So here’s the thing. For almost 10 years now I’ve not only had a social media account on most of the social networks, I’ve also built two successful companies offering social media services and social media training, and immersed myself with the ever changing landscape of best practice, guidelines, techniques to achieve a client’s objectives, social media tools and more. [SIDE NOTE – Want work? See our careers page].
Over the course of training thousands of people in social media, and also offering social media services to hundreds of companies I’ve seen a lot of scenarios pan out. Some things you think will work don’t work as well as you’d hoped. And some work better than you anticipated.
And though sometimes there are sometimes surprises, most of the time you have a fair idea of what to expect from a Facebook or other social media page in terms of its likely performance, subject to the topic, what you post, how often you post, what you’re hoping to achieve, and how much you spend (the latter even more so in recent times).
But there is one Facebook page I admin that defies everything I’ve ever learned. It’s called ‘Unicorn Passion’.
How it came about
I’ve supported the startup community right from the beginning of my business because I know having created six businesses how damn hard the startup slog can be. I regularly mentor at Startup Weekends, and back in 2014 was pleased to influence the Startup Weekend model being used on the Sunshine Coast for the first time after I had mentored at one on the Gold Coast the year prior.
To get people to be aware of the event, and understand what it was and how to best participate, a ‘pre event’ was held to get people to come along, find out more and get excited about the upcoming event at a local bar. Apart from networking there was a exercise aimed at getting people mingling more and learning just how easy it is to pitch. It involved getting into a group and pulling two random words out of a hat. Our group huddle pulled out the words ‘unicorn’ + ‘passion’.
Within a five minute time allocation, the game was to come up with:
1/ A name for the business using those two words
2/ A concept for what the business does
3/ A pitch to get people interested in that business/signing up/buying – whatever it is you decided the business would ‘do’
Of course with the exercise being totally fictitious the brief was to have some fun with it. And that we did.
When I looked around at the group huddle I was in, I knew we were in for a treat as I happened to be standing with some great creative minds, namely Sean Bannister (fellow El Grande event organiser, internet marketer, drupal developer, DJ & dancer), Andrea Martins (also a serial entrepreneur), Gideon Shalwick (Founder of Veeroll and king of video content), Craig Josic (aka CJ and now Chief Digital Officer of Schoolzine and networker/strategic partnerships deal maker extraordinaire) and perhaps one or two other more passive people I can’t recall, and who I apologise in this blog post for having to deal with all these alpha personalities at the time.If you’d like me to add you to this post once published as an original founder, let me know.
From the word go, we fed of each other’s enthusiasm and ideas, and within 5 minutes had decided that we were ‘a dating site for Unicorn enthusiasts.’ Because, well, when you’re really into unicorns and other people aren’t, it can be hard to find a match. And everyone deserves somebody to love.
We came up with some catchy positioning statements such as ‘we put the horn back into online dating’ and stole some existing key messaging around unicorns such as ‘remember, be yourself unless you can be a unicorn’, mobilised a Facebook page complete with dodgy ill-fitting profile + cover graphics, purchased a dotcom, all started liking the page and within 5 minutes were ready to pitch.
Sean Bannister who is an entertaining and convincing public speaker any day of the week put our pitch across well, and even though we didn’t win the game as I recall it, people were suitably impressed with our ability to turn those random words into something definitely humours, and somewhat tangible in just 5 minutes.
No other groups had a facebook page or dotcom for their pitch, and hey, we were only asking for ‘3 million dollars of venture capital to expand our “unicorn enthusiast dating site”.
When you’re an entrepreneur with a vision you have to be bold.
You won’t believe what happened next (and neither could we)
The night ended, we all moved on with our lives, and the whole unicorn passion concept only came up at networking events for shits and giggles, and one night out, a few of us even bought some unicorn masks on ebay and shot photos of us pashing. Unicorn passion right there. Evidence below:
Then one day I was telling the story about the UnicornPassion page to a friend, and she thought it was funny so asked for a link to follow it. When I jumped on the page to grab the URL I couldn’t believe my eyes. Over 5000 likes. No joke. I hit Facebook messenger immediately.‘Hey Sean did you buy some likes for that Unicorn Passion page?’
‘Whatabout advertising of any kind?’
‘Nope,’ he said.I asked Gideon the same thing. And Andrea. And Craig. No’s all round from them too.Then how the flip does this page have so many likes I wondered?
Curiosity got the better of me so I turned to the insights tab (where anyone who has done some social media training will know to turn to for insights into their Facebook page performance).
Turns out we had a lot of likes from Brazil (899 of them), Turkey (484), Mexico (391), Argentina (327), Morocco (202), Colombia (189) and even Thailand (184) Peru, Indonesia and Tunisia. That’s a few continents covered! You could say it was a global success!
So if there hadn’t been 5000 likes outright purchased from one country or continent, and there wasn’t a clear winner of a country who just happened to be unicorn crazy, could it be that unicorns are that loved the world around? Who knew!
To this day this page defies everything I’ve ever learned working in social media for almost 10 years and goes against everything myself and our team of trainers teach businesses to do on social media so on this basis I thought it deserved a blog post.
So here’s what it defies:
1/ We teach people to post every day on their social channels and that if you don’t post frequently it becomes harder and harder to obtain good reach
On this page we hardly ever post. I’m talking whenever I/we (the original founders) happen to see unicorn stuff online. And I’m actually not even much of a unicorn enthusiast so it’s only when they serendipitously float into my feed because someone I know has shared or liked something involving a unicorn. Or if anyone can actually be bothered posting. I’m literally talking posting every 6 months on average.
2/ We tell people that you need to allocate some budget to Facebook these days or you might as well not bother.
We never advertise on this page but the reach is insane!
So I have a few conspiracy theories on this. Could it be that the team at Facebook happen to really like unicorns?
Or do they just have a sense of humour that sees some happy Facebook worker news feed monitoring cranking that shit up?
Or could it be that they have actually programmed their algorithms to render any content related to unicorns with a little higher reach than usual. Wouldn’t put it past them. I mean geeks have to have a little fun sometimes right? And maybe it’s serving the people. Maybe they know people like unicorns so are simply serving them the content they are interested in.
3/ We tell people to mix up the marketing message doing 30% self promotion, 30% promoting others, 30% giving value and 10% inspirational/funny.
We just post whatever the hell we like on this page! And it’s almost ALL inspirational/funny because we don’t sell anything (maybe we should!) and we haven’t cut any deals with strategic partners or influencers, and we’re not actually experts on unicorns nor passion so don’t exactly have valuable information to give!
4/ We tell people to respond to their enquiries and try and get their response rate to 100% and earn the fast response badge
We never respond! And we can’t believe people actually message us! On Nov 2015 someone asked us for advice on where they could find a unicorn in NJ (we guess New Jersey?) We only discovered this message in Nov 2017 and don’t know if we should burst her bubbles two years later that unicorns don’t ACTUALLY exist (and can’t help but wonder if she is single).
5/ We tell people to put their logo in their profile image section and a professionally made cover graphic and to regularly change this graphic to keep it fresh and use this valuable real estate on their page
We have never changed the graphics since the night we set the page up inside 5 minutes. They’re still the same dodgy ill-sized graphics and we have no plans to change them.
So what have I learned from this mystical page?
Three years on since the page’s creation I’m still quite bemused and miffed.
I guess all I’ve learned from the UnicornPassion hobby project is that no matter how long you’ve been in the game, and *think* you know how things work, there are always exceptions to the rule.
So take a bow Andrea, Sean, Gideon and CJ. In true entrepreneur style, we’ve created a page that is a massive exception to the rule, created a global community of unicorn lovers, and defied all expectations.
So long live unicorns. And passion.
And people who are passionate about unicorns.
And don’t forget, if you can’t be yourself, be a unicorn.