Mia Fileman 0:05
Welcome back to Part Two of my chat with Dante St James – a lead trainer with Meta Australia and New Zealand.
You spend a lot of time on LinkedIn even though you are a Meta lead trainer. Let’s talk about that. Also, I did some really low-key stalking to figure this out. You post several times daily – generally, Monday to Friday – on LinkedIn. Your content is very high quality. Tip of hat! But does quantity also now play a part if you – as a digital strategist – are posting several times daily?
Dante St James 0:43
Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
I follow my LinkedIn results mostly because that’s where my clients are. That’s where they’re interacting. I’m more likely to find my business owner clients there than I am on Facebook or Instagram.
Instagram has been interesting because it’s something which I put no effort at all into. It’s never been a place where I’ve wanted to do effort because I simply don’t think that my people are there.
Likewise, my people are on Facebook, but they’re not looking for me. They’re not looking for business. They’re connecting with family and friends, and I am neither of those things. I go, “Well, I will put things across to Facebook.”
The first of January 2022 was my whole new approach to LinkedIn and personal branding. I gave myself three months. I posted everything in advance before the fourth of January because I know that my parents have the same birthday and I needed to have all that done before their birthday so I could go out and have a birthday lunch with them.
I spent three days locked in my environment, going through brain-dumping on there, and came up with three months’ worth of posts. With that, it’s taught me then to watch what the results are – to watch where the ebbs and flows are.
One of the great ebbs and flows I see is that there are times when I’m too present. I’m in there too much. That’s when I notice when people who I’m meeting in networking events – like the LinkedIn local event here in Darwin or any of the other networking events through Chamber of Commerce – I’m getting too often. “Every time I open LinkedIn, you’re there! Every time I open this, you’re there!” I’m like, “Okay. I need to pull back a bit.”
My stats and my insights are saying exactly the same thing. When what would normally be reaching 3,500 people on LinkedIn is suddenly reaching 300, I know I’m doing much. That’s where I need to pull back a little bit. I’ll often take a break for a week and produce one thing a day so I’m not always on top.
You’ve got to watch those patterns because it’s so different. Sometimes, I’ll do a post – particularly my contrarian ones I had to run recently that reached about 50,000 people now which was all about the fact that I unfollowed Simon Sinek on LinkedIn.
Mia Fileman 2:49
I saw that one!
Dante St James 2:50
It got so popular. People seem to love that. But if I try to reproduce that and say, “Here’s why I can’t stand Oprah Winfrey,” then it’d be – again – too much of the same thing.
The old idea where you go “let’s try something out; if it works, do more of it” actually is not right because it’s a different set of people every day online with different reactions, different moods that they’re coming in with.
Someone who yesterday was like, “Burn Simon Sinek at the stake!” is today going, “Geez, the crying CEO, I saw the massive pile-on that happened with this on LinkedIn last week. I don’t feel really good about piling on things like this.” Suddenly, my contrarian attitude goes from being “let’s go!” to “that’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?”
You’ve got to always be doing something a little bit different, particularly with the strategy I use now – the five different kinds of posts every week. Monday is Post One. Tuesday is Post Two. I vary it all around wildly. Like we said, I break back to one post a day and grew that back out again. See how they go with the next post. “Okay. Two. That’s fine. Try three. No, that wasn’t fine. Bring it back to two.”
Two seems to be the sweet spot with the occasional additional post here or there, but what I’m trying to do though is have my pattern through weekdays so that you’re building a particular pattern of content for people who are expecting it for the Monday to Friday.
My weekends are more about my newsletter which is my single most successful thing I do. I’ve got nearly 9,000 people on that thing now. It’s a really good newsletter with a great following. It’s looked forward to and it delivers more clients to me than anything else I do – even more than what LinkedIn does.
Sunday is all about a slice of life. It’s a slice of my life. Like you would have seen in the post I did about going to Festival Park at the Darwin Festival, that was on a Sunday. That was showing I’m also human. I’m not this on a Sunday. Whilst it might be really, really nice to come and teach you something today on Sunday, you’re probably not in the mood for it, you’re probably not in the mood for it.
You’re just flicking through your LinkedIn or your Facebook and going, “What’s bright and colourful? Here’s some beautiful lights and some beautiful decorations at Festival Park.” I’m taking time out to be taught something by someone else who’s better at photography than I am.
Mia Fileman 5:05
Gosh! There are so many good points there!
The fact that you can be too present is something that I’ve been talking to the Darwin Festival about because, now that they finally have a social media campaign manager – they’ve never had one before – they think we should be posting five times a day. I’ve tried to explain to them that the algorithm will only really push your more recent post.
If you’ve had this really high-performing post – like the Simon Sinek one – going and posting something new straight afterwards is actually going to cannibalize that post, so let it go. See how far it can go before you go and create something new. Essentially, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul by doing it that way, so I absolutely love that.
I also really love the slice of life. I think that the pendulum has swung a little bit too far in the other direction which is that people are now thinking that social media platforms are their own personal soapboxes and that they need to share every single detail about their life – their marriage breakdown, or their kid has ADHD. I think that so off-base.
If it is not somehow linked to your business or your personal brand or your offer, then I think that is just noise. I always say that, without strategy, content is just stuff. Absolutely let people get a taste of your personality, but you do not need to overshare on social media in order to get people to like it. But then, are they really going to go on and purchase one of your products after you’ve spoken about your marriage breakdown? I don’t think so. Lots of really, really actionable tips there.
How do you manage all of this? If you’re posting seven days a week, sometimes twice a day, how do you actually do that? Because I’ve got something I want to admit. I don’t schedule diddlysquat. Nothing.
Nothing is planned – unless it’s my campaigns. I feel like there are two modes in marketing – you’re always on approach which is what you do in-between your campaigns, and then your campaigns.
My campaigns are fully planned out – all the paid and organic posts – but the always-on marketing which is what happens in-between my campaigns is purely intuitive. It’s what I feel like I want to talk about on that day, and it will only take me 10 or 15 minutes to write a post and they perform extremely well because they are very much done in the moment.
Let’s talk about that.
Dante St James 7:42
It’s a bit of both, really. I like to swing between both.
The last two weeks, everything was built on a Sunday – recorded, scheduled, proofread, everything on a Sunday – and went out for the rest of the week. I didn’t have to touch anything for the rest of the week.
This week is a little different because I actually want to take a little bit of time out. When I was supposed to be making my socials, I actually felt like going for a walk on the beach, so I took a walk on the beach. That seemed to be the thing I wanted to do. I went with that, and that means that Monday and Tuesday of this week were planned. It was all pre-written. But Wednesday forward was not.
What I’m going to do now is, if I’m feeling tonight that I’m really, really inspired to do some more stuff ahead of time, I’ll do it. Or I won’t. I might just wait for the day. The difference is though that I know what I’m going to write about.
I’ve got a specific plan that’s there which is these are the topic I’m going to cover but I’m not necessarily going to write about what they’re going to cover. My particular spreadsheet is complex, but not really that complex. It’s the dates and what my core content is.
Everything goes back to what I call hub content – which is a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast episode. It could be a bigger piece of content that is much deeper and goes deeper. It shows expertise. It shows depth of thought and breadth of experience. But everything goes on social media. It’s a little clip of that. “Here’s a little bit to get attention.”
When it comes to business, social media is really just about getting attention. It’s not about converting anything. They don’t know you well enough to convert. They don’t trust you well enough to convert, especially if you’re a consultant or a therapist or someone who works one-to-one with people rather than in a retail environment, for example.
You’ve got to show some kind of empathy first to drag people in, relate to their problem, relate to where they’re at in life, then they might go, “I can read more about it here. I will go and read more about it there,” and I’ll learn there’s a lot more depth. Through that, I learn trust. I know you. I like you. Now, I trust you. Now, I’m much more likely to go ahead and do something further with you.
But that doesn’t come from posting what I like to call “ladies laughing at lattes in cafés.” I think you can picture exactly what I mean. Consultants who are all about laughing at lattes and laughing at iPhones while they’re in a café – usually with white walls and boho refences.
Whilst it’s so on brand, it’s not really addressing what the values of that brand are. It’s simply saying, “Look how beautiful this is. Look how pristine this is.” I can tell you that no one’s desk who works in social media is that tidy and clean as what we’ll see often in the ladies who are laughing at lattes.
Mia Fileman 10:23
I really love how you’ve called a spade a spade – that social media is really much more for the top of the funnel. It is for getting attention.
Exactly like you; I make all my money from my email list. I’ve spoken about this substantially during this podcast, but they’ll say something on social media, and it is all about getting them onto my owned channels – my landing pages, my website, my email list. That’s when we can do the real nurturing towards a product or a service that suits them. Hoping that social media is going to be your entire marketing funnel is probably where the number one issue happens with social media.
Again, this is where comparisonitis comes into play because they’ll see someone like you, Dante, posting so often on social media, so they think that this is the start of the end of your marketing plan, but the fact that you’ve told them that there’s 9,000 people on your email list means that you went and built that castle probably first and now you’re getting people to come and visit the castle.
Dante St James 11:28
I only started using that email list this year. Probably three months ago I started using that. But I’ve been building it for 11 years. That’s been building, building, building until one day I actually had a process and a strategy that was ready to go.
Actually, I’ve got a funny story about exactly what you were referring to – someone not realising that social media is not the be all, end all to the marketing and thinking that what they can see are the results on there must be whether you’re doing well or not. It comes from a guy called George who was on TikTok recently.
He somehow spotted my YouTube channel. He was making fun of the fact that I’ve produced nearly 250 YouTube videos. “Look at this! He’s only got one view here, and two views here, and four views over here.” Now, he conveniently skipped over the ones that had gotten 14,000 views and 1,500 views. He went for the low-hanging fruit, which is all good.
But what he doesn’t understand is that YouTube is not where I get my conversions from. YouTube is part of a funnel. What he also doesn’t understand is my highest-value client acquisition comes from people who viewed my YouTube videos.
Whilst I get most of them through the email list and LinkedIn, the highest-value ones come through that YouTube. I don’t need 1.2 million views on a video. My stuff is not that interesting to appeal to 1.2 million people who are looking for a laugh.
My stuff is specifically to show expertise, to deepen the relationship and the trust factor with the people who bother to see it. If that’s two people, that’s great because I’ll usually convert one of them. If I’ve got six views on a video, I can track back to the point that, out of those six views, two of those people became clients. That’s a 33-percent hit rate. That’s pretty amazing.
I don’t need a million people to view a video. I just need one lead to view that video for them to already have known who I was through social media, to click through to that YouTube video, watch it in its entirety, and go, “Yes, this is the guy I want to work with.” That’s what no one understands.
The stuff I do on social media, like you said, that’s just the top of the funnel. That’s the beginning of the journey. That’s not where my clients come from.
Mia Fileman 13:40
So true. I love this discussion. It’s so good.
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You are also – in amongst all the incredible thing you do – a personal brand specialist. I’ve had this conversation with some of my clients who are e-commerce brands. I totally understand personal branding for service-based providers because it’s like, “Well, they’re buying a service. They’re essentially buying you.”
But I would love to hear your thoughts about e-commerce brands and whether they should be focusing on personal branding. I say that they should, but my clients are like, “No, no, no, it’s not me. I’m not the hero of the story. It’s the product.”
Dante St James 15:00
There are a lot of products in the world. Look at skincare. There are so many skincare brands to the point where traditional brands like Revlon and Maybelline are actually struggling because there are so many of these little dropship-from-China makeup brands and dropship-from-Vietnam mineral makeup and skincare routines that are coming out from everywhere with all the same ingredients.
They’ve cracked the code. They’ve disrupted the industry. But there are about 50,000 of them active on Facebook at any one time of different brands selling the same stuff – containing hyaluronic acid or caffeine-infused what-nots – that go in to do amazing things for your skin.
When it comes down to it, there’s going to be some personality that has to stand out there. What’s the difference between this brand over here that has the same white packaging or the same black writing to look all nice and premium as this other brand who’s got exactly the same looking packaging and exactly the same writing on there.
The product is not the differentiator anymore because the products are all the same. They’ve all got some killer ingredient in them. They’ve all got some amazing difference or some organic thing or some infused with green tea extract. They’ve all got something. Once you look at that and go, “Well, they’re all saying how amazingly special they are. What’s the one point of difference you’re going to have with that?” In Australia, it could be that this brand is shipped from Australia. You’re not going to have big shipping charges. That may be a point of difference.
Another point of difference may be that like Carolyn Hartz who has built a bit of a personality on television about using sugar-free products in order to control her weight and control her desire to eat sweet things.
When she goes to sell something through her SweetLife website – which she is currently working on getting all changed and made up now – she’s actually able to now to go in with an audience who already knows who she is. It’s cooking. It’s Inositol and Xylitol and Monkfruit sweetener. It’s not a person.
But because she has taken the time to build a brand around that and went viral in – of all places – Brazil with a news article that still gets around 5,000 hits a week, she’s able to leverage that difference between her and everybody else selling the same stuff. It’s her. There’s definitely room in e-commerce for personality.
Now, where we get caught up is we think it has to be us that’s the face of it and the personal brand has to be me – the owner of the product. It doesn’t actually have to be. That’s what spokesmodels are for. That’s what influencers are for. You could attach a personal brand who is an influencer who is only loosely affiliated with your brand. They might be on five other brands, but that’s what Kylie Jenner does. She’s a personal brand who associates herself with products, and those products get a boost from it.
Personal brand doesn’t have to be your personal brand. It can be attaching someone’s personal brand to your product who is appropriate and who is demographically appropriate for who your audience happens to be.
Mia Fileman 18:00
I’ve always said that brands don’t start with value. They are just a corporate entity. It has zero value to anyone. That value grows over time. Maybelline now has this incredible brand value, but it didn’t always start like that. Until your brand has value, you have to drive that value through a personal human story because humans like humans. People like people. They’re interested in people. And then, you can transition away from that.
Let’s look at an example.
Frank Body – the original coffee scrub. Everyone thinks that they became huge because of their social media. They did, but we also know the founders of that brand. There’s Bree Johnson, Jess Hatzis, Erika Geraerts. We know their names. They did the PR circuit. They went out there and spoke about their founder journeys.
Now, I don’t know who the current founders of Frank Body are. I think there are some changes. But the brand itself now has enough equity where those founders behind the brands can start to remove themselves.
It’s the same example with Mr Yum. We know the cofounders of Mr Yum. They are constantly on Smart Company and Forbes talking about their cap raising and talking about how the sausage is made behind Mr Yum. Now that that brand is starting to get traction, they can start to make it more about the Mr Yum brand personality.
Brands need personalities. The great thing about humans – for most humans – is that they have a personality that they can impart to that brand. Loan it to it, really.
Dante St James 19:35
Yes, most small e-commerce operators don’t have the momentum. The product is not known. If someone doesn’t even know who it is, they’re not going to trust it to buy it. You’re just another option in the many, many options that are overwhelming when it comes to skincare or fashion or shoes or anything which is a fast-moving consumer good. It’s just not going to work.
Frank Body is a perfect example of that. Sarah Davidson from Matcha Maiden is another one of those. She was a recent part of October Business Month in the Northern Territory last year and explaining how she left the world of law and went into creating Matcha Maiden because she discovered matcha while she was in Japan and went, “Why is this not huge in Australia?” Now it is – largely because she was the person who brought it to Australia and made it known here. But she had to attach herself to all of that.
There had to be a personal brand. She was the Matcha Maiden. She doesn’t own the company anymore. That’s all sold off now. She’s still very closely associated with that brand as the Matcha Maiden, but now it doesn’t need to have her in every pitch or her producing all the copy and producing the social media posts because now it’s a brand that stands on its own. It doesn’t require the personal brand to run it anymore.
Mia Fileman 20:43
All right. Last question. You and I both work with start-up founders. What are some quickfire top tips for our beloved founders about how they can work smarter – not harder – so that they can walk away from this episode with some actionable advice?
Dante St James 21:00
Number one – stop trying to be a hero and trying to do it all by yourself. There are unfathomable amounts of help out there for start-up founders and for people who are looking for help. I do it myself as an entrepreneurship facilitator.
There are so many new businesses, and they get to this point, and they go, “Oh, my goodness! I wish I hadn’t done this back then.” I’m like, “Well, if you had come and seen me first, I would have put you in that process to begin with.”
What I do is absolutely free. I spend so much time with people every week who are trying to start up new businesses and new start-up fast-accelerated companies, but they seem to do this hero thing. They want to do it on their own and not get any help. There is free help available. Just use it.
Secondly, I would say work out how things are going to work before you start branding yourself. Work out whether it’s actually going to be a thing. Do more research upfront before jumping in and doing it.
Whilst it may be the romantic story about how Mark Zuckerberg grew Facebook from a Hot or Not app and suddenly it became a big thing in Harvard then it went to other schools and he made all these mistakes along the way, those mistakes cost him personally very dearly, and financially a huge amount of money. If he could go back there right now and go, “If I do this differently, I probably would have taken a bit of better advice and not been such a dick on the way there.”
Thirdly, I would say spend the money on the right people. Don’t get your friends and family in because they’re cheap and they’re free labour. You should actually spend the money on the right people. A start-up or new business is an expensive thing to do.
If you’re doing it from zero dollars, then you are stuck. You are probably not going to make it work. One percent of one percent of one percent of cases where they grew a billion-dollar unicorn out of mum’s garage – that’s not the actual way that most start-ups go.
They go through “I have to go to the bank and get a bank loan in order to be able to get the money to be able to pay for this” or “I had to go spend two years working in a job I really hated to say that the money I could save to be able to be the starting capital for what I’m doing” or “I have to go out there and build a pitch deck and go and pitch it to investors and be humiliated 20 times before someone turns around and says, ‘Gary, that idea of yours is really good.’”
Get help when you need it. Don’t do this fancy stuff first. Do the stuff that actually gets things moving first. Make the money then get fancy. The third thing is definitely to make sure that you are concentrating on what it’s going to take – and that’s usually money – before you start this thing. Have some money there because, if you’re going in with no money, big dreams and no money is like a category that I know put some people in. I go, “Got big dreams, no money.” You’re either going to have to attract the money from somewhere else or you’re going to have to somehow save it up.
Mia Fileman 23:42
Yes, we could talk about that for 45 minutes, I reckon.
“How much money do you need to start a brand?” Of course, you can do it yourself. You can watch all the YouTube videos and download all the $49.00 courses, but that is going to take a really long time. I’m a professional marketer. I’ve got skills. I can write. I can design to a certain degree. But still I’ve had to spend money growing this business because it’s so competitive.
I saw a really good LinkedIn post actually from a guy called (24:19 unclear) that I used to work with at the Taboo Group. He was dishing out some really tough love which is like, if you are not 100 percent committed to entrepreneurship, if you don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I am born to do this! I couldn’t possibly work for anyone ever again! There is no Plan B for me. I’m not going back to work. This is it,” then please don’t start your business in 2022. I don’t know if I’m that extreme, but I love the bucket that you have – big dreams, no money. It’s true.
Operational costs – I use Kajabi for my website, my online course, my podcast, my CRM. It’s $300 a month – every single month! You need to start with some money. Of course, when you get busy starting to service clients or starting to sell products, then you’re going to get busy. Who’s going to do the other stuff? That’s where you’re going to need to bring on staff or bring on consultants.
Yes, I think these rose-coloured glasses that we’ve been led to believe that entrepreneurship is by any means easy, that you can absolutely do it with no money, that social media is the easiest way to grow your brand, these are all just lies that we’ve told ourselves, right?
Dante St James 25:40
Take a look around. The world is littered with the carcasses of businesses that had big dreams of making their money online that didn’t.
How many Shopify accounts get started up every year? It’s around about 90 percent of those accounts that get cancelled within six months because people didn’t make the money that they thought they were going to make for it.
They didn’t have a plan. They didn’t have the money. They didn’t have the capital or background. They didn’t account for the fact that the cost of everything was going to go up so much this year. They couldn’t go with it.
Much to the point now, Shopify had to sack how much of their workforce in the past couple of weeks? This model is broken. This whole idea that you can get a free Canva account, and a Facebook page, and the sky is the limit? It isn’t true, and it never was true.
It was true for one percent of one percent, but we have romanticised those few people who’d managed to succeed and thinking that, somehow, it’s like network marketing or multilevel marketing. We romanticise the one percent of the one percent who actually have reached that double diamond deluxe level and are getting the houses and the cars and the holidays, but we don’t see the 99.999 percent who make less than $50.00 a year.
Mia Fileman 26:48
On a positive note, if your business is growing – all by a little bit – then that’s great! You should be celebrating you! If you are doing it tough right now, then you are doing it right. Forget all notions of scaling your business to seven figures in your sleep and, in six weeks, making $100,000.
You can grow your business incrementally slow and steady. It’s actually proven that businesses who grow slower are the ones that stick around and we’re still talking about. We’ll leave on that positive note.
It has been such an absolute pleasure having you on the show today, Dante.
How can people get in touch with you and learn more about what you do?
Dante St James 27:35
The main way is on LinkedIn. Look up my name on LinkedIn. There’s not many of us. In fact, I’m the only one. My website is dantestjames.com is also where you can join the newsletter and become part of my funnel. I love people jumping in my funnel.
Mia Fileman 27:50
We’ll put a link to the newsletter in the show notes so that you can go and see what those 9,000 other people are giddy about. Yes, go and do that. Thank you again, Dante! It was such a pleasure!
Dante St James 28:00
Thank you! Happy to do it again!
Mia Fileman 28:05
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