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I Spent $20,000 Testing Social Media Strategies, Here’s What I Learned…

Do you want your social media to do more than just get “likes?”

If you’re wishing your social media was a 24/7 marketing director that attracts, prospects, and closes deals for you, then keep reading because this is going to be a masterclass in social selling.

I don’t use social media for fun. If I want to have fun, I play video games. If I want to get visitors, leads, and sales, I use social media.

However, you’ll be surprised to hear I’ve never had more than 100,000 followers. Yet my business(es) have generated millions of dollars. In fact, the first year I crossed the million dollar line (2013) I only had about 5,000ish followers.

Which leads me into my first lesson of this article…

Small Profiles, Big Paychecks?

Tim Ferriss interviewed a man named Kevin Kelly who is best known for his article “1,000 True Fans.

Kevin famously opens his essay with these words…

“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.”

The number of your followers doesn’t change your ability to get more leads or sales. What does matter is whether those followers a.) trust you and b.) have the means as well as the desire to buy what you’re selling.

It’s that simple.

Read it again.

What matters is that your followers trust you and have the means to purchase from you.

For example, let’s pretend we have a magic wand that gets us whatever followers we want. On one profile I wave the magic wand and I get 1,000,000 followers that all love motivational quotes and have no clue who you are personally. Then on the next profile, I wave the magic wand again and it’s 1,000 of the top investors in the world who have all been personally referred to your profile.

Now, if I’m trying to raise money for a new tech start up which of those profiles am I more likely to be successful with? Obviously, the 1,000 investors who were referred.

This is, in a nutshell, what I’ve done to make my own profile so lucrative. I didn’t try to collect a mass of followers like Gary Vee, all respect to that game, he’s done amazing things. I’m not him though and frankly, I do not want that life. He himself even says his lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

What I did is collect a very specific following, that trusts me, has the money to buy from me, and desires to buy from me. Which is what I ultimately want to show you how to do by the end of the article.

But first, let’s look at what I’ve tried.

What worked and didn’t work.

I Tried Follow For Follow & Feed Bombing

Surely, if you’ve read any blog posts or watch any Youtube’s about growing a social media following you’ve heard of these tactics.

The first one you follow tons of other profiles hoping they’ll follow you back. You can even increase your likelihood of a follow back by looking for profiles that follow back. I’m not going to go into how because this strategy just sucks.

Don’t do it.

It’s a great way to look like you have a ton of followers, but they don’t give a crap about you. They follow you for the follow, a blip is added to your follower count, and then it ends. They don’t like your posts, they don’t comment, they don’t share, and they definitely definitely don’t buy.

Follow for follow is fake followers.

The number on the profile page goes up, but the numbers in the bank account do not.

Feed bombing kind of works, but it’s a MASSIVE grind. Feed bombing is when someone finds your page, goes and likes your last 9 posts, and then follows you. Which creates this giant wall of notifications from them and sometimes makes you wonder who they are. So you visit their profile and maybe follow them back.

I’ve gotten legit followers from this. I kind of hate telling you this works, because I know 10% of you are going to stop there and I really wish you wouldn’t. You’re missing the way way better strategy.

The problem with feed bombing is a.) do it too much and you can get your account banned b.) it takes a ton of time, only sort of works, and still doesn’t guarantee any more sales. It’s like trading dollars for dimes. Sure it works, but how much do really want to do that?

Great strategy for a brand new profile and the person has zero budget, and tons of time. Great for getting your first 1,000ish followers and getting off the ground. You’ll want to get off this hamster wheel quickly before you get arthritis from clicking your mouse so many times per day lol.

I Hired a Guy Who Uses Follow Bots

This. Was. Stupid.

Do not do this! If anyone from IG ever reads this, I’m sorry, I’ll never do this again, I’m telling others not to do it either. It’s definitely definitely against terms of service.

But I tried it anyway because… well… because it’s not illegal and if it did work the ROI would have been HUGE. The risk o reward ratio was there, but ultimately there was no reward.

I quickly got 1,000 followers, then told the guy to pause while I “tested” them. Sure enough, when I posted I got very few comments, a couple dozen likes, and no leads or sales. I tried for a solid week, they were mildly more engaged than follow for follow, but that’s not saying much.

I Gave Up On Quick Fixes & Hired a Coach

At this point I realized the gimmicks were clearly never going to work. I needed a real strategy for getting true followers that wanted to follow me. Not bribed or lured or tricked, but actually gave a crap about what I had to say.

So I did what many of you have probably done, I subscribed to a ton of YouTube channels and paid a few grand for a “coach.”

I hired Kate Buck Jr, who is well known in the online marketing space. She runs KBJOnline.com and is the head instructor for years over at SocialMediaPro.com.

She definitely pointed me in the right direction. Kate taught me about “hashtag ladder strategy” and good profile design. These I’ll say became the bedrock of the strategy I use today.

Shout out to Vanessa Lau and HeyDominick also. They are the only two YT channels I stayed subbed too because all the other ones just weren’t delivering tactics that work. Robert Benjamin was dope, but it felt like his strategies changed weekly. Vanessa & Dominick resonated and I had huge success with their strategies.

I built @FaithFunnels on their strategies which now has over 20,000 followers. I don’t sell on that profile as it’s just a personal passion project, but their strategies work great. Very real followers, tons of engagement, rank well for hashtags, and have great convo’s in the DM’s. Even made a few new friends that I bible study with.

I’ve met people from all over the world on that profile and plan to do big things with it this year as I figure out what kind of ministry I feel called too.

What Is Hashtag Ladder Strategy?

Here’s an excerpt from my fave Instagram research tool Flick.tech… (they call it the staircase method)

“The ‘staircase’ method is an effective way to research Instagram hashtags to increase your reach, engagement and following on Instagram, it’s also the number one Instagram hashtag strategy for both beginners and experts.

We see a lot of users use this strategy as a base, and tweak it for what works best for their Instagram accounts.

The name of the technique is a fairly accurate representation of how it works. Let’s look at the basic ‘rules’:

  • Use 10 hashtags that are 30% below your Average Likes (Set 1)
  • Use 10 hashtags that are similar to your Average Likes (Set 2)
  • Use 10 hashtags that are 30% and above your Average Likes (Set 3)

You simply use clusters of hashtags as a step to boost yourself onto the next cluster of hashtags.”

I Paid $5,000+ On Social Media Ads

I tried boosted posts, I tried promoting my page, I tried meme ads.

They all kinda sorta worked, but didn’t really take off.

What worked like gangbusters though, and I do this every single week now, is promoting carousel posts. These kinds of posts allow you to give a great experience to new eyeballs. Think of an article like “10 Ways To Grow Bigger Tomatoes” but broken down into 10 images that you can swipe through.

It’s like a listicle, but the social media version.

With the last image being a call to action to basically like, subscribe, and comment.

I like to have a new one of these every week, at least one a month, and put $5-$10/day behind them. For awhile there I was putting $50-$100/day behind them and they really really work. I’ve slowed down now because I have plenty of followers now.

If you’re following along, then by now you are realizing my system is pretty much hashtag ladder strategy on the daily and promoted carousel posts on the weekly. That’s my growth plan in a nutshell.

I Paid $13,000 To Buy a Profile

The profile had 26,000ish followers already.

That’s $0.50 per follower.

If you know how to get real followers for cheaper than that, I’ll hire you for coaching. The engagement has been great. However, I’ve not yet sold them anything so I can’t tell you it’s profitable yet or not.

Obviously, this is not a strategy for newbies, but for a few of you big hitters reading this, it’s very efficient. What I did was just look for a profile that already had all the qualities I wished for in a niche.

Had a great looking profile, had lots of followers, had good engagement, quality comments, and consistent posting schedule. By all accounts this was a real bonafide genuine audience that I got to takeover without doing all of the leg work.

This is great for any e-commerce websites that already have established products and sales processes. You get to skip all the hard work of massing followers and jump right to selling. You can do this with Youtube channels, Facebook pages, TikTok accounts, IG profiles, and more.

Some networks are against it so don’t go tooting the horn about it, but it’s not illegal. It’s the modern day equivalent of buying real estate. Except its digital real estate.

Making $100,000 From a Single Post

I know…

You don’t believe me.

I’m happy to provide proof if you ask me in a DM. I’m not going to post the screenshot here for it to be stolen and used on every pretend guru’s sales page as their own proof.

You can check my FB profile for proof if you do some searches on my wall. Search “Rhonda Rousey” or “Honeypot” on my wall and you’ll see for yourself. This was not a fluke either as I’ve done it over and over again. Maybe not $100k each time, but easily $20k - $50k each time.

Once it worked so well I got my account frozen for 24 hours, because I was getting too many comments too fast. I didn’t even know that was a thing you could get in trouble for lol.

How did I do it?

It’s a very simple 3 step process.

The first step is you make a post announcing a new program you are beta testing and looking for 10 - 100 people who want to get in on it. Make it sound sexy, but also don’t lie. Then require that they leave a comment to get access and you’ll DM the deets.

This works so well because the algorithm shows my post to all the friends of whoever comments. So as long as my announcement offer is half way good, I’m going to get 50 - 100 comments which is going to expose me to tens of thousands of others.

Because my post is getting lots of comments it creates this social proof effect that makes more people comment and shows to their friends and more people comment etc etc etc.

Essentially I’m just looking for 100 comments to get me started.

I’ve gotten well over 600 on a few of them.

Then when I DM them the details, I first ask them a few qualifying questions. These questions are designed to first qualify them, but also get them selling me on why they should be in the beta group. They are selling me, not me selling them.

Finally, to all of them that qualify I just explain the deal to them but I don’t give them the price. I just ask them to tell me I they are in or out first. Which gets them to subconsciously close themselves. In the sales world they call this a “trial close.”

Then after they’ve told me they are in, I give them a link to the order form. At this point they have said they want in 3 times so they are very very likely to finish the order. Usually I sell a $2,000 - $5,000 service or training, so 10 - 30 sales is all I really need. With 100 comments it’s not hard to get 20-30 of them to buy.

Circling back to the main lesson in the beginning of this article…

Notice how I only need 100 comments for this sales strategy to work. This proves that you do not need a massive following to have a profitable profile.

Small profiles, really can bring in big paychecks.

If you need help, give us a holler at support@adskills.com.

See you next week.

Justin Brooke,
Founder of
AdSkills.com

P.S. I’d also love to tell you how I got 10,000 leads a day using short polls and Google ads. It’s a masterclass I taught inside AdSkills.com which is the training company I founded. You can also get 90% off right now if you use the code MARJOIN90 .

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