JF1699: Leveraging Interview Content To Build Your Brand #SkillSetSunday with Brendan Kane
Brendan has worked with celebrities and personalities, helping build their brand for years. Today, he is sharing some of his best strategies with us. It’s no secret that we’ll need to have a large reach as investors to keep deals and capital flowing through the business. Find out how to organically grow that reach. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
Best Ever Tweet:
“Keep swapping out different variables so that you can really control your content” – Brendan Kane
Brendan Kane Real Estate Background:
- Digital strategist for Fortune 500 corporations, global brands, and celebrities.
- Best known for building a million followers in 100 countries in less than 30 days
- Based in Beverly Hills, CA
- Say hi to him at https://onemillionfollowers.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
First off, I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because today is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment for you called Skillset Sunday. The purpose of the Skillset Sunday is to help you acquire or hone a skill, so that you can grow your real estate business. Specifically, the skill we’re talking about today is how to leverage interview content to build your brand. With us today to talk about that, Brendan Kane. How are you doing, Brendan?
Brendan Kane: I’m doing great, thanks for having me.
Joe Fairless: My pleasure, and welcome to the show. A little bit about Brendan – he is a digital strategist for Fortune 500 corporations, global brands and celebs. He is best known for building a million followers in 100 countries in less than 30 days. He’s based in Beverly Hills, California. The website is onemillionfollowers.com.
Before we talk about how to leverage interview content to build your brand, Brendan, do you want to give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more context about your background?
Brendan Kane: Sure. I’ve been in digital and technology for about 15+ years, and my background is a bit diverse in the fact that I pretty much have touched every aspect of digital over the years. I started off in the entertainment industry, managing digital divisions for two movie studios, overseeing marketing campaigns and films ranging from 15 to 100 million dollar budgets, which also allowed me to work with the directors, actors and producers [unintelligible [00:03:04].04] their brand online.
Then I quickly shifted into being an entrepreneur and started building tech platforms and licensing them to major media companies such as [unintelligible [00:03:14].12] MTV, Vice, Lionsgate, MGM, to name a few. Those partnerships opened up the opportunity to work with some of the largest celebrities on the planet. For example, with MTV, it allowed me to work with Taylor Swift, and Rihanna, and building technology platforms for them and their brands.
Then from there I dove pretty deep into the paid media space, and helped build one of the largest social paid optimization firms in the world, which means we were optimizing social advertising campaigns on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram for the largest brands and corporations in the world.
Then from there I started building my own set of testing methodologies and predictive calculations on top of the Facebook and Instagram platform, that would allow me to test content at scale. That’s what allowed me to build a million followers in 100 countries in 30 days.
Also, one of the clients that I worked with on that that’s kind of poignant to the conversation that we’re having today around interviews was Katie Couric. I worked with Katie Couric for about two years, and really reverse-engineering the art of the interview for digital and social platforms.
Joe Fairless: So let’s talk about the methodologies of how you built a social media following of a million followers in 30 days, and then let’s talk about interviews, because I’m sure a lot of listeners are curious about the former… So how did you do that?
Brendan Kane: What I did is, as I mentioned, I built a set of testing methodologies and processes on top of the Facebook and Instagram advertising platform, and not really using it as an advertising tool or a media buying tool, but as a market research tool, so that I could test content at scale and measure the response in real time to see what content variations people were sharing with their peers at the highest velocity.
What that looks like is — for example, when I built a million followers in 30 days, I tested 5,000 variations of content. And that sounds really daunting and it sounds like a huge number, but the system that we devised makes it digestible and easy to do. We can scale anywhere between 100 to 400 variations in less than 30 minutes. What that looks like is — I look at as a variation as five key elements. The first element is the creative itself; you have a video asset, you have an image asset, you have an article – whatever that may be. And we’ll create different versions of that; for example with the video, we’ll test the first three seconds, we’ll test different burned-in meme cards at the top, we’ll test captions at the bottom… So maybe we do 3 to 7 different versions of a piece of content.
Then we move to the second element of a variation, which is the headline – the text that describes the piece of content, the text that goes above the video or photo in the case of Facebook, and below in the case of Instagram.
The third is the demographic profile – what is the make-up of that. Are they males, are they females? Are they a specific age group? That can be interchangeable. The fourth is the geolocation – what part of the world to they live in? Down to the specific code you can test. Then the fifth is the interest level – what are they interested in? What types of products and services do they buy? What types of brands or celebrities do they follow?
When you have those five key elements, each one becomes interchangeable. You can take one video and change out the demo, the geolocation, the interest level, the headline… And that creates a new variation. You just keep swapping out different variables, so that you can really control your content and test your content under certain circumstances. What that allows you to do is it allows you to learn very quickly what content format, theme, stories are working. Then once you find that, it dictates both your short and long-term content strategy, and then you can feel growth from there.
Joe Fairless: Oh, wow. I love the analytical approach that you take. I’m on your Facebook page, and… You know this, obviously, so I will just say what I was thinking – it’s clear that your followers are legit. So often I hear people say “Oh, I’ve got ten million followers on Twitter”, or something, and then you go look and there’s absolutely no engagement with their Twitter handle, or on Facebook there’s no engagement… But when you’re doing these posts – I’m looking on your Facebook page – you’re getting thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, in most cases.
Brendan Kane: Yeah, so there’s two sides to that… Because I work with some huge media companies that have very little engagement. They’ll have like four million followers, and ten million followers, and have little engagement. There’s a few reasons for that. First off, you’re fighting the algorithms. With Facebook – and it’s going to become increasingly more… Specifically with Facebook, once you hit a million followers, on average you’re reaching 3%-5% of your audience [unintelligible [00:07:53].29] Twitter is about the same. Instagram is decreasing each day. You may ask, “Well, why is that?” It’s because there’s so much content being pushed to the platform… On Facebook you’re probably following a few hundred, if not 1,000 different pages; same with Instagram or Twitter. So it’s like, how much content can Facebook, Instagram or Twitter put into your feed? It’s very limited.
So what happens is the algorithms have to weigh that content and determine which content are they going to push to users. That’s where the issue comes in – if you’re not creating engaging content, you’re gonna get into less people’s feeds. That’s where that engagement generally drops. It’s not necessarily that they’re fake followers; there are some instances where people have fake followers, but it’s getting harder, because the systems have cracked down on that… But it’s more about “Are you creating engaging content?” If you’re creating engaging content, it’s pushed into more of your followers’ feeds.
That’s why we test our content extensively, to figure out what is the best way to package the content, what are the best stories or themes to work, so that when we’re publishing content to our feed, we know it’s gonna reach more of our audience.
Joe Fairless: It seems like such a process to go through in order to do a couple Facebook posts… How do you streamline it so you’re not doing analysis by paralysis?
Brendan Kane: It’s a great question. It definitely is a process, and there’s a time investment that it takes to go into it. This is kind of what I do every day, so that’s why we go through this process. We’re testing content not just for ourselves, but for the clients that we work with.
You can get to a point where you start understanding what themes, formats and stories work, and once you get to that point, then you can test less, because you have a base level of understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. It’s more time-intensive in the beginning, of figuring out the best way to package your content, the stories and themes that you should be covering. Then once you have that established, it becomes less time-intensive.
I will also say that once you learn the system — again, it sounds really daunting, and it sounds like a ton of work, but once you get into it and learn it, it gets pretty easy. Honestly, I find it to be kind of fun and interesting to test content… Also, I think it puts you light years ahead of your competitors in the competitive landscape.
Joe Fairless: Do you have a team that works with companies, or are you flying solo and you’re going in and consulting companies’ teams?
Brendan Kane: Yeah, I spend most of my time doing the high-level strategy, and I do have a team that I work with, specifically for my brand. Then sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll base it on the client’s specific objectives and goals… Because I’m a firm believer in that there’s not one strategy that fits all. You have to craft the strategy and approach for each specific client and where they’re at today and where they wanna get to; I think that that’s where a lot of people fall short in terms of hiring agencies or contractors. They’ll hire somebody that will just sell them on what they’re best at, instead of sell them on what is the best approach to take, specific for their goals and objectives.
Joe Fairless: You said you have a team for your own stuff… How many people do you have and what are their responsibilities?
Brendan Kane: Yeah, it’s a great question. I’ll just break it down for you – I have one social producer that oversees the overarching content strategy. We’re creating content for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and we’re gonna start doing YouTube within the next few months. So she oversees the content we’re producing, and takes content from our videographer that shoots, and breaks it down for our editors.
Then I have three editors that are on staff, that are constantly creating new content… Not just for me, but for our clients as well. Then I have a copywriter that helps generate all of the written materials and written content for my brand. Then I have somebody under me that manages all the content testing and optimization.
Joe Fairless: How many of those are full-time employees, that work only on your stuff?
Brendan Kane: Well, they’re all contractors, because I don’t really build agencies… But they’re all pretty much full-time across my brand and the other clients that we work with. So I wouldn’t say they’re 100% focused on my brand, but they spend a good 30% on my brand. That sounds like a lot of people and a lot of work, but I’m trying to build a personal brand. If you’re trying to build a brand on social, you need to have a team and you need to invest heavily in it. That’s not to say that that’s the only way to grow social accounts and to be successful, but if you really wanna leverage it to build a strong brand and generate a lot of leads for your business, you’re gonna need to have some type of team, whether that’s internal or external.
Joe Fairless: How did you find those team members?
Brendan Kane: A lot of interviewing and trial and error. I’m always constantly looking for new talent and the best in breed, that have proven themselves in the past, and I always kind of test and see how that applies to the work that I’m doing… But in terms of what people can do to find talent for themselves, for example UpWork is a great resource that I’ve hired people off of. You can get referrals from people, you can look at agencies or contractors in your specific area… But I’m just a firm believer that if you are gonna do that, give them short-term tests for specific goals and objectives to hit. Don’t give them six months to prove themselves, give them two weeks, and allow them to be a part of that process of what that objectives and goals are, and give them that flexibility, but make sure that they’re hitting that.
Joe Fairless: Now to what we were mentioning at the beginning of our conversation – how to leverage interview content to build your brand… What are some tips that you have here?
Brendan Kane: I really got fascinated with this world, and obviously with the successful podcast that you have, you understand this better than anybody… But I dove into this in my work with Katie Couric. I spent two years helping her with her strategy when she went from television to a digital-first strategy with a partnership with Yahoo! I got really intertwined with the strategy behind interviews and the power of interviews. I basically had to reverse-engineer the art of the interview for digital platforms, because Katie was struggling to make that transition in the beginning, because Yahoo wasn’t really providing the strategic plan and distribution plan that she was hoping for.
The way that I look at interviews first and foremost, whether it is for yourself and you appearing in an interview, or the way that you can leverage interviews interviewing thought leaders in your specific space – where I think most people fail with interviews, especially when it comes to digital and social distribution outlets is they’re going in with “What are the questions that I’m going to ask?”, versus the way that I look at it is I look at the output in mind; what is the end goal of this interview? And I look at more about it from the distribution of it; what are the strongest hook points or the strongest headlines, that are gonna capture people’s attention to make them want to look at an interview? I kind of take this analogy with all the clients I work with – if you were given the cover of a prominent magazine or newspaper in your niche, what would be the headline that you would put on the cover of that newspaper or that magazine, that literally as your core customer or your core audience is walking down a busy street in New York, they’re passing a magazine stand – what would be that headline, that cover of that magazine/newspaper that would literally make somebody stop, pick it up, buy it and read it? Because that’s how hard it is in the digital landscape. There’s over 60 billion messages sent on digital platforms each day. If you don’t find a way to stand out, then you’re going to completely lose that audience; they’re gonna keep scrolling through their feeds, they’re gonna keep passing by your content.
So the way that we approach it is for any interview we would come up with between five to fifteen different headlines that we would want to get out of that specific interview… Whether that is you interviewing somebody else, but also I think it’s a great strategic plan if somebody is interviewing you, because you need to have a strong idea of what your hook points are, what differentiates you and makes you stand out. Going in with that strategy on both sides of interviews makes the clear objective of what you’re trying to get out of the other person, or what you’re trying to convey to the person that’s interviewing you… Versus where I’d see sometimes questions fall short is you kind of leave it a little bit open-ended, versus with a headline you know what you’re going for and you can craft the question in different ways, or craft specific follow-up questions to hit that specific headline or hook point that you’re looking for.
Joe Fairless: When you are preparing for an interview to interview someone, and you’re thinking what is the end goal of the interview, strongest headline, “How do I capture the attention?”, how do you do that without having done the interview?
Brendan Kane: Yeah, another great question. There’s a few different ways that you can look at it. If they’re a prominent figure, like — with Katie Couric we did 220 interviews, with anybody from Joe Biden, to Jay Leno, to Jessica Chastain, to Chance the Rapper… I would start with their social channels and see if there was a trend on specific topics, through posts that were being shared or engaged with at a higher velocity. But sometimes you’re just not gonna get access to influencers for interviews, so the other approach that we would take is “What is the subject matter that we’re talking about?” and then we would type that into Google search, or Google Trends, to see what type of topics are trending at that specific time. It’s like “commercial real estate in Miami”, or whatever the search terms are, you can enter that into Google Trends or Google search specifically on the News side. If you go on Google News and you type in a specific keyword, you can see which headlines are trending. Then you can start looking at “Okay, which ones do I think are going to be interesting for the audience that I’m trying to reach?”
That’s kind of at a base level. Then once you start getting into the process and creating these interviews and testing the [unintelligible [00:18:03].00] and testing what works, then you’ll start getting a baseline of what works and how you can look at it from a copywriter’s perspective or a copywriter mindset.
Joe Fairless: Anything else as it relates to — and we talked about leveraging interviews to build your brand, but we talked about a whole lot more than just that… Anything else as it relates to leveraging interviews to build your brand, or any additional tips you have on brand building through social that we haven’t discussed, that you think we should talk about?
Brendan Kane: Yeah, in terms of interviews, as you know from your podcast, it’s like – being associated with other thought leaders and people that are very credible in your space or other industries allows you to align your brand with theirs, and it also allows you to provide value to them. That’s a big thing that I’m a firm believer in, in terms of whether that’s business development, or fostering stronger connections with social influencers, or other people in any industry, is how are you providing value to them? By creating an interview process that you can reach out to other people that you wanna be aligned with, that you wanna potentially do business deals with, you’re providing value by saying “I really admire what you’ve been able to achieve, and I’d love to interview you for my podcast or for my video series, or whatever that may be.” By doing that, you’re providing value to them, but you’re getting so much value back in return, and it goes beyond just the interview itself; you’re able to foster a connection with them and build a relationship with them, which I think few people realize when looking at interview-based content.
In terms of building a social brand, I can’t stress enough the importance of testing and understanding how to create compelling content. One of the first places that I always recommend people start out with is look at your competitors – who are people that you’re competing against, or who are people that are reaching the audience that you wanna speak to? Then once you have that list, look at what’s working for them. What types of posts are getting engagement and are being shared? Why did this post over here on my competitor’s page only get ten likes, versus this one got 1,000 likes or 100 shares? And really just trying to be a student of the game and constantly learning and testing and trying new things.
Joe Fairless: So helpful. I am probably the newest owner of your book, because I’ve just purchased it while you were talking, because I could wait… Your thought process is spot on, in my opinion, and you’ve got the personal experience to back that up. That’s a pretty powerful one-two punch.
Brendan, how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?
Brendan Kane: Yeah, so if they’re interested in the book, they can go to onemillionfollowers.com, they could reach out to me directly and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can direct-message me on Instagram as well, at @BrendanKane.
Joe Fairless: Brendan, thanks again for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Brendan Kane: Thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it.