In four months I’ve reached 10,000 followers and 1,000,000 video views on my urban exploration Facebook page Urbanist. Running it on my own, all organic, with minimum gear. How did I do it? I’ve distilled my learnings into five simple steps that you can also use to grow your own pages this fast.
Urbanist was founded on September 5th, 2016. My idea was simple. To combine my love for urban exploration with my passion for filmmaking. Luckily Facebook Live made a big splash this year and unlocked the power of broadcasting to the masses. This brings us to the first step.
1. Use Facebook Live
Live streaming in general is an exciting new medium that is already shifting how we consume online media. Facebook Live is by far the best live streaming platform. Why? Because you can build an engaged audience, increase brand awareness, and make a video at the same time! For an in-depth breakdown on the benefits of Facebook Live over other platforms, you can check out my How To Crush It on Facebook Live post.
2. Reply to Every Single Comment
I learned this pro-tip from Gary Vaynerchuk, who often replies to tweets and YouTube comments from his millions of fans. On Urbanist I’ve replied to every single comment. It’s time-consuming, but it has paid in dividends. Now whenever I ask my followers to submit a photo or a story, I get tons of responses. People engage with pages where they feel like they know the person who makes the content.
A simple reply greatly increases the chances of that person engaging with your content in the future. Nowadays attention is a highly prized commodity. There are millions of pieces of content that people can consume instead of yours. Thank them for their valued attention they have given you. Give them a reason to engage.
If you want engagement from your followers, then you must engage with your followers.
3. Distribute Your Content: Coordinate for Shares
The biggest advantage of Facebook — as opposed to YouTube or Instagram — is that it’s already the biggest distribution platform on earth! You have access to a potential of 1.7B people, along with the multitude of pages with large followings.
I started from scratch in a platform that sucks when it comes to discovering new content. So I cold-messaged large media pages and asked them to share my live videos. Many of them actually said yes! Including Atlas Obscura, ShowTickets (formally NewYork.com), CityLab, Untapped Cities, and Central Park. Along with having many wonderful guests who have also shared.
But you can’t do this unless you…
4. Provide Value
Urbanist is providing the stories, secrets, and pro-tips of cities around the world. This is going to get more valuable as people travel more often and consume more live-streams.
For major brands I provide them with live video content which their audience enjoys — getting as high as 1K comments on the shares of my posts. My highly engaged audience is also a great place for plugging their site, product, or event.
Think about what’s your niche and how you can provide maximum value to people, influencers, and brands.
But how can we make valuable content easier to distribute…
5. Utilize the Power of the Brand
When I say “I produce live videos for Urbanist”, what do you assume? You’d probably assume that Urbanist is an established media company that is running a large operation. In reality, it’s just me with good design skills and sticking a camera to my face.
Of course I’m using a brand for a slew of other reasons. Namely to one day expand to a few other people to be on my team. My goal is to have multiple live-streams per day, with a few other people exploring other cities in their own unique way.
Brands tend to trust other brands much more than pages of individuals. That’s the power of branding. It’s a shortcut in gaining the trust of organizations much larger than yourself. Unless you’re a celebrity or established influencer, then take advantage of the access that good branding can grant you.
What does the future hold for Urbanist? My aim is to live stream walks in cities across the world. I’m starting in NYC because it’s my hometown, but there’s so much out there to explore and the audience for travel media continues to grow.
I have to remind myself that — while it’s amazing to get tens of thousands of views from people across the world — social media strategy is secondary to making content that I’m passionate about. You can have the best social media strategy in the world but if your content sucks then you’ll end up going nowhere or you’ll have a huge brand which no one can remember its name. The biggest benefit of an effective social media strategy is that it psychologically motivates you and your team to keep creating, but it should by no means dictate the content that you create. Make content that you’re proud of first and foremost, then think about the best way to deliver it to the masses.
I hope these learnings help! If you have any questions or would like me to elaborate on any point, feel free to chime in the comments.