Some people may think that social media is dead, that it doesn’t have the same reach. They’re wrong, and we’re here to know why. Catherine Kontos dives deep into marketing on social media with Ira Bowman. Ira is the owner of Bowman Digital Media, and in this episode, he teaches us the ins and outs of growing your reach on social media. Step up your game and level up your web presence with Ira’s insights.
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Step-up Your Social Media Game With Ira Bowman
Ira Bowman is the owner of Bowman Digital Media and ProjectHelpYouGrow. He strives to help people build their business visibility via social media management and website development. He is a professional photographer, videographer, and graphic artist with a flair for writing blogs and press releases. He balances it all out with his beautiful wife and eight children. Welcome to the show, Ira.
Thank you. You have me blushing until you tease me about the eight kids but I get that a lot.
You’re a busy guy.
The question I get is, “Are they all yours?” People are surprised. They’re like, “Did you adopt them or mixed families or whatever?” They’re all mine.
You’re a busy guy, that’s for sure. No doubt about it.
I have an active hashtag called #StriveForNine in my work. My wife hit me back with #EightIsEnough. It’s funny, we had a live podcast for a while called #ItIsEnough. My wife and I were on the show together.
That’s so funny. I love that. I’m going to follow that. I want to see what’s going on with that on social media. It’s not the first time we’ve met. The reason you’re here is that I love what you do and I find that you have great insights. You have a tremendous following on LinkedIn. What is it now?
As of this episode, it’s 197,000 something.
That’s insanely amazing. Congratulations on that.
Thank you. A lot of people talk about that one but on LinkedIn, I’m more proud that my ProjectHelpYouGrow audience is over 25,000 on the business page. The business page for Bowman Digital Media is over 4,000. I manage a lot of social media pages for other businesses. I have over 100,000 business page followers as well. That gets harder to do.
I’m not in the profession but I know that it is a lot more difficult because I see it with my own stuff. It’s so important that you do have those followers for somebody who will likely hire you because that helps.
It 100% helps. On LinkedIn specifically, the business page followings on LinkedIn directly correlate with your Google standings in the search engines. If you want to increase your position or your ranking in search engines, one of the ways that you can do it is to build your business page following on LinkedIn, not your personal following. That will help your company page be seen higher in the search engines. That’s why I pushed so hard not for the personal following but for business page following with clients.
How did you get started in all this? Tell me a bit about your story.
It was an accident. If you want to do another interview, I’ll hook you up with this guy. I joined LinkedIn in 2009. I was a business-to-business salesperson for twenty years. That led me into graphic design and all this other stuff. For social media, I joined LinkedIn as a research tool to learn more about prospects and clients, how to better serve them, and how to get them to pay attention to me. That was the idea but I wasn’t selling online. It was used as a research tool.
I would go and meet them in person or at networking events and build relationships. First and foremost, everybody needs to know that I am a true believer in relationship building. I always have been. That’s what makes me good at all this stuff. I treat people like people. Following the golden rule is something that I try to do. From that standpoint, I was doing well in sales until 2018. I was always one of the top salespeople for the company I worked for in the industry that I was in which was the print business. I had a reputation for being the Cold Call King. I would make a lot of cold calls. I would work eight hours a day doing cold calls. I would do all the paperwork and stuff after hours. It’s not an 8:00 to 5:00 or 9:00 to 5:00 job.
The reason I got into social media networking is that in 2018 in the Bay area of California, which is where I was living and selling, it was harder to get people to meet with you in person. It’s because of this phenomenon of they were reducing staff but they wouldn’t replace them. They would give people more responsibility at work, and so they have less free time.
When I started in sales back in the late ’90s and early 2000s, you could get people to commit to going to golf or going to lunch easily. All you had to do was to treat them and they’re like, “What day? What course? What time? I’ll be there.” In the 2010 era, it started to change where it was harder to get people to go to golf, but you could still pay for their lunch or dinner. By the time 2018 rolls around, nobody has time for that, and they certainly don’t want to meet you if they don’t know, like, and trust you. They’re not going to take that appointment because they don’t know you, “I’ve got too many other things to do.” Nobody wants to be sold anyways.
I had a conversation with a guy by the name of Mike O’Connor. You could consider him for the show. He’s great, funny, dynamic, and a little bit off the handle sometimes. I’m conservative and he’s up there the other way. He’s a barrel of monkeys. I love the guy. I do shows with him. Mike O’Connor is my running mate and we do a lot of stuff together. We connected in 2016 but I never talked to him. It was one of those connections that I don’t remember how you even connected, but we did.
Everybody’s the right people. If you are discriminating who you connect with, you’re being shortsighted.
He was on a video and he made the video into a post. In the video, he said, “If you’re smart, call me.” I was getting ready to commute home. I was in the Bay Area. My commute was 2.5 hours. I was like, “Let me take him up on his off.” I’ll call him even though we’ve never talked before because I’m good at sales and this is what I’ve always done. I’ve done it a certain way. He was challenging some of my ideas so I wanted to not argue with him but iron sharpens iron. You defend your standpoint, I’ll defend my standpoint, and we’ll figure it out.
It turns out he was right and I was wrong because on LinkedIn, as many people do, I was only connecting with people in my industry and in my geographical area which is the Bay Area. If you’re outside the area or you’re outside the industry, I didn’t connect with you because I didn’t know you. That’s how LinkedIn wanted it to be. What Mike taught me and what made this so important was I didn’t understand how LinkedIn worked with 1st, 2nd and 3rd-degree connections. That’s what that conversation opened up my mind to.
I grew up in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, even early ‘90s, depending on what age you consider me growing up. Remember those old 8-bit games? I’m thinking of Atari, Nintendo, and even Commodore 64. They used to have this thing where you would have a flashlight, a lantern, or sometimes it would be a campfire like the original Zelda and stuff like that. You would turn on that thing and you could see a certain number of squares. The rest of the board was dark, black or whatever. You couldn’t see it and there was stuff happening, but you had to move or get a bigger flashlight, fire or whatever. LinkedIn works that way and most people have no idea. They’re oblivious to that fact. Back in 2018, I was oblivious to that fact too, so don’t feel bad. The smartest of us still does not know how this thing works. Mike taught me how.
In that conversation, I had an epiphany. I’ve been doing this wrong. I’ve been using LinkedIn wrong and there’s a better way to use it. You need to understand how this analogy ties together. If you are not connected to somebody on LinkedIn in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level, you cannot see their content in your feed. You cannot search for hashtags and find them in the results. If you go to their profile and they have an open profile, you can. If you don’t know they exist and you don’t know they’re there, why would you? How would you? It’s hard to do.
Let’s say I have 30,000 connections on LinkedIn. That is the limit on LinkedIn, you can’t have more. If you have 30,001, you’ve got to drop somebody so you’re back down to 29,999. Now you can add it and you’re up to 30,000. That’s how it works. That’s what I did to add you to my network. Here’s why it’s important and here’s how it helped you and me. It helps both of us. You’re connected, first-level connections, to people that I’m not. They’re connected to people that I’m not. That somebody who’s connected to you and is not connected to me is now my second level. People that they’re connected to that I’m not connected to are now my third level.
It opened up the board more by adding. What you got for me are 30,000 people and were probably connected to 50 of the same people. You’ve got second-level connections to 29,950 people or so. How many of those people are they connected with and you’re not? Let’s say on average, 29,950 people are connected to 500 people that you’re not. It’s a lot more because I know who I’m connected to, but let’s say it’s for simple math. Do the math, 500 times 30,000 and see how many millions of people that is. That’s how much more exposure to the board you got just by connecting to me alone.
Not only can you see their content, but they can see your content. What does that tell me as a sales professional? If you want that target audience to see your stuff organically and they won’t connect with you directly, connect to somebody who’s connected to them. Now, they’re going to start to populate your stuff in their feed, especially the larger you get. I grew my network profile in 2018. I had this conversation with Mike in May of 2018. At the time, I had connections of 1,400 followers, and 120 people I was connected with didn’t follow me, which is bizarre but true.
Fast forward to the end of 2018, I’ve grown to 25,000 connections on LinkedIn. I maxed out at 30,000 in February of 2019. By the end of 2019, I had 100,000 followers and in 2022, I’m almost at 200,000. Here’s why it matters. Some people are not connected to me that are my prospects. The larger my network grows, when I post, they get views, comments, shares and engagements. The more that happens, the more I dominate people’s feeds.
As a sales rep or a business owner, which I am now, when I reach out to somebody and say, “I’d like to talk to you about this,” we may have never met, but I guarantee you that they’ve seen me before. They know my name. They don’t always recognize how they know my name but they’re like, “I got to take that call because somehow I know that name.” It opens doors that you would never have opened. It opened the door to me being a business owner. You talked about earlier in the show opening that I’ve been married for over 22 years in 2022 and we have eight kids.
You could probably imagine in California, especially in the Bay Area, my cost of living is high. I never thought that I would financially be able to own my own business. That’s the truth. I always felt like I would be good at it but I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t afford the ramp-up period. I couldn’t step out on my own and live on. What am I going to live on? I don’t believe in leveraging debt the way some people do. I probably need to grow in that area but I’m relatively debt-free. I have a great credit score because I own my vehicles. The only thing that I owe any money on is my home. I do have a mortgage but that’s it. I didn’t want to take out this big loan or whatever and live on that. That to me didn’t make business sense so I didn’t do it.
In 2020, I was laid off because of COVID. It was COVID-related. It wasn’t performance-based. The whole location was shut down. What did I do? I launched my business in June of 2020. In that first month, I was able to pay all my bills. I didn’t have to take out a single loan. I didn’t put anything on credit cards. With the money that I had and the money that I generated, I was able to pay all my bills, and then I had a little leftover. I started my business with $12,000 in the bank. That’s all I had, which would sustain my family for about two months. I had to start a business, get rolling and bring in serious revenue in the first two months. In business, that’s not a big window.
That’s a huge motivation and a little crazy. That’s high risk.
It shows you the confidence that I have in what I do. Fast forward to now, I now make over six figures a year in profit and my business has only been around for more than eighteen months. We broke six figures in sales in the first fiscal year.
Congratulations because that doesn’t happen too often in your first year. When you took that chance or that leap, what was the formula that made you take that leap? That’s a big leap.
It all comes back down to what we’re talking about. This all ties together. This is the reason I bring it up. This is what you’re going to hear on LinkedIn a lot, “I don’t want to just connect with anybody. I want to connect with ‘the right people.’” I’m going to tell you, everybody is the right person. If you are discriminating who you connect with, you’re being short-sighted. Even if you never talk to that person, they could never be a client of yours or you don’t think they can professionally help you, as long as you’re connected to somebody that you’re not connected to, they are a gateway, if nothing else.
I have a question. This is a little different from the rest of social media. Am I correct in saying that?
It’s unique. LinkedIn is the only one that works this way. It’s the one that everybody wants to use for business. They don’t understand how it works and they make a lot of faulty assumptions. That’s why they don’t get the reach that they want because you don’t take the time to learn. You need to know the algorithm and how it works. This is why people hire me. They hire me because I know how the algorithm works. I study it and we put out content in algorithm-friendly formats and that helps extend reach.
Going back to what gave me the confidence to do this, and what opened the door. When I had 150,000 people on LinkedIn, I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to make an ad. I didn’t buy any advertisements at all. My marketing budget was buying the things I needed to do the work. I had to upgrade my computer and buy some software. That was it.
Find ways to delegate things that you’re not as good at, and you’ll have a much higher quality of life.
As soon as I said, “I’m open for business,” I had people falling over themselves climbing through the front door going, “We want to talk to you about what it is that you do and how you can work for us,” because they want to reach. Neil Patel, who’s a smart guy, put out an email that I disagreed with publicly. I don’t usually do that with Neil Patel because he’s smarter than I am. He’s an SEO genius. What he said in his email that was faulty was, “Organic reach on social media is dead.”
You know that’s not true because I’ve shared behind the scenes with you some of the results that I’ve got in a consultation meeting that we did. I did a post for a company on LinkedIn that has 600 followers. We don’t boost posts. We don’t advertise or do anything like that. We’ll make the post and it goes where it goes. They had 21,000 views on that post in three days. That is what we call organic reach. It’s alive and well. You just have to know how to do it and how to get it. That’s the thing that most people are falling down on.
It’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s just that you don’t understand how it works. As soon as you can admit that to yourself and be a little bit humble, you go, “I think I know how social media works,” but you don’t. I’m going to tell you that I learned stuff about social media every single day. This is my profession. I’m learning about it and I’m studying more than you are. I don’t know anybody who studies it more than I do, and I’m still able to learn stuff about it every single day.
I find this is what a lot of people do, including myself. We do our research online and we’re taking information from people we don’t know 100%.
It’s not vetted information. There’s so much false information.
You create your social media plan based on that. You give it a try and it still doesn’t work, and then you do it again. How much money have you lost during this guessing game of what social media can do for you?
One of my pitches to people is the ROI. You can hire me to do the work for you and I’ll get it done for you. You might think, “I can do that myself.” I’ve had clients who are like, “I don’t know if I can afford this. I’m going to do it myself.” I’ll say, “The thing you’re forgetting is all the little things that I do and the nuances that I do are constantly changing.” They don’t understand how the algorithm works.
Here’s a good one, and most people don’t know this. This is something that flips the lid back on the conversation almost every single time I bring it up. Let’s say that I was running RetreatBoss.com‘s social media. This is a hypothetical idea. I know it’s a crazy idea. Let’s say that is to happen. Theoretically, you and I could create the same post. I could write it and send it to you. You could launch it from your business page on LinkedIn. I could do the same thing.
If we were to run those at the same time, you can’t because it’s one page but let’s say theoretically, we can launch them both, the one that you launched would get outperformed by the one I launched by a mile. You go, “It doesn’t make sense. We launched the same content from the same platform from the same business page. Why does that make sense?” Here’s why. There’s a personal algorithm magnifier that happens on business page posts. It’s the only platform I know that does it this way. It’s another thing that makes LinkedIn unique but it is true.
If I go to RetreatBoss.com’s LinkedIn page and make a post, it’s going to use part of the algorithm score is going to be my personal activity. That’s going to be what we call the splash rate. If you guys are familiar with that term, you understand what I mean. The initial inertia of that post will start out at a higher velocity because I posted instead of you. For the people who want to imitate me, I’ve got plenty of people who do that and it’s flattering. That’s fine but what they don’t have is my velocity. That’s where there’s ROI in that because I’ll get you there faster because I’m making the post and you’re not.
Here’s the other thing and most people don’t consider this. What are you good at? You’re good at event planning. That’s what Catherine Kontos is a genius at. Imagine that instead of wasting ten hours a week trying to figure out how to do this marketing stuff, you had ten extra hours to do what you’re good at. How much more money could you make if you had hired somebody to do the stuff that you’re not good at?
For example, if I’m in Digital Media, I’m not an accountant. I don’t want anything to do with my books. The first thing I did, even when I only had $12,000 in the bank, was hire myself a bookkeeper and an accountant. I knew if I wasted my time trying to do my books, not only would I do it wrong, it would drain my energy, I would constantly be living in fear of missing out. What am I missing? Is it the tax benefit? Did I classify this thing wrong? I didn’t pay a tax payment. There are so many things. That’s what can get you in jail. Focus on the things you’re good at. Source the things that you’re either not good at or don’t enjoy as a business owner. You’ll go way farther.
There are a few things that you said there. I teach either my clients or my students that you’re there to perform. You have a program if you’re a coach, a yoga teacher, a business leader or whatever you are. If you’re thinking about where John is and the chef is cooking right or the plan is going properly, then you’re hurting yourself because you’re not focused. That also hurts your guests or whoever is there and whatever you’re teaching. It’s an awful way to do things because you need to be focused on your program. It’s the same thing with you. You need to be focused and let them figure out the rest of the stuff so they could spend more time being amazing at what they do.
Even inside my own company, I have fourteen people that work for me. They are not full-time employees. I have a different employment model. I use 1099 labor. I hire business owners and they work for me on projects and stuff. One of the teams that I employ does SEO backlink building and PPC campaign management. I don’t do that work. My company does it for my clients but I have team members that do that.
It’s not that I can’t do it. I know how to do all of that. I’ve done all of them back when my company first started. I was a one-man band and that’s what I did. I had to do it all. What I learned quickly is that for scalability, personal satisfaction, and all other variety of reasons, it was better to hire people who were better at it than me. They enjoy it and that’s what they like to do. I don’t want to be in there associating words as keywords and negative words. This goes on and on, but that’s what they enjoy and what they’re good at.
Part of being successful in life, no matter what you do, is identifying things that you’re good at and that you enjoy, that you’re not good at and that stress you out. Try to build a strategy that allows you to maximize the things that you’re most efficient and good at, and that you enjoy. Hand off the things or find ways to delegate things that you’re not as good at. You’ll have a much higher quality of life even if you make a little less money because you have to spend a little bit extra to get that off your plate. I always say, “Don’t ever worry about my books. I don’t ever worry about my taxes because that’s being done by professionals.”
The other thing you pointed out was the fact that you do have such a strong social media following. When I am and when I was looking for people, whether for social media or any type of marketing, I would look at their numbers, they didn’t have anywhere near the followers that you had.
I get hit on by marketing companies. People are not reading profiles and looking. They are blindly sending out spam. I get hit on at least ten times a day by marketing companies saying that they’re going to help me increase my SEO and get better results on social media. I’m the guy that I’ll go and look for what I want to know. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk and you’re running VaynerMedia, and you’ve got four million followers, I’ll consider hiring you. There’s no shame in my game. If it makes financial sense, I’ll do it so I looked him out. If you’re contacting me and telling me that you’re going to increase my social media, and you got 2,000 followers on personal and you got 500 or 50 on your page, I’ll be like, “If you’re good at this, why don’t you do it for yourself?”
Under-promise and over-deliver every single time.
For me, that’s their selling point. You’re trying to sell me something that you don’t have yourself.
You know because you’ve seen my presentation, but I don’t have a canned presentation where I show people a PowerPoint or a fancy brochure. I get on the screen and share the screen. I go in real-time and look at some real results. I’ll show you what I do. I give examples of posts that we make, views, comments and all those activities. That’s for the social media stuff. For the SEO stuff, I like to use SEMrush. If you’re not familiar with that, get familiar. That’s a good one.
A lot of people use Neil Patel stuff. He’s whatever you want but I’ll take people and I’ll start showing them, “These are the pages that we do SEO for. This is the domain authority and website traffic they’ve got. This is what your competitors look like.” We get into the woods and the details a little bit on what we’re doing. The reason why I do it that way is that anybody can say whatever they want.
As a twenty-plus-year sales professional, I’m pretty good at selling so I can do that too. I stepped away from the canned presentation because I wanted the results to speak for themselves. For better or for worse, I want people to know what it is that we do. I got done doing a presentation on my services for a company called LexGo!. It is a platform where you can collaborate either in your office or you can host events and stuff. It’s a cool platform.
We’re talking about doing speed networking with Mike and Ira on this platform, LexGo! The guy goes, “How many people do you think you’ll get to show up to these meetings?” I said, “Probably 20 or 30.” The guy was expecting me to say 10,000 people. It’s hard to get people on LinkedIn to leave LinkedIn. The fact is there’s more to what I do than the actual event itself. We’re going to promote the heck out of the event, and that’s where you’re going to get a lot of ROI. We’re also going to invite people to try it when they’re there and it’ll grow like wildfire.
I said, “Over time, we’ll build this thing up to several hundred and that’s what you need.” He appreciated it. He told me, “I appreciate the candor here. You’re not trying to oversell this thing. You’re trying to give me realistic expectations.” I said, “My goal in life in everything I do is to underpromise and overdeliver every single time.” Trust me when I say that I take this stuff seriously and I’m pretty good at it. At the end of the day, I don’t want you to have expectations that it’s magic.
If you sign up for a PPC campaign with me, know that probably for the first month or two, you’re not going to see an ROI. We’re going to be doing a lot of research and development and getting the apparatus set to be extremely successful. In month two, you’re going to start to see some good results, but it’s still not probably going to be paying for itself yet. By month three, you’ll be floored by the growth. You’ll be like, “How did they do that all of the sudden?” We get so much research and so much learning. It’s a lot to do and it’s not a magic button. There’s no easy button.
We have a lot of the same core values. For me, it is very relational. I need to have relationships with the people I deal with. The difference I’ve seen throughout the years in entrepreneurship is that even if the contract ends or whatever, the question I get is, “Can we still be friends?” To me, that is hugely successful. I did something right in this relationship.
I get that question too because I have had clients that had to step away for whatever reason. My first client was one of my best friends on LinkedIn far before he became a client. He was concerned. He was like, “I can’t afford to pay you anymore because circumstances have changed. Is that going to affect our relationship?” The answer is, “Yes, it will affect the relationship, but not in the way that you’re thinking that we can’t be friends.”
Here is the thing, if I see a client call, I’ll take the call. I don’t care if it’s 3:00 AM because I’m awake and working. As a friend, I’m not going to respond to you as fast as a client. That’s the way I do it. Some people don’t have that. Everybody got a set-up in their life in a way. For me, it does affect the relationship but not negatively as far as, “I don’t like you as much,” or “I wouldn’t give you the shirt off my back.” I would do all those things.
As a client, when the client texts me, emails me, calls me or sends me a direct message, that goes immediately on my follow-up list for that day as soon as I can get back to them. With a friend, my mom or even my wife. My wife was teasing me the other day. I signed off the phone with my mom, the same way I signed off the phone with my wife. My wife had never heard me do that with my mom before. She’s like, “That’s how you say goodbye to me.” I made a boo-boo there.
Were you in the doghouse?
A little bit. That didn’t make me any brownie points. Life is real. You’d like to say it in an idealistic way. It won’t affect the relationship at all. For all intents and purposes, that’s what I mean but realistically, there is a difference because you have to prioritize your time in a call. I will get emergency calls from my clients for different things. Sometimes it’s something they need me to do, they made a faux pas, they’ve got a troll on social media, and they need some help dealing with it. Those kinds of things or getting gaslit and they don’t know how to respond. Their website is down, a video isn’t working, or they’ve got a meeting that they forgot to tell me about and they need some graphics created. It could be all kinds of different things. I have to prioritize that because they’re relying on my team to do that work for them.
Question for you. Shadowbanning, is that a real thing that social media does?
This is where knowing the algorithms makes a huge impact. Shadowbanning can happen for a variety of reasons, and every platform has different ways and reasons why they will do it. One of the most common things with shadowbanning is tagging people that are not responding to your post. Be careful who you tag and post comments to. Don’t just tag people. There’s a lady in the news who was cyberstalking Elon Musk. She got blocked on Twitter. She can no longer use Twitter. That’s not shadowbanning but the activities that she led her to the block got her shadowbanned for sure.
What is shadowbanning? Shadowbanning is when you make a post and do everything right and your post doesn’t get seen by anybody. This happens a lot on TikTok and stuff. On TikTok, girls will go a little too far with showing cleavage or whatever because they’re trying to get likes and stuff. It happens on Instagram too and they get shadowbanned. What does that mean? They’ll put out a video and they expect to be seen by 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 1 million people or whatever is their normal response rate and it gets seen by about 10 people or 100 people. They go, “That doesn’t make sense.” What happened is you got shadowbanned.
When you’re putting out content and you know what your normal response rates are, and you get dramatically less, it’s most likely a shadowban especially if you see it happening. You can reach out and ask why. That is something that you can do. You can reach out to the platform’s helpdesk and say, “I’ve been shadowbanned. Can you tell me what was going on so that I can stop doing it and can get out of the dog house? Can you let me out of the doghouse?” Sometimes acknowledging that you did something wrong and asking for some forgiveness on a platform will get you forgiven faster.
In LinkedIn, you’ll hear the expression LinkedIn Jail, where you get locked out of your account for a certain time. You can’t tag, make comments or add attachments for a certain time. There are all kinds of different punishments that they have. Most people don’t even know they’re being punished. They think the platform doesn’t work. It works but not for you because you’ve been censored. That’s a form of discipline that they’ll do before they’ll kick you out of your account.
Sometimes just acknowledging that you did something wrong and asking for some forgiveness on a platform will get you forgiven faster.
Pay attention to algorithms and understand the rules of the platforms themselves because they are different. What you can do on different platforms is different. For example, you can put pornography on Twitter if you want, and it doesn’t violate anything. You can find pornography on Twitter easily.
I did not know that.
Certain search terms will come back with porn pretty fast.
Do they allow that?
It’s all over the place, but you can’t do that on TikTok or Instagram. If you that on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, you’d be kicked off. Platforms have their rules. Every social media platform works in different ways. They’re not one-size-fits-all. They’re all custom and this is the thing that people don’t understand. Google works differently from the search engine, DuckDuckGo. Every platform is unique, whichever their platform of choice is, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever.
I like Instagram. My kids call it Insta. I had this funny poll for Instagram. Do you call it Instagram? Do you call it the gram? Do you call it Insta? Do you call it IG? I don’t call it anything. It’s just Instagram. I said, “I can’t remember calling it the gram.” The kids all laughed at me like I’m ancient. They’re like, “Dad, you’re so old. Nobody calls it the gram anymore.” I’m like, “Sure they do.” I put up a poll on LinkedIn and 2% of the respondents said the gram. Most people said Insta or IG. It depends on how you’re saying it or if you’re using it in a DM. Whatever your favorite platform is, at least learn the rules on that one. Know for sure that if you go to other spaces, a hashtag works differently on LinkedIn than it does on Facebook and Instagram. Hashtags don’t even work the same on Instagram and Facebook and that’s run by the same company, Meta.
There’s Facebook Jail, which a lot of times, it’s usually because you said something that they think is inappropriate or somebody reported you. On Instagram, I don’t know what you could do other than what you said, which is to get shadowbanned. There are words or hashtags that you can’t use or tag the wrong people.
Hate speech is the number one thing on Instagram. You can get reported and that’ll get you in trouble. Sharing copyrighted material without permission can get you in trouble. Those are some things that can get you in trouble. They have their short videos that you can do and you can use hate speech on that. Showing inappropriate skin can get you in trouble. Instagram is a fairly benign place.
In 1 or 2 words, I’ll name you the social media platform and tell me the number one way to get the best results, whether it be followers, engagement or whatever it is. Whatever pops in your head.
Before you ask it, for every single platform, 100% it’s to make comments.
We don’t have to go through each one.
You can but here’s the thing where most people fall down. They are so busy trying to be a content creator, they forget that nobody cares about your content yet because they don’t know, like and trust you. The number one thing that you have to do is make a lot of comments. You’ve got to build some social equity up, not by creating cool posts to do that. It’s showing that you’re interested in somebody other than yourself.
If I surveyed 100 people and asked them what their favorite topic is, nobody’s going to say themselves out loud because that sounds awful. In reality, on social media, everybody’s favorite topic is themselves. What do you want? When you make a post, you want people to see it, like it, comment on it or share it. That’s the stuff that you want. If you want to grow on TikTok, I can tell you some strategies for TikTok. Pick a niche. Make sure your bio talks about the niche. Make interesting content all about that niche. Don’t be a jack of all trades. Have a niche and focus your content on that.
How are you going to get discovered by all these people? You’re going to go on TikTok and get in everything I said. You’re going to make a bunch of comments. You’re going to like stuff and follow people. Spend time investing. The number one mistake that people make on social media is they think it’s, “I’m going to come here and become this influencer. I’m going to become this rockstar.” They have this big-time mentality but they don’t have the strategy to get them there. How did I grow on all my social media platforms? It’s very simple. I didn’t focus on myself.
That’s amazing advice. Thank you so much, Ira, for coming here and taking your time teaching us the insides of LinkedIn. I know there are a lot of people that have no idea about anything you said. They know it now so they could use their own strategy.
I hope they apply it. Let’s make this straight. Knowing things and doing them are completely different. If we all did what we knew, none of us would be overweight. We know that we need to workout. We know that we need to step away from the carbs, “Don’t eat that midnight snack.” There are all those things like, “I wouldn’t drink seven cups of coffee a day.” I know inherently what I need to do like brush my teeth twice a day. It’s all these things but we don’t do them. We know them but we don’t do them.
Social media is the same thing. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of thousands of people I’ve told over the last couple of years, “Make more comments than you do posts. Spend more time building other people up. Let them see you as a real person. Get over the facade and the veneer. Let them see your words.” We talked about this in the green room. I don’t need you to edit anything I say wrong because that’s part of my charm that people like me. I’m a real person.
If people will do that and invest in other folks, find the genre and the “right people,” and comment on their posts. That’s good. I encourage that. That’s where the “right people” come into play. As far as connecting people, you connect with everybody. Treat everybody like human beings. Everybody has something to offer you and you may not even know it.
Spend more time building other people up, let them see you as a real person. Get over the facade and the veneer. Let them see your worth.
There was a lady who did a TEDx Talk that was a grocery clerk bagger. She didn’t check you out. She bagged your groceries. She gave a TEDx Talk. There were probably twenty other people who gave TEDx Talks that day, but she was the one talk that everybody remembered because she was so interesting. She added unexpected value to this room of business rockstars. She added value because nobody expected the lady who bags groceries for her whole career to give insight. She talked about things like how to pack your bag for travel. She gave a formula that people can use to save space and all that stuff. It was unexpected.
Don’t look down on the janitor or whatever role you think is beneath you because those people have something for you. People from other cultures and other areas of the world are awake and they’re active online when you’re not. If you can get those people to like you and support your posts when you’re asleep, they don’t die. They stay awake. They keep them active and now you start having posts that go for days or weeks or months at a time, as opposed to that 4 to 6-hour window that most of you get. You make a post and four hours later, it’s dead. Whatever it got, that’s all it’s going to get. Why? It’s because you only connect with people who are in your time zone, who are only interested in the things you’re interested in. The stuff you post, they pretty much already know it.
You’re not giving somebody in marketing a marketing epiphany. If you’re dealing with a school teacher who’s in Africa, there are some marketing tips that she can incorporate like commenting more. There’s a tip for you guys. Make more comments. If you do that, she might think, “That’s fascinating. I never thought about that.” She’s going to be more ready to comment. She’s also going to do it most likely when you’re asleep. Now your post is getting supported by people on other sides of the world. There are all kinds of steps I could give you but that’s one.
It makes complete sense because before you even said this, my virtual assistants are across the world so I recognize the benefit of that. When I’m sleeping, they’re working. When I wake up, everything is done. It’s the same concept for social media.
With a VA it’s great too because if they’re across the world like the UAE or India have a perfect time zone because those are on the other side of the world. If you go through the globe, wherever is on the other side, that’s where you would want your VA auspiciously to be. They can make comments, post, and put out stuff for you while you’re not available. When you’re up, you can do it. Social media is a top-of-mind sport. Every single one is top of mind.
Shelf lives are different. This is one of those you could do with the shelf life and go through all the different platforms. That would be more interesting than how to build that. Twitter, for example, has a shorter shelf life. It’s seven minutes. The longevity of which is about seven minutes and it has to do with the way they handle their feed.
Pinterest has a shelf life of forever, the way they did the boards. The more active you’re trying to be on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube has got a longer shelf life, but some of these have short shelf lives. If you’ve got more activity happening around the clock, then you have a better chance of building a more responsive following faster.
I hope my readers are getting it too and are going to use that knowledge to help them get up their business.
I want you to apply it. I’m giving you tips. Now one shameless plug for me. If you’re reading this and you want to grow on LinkedIn, I’m doing a series and it’s going to be 100 videos by the time I’m done. I’ve got six or more in the can. Find me on TikTok, I’m @IraMBowman. Follow me because I’m putting out 2 to 3-minute videos and I tackle one thing at a time. For example, I did a video that showed people how to turn on the bell feature, which is brand new to LinkedIn. I taught people how to do that so that they can get notifications from their favorite content providers.
If you go like, “I want to see posts from Gary Vaynerchuk, Simon Sinek or whoever. I don’t normally see them in my feed but they’re posting every day,” you can ring that bell and it’ll put notifications to your LinkedIn feed when they post. It’s been on YouTube forever. It’s a YouTube feature that they’ve adopted on LinkedIn. You can do that. I’ll give you tips on all kinds of stuff like how to set up your cover photo, how to build a post, what to do with comments. I’m going to cover everything we’ve talked about and more.
Are your TikToks funny?
Full disclosure, I tried to be funny because there are a couple of different lanes on TikTok. There are the people that shake their tatas to get the raras. That’s not me. There’s a comedy which I’m funny but I’m not stand-up comedy. I’m a dad situation. The other thing that I can do and I’m pretty good at is the educational part. When I launched TikTok to see what this thing was all about, I started with humor and I was having fun with it. If you watch some of my old videos, you’ll be like, “That’s funny.” I got 10, 50 or 100 views, which wasn’t a lot. I’m building up my own personal TikTok brand right now with this new strategy.
If you ask me, “Ira, why is somebody from Gen X interested in TikTok?” Let me tell you some facts that might knock you out of your chair. The number one downloaded app in 2020 and 2021 was TikTok than any other app. It’s more than Amazon, Facebook or anything. In 2021, TikTok was the most visited website in the world. Think about who we’re talking about competing against Google, Amazon, YouTube. In the United States, 81% of adults use YouTube. It’s an interesting fact, but more people spent more time on TikTok. That’s the whole world, not just adults.
Demographics matter. When I’m doing stuff for my clients. They want to figure out who their target audience is and I’ll be where their audience is for them. TikTok has been ignored or dismissed by far too many people as a place for Millennials, Gen Zs, and that stuff. What you’ve got to understand is it’s a platform where you can sell a lot of products and build a huge following if you know what you’re doing. I’m not going to make TikTok on how to use TikTok. I’ll probably do that on YouTube. Follow me on TikTok to learn how to use LinkedIn. It’s free. You don’t have to pay anything. I’m going to give you a lot of free advice on TikTok if you follow me there.
Everybody should follow you everywhere. You are a great photographer. Your photography is shown all over Instagram. In TikTok, I would love to see those 2 to 3-minute videos because I learn a lot of stuff from TikTok. Some of it doesn’t work, but some of it does work. When it does, it’s amazing. For LinkedIn, you give great value and insight, and a lot of information. Even if you have ten minutes every day to watch one of your videos, whether it’s on YouTube, LinkedIn or wherever it is. I find that you do give values that people are looking forward to upscale their social media presence.
It is not easy to amass six digits of followers anywhere. One thing I will tell you is universally true. As a content creator, you have to get to that stratosphere and stay there because you can lose followers. I don’t know if people realize that people hit the unfollow button as fast, if not faster than following. To grow it, keep it, and maintain it, what’s universally true is there has to be a value-add. Whatever that value is can be different. We talked about the people on TikTok that are shaking tatas. I got that line from a movie. It’s a Dolly Parton spoof thing. They say, “Shake your tatas and raras.” I can’t remember the movie right now. There are those people. They’re doing thirst traps. That’s their thing. The value is they’re going to seduce you. I’m not going to seduce anybody. I have trouble seducing my wife. I’ve got to do the dishes.
There are funny people there. They’re funny and creative with the way they build their videos. It’s super cool. There’s that and I don’t do that either, even though I make videos for a living. It’s part of the services. The biggest thing that I do for my platforms across is I’m a teacher. I love to teach people. Whatever I learned that I can share, I make videos and show people how to do it.
For Mike O’Connor’s website, Service Professionals Network, I’m a sponsor of his business. You’ll find Bowman Digital Media stuff as a sponsor there. I make how-to videos for his website and he puts them on his homepage. You got 20,000 users on that website. They have listed members. He’s building a social media site. His goal is to get to a million people by the end of 2022. He’s going to get there because I’m helping run his marketing. There’s a big goal that we’ve got.
TikTok has been ignored or dismissed by far too many people as a place for the one-year olds and Gen Z’s. You need to understand is it’s a platform where you can sell a lot of products and build a huge following if you know what you’re doing.
We’re making videos. I make videos on how to write a blog, how to share your video, how to follow people or whatever. That’s what people like. I have that. It’s clear step by step. You watch TikTok videos, and sometimes stuff doesn’t work. That’s not what you want. You’ve got to give good advice that people want if you’re in this educational space. If you want to grow a large following of any kind in any system or platform, you’ve got to figure out what type of value you’re providing and continue to provide that, whatever it is.
That’s the number one takeaway from this interview with you. We all know it. Create value that people can use. Comment and engage with others. Create relationships. This is the main message that you’re sending out. That’s a great value. Follow Ira wherever you can find him. He does what he says so it’s not only talking the talk, he walks the walk, and social media followers agree because he wouldn’t have six-figure followers if he wasn’t that. Thank you so much for being here.
On multiple platforms too. That’s also the thing that makes me a little bit unique. I’m not a one-trick pony and you can do that. That’s why I know how to add value in comments. Those are the two main takeaways for your social media strategies. Figure out what type of value you can deliver and make sure you’re commenting as many times because, in social media, you need to be social. A lot of people forget that part of it. It’s like, “I’m here to be friendly or show myself friendly.” Everybody knows you want help with whatever you’re trying to do, but they don’t care until they care about you. Once they care about you, they’ll figure out ways to help you that you never even thought of.
Ira, thank you for coming here. This is my longest podcast ever but it’s well worth it. Thanks again. Have yourself a fantastic one with your beautiful wife and eight children. I know they’re going to keep you busy.
There’s been a couple of times they’ve been peeking in. My studio is in my home. They peek in once in a while trying to get me off of the computer. Thank you.
- ProjectHelpYouGrow – LinkedIn
- Bowman Digital Media – LinkedIn
- Mike O’Connor
- Neil Patel
- @IraBowman – TikTok
- YouTube – Ira Bowman
About Ira Bowman
Who is Ira Bowman? Happily married for 20 years, father of 8 children, owner of Bowman Digital Media and ProjectHelpYouGrow. Ira strives to help people build their business visibility via social media management and website development. He is a professional photographer, videographer, and graphic artist with a flare for writing blogs and press releases. At the core, Ira is trying to make the world a better place, be kind to all and give more than he takes each and every day.