Facebook Video: The Good, The Bad, and the Really, Really Ugly – Mike Stelzner

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Mike Stelzner

Of all the social media platforms, Facebook is probably the one that changes most frequently and most dramatically.

What worked so well last year, or last month, or even yesterday, is dead in the water today.

In today’s episode we speak with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner who shares with us evidence-based reasons on why they changed up their video marketing on Facebook and what they’re doing today that’s working better.

He’ll share both their current Facebook marketing as well as their online video strategy. What they’ve already learned could save you hours of frustration and thousands of dollars.

 

Rich: I’m very happy to have back a good friend of mine, a guy I consider to be a mentor. And since he’s been on the show several times I’m not going to bother just reading his bio, but you certainly know who he is. If you have been listening to this podcast for a while now you’re no doubt well aware of the Social Media Examiner. This guest is the founder of Social Media Examiner, and so he also founded Social Media Marketing World, which we’ll talk about in a few minutes. It’s my favorite social media conference out there, one that I attend every single year. And he’s the host of The Social Media Marketing podcast, so you know he’s got a great voice and is bringing fantastic equipment, I’m glad to be bringing back on to the show, Michael Stelzner. Mike, welcome back.

Mike: Rich, thanks for having me, man.

Rich: So you and I both like putting on events, and your event is Social Media Marketing World. We’re about three months out, just quickly, how are things going for you with that?

Mike: It’s coming together really awesome. It’s a lot of work putting on an event and convincing people from all over the world to come to San Diego in the spring. But it’s really a blast and we’re trying everything you can imagine and more.

Rich: It’s fun watching what you guys are doing. I’m learning a lot since I put on my own conference. And today I just wanted to say I sold my first affiliate sale for Social Media Marketing World, and it’s to a fellow Mainer. So they’ll be at least two people from Maine there. I wanted to let you know that.

Mike: There will probably be a lot more than two.

Rich: We’re actually thinking of getting lobster hats so we can find ourselves in the crowd.

Mike: That sounds fun.

Rich: Alright, so this is probably self grandization, but you are actually a listener to this podcast. Now some guests will listen to an episode or two before they come on to get the gist, most don’t even do that, but you actually listen. I know this because you reached out to me after certain episodes to give me feedback. I’m just curious, how many podcasts do you listen to on an average week?

Mike: Oh boy. Well, I subscribe to 20 different podcasts and there are certain ones that I absolutely never miss. I would say the minimum is going to be 10 episodes a week, and the maximum is going to be all 20. I listen in crazy places. I listen when I’m shaving in the morning, when I’m in the shower, on the drive to work, on the drive home while I’m at lunch, sometimes while I’m doing dishes, and sometimes when I’m out for walks. So I just kind of fill my mind, because I don’t read as much as I listen, so this is the way that I learn is by listening.

Rich: That’s awesome. And if you guys have never checked out the Social Media Marketing podcast by Mike, you definitely owe it to yourself. You already listen to my podcast, you’ll really like this. So definitely check that out, it’s an amazing resource.

Mike: It’s a similar show. Our shows are almost very similar.

Rich: They’re similar, I go a little broader and you go deeper.

Mike: Rich is way funnier than me.

Rich: I’ll agree with that, I’ll give you 100% props on that I am funnier than you. So anyways, I originally reached out to you because I was looking for a guest to talk about Facebook organic posts. We had just done a bunch of stuff on ads, we’ve done a bunch of stuff on Facebook groups, and I said who should I talk to about organic Facebook posts. And Mike, do you remember what you said?

Mike: Uh, no.

Rich: It was basically, “Rich, nobody talks about organic Facebook posts anymore. Maybe Mari Smith occasionally, but that’s it.”  And so I guess my question to you Mike is, why is nobody talking about organic Facebook posts anymore?

Mike: Well do you remember what happened on January 12th when Mark Zuckerberg’s face was shown in a nuclear cloud on one of these websites? And everybody started freaking out because they were calling it the Facebook Apocalypse. I called it Facebook Zero. For the most part the reason why that organic marketing doesn’t work anymore is because Facebook made it very clear, we are not going to show articles anymore, we’re not going to show media, we’re not going to show links to third party websites. They depreciated organic content across the board, and with that most people’s organic strategy pretty much went out the window.

We have 550,000 fans on our Facebook page, we’re lucky to get 10,000 impressions. And for those that don’t understand what that means, it’s like 10,000 of that 550,000 people see our posts on a good day. Which is really, really, really small. If we’re really lucky and we have something go viral it might be seen by 50,000. So the problem is with Facebook, they have just decided they’re not going to show organic posts as much anymore. And that’s why you’re not seeing so many people focus on it. But it still works, you just have to rethink the whole darn thing.

Rich: Right. So it’s interesting because I’m realizing now it’s been months if not a year since I saw my last organic post from Social Media Examiner, an I’ve certainly been a fan. So for those of us that don’t have a half million fans, certainly we’re seeing even less and less.

This brings up an interesting thing. So you – Social Media Examiner – had been doing long form video on Facebook for quite some time, and then you’ve stopped. Why don’t you share with us why you changed directions on that?

Mike: Well from the keynote stage at my conference in late February of 2018, I said I believe that serialized video is the future, and I talked about how Facebook watched is so important, and how the idea of having episodic content on Facebook was the future. And I used my own little show called, The Journey, as an example. And what we were doing back then is we were releasing almost like a little documentary and every week was a snippet, 7 minutes to the story, to be continued. And we were getting a lot of views and it was awesome. And then we re-launched the show in the fall of 2018 and all of a sudden it just wasn’t what it used to be anymore. And I had just gotten back from a conference that was all about YouTube and I had this big debate with a guy named Evan Carmichael. He said YouTube is where people watch long form video. And I said I believe you should let people watch video wherever they want to watch video.

And my strategy was, at that point, get your 7 or 8 minute video mainly on every single platform. Which is what we did. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, everywhere. But there’s only two platforms, Rich, that actually show you retention graphs. Do you know what a retention graph is?

Rich: I do, but maybe some people don’t.

Mike: So a retention graph on YouTube and on Facebook shows you how long they stick around and watch the video. And I never paid attention to the retention graph because all I cared about was watching those big view numbers, 5, 10, 15, 20,000 views. For me that was amazing. But when I actually started looking at the retention graphs after I got back from this conference, I kind of freaked out a little bit.

So to give you a little context, we have about 20,000-25,000 fans on YouTube, and we have about 550,000 fans on Facebook. The Facebook videos were getting 4, 5, 6,000 views and the YouTube videos were getting about 1,000 views. So in my mind, what would you think? I mean you would think go all in on Facebook, wouldn’t you?

Rich: Absolutely. I mean that’s what the numbers seem to be showing.

Mike: Right. So then I started looking at the retention graph. And the retention graph, imagine if you will a line that starts at 100 at the top and then kind of gradually moves down to 0. The retention graph on YouTube, in the first couple seconds it drops down to 16%, then it stabilizes right around 50%-60%. So that means that about 50%-60% of the people watching the exact same video on YouTube stick around for almost the whole thing. Which sounds ok, it doesn’t sound great, right? It just sounds ok because you’re losing half of them. But when I actually looked at the retention graph on YouTube, Rich, it was shocking. Literally it would go from 100 to 1% within the first second.

Rich: Wait, you said YouTube, but you mean on Facebook, correct?

Mike: Oh yes. If I just said YouTube I meant Facebook.

Rich: Ok.

Mike: So in summary on YouTube, about 50-60% would actually watch the video all the way through, which sounds like I’m losing a lot. That’s 40-50% that don’t watch all the way through.

Now if we flip over to Facebook, this is where the shocker was. On Facebook I would get – like I mentioned earlier – 1,000 views on a video easily. But when I actually looked at the retention graphs, this is where the shocker came in. The graphs themselves would literally go from 100% down to 1%-2% within the first 15 seconds. Literally almost straight down.

Rich: It’s devastating. It’s kind of like people are just channel surfing.

Mike: And it would flat line and it would stay there for the rest of the video. So literally if I was lucky I would be at like 3% at the 30 second mark. Now Facebook also has a cool little option in which they allow you to compare the total graph up against the people that actually clicked to play, which shows intention. So when I actually click on the people that clicked to play, only at best 3% of all video watchers actually clicked to play. And of those 3%, at best 25% got 30 seconds to a minute in.

So let me give you an example. Say we had a video with 5,000 views on Facebook, and let’s just say 3% of them clicked to play. That’s 150 people. At the 30 second mark another 25% of them would make it that far in. So of 150, 25% is about 30-40 people. So of 5,000 people Rich, only about 30 or 40 people made it to the 30 second mark.

Rich: Yeah, that’s rough.

Mike: This was a huge eye opener for me because all this time I was looking at Facebook views and I was looking at YouTube views and I was thinking I’m getting more views on Facebook than I am on YouTube, but the reality was I was getting less views on Facebook. Because what Facebook counts as a view is not a view. And this is the point I want everybody to take home. It’s an impression. Everybody who’s in marketing knows what an impression is, it’s one of those little words that we use that just means someone saw it but they didn’t necessarily act on it.

If we think about how people use Facebook, if you think about how you use Facebook, it’s a scroll by, it’s a drive by experience, right? So you might hit ‘play’ and keep scrolling and eventually let it go off, or you might never hit ‘play’. You might just see it through the feed. And the reality is that videos are muted on Facebook, and generally speaking, people are just on auto play. Facebook counts a view as 3 seconds, that’s it. YouTube, 30 seconds.

So this was the big eye opener for me, this was a shocker for me. We were producing 3 shows over the week, The Journey, an ask me anything show with experts, and then we also had a tools and tips show. The ask me anything show with experts and tools and tips shows, those were 40 minute shows that required at least 3 people to produce. The Journey, I’ve got a full time employee on the other side of this wall that films The Journey.

And when I started realizing that we were distributing and emailing out list and telling everyone to watch it on Facebook, and no one was frickin watching on Facebook. No one was. We made the decision to pull all three shows. And then we shouted form the high hilltops that people do not watch long form video on Facebook. And a lot of marketers were shocked.

Rich: I remember when you said that. Mike what I really respect about you is you guys look at the numbers. I mean you spend a lot of time really figuring out, unlike a lot of other marketers who just go with their gut, you guys really look at the numbers and make decisions that are database. I love that about you.

As soon as you said long form video on Facebook doesn’t work because of the scrolling experience, I’m like, of course that’s true. Anecdotally, that’s my own experience. If I see a video on Facebook that’s more than 12 seconds long, I’m just not going to make it until the end. Where on YouTube if I’m at lunch and I’ve got nothing going on, I’ll watch a 20-30 minute video without a problem. I’d never watch it on Facebook. And as soon as you said that I’m like, how come I haven’t realized this before?

Mike: And here’s what it comes down to. Under the data that YouTube provides you says that the average viewing session on YouTube – the average – is 40 minutes of viewing video. So when people sit down they stay there for 40 minutes and just watch nonstop videos.

Now think about your average experience on Facebook. You’re in there for 2 minutes if you’re lucky, right? You’re just scrolling through the feed – unless it’s your job – you’re scrolling through the feed, you’re looking for stuff, and you’re moving on. And that’s how it is. I use the analogy that it’s kind of like if you’re driving on the highway and you saw a billboard playing a TV show, would you ever pull over and watch it. Never.  

Rich: Of course not.

Mike: So a video on Facebook is a drive by experience. And that was my “a-ha” moment, and I realized, holy crap, I’ve got to change everything.

Rich: So I’m sure some pepoel are wondering, great, but what’s the harm in showing it. You’re showing it on YouTube, you’re getting better engagement, but why not continue showing it on Facebook, what’s the harm. I saw those videos Mike, and I saw the comments, and you were getting what most of us would think is pretty good engagement. So why stop doing that?

Mike: Ok, wonderful question. So let me tell you a little story to help anecdotally explain why this is so important that people stop doing this. First of all I made a 2-minute video, a public service message, and I just said we’re not producing any more shows on Facebook and here’s why. I cannot tell you how many comments I got from people saying, “This is the first time I’ve seen a video from you in years, and I made you “see first” on my Facebook.”  Do you know what “see first” is? 

Rich: I don’t.

Mike: So if you’re a fan of a page you can choose your notifications, and one of them is “see first”, which means you automatically see everything, supposedly. And a lot of people said, “I’ve been a fan for years and I have not ever seen a video from you until you produced this one public service message video.” Rich, we had been producing 4 videos a week for two years.

Rich: I can’t even imagine what the costs were involved with creating all that video. And there were benefits to it no doubt, but just to have a full time person, all the editing, all the time it takes out of your day even though it’s filming what you’re already doing. Still, that must have been a huge expense.

Mike: Yeah, it was. But so here’s why you should not just put video up there. Because your fans won’t see it and it will hurt you in the algorithm. Not only did people say they haven’t seen any videos from me in years, they said they hadn’t seen anything from me in years.

So it turned out what happened is the algorithm was suppressing everything we were doing because we were publishing content 4 times a week that had no meaningful engagement by the metrics that Facebook cares about. And as a result, they decided to penalize us, and they decided to no longer show any of our content.

And this is the thing everybody needs to understand, he algorithm is artificial intelligence, it’s making decisions about your content and about your audience, and deciding what to show and what not to show. And if you program the algorithm that the stuff you produce is not meaningful to the audience, they will never watch it. And to the people that say, “Well if you only produced better stuff, you’d be fine”, I would say well then why is it the exact same audience watches it on YouTube that watches it on Facebook, and they watched it longer on YouTube.

So my personal feeling here is you need to understand the behavior of the people on the platform – and people behave very differently on Facebook than they do on YouTube – those same people, the Rich Brooks’ of the world. And secondly you need to understand the algorithm is not your friend, it’s your enemy. And it will do everything to stop your content, and that’s exactly what happened with us. So we just had to come up with a new plan.

Rich: So posting the long form video to Facebook, in short, is what you’re saying is hurting your ability to reach anybody because the algorithm is punishing you for the fact that long form video just isn’t being engaged with at all on Facebook.

Mike: It’s punishing us because our content was not being engaged. So what that means is that our non-video posts were not seen by our audience also. Does that make sense?

Rich: Absolutely. And it’s funny because there were a few other shows that I started watching on Facebook and one of them was Tom vs Time – which was Tom Brady – and admittedly they also lost the Super Bowl so I might have lost a little bit of interest in that show. Anyway, the bottom line is I remember after watching 2 or 3 episodes that I’m just not interested in this. Had it been on YouTube, who knows, I may have ended up watching that long form video.

Mike: I can tell you what does work, what we’ve learned.

Rich: Yeah.

Mike: So here’s what I know does work. Live video works on Facebook if it’s truly interactive live. So what I mean by this is don’t just go live and not interact with the tribe. So too many marketers now take a video and they decide to play it live, hoping the algorithm will somehow give it some exposure. That does not work anymore. But going live and actually interacting with the audience does work. And in particular, going live from your phone and just having the conversation with your tribe. That works.

In addition, short form video works on Facebook organically. So we have been producing 60-second videos twice a week now since we stopped the long form videos. And those videos are going nuts. Half the audience is actually watching that video, which is what we want. Now that means they’re getting at the 30 second mark and many of them are doing it with the audio off, but that doesn’t matter. Now we’re producing 60-second weekly tools tips where we will just find a cool tool, show people how it works, and it’s all done in 60 seconds. That stuff goes nuts.

In addition we create trailers for our stuff on YouTube. So those trailers might be 30 seconds or 60 seconds long, but we just take the best clips from YouTube, create a video, and at the end of the video suggest that people watch the rest of it on YouTube and we hide it in a bit.ly link or something like that, because Facebook does not like it when you link to YouTube.

Rich: Wait, so just linking to YouTube through bit.ly you’re seeing a difference?

Mike: Well we’re not actually using bit.ly, we use pretty links. Do you know what pretty links is?

Rich:  Yes. As an example, yeah, yeah, yeah. I use pretty links as well. You used “bit.ly” as we might use “thermos” or “Kleenex”.

Mike: Yes. So, but masking those links is going to be important. Sometimes you might want to consider putting the link in the comments, because Facebook doesn’t want to obviously drive traffic off of Facebook. But that’s worked really well for us. So that’s our current strategy, short form video twice a week, 60 seconds or less. And then of course live video also is working for us.

Rich: So a couple questions that brings up. First of all, you mentioned that a lot of people are still seeing your videos with the sound off. Are you using captions on all of your non-live videos?

Mike: Yeah. We use SRT files in every video that we do. Or we burn the captions into the videos so that it actually is part of the video.

Rich: I’m interested in that. So, when I’ve been creating some videos recently I’ve been burning the captions in. But what happens when you do the SRT? Does that mean that the captions are invisible if the sound is on? 

Mike: Correct.

Rich: Interesting. I haven’t played around with that.

Mike: Sometimes Facebook is a little wonky and it will display the transcript with the sound on, but it’s not supposed to do that. The idea with a true SRT file is it’s true closed captioning so it only shows up when it’s needing to show up.        

Rich: And with the SRT, you’re still having somebody on your team having to actually type that out, it’s not automatically?

Mike: We use a service to just go ahead and have it made faster. Because those kind of services, if there’s music playing, they’ll say “music playing” and all that kind of stuff, and timestamp it and all that.

Rich: And then the other thing is, so after all these changes, have you noticed your views and engagement is up on your non video content on Facebook?

Mike: That’s a good question. One more thing before I go there is, we made all these videos square. That’s an important thing I want to mention.

Rich: Really? Why is that important?

Mike: Because if you can keep a video under 60 seconds you can publish it everywhere. So Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, the whole shebang. So this is the one opportunity to actually create something to go everywhere.

Rich: But you’re posting it natively to those other platforms, I’m guessing.

Mike: Absolutely we are, yeah. And not all those platforms take SRT files. For example, LinkedIn does do closed captioning only if you upload a mp4 file, .mpeg, not a .mov file.

Rich: Interesting.

Mike: But Instagram does not take captions at all, as far as I can tell. So the idea of square 60 second or less, that was like a ‘hallelujah’ moment for us because we realized that because it is really just short and highly digestible, we can really put it everywhere.

To your other question of has our other stuff gone up, it is kind of variable. The rest of the stuff that we publish on Facebook is, like if news breaks we will publish that news. And sometimes we will publish that news as a text only link and we’ll just describe what the news is. That stuff tends to do better. Other times we will post it as text with a link to a third party publication like Tech Crunch, that doesn’t seem to do as well for whatever reason, I think probably because it has something to do with the link. I think the algorithm doesn’t like the link.

So we have found that some of our news-related items have improved. Occasionally we will take our best performing article – like maybe once a week – and we will link that to our website. That stuff just sucks all around and we do it because we’re just in experimental mode.

We’ve been playing around with Facebook Stories a lot. Have you been messing around with them yet?

Rich: Mike, I have to say that as a human being and as a marketer, I can’t stand Stories on any platform. It’s just my thing. I just don’t like watching them, I don’t like creating them.

Mike: I’m kind of with you but you’d be surprised how many people actually do.

Rich: And I get that, and probably I should be more open minded, because if my audience is watching them then I should be creating them. But it’s just, I can only do so many things with the team I have in terms of how many people there are on this team, and that’s just one of the things where I’m more about driving traffic to my website at the end of the day.

Mike: We’re messing around with stories. The problem with Stories is they don’t give you a huge amount of metrics on your page, so I don’t think – if I’m not mistaken – I don’t think they show any retention kind of data. But because they’re so short, they’re like 15 seconds each, I think that they’re probably watched.

But that’s the kind of stuff we’re doing. And the one thing that we have not changed is we do have our live show every single Friday, and that is broadcast across all platforms. And the reason why we don’t mess with that is because particularly on Facebook we do have a pretty big tribe that does watch that show on Facebook. But we also publish it on Twitter and on YouTube and we also make it into a podcast as well.

Rich: And is that with audience participation on that show?

Mike: Yes. So that’s the show that’s been going on for like 3-4 years. I used to be the host of it, it’s called The Social Media Marketing Talk Show. Erik Fisher now hosts that show and we just talk about the news of the week and our tribe finds it very valuable. But the vast majority of the people that are actually participating are listening to it in podcast form because it’s just talking heads.

Rich: Can people ask questions through different platforms to you?

Mike: Yeah. So here’s how it works, we bring on experts. So for example if there’s something brand new like from Instagram, we’ll bring on an expert and we generally ask most of the questions and then our cohost will be scrubbing the questions from the audience – because there’s a lot – and they’ll just chime in with a couple of questions. But for the most part it really is kind of like less of an interaction with the audience and much more of an interview-based show and we’re interviewing experts about news that broke a few days ago.

Rich: Interesting stuff, and I know that you’ve got a very passionate tribe out there. Mike, before we sign off, I want you to tell me a little bit more about Social Media Marketing World, and for the two of us that haven’t bought lobster hats yet to go there, tell us why we should be there this March.

Mike: Ok, lots of changes we made this year that you probably don’t even know about. First of all we eliminated almost all of the panels, so almost everything is solo presentations this year. We have only two panels, and this is a quality thing for us, we want to make sure that people really want to hear from presenters and not from panels. And I’m sure you’ve experienced this at your own event.

Rich: I hate panels.

Mike: They only get ok reviews. So that’s the first thing. The second thing was we also doubled down on marketing and eliminated our creator track. So we used to do a podcasting track, a YouTube creator track, we got rid of those. Instead we have a YouTube for Business track now, we have a local business track. These are tracks we’ve never had before, and really we’re just 100% focused on marketing. So in the past it was kind of like marketing, and blogging, and all this other stuff. And it’s just now all 100% focused on marketing.

Rich: Hold on, will you just explain that in a little bit more detail to me, Mike? Because, how do you define “creator” versus “marketer”? Because it feels like there’s a Venn diagram of overlap there.

Mike: Ok, so you have bloggers, which you used to be and I used to be.

Rich: I blogged today

Mike: Maybe you still are, but you less identify as a blogger than a podcaster these days, am I right?

Rich: Actually, yeah. So I’m consistent with my podcasting, I’m inconsistent with my blogging.

Mike: Right. So you have the podcasting creator – which is people like you and me – you have the bloggers who are voracious bloggers, you have the YouTubers who are often bloggers, and those people tend to be what we call “creators”. Their primary mission is to create content, and oftentimes they monetize that content though advertising or sponsorship deals or influencer relationships. That’s what I think of when I think of a “creator”.

I used to teach sessions about how to blog, and how to podcast, and how to create YouTube videos for creators. So now we’re pivoting it all to the marketer. So now – for example in our blogging track – it’s how to drive traffic with SEO to your blog. Does that make sense? And less about how to actually create the content, the marketing angle of it.

And of course we’ve got huge sessions on Facebook ads. We’ve got like 10 sessions on Facebook ads, 5 on Facebook organic which is heavy on Facebook Groups, and then we have lots of stuff on Instagram, lots of stuff on Messenger bots. So the moral of the story is we mixed up our content to be really for the marketer, which is typically working for a company with 100 or fewer employees, that’s the big change that we made this year.

The other big change is we have really inexpensive tickets, so now we have tickets for as little as $300. Now those tickets get you access to the live video track, access to the blogging track, a couple other tracks that have to do with video creation – so how to actually make videos – because that’s something all marketers really need to master. And it gets you the live stage and the keynote and the networking plaza. And then we have the marketer ticket and the all access ticket, and the marketer ticket really gets you upstairs to all of the marketer related content. For the first time we’ve got a lot of content available at a very economical price so that people have no reason not to be able to come.

Rich: And so you’ve tiered this, that makes a lot of sense, and so all of the marketing stuff is upstairs. I remember the last couple years, every time I took the escalator upstairs there was  a guy there high fiving me. But now he’s going to be checking my ID, is that what I’m understanding?

Mike: Well everything was upstairs but the keynote in the past. So now we’re going to have a ton of stuff downstairs and a ton of stuff upstairs.

Rich: I will say that your conference is one of my favorite conferences that I go to every year and I always do go to it. And yes, it’s in San Diego and it’s on the water and that’s amazing, and yes I get to see all my old friends and that’s amazing, but it really is great content. And your stuff now, the change you’re making, is more in alignment with me anyways. Because even though I am a creator in some ways I’m all about driving traffic to my websites and as an agency owner the kind of clients we work with are interested in lead gen. So a lot of what you guys are shifting towards is definitely more interesting to me, so I’m really excited about those changes.

Mike: One more thing that we’re doing that I think you would find very interesting is we are now – as of today – opening up what we call these little tribes Facebook groups. Our plan is to have 100 of them within the next 60 days.

Rich: Wow.

Mike: So the idea is that the moment you buy a ticket to Social Media Marketing World, you get to come to a live webinar which kind of is your onboarding experience to Social Media Marketing World. In the webinar they talk about these Facebook groups that we’ve got and you can join whatever group your tribe is in. So if you want to join the Facebook advertising tribe, or you want to join the local business tribe, we’re going to have them all. The idea is that you can start interacting with your people way before you ever come to the conference.

And I think that’s going to be a big game changer for us because people have been asking for this for a long time. And instead of having one big Facebook group we’re going to have a lot of little groups that will be moderated. And the idea is that people will make those connections now and start getting their questions answered so they have a great experience before the thing even starts. What’s your thoughts on that?

Rich: I think that’s really interesting. I’m curious to find out how it all works out because there’s always that balance of do we try and bring everybody into one room so they can see the numbers, or do we have better smaller more intimate conversations. And it sounds like you’re obviously moving towards the latter.

Mike: Kind of like those table talks that we have at the conference.

Rich: Yeah.

Mike: Except it’s a little bigger.

Rich: Well I love the idea of the onboarding, especially for a conference your size. Because if you’ve never been there, there can be a sense of being overwhelmed. There’s just so many things you can do, so many people to meet. So to kind of warm people up and maybe make some of those connections beforehand, I know when I go to a conference that I’ve never been to before I’m always like, who do I even talk to, am I going to be standing in the corner. People think I’m this big social butterfly but it’s only because when I go to something like Social Media Marketing World I already know hundreds of people. So when I go to something brand new it can be overwhelming.

So I love – in fact I was writing down ideas I’m going to steal for Agents of Change – I love the idea of helping somebody onboard. And obviously ours is a much smaller event, but at the same time it’s like you can still warm up some of those conversations before people even get there. And to be able to meet somebody online and then meet them in person, it’s such a powerful experience.

Mike: Yeah. So that’s what we’re hoping is that in the future. So we’ll have 3-3.5 months of people getting to know each other before they even come to the conference, which I just know is going to lead to such a better experience when people get there. Because when you’re talking about 5,000-7,000 people it’s kind of hard to make those connections. But if we can facilitate that stuff ahead of time for all those little tiny groups – some are going to be huge groups and some might only be 100 people – but the right groups can really make the difference I think.

Rich: I completely agree, and I’ve moved from trying to talk to everybody at large events like this to just trying to have 3-4 really important conversations. And it sounds like that’s the direction you guys are really going in, which is fantastic.

Mike: Absolutely.

Rich: Hey Mike, this has been awesome. We’re going to put links to where you guys can grab tickets to Social Media Marketing World in the show notes. Mike, is there anything else, do you want to leave everybody with some other thoughts or places they can check you out?

Mike: Yeah, a couple things. If you love listening to podcasts mine is called The Social Media Marketing Podcast, it’s very similar to Rich’s show. We are weekly and if you love Rich’s show you’ll love mine as well because I listen to both and I think you’ll love them.

And then if people do kind of want to see the behind the scenes of what we do, we have this little documentary which is called The Journey, which is now on YouTube, and if you go to journey.show, that will get you to YouTube. And the cool thing is we show all the good, the bad, and the ugly of what we’re learning as we’re promoting our conference. And it doesn’t matter whether you promote conferences or you promote anything, we’re always trying new stuff ad I think you might find it pretty interesting. Thanks for having me, Rich.

Rich: It’s always a pleasure, you always bring the goods. And if anybody out there is listening and you put on your own event, you definitely owe it to yourself to go check out The Journey, because Mike’s not kidding, he really does show when things go terribly wrong just like when they go amazingly right.

So Mike, as always, a pleasure having you here on the show, Thank you so much for coming by and sharing everything that’s going on with Social Media Examiner and The Journey and everywhere else.

Mike: Thanks, Rich.

Show Notes:

Social Media Marketing is constantly changing, and Mike Stelzner is always a step ahead of the game and in the know about what works and what doesn’t. Check out his YouTube show where he documents much of this trial and error process. And don’t forget to check out his annual Social Media Marketing World conference and grab your tickets now!

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing