In this episode, we have the pleasure of hearing from speaker, number-one bestselling author, businessman, and consultant Brian Carter. Brian, whose books include The Like Economy, LinkedIn For Business, Facebook Marketing, and the The Cowbell Principle, has also appeared on Bloomberg TV. He has taught over 50,000 students and has reached more than 3,000,000 people in the last year. His latest course, The Facebook Leads and Sales Machine, gives some insight into how highly he values Facebook as an advertising tool–and he’ll explain much more about that in this conversation.
In this Episode
- [01:28] – Brian talks about what the Cowbell Principle is and whether it has anything to do with Will Ferrell (the answer: yes, it does).
- [04:04] – Why is Facebook so important? Brian gives his answer and also explains that Facebook and Google are the most important places to advertise and discusses the weaknesses of Snapchat and Instagram.
- [05:46] – Locating your target audience and a lower cost per click for advertising are two more strengths that Facebook offers.
- [08:32] – Gary Vaynerchuk is a big proponent of marketing on Snapchat, and Brian explains why. He and our host Stephan go on to discuss more aspects of Gary’s experience and advantages.
- [10:13] – Brian talks about ways that you could use Snapchat, and reasons that you might, but suggests that for many companies it would end up wasting a lot of time. He also talks about the importance of advertising and the difficulty of creating viral content every day.
- [12:02] – Combining advertising with viral content is a strong combination, and Brian gives examples of how this might work.
- [14:05] – Brian reveals that the stats say we’re now socializing more on Facebook than face to face. He explains why, and he and Stephan discuss the issue of a “filter bubble.”
- [19:17] – What would Brian say to someone who builds bridges or airports and claims that Facebook isn’t the right place to advertise for their industry?
- [23:08] – Brian goes into further detail about how you can pinpoint or target ads on Facebook.
- [23:41] – If you aren’t a stand-up comic, how can you be funny and engaging on social media? Brian provides some easy advice.
- [26:36] – If you’re not creating funny content yourself, you’ll need to search for it. Brian gives some tips on how to find content like this and talks about the story of the “success kid” meme and how the child’s fame got his father money for a new kidney.
- [30:36] – If you go to images.google.com and click on the camera icon at the end of the search box, you can do a reverse image search to help you figure out where an image came from and who the copyright holder is.
- [31:15] – Brian talks about Facebook Audience Insights, a tool within Facebook’s ad manager, and explains how to put it to use.
- [32:30] – Brian came up with a process he calls FIT, “find, invent, test.” He explains this as well as the difference between customers and fans.
- [35:00] – We learn more about Facebook Audience Insights. Brian gives some insight into his process of testing ads.
- [37:36] – Brian offers an example of how one might target the right audience when that audience sounds vague at first.
- [38:58] – We hear about the possibility of using lookalikes.
- [40:16] – Brian differentiates between fans and buyers, not only on Facebook but in general. This is the “finding” part of the FIT system. After this, the next step is to invent tests. After applying the tests, he goes back to fact-finding to see what worked and what didn’t. In this way, the system is a repeating loop.
- [42:45] – Brian believes we have a “finite amount of creativity per day.” This is part of his argument against creating content calendars.
- [44:25] – What are Brian’s thoughts on creating spinoffs from successful content or advertisements?
- [47:28] – Brian discusses how his background in standup comedy helps him but makes it clear that this isn’t necessary if you’re willing to test ideas.
- [49:15] – Instead of having a normal focus group, Brian talks about trying a focus group of improv people.
Hello and welcome to Marketing Speak. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer and today we have Brian Carter with us. Brian is a popular speaker, he’s a number one best-selling author, he is the author of The Like Economy, LinkedIn For Business, Facebook Marketing and The Cowbell Principle. You may have seen him on Bloomberg TV, his 18 years of business success, The Carter Group which is a digital marketing agency that boosts profits for growth minded businesses. Brian’s consulted with companies of all sizes including NBC, Microsoft, Universal Studios, GoToMeeting and the US Army. He’s has taught over 50,000 students, more than 250,000 online fans and he has reached more than three million people in the last year. That’s impressive stuff. His latest course is called The Facebook Leads and Sales Machine. I should also mention, he’s got a background in stand-up comedy which is I think the most awesome thing of all. Welcome, Brian. It’s great to have you.
Thanks for having me Stephan, good to be here.
I’m curious, I haven’t read The Cowbell Principle but what the heck is The Cowbell Principle and does it have something to do with Will Ferrell?
Absolutely it does, it does. Even with the Blue Oyster Cult, I even had a quote from the guitarist of Blue Oyster Cult, Buck Dharma said he thought I was cool too. I couldn’t get a quote from Will Ferrell, unfortunately. I tried to reach out to him. But anyway, it was a book I wrote with Garrison Wynn who is a good friend of mine and a guy, he’s a keynote speaker, does about 90 to 100 gigs a year. That’s mostly what he does. He also has a background in stand-up comedy. We wrote this book together to talk about kind of how, almost if you’ve read Built to Last or Good to Great, the whole hedgehog principle of how companies can be profitable and focused on what their best at, what they love, what other people want, that kind thing. We just kind of applied it to people’s passions in their job and what your best career could be or should be. But we used the “More Cowbell” sketch from Saturday Night Live as the metaphor for that. We went into that sketch and just used every part of that sketch comedy to describe how to find your passion which is the Cowbell. That’s the thing that Will Ferrell’s character loves the most. It actually disturbs some of his teammates but then they find out, “Wow, this is what he contributes and he’s awesome at it,” and blah, blah, blah. We used the analogy that bagpipes are kinda the opposite because why do people walk when they play bagpipes because everyone else is running away from them is kinda the joke. Bagpipes are something that you love that hardly anybody else does. That’s kinda just a joke, we like to make fun of Scottish people but whatever. It’s kind of a career-oriented book that used the more Cowbell sketch as a metaphor.
I love that sketch. That’s hilarious. I remember seeing I think it was maybe bizarre voice that had at a conference these little stickers that you put underneath your badge like you have speaker or exhibit or whatever, underneath your badge. They had one called more Cowbell, of course I picked that one and I put that on my badge right underneath speaker, that was awesome.
You can never have enough Cowbell.
Never enough. Let’s talk about Facebook because you have this new course out, The Facebook Leads and Sales Machine. Why is Facebook the future in your opinion? We had a little bit of a discussion about this before we started recording. Facebook is really crucially important to anybody’s business. It doesn’t matter B2B, B to C, non-profit, it doesn’t matter, you gotta be on Facebook.
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s Google and Facebook really are the giants of online marketing. If I take the average business and I don’t know who they are and I’m gonna say what two places should you market on or through? It’s Google and Facebook. I always have a joke about that say like, Facebook is Vin Diesel and Google is The Rock then Twitter is Mini Me and LinkedIn is Dwight Schrute. They’re not just as important, LinkedIn has no personality, there are shortcomings to all of the other platforms, the number one thing being that most people Google things and it’s become a word and people say I Googled it but they are actually on Bing. They Googled something on Facebook, it’s a verb. And then you got Facebook which the stats are crazy, like 70% of all Americans over the age of 13 are on Facebook. You get all the news like to hype things up like, “Oh, the young people are on Snapchat or they’re on Instagram or whatever.” That’s true. But there are just as many people in the 13 to 18 age bracket on Facebook as there are an on Instagram or Snapchat. If you look at the way that young people use Instagram, Snapchat, they use it like text messaging for social networking. They don’t use it for marketing. Can you market with Instagram stories effectively or Snapchat? Young people don’t use it that way.
They’re not consuming marketing messages nearly as well through Snapchat versus Facebook. When you’re talking about the older demographics, once you’re actually talking to people who have money in their wallets and not just their weekly allowance.
That’s right, that’s the other thing. It’s like who’s your target person? They’re probably on Facebook, right? They might be on other things like Pinterest or Reddit but they’re probably also on Facebook. Facebook has the best advertising platform there is. You could argue Google is better because it has search intent and you certainly don’t wanna not have search intent, it’s very powerful but you have the trade-off of extremely high cost per click with adwords. The average is $2.32, with Facebook the average is $0.54. We’re talking almost one fifth the cost per click. The other big difference is with Facebook ads that you can control your cost to a much greater degree. I’ve done AdWords since 2004, I know it inside and out. If you get a high quality score, a high click through rate, all that stuff lines up. You can only lower your cost per click or cost per lead or whatever by a small amount, 5% or 10%. If you’re using Facebook ads, they reward you economically to a large degree with much lower cost per click for a higher CTR. I’m talking 50% to 90% lower costs. You have this gigantic lever on the cost of Facebook ads. We’ve got lead gen cost as low as $0.10 from B to C when we were giving away a leopard cruise. That’s the lowest one. We’ve got a B to C quiz that was a 30 cent lead. B to B, we’ve got a quiz that did a $1.82. The cost per lead is all over the place for different case studies but they’re dramatically lower than Google. It’s not that you don’t wanna do both, obviously you wanna do both, but these two are the giants that everybody should be on compared to the other platforms. To me, the other part is, it’s just like Pareto principle. Unless you have a marketing team of 30 people and a budget in the millions, how are you gonna efficiently with skill and talent also do Snapchat and Instagram and Pinterest and all these other stuff?
Yeah, there are a lot of shiny objects out there and if you spread your attention across all of them, you’re not gonna get anything done.
If you Google it, there’s only one Snapchat ROI case study out there. In order to get the ROI, they had to do Facebook ads as a second phase of the case study. Google it. Are there case studies? Is there ROI in it?
But then Gary Vaynerchuk is very bullish on Snapchat as a marketing channel.
He’s an investor in Snapchat so he has a conflict of interest.
Okay. Good point, good point.
Also, Gary has never built a company from the ground up.
Okay. The argument is when he started his career at the Wine Library TV, he worked at an existing business, that was his family business.
Two things about Gary’s advice. Number one, nobody is starting a company from scratch. You should look at the fact that he started with a company that he inherited. He already was optimizing an existing company with a lot of money and capital. He has not started from scratch. That’s something you gotta bear in mind. Number two, the Snapchat advice, he has a conflict of interest and if he’s not disclosing that, I would just think about that.
Personally, I’m not big in the Snapchat. I have it installed, I play with it a bit. It just seems silly to me to spend a bunch of time building up your reputation on a social platform where you have nothing to show for in terms of tangible collateral. None of the images or stories or anything stick around for longer than what, 24 hours. It’s also ephemeral and sure you’ve got reputation, you’ve got your fan base but you’re only as good as your latest 24 hours. If you go for a two week vacation, you’re kind of old news.
There’s some cool things you can do with it and you can save that content and post it elsewhere but some people don’t like when you do that. You can say, “Hey, let’s zig when other people zag. Let’s do Snapchat because other people aren’t or let’s leverage influencers that are doing Snapchat that have a big audience.” There’s some validity to that but the average company that doesn’t know how to do Snapchat and doesn’t have an audience there is gonna be wasting a lot of time. The other thing is just the question of organic versus advertising. If you can’t run ads, how many people are you gonna reach? Who are you gonna reach and how fast are you gonna reach them? Are they your ideal customer? That’s to me the biggest problem with not advertising. Because when you advertise, you can reach exactly who you wanna reach right away and get your content out to them. Another problem we have with organic content is that people want their content to be viral or great but how many of us are capable of creating truly viral content everyday? Nobody is. Our most genius creators in the world like artists or Steven Spielberg or just people that create amazing, amazing content that the entire world love.
Will Ferrell, right. How often did they create great content? We are not them. The average person at a company or at an agency is, let’s be frank, not that good. They’re not that creative, they’re not that genius. You cannot rely on your genius to take your organic content that far. That’s why we are always going to need advertising.
It’s a mix of organic plus paid and you end up with kind of a synergistic effect if you do it right.
You could take pretty good content and do well. The other thing is, for example, if you really understand your audience, whether it’s through some initial research like PayPal went and found out that their best customers love The Walking Dead. They had a company create a commercial that was zombies in it that showed how PayPal could save your life during a zombie apocalypse. This became one of their most watched organic videos ever. They didn’t have an advertising budget, unfortunately. But if they would have advertised, it would’ve gone nuts. We have other case studies where you combine that knowledge of the audience and doing something special that your audience truly loves with the advertising and then it goes nuts. We have another company where we showed this. We’ve tried a lot of crazy things for them but this one particular image of a dog with the message that, “Being weird is just a side effect of being awesome.” It was this dog being weird and goofy. People love that image, they tag their friends in it to essentially say, “Hey best friend, we’re weird and awesome too, right?” It got so much interaction, the ad, that the cost per interaction in the ad was less than one penny. We got six interactions per penny on that ad. When the interaction is really high like that, the cost of the ad is insanely low. That comes from finding your audience’s passions and running the ad. You can’t necessarily always go viral but if you try a lot of different creative and really understand your audience, you get economically rewarded for it.
That’s specific to Facebook and their edgerank algorithm. They don’t want to put stuff in front of people in their newsfeed that’s not awesome because that’s gonna hurt the overall retention. They’re gonna reward you with a cheaper cost per click if you’ve put the time and effort into creating something that has viral appeal.
Mark Zuckerberg wants us to be addicted to Facebook. That’s why we’re checking it ten times a day. There was a study that showed that if you combine the number of people on the networks and the amount of time we’re spending, people are spending 50 minutes a day on Facebook. We’re only spending 38 minutes a day socializing face to face. We’re actually socializing more on Facebook now. If you think about that, it kinda make sense because to socialize face to face, you may have to drive somewhere, you don’t get to hang out with just the people you wanna talk to, you have to hang out with the few other people you don’t. It’s different, it’s more efficient to hang out online. You’re gonna see only the stuff you like from only the people you like the most. That’s what they’ve created and they’re definitely economically rewarding advertisers for doing the same thing for their customers.
But then you get this filter bubble effect where you only see kinda one side of the story like with elections or whatever, what’s your take on this whole filter bubble?
That’s weird because on the one hand, do we wanna only have communities that are oriented around liking and loving the positive side as opposed to hatred? I can see a positive side to that. I think we started being in bubbles, I just started thinking about that way back in the 90s when you no longer have to go inside the gasoline station to pay for your gas because maybe there’s a different class of person that’s selling you your gas and you don’t even wanna see that person, you can just pay for your gas at the pump. You don’t even have to go and then see that person. I was like, “Woah, this is a weird change.” That was in the 90s. I don’t think it’s anything new in the world that there’s segregation within cities, like the black people live in the one side, the white people live on another. We’ve had this for a long, long time. I don’t think it’s different or new that in social media you might only hear from the people you wanna hear from. There are people that only wanna hang out with other people who went to Harvard. We’ve always had tribes. I don’t think that’s a new thing. I do think that social media and the internet has shown us more of other people’s opinions than we saw in the past. I think in the 80s and the 90s, before the internet, we did not see as many of other people’s opinions and I think people are just deserved right now because they’re actually seeing a lot of other people’s opinions and they didn’t know what they were before. I think in this polarizing election, it’s deserving to see so much races, for example. But the fact is, it was there. We just didn’t know it.
It’s so easy now to just unfriend people like, “Okay, I don’t like what they have to say or I don’t like their stand on XYZ topics so I’m unfriending that person.” It’s a strange world we’re living in.
It is. I look at it this way, this is part of social media and everything. To me, the positive thing is this, there are countries that split because of ethnic cleansing. When I went and spoke in Norway and Denmark and all that stuff, I was like, “Wow, you guys have such an amazing support, like you go to college for free and this and that.” Somebody from one of those countries told me, “That only works because we’re all the same ethnicity.” I was like, “Really?” He was like, “Yeah because if we had a lot immigrants, everybody would be unhappy if immigrants came in and could get to go to college for free or whatever.” I was like, “That’s weird.” At least we’re not [0:19:22].5]. We had the civil war, we’re a huge melting pot, we’re one of the few, maybe like South Africa is another country where there’s been a huge racial problem and then eventually Mandela was president. There are a lot of other countries that are not even dealing with this many different people together. I don’t think every country is grappling with these issues that we’re dealing with. The fact that we’re dealing with them and the worst thing that’s happened is somebody unfriends somebody. I know that’s not the worst thing that happened. We’ve had shootings, we’ve had churches burned down and things like that but we don’t have genocide, we haven’t split as a country. I think from that perspective, maybe we’re not doing great but we’re doing okay.
It’s always a matter of degrees. With Facebook being such a powerhouse and kind of the first place a lot of people go even maybe before their email in the morning and as you said already, it was designed by Zuck to be addictive and they’re masters at creating that addiction. What would you say to somebody who says, “Facebook isn’t for B to B. I build bridges or airports or whatever.” They had clients who build bridges and airports and like the Fortune 100. What do you say to somebody like that who says, “Facebook is not the place for us because that’s not where our customers, our clients hang out.”
Fair point and good question. I think that it’s a matter of degree for every industry. For example if you do government contracts or something, there may be a really rigid process by which you get your business there where Facebook could be really, really marginalized. But for example, I’ve done some social sales like doing some keynotes to sales guys specifically. What I tell them is like, “Look, you guys have either new prospects or ongoing relationships with people you’ve sold to or you’re gonna sell to again or whatever.” There’s a networking side of it. 70% of Americans are on Facebook, that means there’s a good chance that the people that you’ve sold to or you’re going to sell to, you’re gonna sell to again are on Facebook. If you have their phone number or you have their email, the question is are you their friend on Facebook. In the past, you may not have been because like you’re only friends with your really close people and some people are still like that. But I think it’s changed and it’s grown and the average number of friends people have has grown as well. If this is someone that you actually would go golf with or go out to dinner with, it doesn’t seems so weird anymore to become their Facebook friend. Facebook is another place and I know it’s a little bit weird for extroverts too because extroverts don’t like computers that much. They don’t get the whole messaging people on Facebook thing as well but I show them like, “Here’s how you can make it fun. You can send them a funny picture that’s relevant to your niche, you can send them an animated GIF that’s funny and it’s a same kind of thing you would do if you’re going out to dinner or on the golf course or whatever. Tell them a joke, you just do it online.” It’s just another level of connection and you show up to them more often. It’s just a level of networking that becomes possible again. That’s the sales side. The other B2B side, we’ve got plenty of case studies and we’ve proven that you can advertise to get in front of these people who are on Facebook and show them something interesting, something relevant, maybe you’re just talking about solving one of their problems, get them to click and enter their lead information and they do convert to leads that you can follow up on whether it’s through email or phone and it works. The thing is people don’t go on Facebook to do business or think about business. The fact is a lot of us are thinking about work when we’re not at work and a lot of us are friends with business people. Even if you’re home watching TV, if you’re on Facebook while you’re watching TV and you see something in your feed that’s targeted to you and it’s relevant to a work problem you’re having, you’re gonna click on it. There is specific B2B targeting in Facebook ads like there’s a whole section of B2B targeting job title, company size, seniority, company names. In a lot of niches we can go and I recently did one for cloud hosting, guys that sell data centers. I just looked up what are all the top data center construction companies and architecture firms and engineering firms and I put those all in and there were 33,000 people in Facebook who work at those companies. Not everybody puts their company name in the Facebook or their job title on Facebook but there are five or six figures worth of people in there who have. You can definitely advertise and get in front of those people. It’s different with every industry but the marketing model is there for B2B lead gen or for sales networking.
You can even laser target individual people if you know exactly who the purchasing agent is and you’ve got their name and email and so forth.
Yeah and you can, like I just searched the other day for just people with the job titles of procurement and buyers and all that kind of stuff. There were over 66,000 with those job titles alone and I didn’t even put in all the job titles. There’s a ton of ways to target people.
Let’s kinda get back to what we were talking about a few minutes ago about being funny and conversational and building rapport in that way. Some listeners might say, “Well, that’s easy for you to say, you’re a stand-up comic.”
No, you don’t have to be funny at all because all kinds of people are out there being funny on the internet for you. All I do is Google data center funny and I found a whole bunch of funny images and cartoons people have created and you just post that in a message to the person. Or you go into Facebook Messenger and add the Giphy ad on to Facebook Messenger and just search for something like computer or search for high five. Instead of saying right on, you just search for high five and there are funny images of people giving a high five. You don’t have to be funny at all because other people have created funny stuff out there already that you use. It makes you look funny even if you’re not.
I can animate a GIF that conveys a funny way of saying, “Hey, that’s cool or right on.” Just adds personality and it makes you more approachable and more human and builds rapport.Gifs just adds personality and it makes you more approachable and more human and builds rapport. Click To Tweet
Totally. If you don’t know about that stuff, to me, on the joke level, it’s funny, that’s what the internet was created for is kind of the joke. There are memes out there, if you don’t know what memes are, you should Google that because they’re hilarious. That’s what reddit is. Juts a ton of hilarious stuff. All these people that work in IT or they have boring jobs or they play video games, there are lot of guys out there, especially in their 20s that are just constantly creating funny stuff and the internet has created a ton of it. It’s out there for you to Google and find. You can also use buzzsumo.com which is, I call them like the Google of highly shared content. You can find stuff that’s already been proven to be shared a lot by people. It tells you exactly how many times the stuff had been shared on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. You can put in any keywords you want and find highly shared stuff through buzzsummo.com or memegenerator.com. Go over there and you can find the most interesting man in the world where he says, “I don’t always _____ but when I do ____,” and you can feel that in with your company. I don’t always build data centers, but when I do I use [0:28:47].3], what is your company name or whatever. It’s not hilarious but it gets your point across some people like, “Oh, I know the most interesting man in the world.” Or you can find the funny ones where people have created their own versions of it which is probably better because you don’t wanna be too much of a hard sale.
You can do this on Google, Google Images, you can go onto YouTube and find funny commercials and spoofs, parodies of data centers or whatever else you’re trying to sell or whatever your topic or industry is. Basically, you’re just having to be an effective curator, you don’t have to be funny creating the joke but you have to be good at searching.
Yeah, exactly. A little bit of searching goes a long way. I guess maybe it’s easy for you and I to say searching is easy. But if you haven’t done a lot of searching, you may have to try a few different combination of keywords. Think of a few different ways to say what you wanna say before you find the thing that you want.
You have to make sure that you’re not infringing on anybody’s copyrights or you’re gonna get in trouble.
Although an interesting story about that, the Success Kid, if you haven’t seen Success Kid, he’s like this little, probably, I don’t know, a year or two years old and he’s got his fist up. Actually the truth was he was at the beach and he hates sand and he was holding some sand and he was like hating sand but everybody looked to that and saw a kid and looked like he was saying, “I’m succeeding.” The whole white guy fist thing. That became really popular and his dad was like, “Oh, this is cool. My kid is popular.” He actually said he was okay with it. He was one of the fewer people who are like, “Okay, we know we’re not infringing on anybody’s rights by using Success Kid. The funny story was like seven years later, his dad had a kidney failure and needed a kidney. The actual Success Kid went online instead we need money for my dad to get a new kidney and his fame from allowing his kid to be famous on the internet got him the money for a new kidney.
I didn’t know that story
I was like, “Wow, that’s cool.” There’s a lot of images out there. If you ran into a photographer who says he’s got a watermark on there and he’s clearly protecting his stuff, you’re like, “Okay, I’m not gonna infringe on that guy’s rights.” There’s a lot of stuff that’s great because it’s been already posted by like 500 websites and you can’t figure out who’s the original owner and you’re like, “Should I post this or not?” You gotta make your own decision there.
Neither of us are lawyers.
If you send it just to someone privately in a private message, is that an infringement? I don’t know. Is it only if it’s public on a website? I don’t know.
But of course it’s gonna be most effective if you’re using Success Kid in an ad or some sort of campaign. It’s really effective if you’re using it publicly, not as much as if you’re just using it internally like in your Facebook messages.
If you’re a sales guy, that’s probably what you’re gonna do. The group I spoke to recently, they didn’t have any ad budgets but I think if you use, I’m not sure if the guy is okay with people using them in ads, I think he is but you could have a whole thing about succeeding and winning and just have that kid as the image. But again, probably check with your lawyers.
I’ve seen Success Kid in advertisements like on billboards. I think that’s a Virgin company, one of the Virgin companies. Presumably, they got permission I would imagine.
Or they have presumably a lot of money for lawyers too.
Maybe. It was Virgin media. They purchased the rights to use Success Kid in their advertising campaigns. That was back in 2012. One thing that might be useful for listeners to know is you can find images that you already have permission to use with sites like pexels.com, you can use the Creative Commons search. From there you can get to the Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr, on Google Images, etc. and so you’re somewhat protected there although you’re gonna have to see if that’s the actual source or it’s just somebody who’s reusing it and they weren’t the creator of it. There is Creative Commons license but they don’t really have the rights to say, “Yeah, you have the right to use that particular picture.”
One way you could check, there’s like a search where you can get to, I think it’s image.hp is part of the URL.
Yeah, it’s just built right into the interface. You go to images.google.com and then you click on the little icon of a camera at the end of the search box and that’s where you can specify the URL or you can upload an image.
If you have an image, you have a question about it, you can save it from a site and then upload it to that search and see where else it is on the internet and that could help you figure out where it’s coming from. One of the thing though about that is like, for example, with PayPal and the zombies or if you find out, we haven’t mentioned Facebook audience insights which is a tool within the Facebook ad manager. You can look at your fans or you can look at any niche or you could look at like people who like Ford versus Chevy or people who like cats or people who make over $350,000 a year or whatever you wanna look at. Any audience of people, find out what things they like the most. Again, PayPal found out it was zombies and we’ve done this for many of our customers. A lot of different analyses with this data. Once you figure out what your customers really like, that’s not what you sell because that’s the obvious thing. I’m gonna sell you my widget so here’s my widget, here’s what it does blah, blah, blah. Okay, cool. But can you show the widget with the zombie and my audience is really more excited about it. Okay, interesting. It’s finding that zombie thing or bacon or whatever it is that your audience is excited about. Once you figure out what that is, then go to these Creative Commons, go to those image sources and find the zombie or the baking or find whatever it is that your audience is excited about. You need to do the research first. I have this process I came out with I call it FIT, find, invent, test. If you wanna find the FIT for your customers and we’re talking about sort of the psychographic or their real passion besides your product because again it gets kinda boring to talk about your product or service over and over again and again. If you wanna put out more content over week after week, month after month, you can’t keep saying, “Our widget, our widget, our widget, our widget.” It’s like, “Shut up.” Here’s our widget with the zombie. What else do they like? Oh, our audience also likes bacon a lot, here’s our widget with bacon. Our audience really love dogs, not cats, here’s our widget with the dog. You’ve gotta figure out what your audience likes. That’s the finding part of it, the fact finding. You gotta go into the data, some of that data is Facebook audience insights, some that of that you may, if you can’t find it there, you need to do tests. You’ll have theories about your audience, you can run Facebook posts and Facebook ads to put a whole bunch of stuff out in front of your customers and find out. We also need to differentiate between fans versus buyers which is something a lot of social media people we haven’t done in the past but we need to move to this level. There’s a difference between your buyers and your fans and there’s also a difference between, we found with the companies where we do assessments and audits and analyze like their email list of buyers, loyal buyers versus who their fans are that they’re very different and they act differently. Sometimes for certain companies, the most loyal buyers don’t interact with Facebook posts nearly as much as the fans who don’t buy stuff do. You gotta be careful what you’re doing and you gotta look at like who are they? What’s the difference between your buyer and the fan that doesn’t buy or the person that submits a lead and doesn’t ever buy? What’s the difference between your loyal buyer and the buyer who only buys once and there are differences in their demographics, their income, their net worth, their education, what they like. You need to do analyses to find out those differences if you really wanna focus your advertising targeting on the best people.
Do you create personas and kind of identify these people by name and give them kind of a hypothetical day in the life and what their favorite hobbies are and all that sort of stuff?
Facebook on insights has data from Facebook and from three of the biggest consumer data companies in the world, Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix. Acxiom has kind of a demographic persona grid of 70 personas. Their demographic, they’re defined by where they live, how much money they earn or net worth, age, do they have kids and that kind of stuff. There is kind of a demographic persona you can already get from Facebook audience insights but the psychographic persona is a little bit different. I know there are a lot of agencies that do that, there are a lot of different systems but that’s not exactly the way that we approach it because it’s complicated. What we really look at is like what we can target. For example, the current campaign we’re doing a lot of advertising where we have to set email list of customers, we’re trying to refer new customers and it’s 565,000 people we can target. Initially, we thought, “Let’s divide them into gen y, gen x, and boomers and at least see how they responded different creative.” One thing in the ads, you wanna show people but who do we show? We will show the boomers some people that look like boomers, maybe families of boomers or millennials or whatever. Then gen x people, they are at a different stage of life, they might have kids but what age are the kids? The gen y people are gonna show the super young gen y people or the older gen y people. I think personas are kind of a slippery slope because the question is how many different customers do you have? How are you gonna slice and dice it? Where does this come from? Where do you get your data from? You can divide your customers up so many different ways. You can divide them up by age, ages of like 10 year intervals, you could divide them up by men and women, you could divide them up by married, unmarried, you could divide them up by career focused or not. When it comes to Facebook targeting, that’s our primary thing, it’s like we have to know we can target the people that we’re gonna divide them up. If we divide them up into whatever persona we divide them up into, it has to be something we can target with Facebook ads and then reflect that in the creative.
That make sense because from a practical standpoint, if you can’t target that segment on Facebook that way that you’ve segmented, it’s just kind of an intellectual exercise.
Like if you say either Savvy Shopper like how do I target that? What does that mean? But if you say he likes North Face and he went to graduate school, I can target that. But that decision to divide someone into North Face, graduate school, we looked to all the data and that was a significantly different group of people within the data. It’s gonna depend on your customer’s set. The same way that Acxiom has 70 different demographic groups, there’s a set group. But if there’s an agency out there that has a set of psychographic personas, the question is how many of those people are in any particular company’s customer set and how do you know that? Because with Facebook, we can go and see, okay, we uploaded your email list and I can see exactly how many like North Face. I can see exactly how many went to grad school, I can see exactly how many are men and women, etc. I think it makes more sense to get the data into Facebook and then define our targeting divisions after that.
Are you presumably creating look alike audiences from this custom audiences of email lists that you’re uploading?
Yeah. If you wanna go out to new cold prospects, you can definitely look alikes. Facebook has told me, all they would tell me is that like they look at the predominant interests and then a group of uploads you made and then they create look alikes based on that. The ideal thing for me is if you can give me an email list of buyers compared to non-buyers, then I can find out what’s your buyer persona in terms of things like income, age, education, net worth and other things like that including affinities like interests then I can create a target. You certainly do wanna test the look alike like I’m gonna do a look alike of your buyers, for example. But I also wanna do some intentional really specific targeting. If we discover your best buyers are people that make over $100,000 and live in California or something, then I’m gonna test that specifically too as a separate ad set.
You’re differentiating the buyers versus the people who are non-buyers but fans and saying what are the attributes as far as Facebook sees it of these two different groups.
Yeah. Not just Facebook because we’ve got Datalogic, Epsilon and Acxiom. Those companies have billions of transactions. We know their income, we know their education level, we know their net worth, we know where they’re located, we know what kind of activities they do on Facebook, which devices they use, etc. You just have to get into Facebook audience insights and you’ll see all the different categories of info they give you. What we do is we look at the difference between the buyer and the fan and the non-fan or the lead or whatever list we have. We look at what’s the difference, what’s really unique about the buyer group? All those different categories.
Where does this FIT methodology, the find, invent, test methodology go in this equation?
That’s data finding, fact finding. It’s the first part. It’s kind of a repetitive loop, it’s an optimization cycle. After you test, we’re gonna look at the data again, we’re going back to find, fact finding, we’re gonna go back. It’s like an OODA loop kind of too. You can envision it really as a screw. We’re gonna go drilling down and down and down. We’re gonna find facts, we’re gonna invent some tests whether that’s the creative that we wanna test in the ads or a content campaign or blog post or whatever it is. This could apply to anything in digital marketing. And then we’re gonna test it and then we’re gonna go back to fact finding and see what worked and what didn’t and what are our conclusions. And then we’re gonna invent another round of stuff based on that. A lot of times in our first month of doing Facebook ads for a company, we’ve done as much as fact finding as we can and we threw out those initial invented tests and whatever works, these are clues. It works the same for posting too. If a lot of companies do a content calendar but they never go back and figure out based on engagement rate which post got the most response and what are the patterns there, what was the comment to the post with the highest engagement rate and what was the comment to the ones with the lowest engagement rate? They don’t do the analysis to see. The next time they invent a content calendar full of content that is standing on the shoulder of the giant for the first month. That’s why I hate content calendars because it’s like you create month after month that continues to be as ignorant as the previous month.
Yeah, it’s a year full of mediocrity.
Yeah, that’s right. This is the other thing, I believe, I could be wrong but I believe we have a finite amount of creativity per day. Even if that content calendar takes you through three or four days, you don’t have as much creativity as if you created a post per day. If every day you have a new perspective and a refilled cup from sleeping or whatever and you can create a better post, if you create one a day.
I like that. Research has shown that willpower is a finite resource that we deplete over the course of the day as well. Taking this idea, you’d say, “Look at the best performing, highest engaging type of content pieces and then maybe create spin offs or somehow reuse those in different ways.” One example that comes to my mind, one of my clients, past clients is Zappos and they had this Guinness World Record that they set, most simultaneous high fives. Really cool. They did it in a stadium but then they did nothing else with it. It’s really sad because I can see all these potential spin offs where you could do funny hand gestures and what they mean in different countries in the world and do that as an infographic, do it like as a viral video and show people’s reactions when you do these things like trying to high five them or give them a thumbs up or an okay and it’s the wrong country where that means something quite different. You could do all sorts of interesting spin offs and they did none of that. It just seem like a real missed opportunities. What are your thoughts on creating these kinds of spin offs?
It depends on what it is, how you interpret it, what was successful about it? You need more than one data point to find the pattern. I don’t know if what was successful about that was the high five or was it the Guinness Record? Was it the mass number of people? You’d have to have more than one, for me, to know what worked. You could do two more Guinness Records or you could do two more things about hand gestures or two more things that involve tons of people doing simultaneous things and figure out which of those does the best and then you would have a better idea what was successful there. When we do poster ads like Facebook post, for example, we’ll come up with themes like, hey does this audience really get into freedom or independence or team work or family. There are a bunch of different themes out there that they may respond to. What about people? Do they like smiling people? Different types of people doing different activities, do they like animals? What kind of animals do they like? Do they like motivational quotes? Do they like famous people? We try a ton of different stuff that may start with theories like based on the fact finding part. We know this about the audience so we think this or that idea might work the best but then we test a bunch of them and then we go back and look at the data. Over time we’ll be like, “Okay, this theme or this particular kind of quote or this particular kind of image or this kind of video does seem to work better than all the others.” You gotta kind of force yourself not to only do the thing that works the best because then you kinda can bore your audience. You gotta have ideally at least five to ten things that work. Even the client, I found sometimes clients get bored like they’ll be like, “You guys just keep doing the same things.” It’s like, you might be doing different versions of phrases or themes that work for the audience. You know that saying that like, “You can get more bored of your stuff way before your audience does because you see it all the time and that they may not.” You gotta watch out for that. But you do need to keep some variety, even after you do discover the patterns in which things will work more reliably. But what we’re talking about is that you find the targeting that works the best, the creative that works the best, the types of images, the themes, the pieces of copy or formulas that will work best for your customers over and over so that your metric is really high. We went from engagement rates with Facebook post of 1% to getting at least 10%, where sometimes you got one post that gets 21% for our client rate. But you wanna find those things that will consistently give you the much, much higher metrics.
One thing that I think you excel at is being inventive, being creative. Imagine, as a comic with your background in comedy that you took a lot of improv. Being able to apply that to your business, I think it kinda gives you a super power doesn’t it?
It’s true. As a teacher, I gotta find ways for other people to do that without, if they don’t have the manic I can have 12 ideas in an hour ability, you could still do this even if you’re just going in and choosing Shutter Stock photos out of Facebook ads. You can say, “I need a bunch of happy moms using computers.” You could still try 15 different images and succeed much better than you will if you only choose one. The principle is to test more stuff. Just like with the sales guy where he’s like, “No, you don’t have to be hilarious to use other people’s content.” There are ways around it even if you don’t have creative people. But I will say this and I don’t know why more people don’t take me up on it, there are tons of improv people, they’re stand-up people but improv people tend to be easier to get along with than stand-up people. There are tons of improv people out there who are very creative and would be happy to give you ideas for very little money because they don’t make a lot of money doing whatever they do. A lot of them work in food and bev. I don’t know why more agencies and companies don’t, they probably just haven’t thought of it. Especially in Chicago but also LA, New York, a lot of cities have improv people.
That’s a great tip. Earlier when we’re talking about personas, I was thinking about focus groups and how that might come into play but actually that could be really interesting to incorporate improv folks or stand-up comics in focus groups and get them to riff on all these different problems, solutions, quirks and foible and things.
Absolutely, you could have little brain storming sessions, have them come in for a lunch, give them $50 or something. A lot of these folks are working on jobs that they’re making $10, $20 an hour or $30 an hour and they love doing improv. I’m sure they would enjoy the heck out of it and they get to say, put on their resume, they did an agency brainstorming session or a corporate brainstorming session and gave you guys some ideas. They could easily be in your videos as well.
I love it. Cool. Brian, this was a full hour. Thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom, insights and ideas. If somebody wanted to work with your agency, if they wanted to take your course, The Facebook Leads and Sales Machine, if they want to learn more from you, maybe hire you for speaking engagements, keynote talk or whatever, how would they contact you, how would they work with you?
Right now you wanna go to briancartergroup.com. We’re gonna do is shift, I don’t know when people will listen to this but we’re eventually shifting to scienceofdigitalmarketing.com. Maybe by the time you get there, you might end up getting forwarded to that.
That’s cool. I have a scienceofseo.com.
Nice, we’re like brothers.
Yeah, that’s right. Brothers from another mother. Thank you so much, Brian and listeners. I’m your host Stephan Spencer signing off and we’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Facebook can be an incredibly powerful tool for outreach and advertising. Write down a few paragraphs detailing exactly why you think it is (or isn’t) the best tool for you.
☑ One of the keys to going viral is understanding your audience. Explore your audience in more depth than you usually would, and go beyond the obvious to find three interesting or quirky things about them. Come up with a few ideas of potential viral content for each of these things.
☑ Turn your ideas for potential viral content into reality, then run tests with the viral content you’ve created to see if your target audience responds to it.
☑ Explore what Facebook Audience Insights has to offer. It can give you information about your audience’s purchase history, Facebook usage, demographics, and much more to help you better tailor your ads.
☑ Play around with Giphy so you’ll be ready to use it when you need to be entertaining and engaging while chatting or interacting with contacts on Facebook
☑ Brian describes BuzzSumo as “the Google of highly shared content.” It can help you both in communicating with contacts and in designing and creating viral content of your own to share.
☑ When you’re targeting your advertising, you need to be specific; “savvy shoppers” won’t work, but “people who like North Face and went to grad school” will.
☑ Brian’s FIT process includes three steps: find, invent, test. He then cycles through these steps: find information about your target audience, invent tests in the form of ads and content, and then test the creations by seeing how the audience responds. Go through the process three times, refining your content each time.
☑ Creating a successful spinoff of a successful ad involves reusing the part that appealed to the audience. Break a successful ad down into various features, and try testing each of these features in a couple more ads to understand why the first one was successful.
☑ According to Brian, there are lots of improv people out there who are very creative and who don’t make a lot of money. Try hiring one of them to come up with outside-the-box ideas if your own creativity (or creative department) is coming up short.
About Brian Carter
Brian Carter is a popular speaker and internationally bestselling author. He’s consulted with companies of all sizes, from small businesses to NBC, Microsoft and Universal Studios. His hands-on business experience, cutting edge insights, and background in stand-up comedy culminate in a keynote speaker and trainer who leaves every audience not only entertained, but armed with powerful strategies and tactics.