You might be living under the metaphorical rock if you aren't aware, at least at a cursory level, that social media has changed--and continues to change--the game.
Almost every corner of the globe can instantaneously communicate with any other corner through a tweet, snap, status update, posted image, like, video share--the list goes on.
The most successful business strategies acknowledge the significance of this ever-growing global trend, but across the digital landscape of social media, it's not the mainstream business brands that stand out the most.
I'm talking about the social media influencers. Enticing and entertaining singletons, these social media mammoths harness their wit, personality, and internet savvy to amass digital cult followings of hundreds of thousands--and, in some cases, millions--of people.
So what's it like being one of these social media giants? And how does anyone build a massive following of loyal viewers without spending a dime on advertising?
I recently stumbled upon an opportunity to find out when I connected with Instagram meme-extraordinaire George Resch, better known by his web celeb pen name "Tank Sinatra" (Instagram: @tank.sinatra).
Here's some of what Resch and I talked about:
Nolan: Last I checked, you had something in the ballpark of 760,000 Instagram followers and 31,000 Facebook followers. I'm assuming this didn't happen overnight. How did you get there?
Resch: My growth can be attributed to three things: authenticity, quality, and exposure, in that order. At first I thought exposure was the most important thing, but then I realized: I can get reposted by bigger accounts all day and night, but if my content sucks, nobody is going to click that follow button.
That said, I discovered firsthand that if I truly want to build a great following, it isn't just a matter of having quality content--it's a matter of building an authentic brand. And in order to do that, I have to create, not curate, content that conveys my personality.
I think genuine social media success has more to do with exclusivity. Like if you like my material, you have to follow me, because you won't see it anywhere else. I'm pulling from my own sense of humor, and only I have access to that.
Doesn't constantly creating your own content get tiring? How do you find the creative energy?
It doesn't get tiring at all. It's actually quite the opposite. It's energizing. Any creative endeavor done for the right reason, I think, is going to have that effect.
If you're doing it solely for fame or money or business development, it might become a burden, but I do it because I love it; the authentic approach makes it an extension of my identity, my brand.
And for my own sanity, I think I have to do it--I might go crazy if I didn't have this creative outlet.
Do you feel a connection with your followers?
I definitely feel a connection with my followers. It still amazes me to this day that people come to my page, scroll around, and think, "I want to see more of what this guy has to say" or "I don't want to miss anything this guy posts."
Over the past year or so I've been getting recognized more and more out in public, and the people who come up to me are always very cool and nice.
Again, my content is my content, so you're getting to know the inner workings of my brain, sometimes better than close friends and family. I am who I am, off the internet, on the internet, under stress, relaxed, whatever. I pride myself on that.
I used to think predictability was boring, but I revel in it now. I want people to be able to trust that what you see is what you get.
Having roughly 800,000 social media followers gives you pretty substantial reach--how do you approach this kind of influence potential?
I don't do a ton of ads on my Instagram. I feel that it alienates followers.
Advertising is such an interruption to people. They came here for a good time, not to be told to go buy something. Unless the product or service really fits with my page, I'm not interested in doing promos.
But I do have my own products I'm going to be launching very soon. The main thing is my book Happy Is the New Rich. It's a collection of about 200 thoughts that I wrote down over the first 10 years of my recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.
I was trying to figure out how to live a life that was worth living, and my brain was in overdrive. I used humor to cope with a lot of life's biggest problems.
I'm hoping that I can serve the people who follow me by offering them everything I've learned about living life in one easy-to-digest package, distilled completely down.
What's the one thing you'd tell entrepreneurs, business owners, etc., who are trying to build their social media influence?
My advice would just be to put out content that is authentic to who you are and interact with your audience. It's the only way to sustainability.