The Marketing Family’s Keys to Social Media Success

April 17, 2018

Last week I gave you the freshest news of social media and tried to ease your fears about Facebook owning your information (They totally do).

But this week we’re back to our old format. Today we have two amazing guests: Stapho Thienpont, AKA “The Buff Harry Potter” and Sonny De Meester, AKA Sonny from The Marketing Family.

You may remember Stapho for his role as Harry in the Harry Potter Franchise and Sonny because he’s incredibly cool.

Not so long ago I spent almost three (magical) weeks with them in Sofia, Bulgaria and I learned a lot of things.

Today’s episode will be a little looser than our usual structure. We’ll just go with the flow but don’t fear, The Marketing Family always have tons of valuable and funny insights to share.

This episode is pure fire so you’d better listen to it.

Thank you for joining us.

What’s This Episode All About

  • Who are Stapho and Sonny
  • Why Set Up a Business in a Different Country
  • The Marketing Family’s Keys to Social Media Success

Who are Stapho and Sonny

If you’ve been following my work you have probably seen Stapho and Sonny’s wonderful faces around. But just in case you haven’t, they are the creators of The Marketing Family - a Facebook group, which became a full-fledged marketing agency with the same name.

They offer many services but mainly focus on LinkedIn and Facebook chatbots right now. Hopefully for Stapho and Sonny this whole Facebook privacy craze calms down soon so they can get back to building chatbots.

The origins of Sonny and Stapho are shrouded in mystery, but after hours of extensive interrogation, I managed to extract the truth from them.

Stapho was living in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym in Stockholm, Sweden, training 3 hours a day, six days a week for a year and a half. But after some time he decided to use his energy on marketing instead of fighting.

Learning marketing meant he could be mobile,  be everywhere, and actually help people.

Sonny started out at 18-years-old running a clothing brand that designed and produced their own clothing and then made it in China. He also set up an event organization company, and he did painting too.

Before joining Stapho, Sonny’s event organization gig was getting pretty big and he became pretty popular on Facebook. But the fact he had to answer to people all the time and be on top of everything turned out to be awfully draining.

To him, this was a wake-up call to stop doing what he was doing. As he puts it:

“I was once with my friends in Belgium, and I was getting so many calls and texts messages that I told my friends: I'm just going to place my cell phone on this table with the sound on and let’s see how many messages I get. It was a non-stop rain of messages, and I just couldn’t handle the stress.”

That got Sonny away from social media for a few years until Stapho, like a true marketer, came and started nagging and convincing Sonny about joining him in their marketing adventure. Stapho’s persuasion was strong and the rest is history.

Their agreement however, is that Stapho is going to be in front and Sonny will be behind the scenes without being in the spotlight unless he wants to.

The truth is that without both of them there wouldn’t be a Marketing Family.


Why Set Up a Business in a Different Country

Stapho and Sonny are from Belgium, but they decided to set up their business in Bulgaria. In Stapho’s words:

“Honestly, we didn’t feel like the climate in Belgium was really promoting towards businesses, both culturally and fiscally, especially towards internet businesses.”

It seems like Belgium requires an awful ton of paperwork to set up a business. If you want to be mobile, that will slow you down. In Bulgaria, things are faster and it’s a beautiful country with an amazing weather (Stapho got sunburnt in April, which is not very common in the rest of Europe)

That being said, Bulgaria offered the Family a perfect location from which to be mobile.

In my case, instead of setting my business up in the UK, I did it in Estonia through the Estonian e-residence programme. It sounds like they have something similar in Bulgaria.

It’s a shame we have to step away from our countries, but it also makes setting up a business something really exciting.

For people who are living nomadic lifestyles, e-residency in a place like Estonia is the perfect solution to set up a business; particularly, if you don’t have a home base and you’re accepting payments from people all over the world.

And it also comes the issue of costs. Bulgaria is cheaper than Belgium or the UK in terms of hiring people, getting your paperwork done, renting an apartment (they have a bubble bath and 3 balconies in their house, can you believe that?), buying food, and basically living costs.  

That’s something to take into account when you’re starting your business.

The Marketing Family’s Keys to Social Media Success

I believe that the keys to the success they have seen over the last 6 or 12 months (and mine too) comes with the platforms they use to reach their customers.

In the Family’s case, Facebook and LinkedIn have been fundamental to their growth.

Let’s start with Facebook.

Use Facebook Groups to Create Conversations

They’ve been running their Facebook group for almost two years, and the reason they started was rather simple, says Stapho:

“I had no money, and I figured out that Facebook groups are the best way to reach organic traffic without having to pay for it. And also, because it’s something you can invite people into and it turns into a real community when handled properly.”

And it’s actually true. You can use Facebook to build communities. And in case you need help, feedback, competitions, and even work opportunities, you have a group to help you out.

However, more than only resulting in business opportunities for you groups are also great to form communities.

In Facebook groups it’s not you talking to an audience like you would on a website. On the contrary, in a Facebook group people talk among themselves. That creates a lot of links and conversations that enrich the group and you don’t control.

You can also give people shoutouts and help them increase their reach because if they succeed and they’ve been following your guidance, that's going to help your credibility, too.

To the rest of the members, it’s also a signal of hope because it shows them that everybody can grow and succeed. 

Apart from that, it builds a cohesive network of interconnections unlike any other kind of group.

And you could totally magnify that effect by joining other social media platforms so that people start to see your face on a different networks, adding to your credibility. It’s also a safe strategy because regardless what happens with one platform, you have the other to rely on.

However, while Facebook is close to everybody’s hearts, LinkedIn is also seeing huge growth that’s been attracting tons of opportunities.

Don’t Underestimate LinkedIn

In the case of the Family, Sonny wasn’t a believer and Stapho showed him the way. Stapho has managed to reach 800 likes and hundreds of people engaging with his posts frequently.

That’s something not many people think possible when they think of LinkedIn, a social media where most people are only showing off their CVs.

Stapho cites as one of his major achievements on LinkedIn that he's reached almost 2 million people and closed multiple 5-figure deals.

People even write to him and to tell him he’s appeared in their dreams (how cool is that?).

Besides that, it goes beyond just getting likes and engagement. It’s all about truly connecting with people and actually touching them somehow.

It’s all about actually caring about people and not seeing them as numbers and statistics.

And believe it or not, caring is a powerful differentiator when it comes to marketing strategies. Believing and caring about others sets you aside from the rest.

If you have a small company, you can get really personal. That’s a great advantage and something you can’t forget as soon as you start scaling up (because you will). And besides the marketing standpoint, building relationships helps you create new opportunities for people you wouldn’t think of.

Create Friends Instead of Connections

Think of people as your friends instead of connections or faceless requests.

That’s where you start to see better results both as a person and as a brand. For instance, Stapho sees it similarly. Rather than thinking of “retention,” like in the SaaS world, think of friendships.

A personal brand is built on relationships. The best way to do it is by creating new friendships and being able to maintain them.

If we think of users in human terms rather than just as numbers, we will probably get better results and reach. Spend more time trying to connect and less trying to sell and everything is going to work better for you.

Also, like Sonny puts it, it’s also about creating stories. It’s about sharing the events in your life that made you who you are, your success and your downfalls.

That’s what’s going to help you scale.

Or, you can also take Stapho’s final words:

“Automate the hello so you can focus on the conversations.”

Thank you all for joining us today. Remember, if you liked the episode, liked what we say, or any comments, feel free to do it.

Thank you for tuning in The Social Media Growth Show.

See you next week!

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