This is a 3 part post. In other words it may be a long one, so before you get started, get off your seat, head to the kitchen and make yourself a lovely cup of coffee or tea. Or hot chocolate before you begin my journey.
The three parts we will be discussing are:
- My very first ever business venture – here I will discuss the mistakes I made, how I turned them around and the details of how you should go about your potential business ideas
- A Social Media trick that you can use to look more popular/authoritative on Facebook
- Finally I will discuss my latest social media experiment and how it differs from my previous Twitter experiment
Part 1: The Business Venture
It’s 2010. I’d just left the oil company I was working for and was hired as a Sourcing Manager at Jarden Corporation. This was the first move to entrepreneurship I had ever made. I didn’t quite know it yet, but quickly learned that with a management position at a Fortune 500 company, you are truly given quite the responsibility, whether you’re making $15M dollar decisions or firing suppliers that simply cannot keep up with you, you suddenly feel power coursing through your veins. It’s a wonderful feeling. However, there is another benefit of having a management position and that is FREEDOM. You are not longer being watched like a hawk. You do whatever you want with your time as long as you get the job done.
Great! So I settled down into this company and had fully calculated my time so as to allow for as much time as possible to be allocated to creating my own “side business” is what I called it. I made sure that all “corporate” decisions and assignments were completed first, to ensure my financial security at the firm, then used every breathing minute otherwise doing research. What was a researching? Absolutely nothing. I had no clue in the world what I wanted to do. I didn’t even have an idea for a business. Hmm…
So, I was good at getting corporate jobs, but couldn’t think of a simple business to start? Wait, how did I get my jobs? Research and classifieds? Never! Well, in the Asian financial hub of the world (Hong Kong), you never get a good job searching online/newspapers for jobs. Those jobs were reserved for the average. We were always taught that there can be no average in Hong Kong. You’re either amazing or you pack up and leave. Ok ok, so how do you get jobs in Hong Kong? Or anywhere else for that matter. CONNECTIONS!
You know someone who knows someone who introduces you to the key player in the work you’re looking to do. So, I said to myself, why not try this out with my own business? So I logged onto ASMALLWORLD (an invite only social network for the elite – A place where you craziest desires can come true – a place where ordering a ship filled with oil is only a matter of asking a simple question…you get the point). So I went into the “Investing & Sponsorships” section and scrolled through, until I discovered “Visually Brilliant”! Wait what? A company for sale that provides Social Media Marketing services among other things. So far so good!
- Do I like social media? Check!
- Do I use social media? Check! At that point I had just started using Twitter and I’d been using Facebook since it first launched (when it was only available to select schools)
- Will I make money? Check!
- When will I cover my initial investment? 3 months! I can deal with that.
So I got in touch with the owner and turned into a child that had a million questions. I didn’t care who I pissed off in the process, but I ALWAYS like to be sure about something before I take part in it, so I grilled the guy (sorry, can’t mention his name) until I got all the answers I needed. I mean back then, spending US$3,000 on something I had no clue about seemed wildly absurd, but the concept just seemed so perfect for me at the time. Ok, great! “I wanna buy your company good sir!” And I did. We drew up an official transfer contract with all the promises and regulations and so forth (also something I knew NOTHING about at that point) I went with the flow and did my research before signing anything.
2 days later…I was officially a company owner with a fully featured website and all the hoohaa. Except there was one vital component missing. How the hell do I use this site? Where do I get the clients? Where do I even begin? Luckily I had included a clause in the contract that he would include ALL existing clients as well as indefinite training until I got comfortable with the situation. And so it began. My new company was to sell Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Google+ 1s, Pinterest Pins, Soundcloud downloads/followers, Public Relations, SEO and every type of online marketing you could imagine. It was mindblowing! Exciting! So much cool stuff that I had no idea existed and I was going to learn the tricks of the trade!
My first question was? What do you mean “sell Twitter followers”? How am I supposed to get them? He said one word to me: “India!”. Huh? What do you mean India? He told me that I would have anywhere between 70-100 employees working for me on an order by order basis!
I paused for a dramatic minute, with a face that resembled something like (o.O)
All I had to do was get an order for say 1,000 Twitter followers, or 10,000 likes and send the orders to “my team” in India and they would take care of the magic. OMG! This is phenomenal! I was two steps ahead of this guy with my questions, I wanted to know where he found these guys, so that in the future I could expand and find new employees to fulfill new offerings. He gave me the one website that changed my life! www.(I can’t tell you yet).com <- don’t type that in. You are cute if you do.
Ok, next: How do I get clients?
This is where my life further changed. He told me to create a LinkedIn profile with a beautiful but professional girls picture (excuse me? I had never heard of such madness in my life! Create a profile with a girl’s picture? Why habibi? I’m a guy, what the hell do I need with a fake account?) He told me it was a psychological magic trick of marketing and that is when Ms. Antonia Perrone was created! Some of you may have met her, some of you will probably go search for her, but Antonia Perrone was my first ever and highest ever money earning account. She has thousands and thousands of LinkedIn connections. She has made me close to US$20,000 and for some reason she still exists!
I’m gonna cut the story short, but I will tell you this. After a great deal of experimentation, I can safely conclude that having a beautiful female do your client capture is over 70% more effective than having a guy do it. So when Antonia succeed, I created the beautiful Amani Haddad. A Lebanese princess who wasn’t Lebanese at all, that furthered my marketing efforts into the Middle Eastern markets.
LIFE WAS GOOD! I was employed full time. A had a side business which was fully paid off within the first month and I was streaming. But and there is ALWAYS a but. I felt guilty! It’s not fair to pretend you’re someone else and convince others to give you their money. I mean in the end you are still providing them the same service, but it just didn’t sit well in my heart, so I took this whole business as simply a GREAT learning experience, which opened a gazillion virtual doors in my life which I have expanded into 4 other companies since I closed Visually Brilliant. I also gave up selling Social Media Marketing services, simply because I learned they were fake accounts that got deleted shortly after when Twitter figured out they were fake.
To summarize my experience, I can only say that VB as a company was designed for a darker businessman than me. It was designed for quick money, but certainly not long lasting. However, without this experience, I would not be the person I am today. I would not have learned all these new things. All these amazing new opportunities I can now create were simply due to the learning process I went through when I owned VB. Now that I’ve grown and fully understand the Internet Marketing space, I have decided to leave it all together. It’s too risky and to be completely honest, it’s WAY too much work for WAY too little return. There are much easier ways to make huge sums of money without doing half as much work.
My suggestions to you:
As you start your entrepreneurial life, everything you are presented with is an opportunity. Every business someone proposes to you could either make you money, or a learning experience. In the end I can tell you that the US$3,000 I initially spent was repaid many times over, not only financially, but it was like I had created my own MBA program that not even my classes at Stanford could teach me. TAKE THE RISK!
Part 2: The Facebook Magic trick
Have you ever wondered how some people post a status about their dog farting and that one stupidly useless post gets 200 likes on Facebook? I mean who in their right mind would actually click “like” on a post so absolutely silly?
Likelo.com is a community of individuals like you and me, just regular people that login to likelo.com using their facebook account and instantly we become one big family that likes EVERYTHING about one another. So, I can login and select any of my photos, or any of my feed statuses and allow 200 random people to like the item I select. Once you click “Allow”, it takes about 3 seconds before you magically see 2xx likes on that item. It is absolutely useless to me in terms of making money, but in some cases if I am promoting a new facebook business page or I have something serious to say, I’ll switch likelo on to get my existing friends to take notice. Other than that, it is basically a popularity thing, it won’t get you anything other than that.
Notice I said “switch” likelo on? You need to be aware that once you allow likelo to access you facebook account, it means that you too will be liking other random peoples stuff, so in order to stop that from happening, I usually go into my facebook settings and disallow likelo from my app list so it can no longer use my account, but it doesn’t erase the likes that I just got!
Try it out! Have fun with it, and let me know if you have any problems!
Part 3: My latest twitter experiment
Before you get started on reading my twitter experiment, please take a few minutes to watch this tutorial I put together on how I use Twitter effectively and a cool Google trick for those that didn’t already know.
I am in the process of testing out a new Jewelry & Watch company which is called (Elashy & Co.). It plays off of Tiffany & Co. in the sense that I am looking at similar style except I want to make so affordable that everyone can afford to buy a good looking piece of jewelry and have it delivered directly to their door. Notice I said “testing”. Testing is officially my new favorite word. I love testing stuff. I love experimenting. I have also pre-programmed myself to stop getting disappointed every time an idea doesn’t work out. So as part of that process, I am testing out two social media experiments:
The first is Facebook and this one is definitely succeeding. If you visit: http://www.facebook.com/elashyandco you will notice that within a very short test period I have raised the number of likes to the 900+ range. I did this using a site called “likesasap.com”. Very simply concept. You can do various activities to earn point and then use those point on your facebook page or various other accounts to gain likes/followers/views etc…it’s a very typical social exchange website.
My second experiment was the Elashy & Co. Twitter account (@ElashyAndCo). This is not happening as fast as I expected. I needed a way to continue getting followers without actually following anyone else. Initially when I held my first twitter experiment a few months back, I managed to reach 500 followers solely based on the smart use of #hastags. This is one method you can go about raising followers, but since I am focusing on a very specific niche, in this case Jewelry & Watches, I don’t have so many #hashtags to play around with, so that didn’t work. So, I am now in the process of testing some sites. The first is Socialclerks.com which has raised my account to 200+ and then I used a new site called traffup.net which raised another 200+ followers. While this is still better than nothing, these followers are not the followers I need. These are just random people following me because I earned points on some websites. The idea is to build at least 2,000 of these followers before I begin the next phase of my experiment which is micro following. If you take a look at my (@ramielashy) account, most of you followed me back, right? Take that as a hint! Ok, maybe you actually like my tweets, but there is a psychological phenomenon with the online world which states that you are more like to follow someone with tons of followers than a person who has 14 followers. Don’t argue. You are already a victim of this if you’re reading this post, because you have to be following me in order to know that this post exists!
Why is this the case? Simple. The more followers one has, the more he/she is associated with an authoritative status. You can’t imagine the number of time I’ve been asked “are you famous?” My answer is always “no”. If you don’t know me, then I’m not famous. You may think I’m famous because I figured out that smart tactics always get me where I want to go without doing much work. Life is really not that complicated, except for when it comes to Jumana. I cannot yet find a way to marry her, but I will!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and I truly hope you enjoyed it. Or maybe even learned a thing or two about the happenings behind the scenes on the internet. As always, please feel free to leave your comments and questions and I look forward to getting to know all of you!