andrew: I see. Alright. Before we go on – and I’ve got a bunch more questions to ask you – but before we go on, I’ve got to say that it seems that it’s a lot of work to get any results from Facebook. And from a lot of what we’ve talked about up until now, I feel that I’m building Facebook up more than I’m building my own site up. I’m building engagement on Facebook, I’m getting my users off from my website to go to Facebook, I’m talking to people on Facebook, but I’m not really building my own business.

Interviewee: I think the answers to that are, number one: if you’re a small business, you are absolutely right. There are times where a small services … If you’re a small services business, you’re best marketing at a personal level, at a more engaging level, would be to just personally become a friend of your customers and not worry about having a group, not worry about having a fan page, and instead just put all your customers into a specific group, so you can segment your friends by different…saying: these are my personal friends, these are my professional friends, where you can just send messages to just your professional friends, you can share mail [??] with just your professional friends. So if you’re a really small services business, that’s all I would be doing. And then I would be buying ads because those have the immediate turnaround.

If you’re a larger company or you expect to get thousands of customers over your lifetime, then I would have a Facebook fan page to have it and I would post there every so often. But … In some ways it feels like a lot of work but it’s more just a bit of setup and then, if you already have a Twitter account, which I think most of your audience will have, it’s not much more work to just go on Facebook and also post to Facebook. I don’t recommend connecting Facebook and Twitter because they are…you can technically make it like if you post to Twitter it goes to Facebook or [xx]. But it’s just it doesn’t look that clean, it isn’t that engaging, you can not really control the timing. There is a lot of different factors you can’t control there.

But the short answer is: if you’re a small business, spend your money on ads, spend your money on other, like trying to get the [xx] to become an email list, recognise that groups[xx] to have an email list. If you’re looking at building a solid brand of more and more people, then you have to start somewhere and Facebook is still a way to do that.

For example, David Allen of the “Getting Things Done” book, is one of my clients and they started out and they didn’t have any fans and they were like: “Is this really going to be worth [xx]?” and I said: “You know, just go on there once a day, post your blind post, have it just a short question that says, for example: “Do you use a PDA or a note card to track your to-do list?” And if you had a [xx] post to [xx] just put that on there once a day, just like you were twitting. And now they have 6,000 fans.

Andrew: OK. Alright, I see. Actually, 6,000 fans doesn’t even seem like that much! They could probably… if they would have focused on email, they would have had 6,000 fans within a month on email, they could have had a direct channel of engagement to those users, they would have been able to reach out to them whenever they wanted and not worry about Facebook’s news-feed algorithm.

Interviewee: That’s true, but if you already have an email list and your engagement is low…

.

The transcript for minute 35 till minute 40 is BELOW this line.

Interviewee: …either your engagement is low, or your open rates are low, then Facebook is a great way to go. There’s also, again on email, you’re not going to send an email list that says, hey I recorded once to interview someone. Like you’re not going to send that out to six thousand people. You’re just, you absolutely would throw out a quick Facebook wall post that says, hey we need this. You also, Facebook is just a lot more around sharing. So, if I can get you to take these actions passively and share with your friends, or if I can get you to actually invite your friends to become a fan of the page, there’s a lot more likelihood right now that I could get you to do that than that I could get you to forward an email. Just because email has been abused, and people have been spammed, and friends. Basically, there’s this like, unspoken mantra. Friends don’t send other friends forwards, versus friends are still, uh, and it may only be a short window of time. But friends are still totally welcome to invite their friends to become a fan of another page.

Andrew: OK, I see. And I’m looking at your Mint fan page here on Facebook, and they’ve got 42,000 plus people who are fans.

Interviewee: Right.

Andrew: So it can blow up, too. All right, here’s the other thing that I noticed about Mint. The first thing that I saw when I landed on that page, was a tab called Click, Become a Fan Now. And there’s actually an image showing me where I have to click to become a fan. And you’re making it very clear what Mint is, and very clear to me how I could become a fan. And underneath all that is a list of all my friends, and you’re telling me to invite my friends to join Mint, and to become fans. That’s intentional, and that seems really smart. And I’m looking at other people who are supposed to be experts in this who aren’t doing that. How effective is that for you?

Interviewee: The short answer is we do not have metrics around because Facebook does not provide, they have an abysmal statistics package. So if you want to track metrics within Facebook, you can use a little bit of their package, but mostly you use things like [Vitly], and other link shorteners to see how many people are clicking through. For that landing tab, I could not sit down and give you an Excel spreadsheet of numbers. What I could tell you is that the best Facebook marketing tactics are tactics that I’ve pulled from other places like SEO, like SEM, like just looking at conversion rates on other ad campaigns elsewhere. Basically, on the world wide web, if something works and you can understand why it’s working, you could pull that into Facebook and make this same application. So we all know landing tabs or landing pages that are focused, very focused, and communicate very clearly, work. So does it work? They always work in their non-Facebook world. I’m almost positive they work in the Facebook world. I have no way of proving it.

Andrew: OK. All right. And I could see how it would work. Got me. I clicked Become a Fan right away. I ordinarily don’t think to do that.

Interviewee: Great. But did it make sense how? What we’re trying to do there is optimize the decision point where someone visits the page, and will like, OK, they have to make a decision, do I visit or, and do I become a fan or not? And you make a clear request. You state what, who you are. And you state what somebody’s going to become a fan by joining, because the last thing you want is you don’t want people. You don’t want to send an email to your email list saying, hey we just created a fan page. Why don’t you do us a favor and become a fan? What you really want is your email list to say, oh wow, these guys are doing me a favor by inviting me to become a fan. So you want them to say, hey, we just created a fan page. We’re doing this awesome giveaway, if you become a fan. Or we just created this, so for Mint it says, like, show your friends that you’re money smart. Like we’re going after their ego there a little bit, and the identity of saying, if you become a fan, this is something you’ll get on top of using the Mint product. Of suddenly, you’ll be able to personally identify yourself as someone who’s financially smart.

Andrew: I see. Hey, you know what? It looks to me like first of all, you’re very smart to have jumped into Facebook right now. And because you jumped in just as it was starting to heat up, you’re able to get clients like Seth Godin, and like David Allen, and like Mint, like Microsoft. And part of it is your relationships, but I think a big part of it is that you’re jumping in just as it’s heating up, no?

Interviewee: That’s absolutely true. I had a existing relationship with all these folks. Not much stuff bringing about, but I had an existing relationship with David Allen, Seth Godin and some others. But I would be the first to tell you that I am not like not, it’s not me. It’s that I’m riding a wave that is growing and growing. And if you hop on it, hop on a wave that’s growing and growing…

Andrew: Uh-mm.

Interviewee: and you’re decent at something, you’re going to catch a lot of momentum off of that.

The transcript for minute 40 till minute 45 is BELOW this line.

Jeff: you’re going to catch a lot of momentum off of that the other thing is I was even ahead of the wave a bit. And I just want to publicly say, right here, that Mint was my very first client when I was a college student. I only graduated a couple of months ago and their director of marketing, I said “hey, I need a part time job,”( I was at a startup dinner) and he said, “We’ll hire you for something.” And we got together and we talked and he said, “Facebook might be a good fit” and I would tell you that I have done different things for that guy because he trusted me when I was totally unproven. Like now, I have an influx of new clients who are like “hey, can you help us?” But, back when I was unproven, he took a risk on me. And, if you’re an entrepreneur out there, if you find folks who are good and you take a risk on them, if they are the right folks, that will come back to you in spades.

Andrew: Yeah, and it looks like a bunch of entrepreneurs have taken a chance on you, like you mentioned Seth Godin. Lets go back to that. How did you get to work with Seth Godin?

Jeff: So, Seth, two years ago, lets see, yeah, almost two years ago, posted an internship and said, “I will take four college or high school students. Here’s the application process: You send me a four page PDF, you can put whatever you want on it—impress me.” So what he did, it was really cool. He constrained the product a little bit but still left it pretty wide open. So, a bunch of people sent him an application. You can see mine, like I said earlier, at slidesshare.com/jeffwidman. But he actually turned me down. And he turned down a bunch of other folks. Then he came back the next week and he said, “You know what, I had 100 smart college students send me an application. And I don’t have time, or resources to bring in 100 folks but I’m going to bring in four people in-house. And the other 100 of you, if you want to do remote internships, I will come up with interesting projects. I will mentor you guys and I will do my best to help you along.”

So I ended up being one of the virtual interns. It started out 100 of us at the beginning of the summer. By the end it had dwindled to about 10 folks who were seriously engaged. And I can tell you that out of those 10, I was one of them, I still keep in contact with about five or six of them. We send an email at least once a month saying—and this is over a year later—saying, “Here’s what I’m up to. Here’s what I’m about.”

On top of that, Seth got to see who we were, and what our strengths were and what our weaknesses were.

Andrew: That’s awesome. What do you charge now, companies? What do you charge them to create a Facebook fan page and to maintain it for them?

Jeff: That really depends on the client. Minimum, is 1000 bucks. I mean I won’t take any project that’s less than 1000 bucks. Some clients are just a one time. Some of them are ongoing. Honestly, Facebook changed their rules just recently where you can’t do contests in the news feed anymore. So what we used to do is say “Hey, what do you think of this? Leave your comment and we’ll randomly select someone to get a book.” And what that meant is that you were basically motivating people who were on the fence, to just engage and it just increased your traffic and other things. So, because of that, like right now I’m in the midst of pivoting around, looking and saying, “How big a company, is it actually worth it for them to afford me?” Because the last thing I want is to be going in and doing consulting and selling a company only to a couple of months later to have them say, “You know we really didn’t get our money’s worth.”

Andrew: I see. Again, this goes back to some examples that I’ve seen from my friends who have created consulting companies. The guys who early on realized the value of search engine optimization jumped into the business, built up consulting businesses where they were teaching others how to do basic things that were very simple for them to do, that anyone who read a basic SEO book could do. But, they got into it early, they charged big companies a lot of money to do it, companies that could afford to lose the money. And they rode the wave. As SEO got bigger and bigger, some of them got incredibly big. Guys like Neil Patel built a whole reputations on that. And they went out and created products that could scale and could grow without them. And the same thing seems to be happening in mobile apps. Guys are jumping into iphone applications, they’re building it for big businesses. Those big businesses don’t care how—they care but…their not going to cry if they don’t get millions of people to install their app. They’re happy to spend the money and anyone who is in that business today is going to grow with it. And I think the same thing is happening to you and I think tomorrow another application or another…

The transcript for minute 45 till minute 50 is BELOW this line.

Andrew: another hot area of the internet is going to come out. And whoever goes out creates that consulting business in the early days and has the relationships like you do, to back that up, is going to be able to ride that wave

Interviewee: I sure hope so. I know that the difficult part has been trying to find the right fit of employees. Where I can really focus on the strategic and the connecting the dots for clients and getting other folks to handle more of the day-to-day. So actually if any of your listeners are interested in working with me, have them go to brandglue.com and drop me a note and I’d be certainly interested in talking with them.

Andrew: Email you. Kind of the way you emailed Seth Goden. Just shoot you an email and say, “Look I’m interested in this whole Facebook marketing. I think it’s going to grow. I’m going to work for you for little bit, learn from you and maybe in the future go out and created my own business.”

Interviewee: I would certainly be open to that.

Andrew: Okay. All right. brandglue.com. Go check them out. And if you need an introduction to Jeff, shoot me an email and I’ll help out. I’ll help connect you guys. What else do I need to know here? I’m looking at my notes. I think we’ve got a lot in here. Here’s my big take-away from this. This whole Facebook, Fan page thing, is great for big companies or people who have an obsession with Facebook. Anyone who’s got a small business, who probably couldn’t get 5000 people to join their Fan page, maybe even couldn’t get more than 3000 people to join your Fan page, probably should consider just having their own personal page on Facebook and building up the rest of their business; building up their email; building up their blog; building up their reputation using Twitter and then later on, when they’re bigger they should come into Facebook. Did I get that right?

Interviewee: Absolutely. And that’s why I emphasized that we talk just a little bit about ads because those are things that are invaluable for small businesses.

Andrew: And I’ll tell you this too, Jeff. Even if the people who are listening to us right now, if not a single one of them want to create a Facebook Fan Page, I know a lot are going to do it as a result of this interview. But even if they don’t a lot of the techniques you’re using on Facebook can be used anywhere. Like, I’m loving this whole idea of going to Help A Report Out; seeing what reporters are looking to write about and then sending it out to your fans. If I don’t have a Fan Page, I might want to do it on Twitter. If I’m just a blogger and not Twitterer or not an anything else, I might want to do that over on my blog. Just tell my audience, these reporters looking for people just like you, I’ll make the introduction. And in return for making the introduction, hopefully the reporter will include you in the post. True?

Interviewee: Absolutely true. Absolutely

Andrew: [Ramek Saithe] who I know that you also worked with, has done similar things. He knows that he can’t get an article out of every reporter that he once did column or he knows he can’t get every reporter to write an article about him, but he is happy to make introductions and to help reporters out, with the idea that at some point if they’re looking for someone like him, that they’ll look at him first.

Interviewee: That’s great. I’m laughing because someone just sent me an email, one of your listeners.

Andrew: Yes.

Interviewee: Saying he’s interested in working, so already. Yeah. Thank you.

Andrew: Oh good. So somebody who is listening to you, to us right now just sent you an email asking if he could come work for you.

Interviewee: Yes.

Andrew: Awesome. Yeah. You know what? Actually this interview is generating a lot of private messages to me, too. For some reason people aren’t talking publically so I can’t even tell if they hear us. But they’re sending emails, they’re sending messages. So, I guess at some point they’re engaged.

Interviewee: Can I make one other request of your listeners?

Andrew: Yes?

Interviewee: If we didn’t answer questions that they have, I absolutely want to know about those. Because I do speaking with some other folks later on in the month. I would love to know questions we didn’t cover. And also if there are things that I missed, I would tell you that I know more about Facebook, right now and brand marketing than 99% of folks, but I learn something new things every single day and in every single conversation I have with people. If anyone has tips out there that I haven’t covered, I would love to know about them.

Andrew: Okay. All right. If anyone knows something you don’t know, absolutely they will email you. And if they have questions about what we talked about here, add them to the comments. Let him see what we didn’t answer and what’s on your mind. If he can, he’ll answer in the comments on Mixergy if not he’ll certainly then incorporate into his future talks and into his. You don’t even have a blog yet, do you? I was going to say you could talk about it in your blog.

Interviewee: No. We don’t. So I mean, honestly I am, on the one hand Andrew, my company is at place where we have some great clients. We’re doing great things. On the other hand, we’re still right at a place where some of the more beginning entrepreneurs program how we do. I mean, I was up until 5am, trying to pull stuff together. You’re just always hustling , trying to pull stuff together. So yeah.

Andrew: I gotta tell you I love what you did.


  • Man, I needed to hear this interview. I've read so much about why I should build a Facebook fan page, that I've felt like a slacker for not having built one yet. But I'm a one man bootstrapping operation, so even keeping up with my blog, two Twitter accounts, email list, and product enhancements, has been tough!

    So I'm glad you asked him when it didn't make sense to create a Facebook fan page. This was very helpful, thanks Andrew!

  • Great interview Andrew! I contacted Jeff in a follow up format eager to know more as I work on launching my first entrepreneurial venture: thesocialtee.com =]

  • Maybe I just roll in the wrong circles, but Jeff's the first guy I've heard talking enthusiastically about ad buys on FB. Fascinating.

    What I like about what Jeff's doing is that it's something that most people think “I should do this” rather than “I can't wait to do this” and Jeff helps put a science to it. Not unlike Mr. David Allen himself.

    I'm reminded of the Coke story. Coca-Cola had two Coke fans build a site eons ago. Their's became the biggest Coca Cola fan site out there. Coke could have taken it from them, but they didn't. Instead they invited the two guys to Atlanta HQ and made them feel like studs. The vid about the guys is here: http://bit.ly/aRXNg

    12,000 people liked this video. Nothing to sneeze at.

    Best of luck with BrandGlue, Jeff. Best company name I've seen all month.

  • Nice job on the interview Jeff. We've got our work cut out for us on the Facebook Fan page front…

  • offtopic:

    Andrew, I was trying to setup automatic syncing of the podcast to the iPhone so that when I go to the gym I always have something to listen to. However iTunes complains that video is in the wrong format for the iPhone. Could you create another iTuns podcast with audio only? that should work on the iPhone, I think. Thanks.

  • Very helpful. Trying to use FB to initiate traffic to a fledgling site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/BetterLearningBet

  • Andrew – We have blogs …you should have asked more questions about how you can promote blogs on Facebook, because when you have a product making promotions, giveaways, discounts is pretty easy.

  • saadmalik

    See how Neil Patel does it with QuickSprout. He recently wrote a blog post about it:
    http://www.quicksprout.com/2009/12/04/why-you-n

  • I was using a TON of REALLY powerful tactics that included little book giveaways etc, but Facebook banned all newsfeed contests last month. That chopped out half my arsenal of tricks, so be careful what you try to do. :/

  • jeffwidman

    I was using a TON of REALLY powerful tactics that included little book giveaways etc, but Facebook banned all newsfeed contests last month. That chopped out half my arsenal of tricks, so be careful what you try to do. :/

  • Thx man–to get the domain name was a real pain, I had Pool and SnapNames sitting on it the day it expired… worth it though!

  • If it helps, I've been so focused on client work that I don't hardly have a website yet… :-)

  • affordableadvice

    Thanks Andrew, certainly found that one of value. I would imagine most of your viewers have web sites that they'd like more people to visit, so any light you can shed as to how we achieve that is fantastic. As some other people have noted, really helpful to be told ” in case XYZ, don't bother doing ABC”. For small business owners, there is the potential with social media to lose a lot of your time doing stuff that people tell you is essential in the modern world, yet generates little to no revenue.

    Keep up the good work.

    Paul in Australia
    http://www.affordableadvice.com.au

  • Not a bad problem to have! Great job on the interview btw :)

  • This is a great interview. Very useful and enlightening.

    This is a tip for small businesses that want to use facebook and twitter but have limited resources. What I do is assign an intern or coop student to use twitter and facebook. I just draw up an outline and give it to them. It's quite simple and doesn't require much training and effort either way.

    I also utilize them to do blogs but that takes some guidance.

  • That's awesome! Good point. Great idea, love the video.

    I love facebook ads, very well targeted and it has been successful for me and my friend as well.

  • This is a great interview. Very useful and enlightening.

    This is a tip for small businesses that want to use facebook and twitter but have limited resources. What I do is assign an intern or coop student to use twitter and facebook. I just draw up an outline and give it to them. It's quite simple and doesn't require much training and effort either way.

    I also utilize them to do blogs but that takes some guidance.

  • That's awesome! Good point. Great idea, love the video.

    I love facebook ads, very well targeted and it has been successful for me and my friend as well.

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