It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Facebook when it comes to so-called “social media marketing.” I'm even less of a fan of those who think of it as a “website substitute.”
That said, Facebook groups are popular for their apparent ease of use. But is it a good idea to build a valuable business community on someone else's property?
Today we'll tackle that issue based on a listener question. Plus, I answer another question about the credible use of affiliate offers as both a revenue source and valuable market research, and discuss an online/offline hybrid marketing strategy for real estate agents.
The Show Notes
The Tyranny of Facebook
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Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one — and that’s putting it gently. If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, Unemployable is the place to get actionable advice for growing your business, improving your processes, and enjoying greater freedom day to day. To get the full experience, register at no charge at Unemployable.com. You’ll get access to upcoming webinars and more. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Hey there, Everyone, welcome to Episode 22 of the show – time flies. I'm Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, a nine-time entrepreneur who helps freelancers and creative entrepreneurs take it to the next level. And I'm definitely, without a doubt, unemployable.
Hey there, if you're listening to this on the release date, it's my birthday. Hopefully I'm sitting on or near a beach and not in front of a microphone. That's the plan at least. Tomorrow, which is October 1st, is Webinar 2 from Unemployable with Chris Ducker, and this one is on How to Attract and Work with the Right Talent, No Matter Where They're Located.
Again, that's October 1, 2015. This is at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. A little nonstandard timing there, but Mr. Ducker is in the Philippines, so it's first thing in the morning for him. It's the end of the day for me, but hopefully it works out for you. If you don't get registered in time to see it live or you can't make it, we will do our best obviously to get a replay for you.
If you have not clicked the one button that says, “Yes, I am going,” this webinar is for Unemployable members only. That's a free membership. So you go and register at Unemployable.com. You'll go to the member area, you'll see the webinar description, there'll be a big blue button that says, “Click this” and that's it. You'll be registered to attend live. Like I said, if you can't make it, we will get a replay for you. But go ahead and register anyway for your free membership to get the existing webinars plus ones we have coming up.
All right, we're at the end of September and we've just run through an amazing series of expert interviews. We've heard from Dan Pink and Seth Godin, Tara Gentile and Paul Jarvis, Michael Port, Kathleen Shannon. I really enjoyed that. I hope you did as well. A lot of smart people with a lot of great advice.
So, going forward, I think we're going to mix things up between solo shows of just me. Maybe I'll bring in a co-host, I'm not sure, we're thinking about that. And then we'll mix in some of those expert interviews. And then also, don't forget about our Q&A shows. Frankly, the questions have been piling up over the last month, so I'm going to try to address some of those today.
If you have a question that you would like to hear answered on the show, again, that is a benefit for free Unemployable members only. But once you register, you will see in the member area a link to ask a question with our recording software. Or if you're already a member, go directly to unemployable.com/ask, and you will find the software there. I do listen to every question. I can’t always answer every question, but I'll do my best to get yours up on the air.
So, speaking of questions, I'm going to try to tackle three today since we have a little bit of a backlog of questions.
Are Facebook Groups a Good Idea?
Brian Clark: The first question we're going to hear is from a gentlemen in the UK named Russell James. And he has a question about Facebook groups. Let's listen in.
Russell James: Hi Brian, how are you doing? It's Russell James here in the UK, London Town, to be specific. My business is The Raw Chef, so we have an online training academy, helping people learn how to make raw food for themselves and their families. And I occasionally do a live class here in London and I do a little bit of traveling as well, teaching raw food and have a great time doing it.
My question is in regards to Facebook. Now, I know you've not been the biggest fan of Facebook and you quite rightly, in my opinion, say not to build your business on somebody else's platform, build it on your own real estate. Have your own platform, your own list and all that good stuff. And I hear other people saying that as well, but they seem to ignore it when it comes to Facebook groups.
It seems that Facebook groups are the thing to do now, whether it's a free Facebook group to build a relationship and hopefully have people become customers. Or to build a Facebook group for people that are already customers of a certain product and to offer support for that product, that online course through a Facebook group.
Do you think that's a good idea? It doesn't seem like there's much alternative really. If you really want to have an interactive group, it feels like forums aren't as interactive as Facebook. And of course, everyone's already on Facebook. So, it seems like it's working and it gets good engagement. But there's just something, I feel a resistance to building a Facebook group. And a forum, as I said, doesn't seem to cut it.
So, what do you think about that? And might there be something like a Facebook group style interaction that might be added to Rainmaker. Anyway, thank you so much for listening and thank you for the Unemployable Podcast and everything you do at Unemployable and in Copyblogger. I'm really, really enjoying it and getting a ton of value out of it. Thank you.
Brian Clark: All right, Russell, first of all, thank you for the question and it's a good one. It's interesting, because, yes, you acknowledged that I am not the biggest fan of Facebook. I've been warning people about the power and the potential for disaster that Facebook represents to online publishers and marketers since 2007.
You can literally find a post on Copyblogger with Zuckerberg’s face there, basically saying, “Don't trust this guy. Don't build on his land. Your interests are not the same as his interest.” Of course, over the years, Mr. Zuckerberg has been kind enough to prove me right over and over and over and over again. But that was kind of an easy call.
First of all, Facebook is not a technology platform for us to build on. It is a social network and now, since they've changed the rules and you can't even reach the audience that you originally built without paying, you have to think about Facebook as an advertising platform. And it's a really good one, frankly. As long as you understand what it is and you have no illusions or delusions that this is a place to build essential components of your platform — no, it's a place to show messages and content to people and then bring them back somewhere where you own and control.
That said, Facebook groups, I've been looking at it, because I do see a lot of people, even with paid offerings, using a Facebook group for the community aspect of it. And I was even getting to the point where I was like, “Well, if that's really what people prefer, then maybe that's worth considering.” I know that's shocking to a lot of you.
But then I started to talk to people. I know of one very large membership community that uses — it's a content membership site first and foremost, but the community aspect, they run on Facebook groups. It's a big site and they have to manually add every single person to that Facebook group who joins and pays. There's no way to automate that. So, there's literally a person on staff at this company, that's all they do. And that doesn't seem smart to me right there.
I talked to Jerod Morris who's in our company. He launched the Showrunner course and he added a Facebook group for the community aspect, and he says he'll never do it again. It was a nightmare. It seemed like a good idea at first, but then it just turned out to be an administrative and logistic nightmare.
Facebook groups are really bad about archiving existing answers to common questions, so that you end up answering the same question over and over again, as opposed to forum software, which of course, Rainmaker has built in. And we use that same solution for our Authority membership program. There's a way to organize information so that new people can always get access to those common questions and it just works a lot better.
But I think that the deciding thing, and you'll appreciate this as a Brit, Chris Ducker, who is a British gentleman who now lives in the Philippines, as I mentioned earlier, just launched his membership community on a Rainmaker Platform site. I asked him why he chose to use the built-in forum software instead of a Facebook group. And it was the most hilarious thing. I wish I would've recorded Ducker in his great British accent just going off on Facebook pretty much for many of the reasons I've already shared with you.
But he was like, “There is no way that I'm going with a non-automated solution with someone else's platform that I don't control who has demonstrated time after time after time that they will change the rules on you.”
So, I think the consensus is it's just a bad idea and I just wanted to say that I actually gave it some thought and other people convinced me it was a bad idea. So, you won't think I'm being my normal, cranky anti-Facebook self. There are very good reasons for that. But like I said, advertising on Facebook — good stuff.
How to Correctly Use Affiliate Links
Brian Clark: Our next question comes from Cody Holtz. Let's hear what Cody has to say.
Cody Holtz: Hey Brian, this is Cody Holtz in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm right in the middle of developing my first site called lifeagentpros.com. It focuses on helping young life insurance agents adopt a media style approach to selling life insurance.
But here's my question, without digital courses to sell right away on my site, will using affiliate links and advertising on the site hurt my credibility? And if not, what should I look for in the affiliate and the advertiser? Thanks, Brian.
Brian Clark: All right, Cody, thank you. Great question. Sounds like a good project. I love when people tackle so-called unsexy industries, because there is so much money there, especially in insurance, and there are so many people that need to learn.
I know Ryan Hanley is out there trying to deal with the insurance industry, trying to bring the message about content and media and these types of approaches to business that work really well. And it can be hard to bring them along, but I think it's exceptionally worth it.
So, as far as affiliate offers, no, I don't think it'll hurt your credibility if you do it correctly. The way to do it correctly is to be very transparent that this is a compensated thing. You can get away with this by simply calling them your sponsor. I don't think you have to get into the details of the financial arrangement. You just have to reveal that there is one. And go back and listen to my FTC episode about endorsements, because that's what you'd be doing.
What I mean by endorsement is you're recommending this to your audience. So, the starting point of this is look for things that you can get behind. Don't look at the commission, don't look at the price tag first, look at the product. Frankly, I don't know what kind of affiliate offers are out there for the life insurance industry, but I have to imagine there are some software, training, all sorts of things.
Also, keep in mind that if you find a great product or service that you'd like to recommend to your audience and they don't have a partner program or an affiliate program, go ask. If you've got enough of an audience to make it worth their while, then they'll work something out with you. So, don't cut yourself off. They're only two existing programs.
That said, when you find things that are interesting, here's the reason to do it. Now, some people make millions of dollars from affiliate marketing every year. So, it is a legit business model.
But for people who are looking to create their own stuff, including me, historically we used affiliate offers to see what our audience, not an abstract market, but our people will buy. And if they'll actually buy X, then that tells you something very important. And if they buy affiliate offer Y in huge amounts, that tells you something else very important.
The same thing actually works with advertising. It's just more of a pain and less lucrative. You have less control and flexibility when dealing with advertisers. But if someone advertises on your site month after month after month, then people are buying that and that is useful information.
So, be open and transparent that there is a financial arrangement here. You're not just, “Hey, go check this out” and hoping people won't notice that you're getting a kickback. Don't do that. Be open. Say, “Look, I am bringing you valuable information for free, but someone's got to pay the bills. And that person is XYZ Life Insurance Software for Agents.”
And then what you learn from seeing what they'll buy is truly more valuable than the money. So, just keep that in mind. And I think the idea of providing training to this industry is a good idea.
How Rainmaker Can Help Generate Local Leads
Brian Clark: All right, finally, got a real estate brokerage question from Josh Hales. My old school, couple businesses. How long has it been now? 10 years. Wow. But I do have an answer for him. Let's listen in to what it is.
Josh Hales: Hey, Brian, this is Josh Hales and I am a realtor in League City, Texas, which is just south of Houston. Thank you so much for taking these questions.
As a realtor, I create a lot of content and I just have a standard website right now, just a standard blog format that I post this content on. I don't have any lead generation funnels in place, at least from an online perspective.
I get pretty good results from using direct mail and postcards and driving people to a landing page, homeowners specifically in my area to a landing page and they opt in for a monthly report on their subdivision. That's been working well and those people are on my print newsletter list, and that yields good results for me over time.
However, from an online perspective, I don't have any lead generation funnels or systems put in place. I don't get any opt-ins or leads from my website and I'm considering using the Rainmaker Platform to start offering online courses and things of that nature. And maybe it is a design thing. Maybe my content needs to be packaged and presented in a different way. I'm really not sure how to start generating leads from homeowners in my area online, specifically from my website.
So, how can the Rainmaker Platform help me accomplish this task? Thank you so much, Brian.
Brian Clark: Okay, Josh. Great question, excellent. I've got a good answer for you, I believe.
So, for those of you out there who don't think deeply about the real estate industry (which probably most people don't), it boils down to this: there are seller clients and there are buyer clients, which is very simple. And then there are, of course, different types of sellers and different types of buyers. But in its simplest sense, it breaks down to that.
Right now, Josh has a smart program to attracting listings. Those are sellers, people who have homes to sell. And direct mail is still brilliant for that, because you know where the houses are. You know who to mail to. So, it's an extremely targeted thing.
Now, is a good percentage of your collateral being tossed in the trash with the rest of the mail junk? Yeah, a good portion of it is, but if it's bringing you leads and it's bringing you business, then it's working to some degree.
On that side of things, going full circle back to the Facebook question, Facebook ads are amazing at targeting local people. So, I have a local site in Boulder called Your Boulder. In Facebook, it's amazing how you can reach only people who live in Boulder, which of course that's what I want. And then you have all sorts of demographics and all that. I don't even know if you can carve out homeowner or not. If you can, that's a slam dunk.
Because odds are, your ads that show that same landing page that you're already promoting with direct mail are going to be seen more often by people in your town or in your farm area on Facebook than they're going to see in the mail. It's going to be cheaper and it's probably going to be more effective. So, keep that in mind. Facebook can be super targeted when it comes down to geographic areas of interest.
On the other side of this, my business back in the day was all about attracting buyers. And here's how you do this when you're a full service shop. I did Buyers Only with one brokerage and then I started a separate brokerage that focused on listings, but it was more of a nonstandard situation.
Online is great for attracting buyers, and that's why you want to have an IDX solution. You want to display home listings on your site. Early next year we're going to come out with Rainmaker Real Estate. We've already got all of that in place. It's going to be really cool to answer a little bit of your question there about Rainmaker for real estate.
But what you're after is all those buyer leads. Now you're like, “Well, wait a minute, I want to concentrate on listings.” I get you, that's great. But if you get a whole bunch of buyer leads, you can hire buyer agents who aren't great at marketing, but they're really good with people, they're really competent professionals. That's a great arrangement for you because you're making your split of the commission. They're happy, because you're feeding them leads and all that.
But here's the magic: you're getting a lot of revenue on the buyer side. Trust me, I've built an entire business with just buyers. But then what do you do in your listing presentations, and how do you change the copy on your landing page? That's when you start talking about, “We've got buyers all day long,” and that is incredibly compelling when you're coming in, because a lot of people figure it's just the MLS that sells their house, which is why we have these discount MLS only brokerages. And we know that's not true.
We also know that the odds of any random buyer that you attract to your site being a perfect match for one of your listings happens, but not all that often. A lot of times those buyers will find a house in the MLS, and a lot of times your listings will sell to someone who is working with another agent. That's all great.
What I'm talking about is the psychological impact of your listing presentation that says, “I've got this hyperlocal hub that has home buyers coming in all day long — first time buyers, relocation people, all of this kind of stuff.” And that is a benefit to listing with you as opposed to someone else. So, think of it that way. It's a total kind of holistic approach.
And as far as how do you attract those buyers in the first place?
Number one, they're looking for home listings, so you have to have an IDX solution for your site. Number two, they're looking for great information. I used to split things up into two different course trenches, if you will.
First time home buyers went into one course and I taught them the basic stuff that they needed to know. Relocation people had a completely different set of information based on being educated more about the area than necessarily home inspection issues, mortgage issues, contracts, stuff like that. You can mix it up and figure it out.
But that's how you attract and sign up more buyers, which is an income source for you, whether you want to handle them yourself or you want to farm them out to agents who work for you. But you see how that also, it just makes your listing presentation more compelling once you get in the door and you sit down with people and say, “I’m the right choice for you because this, this, this and this,” all the stuff you're currently saying. “Oh, plus there's at least a hundred people looking for homes in this area on my website every day.” And that's very realistic to say. So, I hope that helps.
Okay, everyone, going to try to get caught up on these questions a little bit. I've got some great ideas for some solo shows and, of course, some other great guests coming up as well in the month of October.
Join us tomorrow, October 1st for the Chris Ducker webinar on How to Attract and Work with the Right Talent. I think that's going to be incredibly useful for just about all of you, no matter what level you're at, whether you're a freelancer, whether you're a solopreneur, whether you’re a small team.
Being able to leverage other people without necessarily entering into an employment arrangement and not necessarily having to find someone right near you is how we've built our company. It's just a fantastic thing whether you want to get big or you just want to have the capacity to do cooler, more ambitious projects.
Okay, that's it for this week. Brian Clark, your host, once again, all I'm asking from you at this moment is to keep going.