Bodyguards, supercars, models, playboy mansions, helicopters, private jets, and “baller” lifestyles. Sound like a movie—or the dream of every 16-year-old teenage male? Think again. These are part of the daily social media feeds from the biggest players on the planet.
We sat down with three social superstars: investor and entrepreneurship guru Tai Lopez (who has built an eight-figure online empire); international sales expert and New York Times bestselling author Grant Cardone (who has built a nine-figure real estate empire); and “supercar” lifestyle vlogger Mr JWW (who has built a successful apparel company and owns cars we are jealous of).
Here is how they built mega social media followings—fast.
What was the top strategy you used for building followers quick on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat?
Tai Lopez (TL): When marketing, I use the PVP Formula: product, virality and paid. As the billionaire Charlie Munger said, “You can’t polish a turd.” You first have to market a quality product. (Apple is a titan company because the iPhone is a remarkable device.)
For virality, you have to employ controversy, humor and drama in your marketing. (There’s a good book about it.) Look at the Kardashians and Justin Bieber: they evoke strong emotions in people and go viral. Once you have a hit product that’s going viral, invest in paid boosting. You’re not buying your way into the market; you’re just boosting existing momentum.
You need a different strategy for each social channel. Twitter is high-frequency posting. Snapchat is like a TV show. Instagram is a museum showcase of your highlights. YouTube allows for long-form content. And Facebook is a hybrid of them all. Apply the PVP formula in the proper format and frequency for each channel and you’ll get huge results.
Grant Cardone (GC): I didn’t try to build my following fast; it felt like forever to get my first 100 followers. But I willingly posted ALL of my content, freely and frequently. My people said, “Grant, you’re giving away too much.” They didn’t realize how much content I had; it allows me to post up to 50 Snapchats, 100 Tweets, 18 Facebook posts and four Instagram posts every single day on multiple topics to particular audiences.
Mr. JWW (JW): Content can be tricky, so you have to be passionate about what you’re doing—it’s scary how anything forced or dishonest is amplified through the camera. My YouTube and Instagram subscribers exploded when I evolved my production quality. Most YouTube content is pretty amateur. It sounds simple, but a little investment in image and sound quality goes a long way to elevating your content to high-end amateur quality. YouTube has evolved into a serious contender for entertainment alongside commercial TV. Competition has grown and viewers expect higher quality content.
What’s your strategy for continuing to grow followers? Has it changed since the early days when you were first building it up?
TL: Rather than changing too much, I master the fundamentals. Because of the results I’ve seen, I devote more marketing budget to social media—but my strategy hasn’t changed since the early days. It’s like basketball: what works, works. You put the ball in the basket and play defense. Although little nuances continually arise, a great 1970s basketball team would compete fine today. Likewise, a great 1970s marketing strategy would work well today. Look at some of the David Ogilvy marketing campaigns.
GC: I post content frequently. Every day I deliver something on money, investing, sales, marketing, promotion, branding, negotiating, closing the sale, follow up, motivation, phone sales, cold calls, network marketing, startups and real estate investing.
I constantly look to dominate new platforms. For example, my employees said, “Grant, your customers aren’t on Snapchat.” I replied, “If people are there, they’re my customers.” I show my millions of followers the “behind-the-scenes” of my life. This can include my marriage, life as a father, my spirituality, or going to monster events like the World Series or a Conor McGregor fight.
JW: I had zero subscribers when posting early videos; they were just “test content.” I had never uploaded a YouTube video and I wanted to know what the platform was about before committing. Go back to the beginning of my channel and there’s no talking or face on camera, just really short clips compared to what I do now.
What’s something that saved you time when building your following?
TL: The billionaire Charlie Munger says, “Be a perpetual learning machine.” I read a lot and try to learn from everybody—ranging from the Kardashians to people you’ve never heard of. Social media is cool because you can study what’s clearly winning. It’s not a confidential business plan. It’s apparent what a person attracting a trillion likes does differently to someone scraping five likes.
Social media is cool because you can study what’s clearly winning. — Tai Lopez
GC: For four years, I handled all my social myself. No one posted anything without my approval. That was good and bad. I learned how it worked, but not delegating made me go slower than necessary. Today, two of my people facilitate posts, set up automation, help me with graphics, do branding and expand posts into articles—but I’m still the creator and responder. So, ask me a question on Snapchat, and it’s me who answers. (Every day I answer about 400 Snapchats and tweets.)
What kind of content gets the most engagement?
TL: Aspirational lifestyle stuff gets a lot of engagement—Lamborghinis, jets, helicopters, big houses. But “rants” about “what’s wrong with the system” get the most engagement.
GC: I schedule a daily live stream—no exception. I go wide to continually expand my audience. Monday is real estate. Tuesday a book review. Wednesday is on marriage and business. Thursday is sales, startups and young entrepreneurs. Friday is finance and money. Saturday and Sunday are Ask Me Anything. While everyone seems to avoid politics, I picked up more Twitter followers during the 2016 U.S. presidential election because of my strong stance.
What was your biggest social media mistake?
TL: Going too slow. No one was teaching this stuff five years ago. Not many people know how to do social media well, really. Plenty of people write books and articles, but it’s harder to do than teach.
GC: I’ve made so many mistakes—underestimating how powerful the platforms are; not going bigger, faster, sooner; not posting more frequently than I already do; not subtitling; not getting on Snapchat from the get-go.
My biggest mistake was getting too fond of one platform. I’d get lazy in not taking the time to figure out the tone, personality and needs of each platform. I’ve not transcribed my content in multiple languages. I don’t spend enough on boosting Facebook ads.
Tai, your Snapchat is like a soap opera, usually involving models, cars, and crazy experiences. Can you tell us about the strategy behind it?
TL: Forget the word, “social.” The operative word is “media.” Social is a new trend. The old trend has been going for over a century. Humans are addicted to mass media. It started as books, evolved into radio, movies with no talking, then movies with talking. Soon it’ll be virtual reality. To build great media with an engaged audience, pretend you’re making a blockbuster show.
My social media goes viral because it’s authentic. People once thought that I rented fast cars and a one-time set to make it look like I lived in a cool place. Snapchat beautifully exposes the truth. You can’t fake days, months and years of daily Snapchat content. Do social media longer and people feel part of your life. As people become addicted to your social media, you have permission to occasionally blend in some marketing of your products. Most people just push products on social media—that’s a real mistake because they don’t have the engagement.