Stop, Look and Listen: How to Gain Followers Authentically – Brendan Kane

This week’s guest is Brendan Kane. He is the author of the books One Million Followers: How I Built A Massive Social Media Following In 30 Days and Hook Point. He’s been providing business and digital strategies to clients such as A-listers Taylor Swift and Rhianna, and big brands like MTV, IKEA, and Skechers for more than 15 years. His rich experience allowed him to identify the secrets of growing your audience authentically. In digital marketing, your competition is not only your direct competitors but all the other businesses, from different industries, that also have an online presence. He shared with us the common mistakes that most business owners make when working on their social media presence. One thing he mentioned was the importance of having a content structure that is most suited to your strength. What works for one person may not necessarily work for you. It is best for you to know what you can best and most comfortably do. Lastly, it is the right mindset that will make you go further.

Brendan’s website:



Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode.

Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. My guest today is Brendon Cain. Brendon is an outside of the box thinker, speaker and author who empowers brands to scale by helping them stand out and beat competition in crowded and oversaturated markets. He’s the author of the international best selling book 1 million followers, which I have actually read, and the newly released hook point how to stand out in a three second world. I love that title, as well as the founder and CEO of the hook point agency. Brendon has worked with hundreds of individuals and brands providing business and digital strategy for more than 15 years, including MTV, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and many others. Brendan, thank you so much for coming on to the show today.

Brendan Kane 1:06

Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Pleasure to connect with you and everybody listening to this?

Katie Brinkley 1:11

Well, I’ve got like I said in your intro, I’ve actually had the pleasure of reading your book, 1 million followers, it is a fantastic read.

Brendan Kane 1:18

Well, thanks for checking it out. I

Katie Brinkley 1:20

really appreciate it. Well, before we dive into, you know, building your presence through social media, can you tell us a little bit about yourself just so we can get to know you better?

Brendan Kane 1:29

Yeah, so I’ve been in the the digital and social media space for almost 1516 years. And I initially got started in the film industry because I wanted to be a film producer. So I went to film school hoping to really learn about business that can set a solid foundation, prepare myself when I moved to LA to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. And as soon as I showed up to film school, I quickly realized they don’t teach you anything about business there. So I figured the best way to learn about businesses actually create your own, and the most cost efficient way at the time. And it still holds true today as a start internet company. So I started a few of them when I was going to college is really to learn and experiment of what does it take to actually get something off the ground? You know, what does it take something to manage something so that by the time I got to LA, I had some experience in that. And when I showed up, I started at the bottom like everybody else, you know, making coffee and copies and deliveries. And I was looking for that way to stand out and connect with high level producers and directors and studio executives. And just notice that me positioning myself as somebody wanted to be a movie producer, was it really catching the eye because there’s hundreds of 1000s, if not millions of people moving to Los Angeles all the time that want to be film producers. So that’s where I took a step back and just started to listen to what was, you know, going on in the office to find what my hook point was the to find the way to capture that attention. And I just realized that once whenever we finished producing a film, there was a sense of anxiety that came over the office in the studio, from the standpoint of well, we just invested 10s of millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars to produce this piece of creative. And now we need to find a way to reach hundreds of millions of people with this brand that nobody knows about in just a very short period of time, sometimes months. So I just started saying hey, listen, I started these internet companies while I was going to college. And you know, I can help you craft some strategies to tap into. And at the time, there was really no term for it wasn’t called anything but to tap into these influencers, to tap into social networks to tap into blogs, in digital platforms that had these traffic sources that were kind of being ignored at that time. So that quickly transitioned me from making coffee and copies to building a digital division for the first studio I worked for. And that also allowed me the opportunity to talk to and work with celebrities and actors and directors on how to further syndicate their brand online, as well as the movies that we were working on. And then from there, I really just saw that I was more cut out for the entrepreneurial endeavors. You know, people think that making movies is this really sexy and creative and fun thing, but it really is another corporation, it’s another business. And I felt like I was spending more time asking for permission to do things and actually doing things. So I continue down this path of digital and started building technology platforms and licensing them to back to big media companies like I’d built platforms in partnership with MTV and Viacom and vice and Yahoo and paramount to name a few. And you especially the MTV partnerships opened up the doors to work with big celebrities like Taylor Swift and building up their their e commerce platform and their social initiatives. And then really, from there got actively involved in the paid advertising space and helped scale one of the largest social paid optimization firms where we were managing about $100 million a year in paid spend for Fortune 105 100 Are companies and then just so on. And so far, they just kept continuing those on this journey and learning the different elements of social content and really how to scale at the highest levels.

Katie Brinkley 5:10

I love it. And there, you talked about ads in there. And then that is something that you talked about in your book, 1 million followers, I know that you just have a new book that just came out. But like I said before, 1 million followers is a great read. And in your book, you talk about gaining 1 million followers in 30 days, which is just crazy. But the way you do it is through ads. Can you talk to us a bit about strategy on trying to grow your audience authentically?

Brendan Kane 5:37

Yeah, we use a combination. So when I did the million followers in 30 days, we use the Facebook advertising platform more as a market research tool, people look at ad platforms, as a media buying tool, which is what it’s designed for, it’s what it’s built for. And it’s very good at that. But I saw an opportunity when I was working with clients to use it as a testing bed in a market research tool to identify what content formats, trends, story structures, resonate with audiences to get them to share it at the highest velocity. So basically, using it as a tool to seed content variations to specific audiences see how they respond. And what when I say response, it’s looking at two contributing factors is one, what is the share rate? What is the shareability of seeding this content to people? Because that’s where you can generate virality and organic lift of using pay paid advertising? And then to what is the correlative effect of getting that initial person that it seeded to to follow? But can you get shares off of shares off of shares to drive even more followers? So that’s the system that we built for Facebook. And you know, there’s other members of my team, though, that have done this completely organically, that have generated well over 50 million followers and 40 billion views for all the projects that that our teams worked on. So we married the two of them together. And that’s specifically around Facebook. Well, Instagram, it’s a bit different. When we’re focusing on follower growth there were all full always focused on distribution of content out to other channels to drive traffic back, we haven’t really seen that the ad platform itself can do a scalable way to generate followers, can you generate followers on Instagram, amplify them? Yes. But from a cost efficiency rate and a scalability rate, we just don’t see it. So we’ve designed systems, where we have one partner account that has over 5 million followers, and we’ll test content on his channel organically by him natively uploading it and measure the effect of that piece of content, driving somebody to follow and click the Follow button on our accounts. And then once we have that content tested and optimized, then we can syndicate it out to a network of 10 to 15 accounts, all with millions of followers to then spark that growth. And in a short period of time, I think the most we’ve done is like 90,000 followers in two days and about 300,000 followers, and in a single month using those methodologies.

Katie Brinkley 8:13

I love it. And it’s actually a strategy that I was able to, to use and utilize for a past client that I had, that was sold inner tire tubes. And like he said, if you can create shareable content, it is so valuable because not not only to your audience, but for your own business’s growth, because then they’re sharing with their friends and their friends and their friends and shareable content is so valuable. I’d like to discuss content next. One thing that I’m always preaching about to my audience is providing value through your social media. Can you talk to us about creating personal, unique and valuable content that will engage your core audience?

Brendan Kane 8:49

Yeah. And really, that that is one of the crux, or one of the main things that can engage people. But you first got to start with, how do I just get somebody to stop in the feed? Because there’s you I see a lot of mistakes that people make with content is, what they’re doing is they’re jumping straight to the story straight to the product, the servers are straight to the value without understanding that they have to have a pattern interruption to just get this scroll to stop so that you can get when the next part of the conversation or in the case of YouTube when the click off the headline in thumbnail. So really, when I look at social media, from a content creation perspective, or scalability, or even follower growth, there’s really only two things you have to do. And if you do these two things, well, you’ll be successful no matter what change happens to the algorithm. You’ll do it no matter what platform all the platforms work off of this. This principle is one are you getting somebody to stop? Just stop the scroll, get the click in terms of YouTube because if you don’t do that, what’s happening is you’re telling or showing the algorithm Your content is not going to retain audiences. So there’s this term algorithm thrown around a lot. And the algorithm has one job and one job only is to keep people on the platform as long as possible. That’s how they monetize it because they can see more ads. So the algorithms are looking for that content. That one gets somebody to stop and pay attention to, to hold people’s attention for the longest period of time. Those are the two core principles that if you master no matter what platform you’re on, no matter what changed, happens, the algorithm you will be successful. But most people struggle with that first part is they don’t get people to stop. And what what you’ve really got to conceptualize is the world that we’re living in today, there’s over 60 billion messages sent out on digital platforms each day, you’re no longer just fighting against your direct competition you’re fighting, it’s every piece of content for attention. So like it or not, you’re competing against Netflix, you’re competing against LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, for that attention. So if you visualize and open up Instagram, right now, there’s probably 1000 pieces of content that can be ceded to you based on all the people that you follow, and all the content that you’ve engaged with, which means that the algorithms have a very difficult job, they have to prioritize, okay, what are the top 15 posts that I’m going to line up for this person, because it obviously cannot send you 1000 pieces of content into the main feed as you open it, you just shut it down, you get overwhelmed. So in reality, if we think about it, there’s 985 Out of those 1000s, or they’re getting deprioritize, they’re not going to see the light of day. So what you have to think about is okay, I’m opening up this app, how do I make sure that I fall into those top 1015 20 posts to have any chance of success? And that’s where we come up with is pattern interruption. We didn’t come up with pattern interruption, but we use pattern interruption a lot. What that means is, if you open up Instagram, just imagine you just watched a Netflix trailer, you just watch the Bron James don’t watch Kim Kardashian, talking about fashion, you watch Kevin Hart, tell a joke. And now your video comes up. What is going to interrupt that pattern of all of those pieces of content that were just consumed to get somebody to stop and pay attention to what you have to say, if you can do that, you have the chance to get to the second part, which is holding the attention now most people don’t even get that scroll to stop. So that’s where they struggle to grow and follower growth. That’s when they struggle and you see counts with significant follower numbers and low engagement and reach. It’s not because they have fake followers or unengaged people, it’s just the album’s are suppressing it, because you’re not hitting what they’re looking for.

Katie Brinkley 12:46

I think that that is a perfect segue into your new book hook point. I’m assuming that this is exactly what you talked about in hook point.

Brendan Kane 12:54

Yeah, we dive into this concept in depth of how to do those two things of how do you get somebody to stop and pay attention? And also, how do you hold attention for a long period of time. And it’s not just online and social media, we do cover that in depth. But we also talked about this offline as well, is how you can win major partnerships and deals using these principles as well, because the course of our experience is although we’re known for social media, because of the first book, we have a tremendous amount of experience in the offline conversations that can lead to bigger deals, bigger partnerships, things of that nature, to drive growth, for brand drive revenue, and things of that nature. And we also talk about how you can leverage both online and offline off of each other in order to drive success even further, the next level.

Katie Brinkley 13:42

And the subtitle, you know how to stand out in a 32nd world is so true, because that’s exactly what you have to try and get someone to stop the scroll. What other tips can you give somebody that might be listening like Brandon said, all these great tips, but how do I do that? How do I get them to stop the scroll? How do I make my content stand out in such a crowded marketplace?

Brendan Kane 14:04

Let’s start with where people go wrong. The biggest mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes that I see with people, and I’ve already alluded to this is is that they’re not thinking about how do I just get somebody to stop? How do I win that first three seconds, they’re going straight into the story, straight into the value prop straight into the product or the CTA without really looking at what goes before I start this. Now one of the masters of this and if you want to see this at work at the highest level is you look at Gary Vaynerchuk channels, specifically Instagram. And you’ll see these conversations that he’ll have with fans or interviews of top influential people’s and if you look at all of his videos, like if he’s interviewing somebody or talking to the fan, the first three to five seconds are super pretty She, in that part may come from the end of the interview or the beginning of the interview where they start with that. And then they go into the beginning of the conversation. Another example of this is if you look at movie trailers on social media, what do they do? They caught a three to five second trailer before the trailer even starts. It’s flashy, lights, explosions, things of that nature. Nothing about the exposition of the story, nothing about the characters, just getting you to stop and pay attention. And most people when they’re designing content, they’re not thinking about that first three seconds, they’re just creating the content in almost acting as if they already won the attention. So that’s the first mistake, common mistake that I see. The second one is, they’re saying the same thing, in the same way, as everybody else. So one of the analogies and examples that I give is like, let’s just say that we’re launching a meditation app or a meditation retreat. Meditation has been around for 1000s of years, if you take meditation to Google, there’s billions of results. Now, most people, if they’re constructing that ad, or even an organic piece of content, it may say something like meditation is the key to success or meditations the key to happiness or stillness or relieving anxiety. Now, if I see a headline, or a meme card, which is if you’ve seen on social media, it’s like a burned in caption at the top, or headline at the top. And I see that I already know what that’s gonna say, even though you may have a very unique perspective on it. And it may say something different. The minute I think, or I believe that I know what this piece of content is going to say whether it’s a caption, whether it’s a video, whether it’s an article, I can just skip it. Because again, the we’re living in this micro tension world, I’m scrolling up to the next one. So the way that I would approach that, and one of the tools that we use, we don’t use it all the time, but it’s a good example of earthiness, or willingness. First three seconds is subverting expectations, flipping it completely on its head. So what that may look like is maybe my meme card says meditation is a scam, to stop the scroll to generate that pattern interruption. So now that I got got got them to stop, I’m not talking about clickbait here, because I have to match it up to maintain that attention that I just want. Because the algorithms have got very smart, they understand clickbait at its core. So for me to hold attention. And to start the next part of the conversation, I may say something along the lines of, Hey, have you ever felt like meditation just doesn’t work? Or that meditation is almost a scam? Well, if that’s you, I want to tell your story, because I really feel your pain. And I understand you. Because when I started meditating, I was told that I needed to sit down and clear my head. But every time I sat down my mind would constantly race and I thought, am I not doing this right? Is my brain broken? Is meditation just not work? Is it a scam? So today, what I want to dive into is share a few strategies that I learned, as somebody that thought meditation is a scam, somebody that didn’t believe in it, that got it to work for me to the point where I’ve meditated every single day for the past 10 years. So let’s dive in. So I created that pattern interruption to get them to stop. And then I tied the story into that pattern interruption.

Katie Brinkley 18:28

And that’s exactly what I was gonna say is you had a story, you found a way for them to stop the scroll. And then you provided them with value. And it’s not, I mean, there, you don’t need to write a microblog for every single social media posts. But the longer posts that you have that if it is providing value and getting people to read and spend more time on your post, it’s just going to help you in that ever changing algorithm. Absolutely. It’s

Brendan Kane 18:53

It’s again, it comes down to two thing is winning the attention and holding the attention. That’s all it is. And I’m not saying it’s easy to do. But that is all you have to do to win in today’s world.

Katie Brinkley 19:06

Now, when you give this strategy, do you think that applicable on every single social media channel?

Brendan Kane 19:13

Yep. Is all of them are fighting against each other? I don’t know if you saw the, the Netflix documentary social dilemma, but it’s, it’s completely evident there. And if you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching it from the standpoint of how the algorithms work. Not really the content in general, the overall message which is important, don’t get me wrong, but it can get kind of depressing. But if you look at it from from what we’re talking about today, or if you’ve even seen it, I recommend going back and doing it and more focused on the visualizations of how the algorithms work. But yeah, they’re all fighting against each other for attention. Now, that doesn’t say, you know, sometimes what we what we see, especially with new accounts, sometimes it takes time for the algorithms to pick up on whether you’re a content creator that holds or grabs attention and holds attention, so sometimes in the beginning you could be do be doing everything right. And it still may take time. And that’s where ads can come into play and help jumpstart it a little bit. But I caution people, not just to rely on ads to generate reach against content that is not really getting people to stop and holding attention, because that’s just going to reinforce to the algorithm that you’re a content creator that can’t hold attention. And thus, you’ll have to just keep paying for that reach versus eventually just organically. It picks up from there.

Katie Brinkley 20:39

I love it. And what are your personal thoughts on if a video makes that much of a difference? Or if you do have that meme or graphic or image that just does stop? Stop the scroll? What do you think works better? Should people try and have video as part of their social media strategy? Or can you be successful if you have a solid hook point?

Brendan Kane 21:00

Yeah, the the content format, it can work across the board, I will say that you’re depending or no matter what the content format is, if you’re grabbing attention and holding attention, you’ll get reached Now obviously, with like YouTube, or Tik Tok, it’s not really image based or text based. So it’s primarily driven by video. But video is going to generate more reach more virality. But it’s harder to pull off. Because there’s so many different variables that have to come into place. You got that first three seconds, you’ve got the meme card, you got the captions, you got the pacing, you got the tone, versus an article or image with a lengthy post beyond it. Or below it, you’re typically within a split second, somebody knows I like this, I don’t like this, I’m going to read this CAPTCHA. I’m not going to read this caption. So yes, video has higher potential upside, but it’s harder to pull off, I always just say is really know what your strengths and weaknesses are. And play to that. Because there’s examples. You know, you I think of like Humans of New York, with Brandon Sant and what he’s done developing these amazing stories around these portraits, and he took around these people. And it went crazy, viral, viral and works. There’s another Instagram account called Kirby Jenner, where he photoshopped himself into Kendall Jenner photos super clever, super smart. It works. So you can always find examples of different content structures and format working. It’s just a matter of where do your strengths and weaknesses lie and really play to it?

Katie Brinkley 22:32

Well, is there anything else that you can tell us about your new book? I mean, I can’t wait to read it. And it sounds like you have a lot of great tips in there. What? What are something else that someone listening today that you’d like them to know? That will get them to go out and check your book out?

Brendan Kane 22:48

Yeah, I mean, we spent two years working on that book. And it’s not just our tactics, I interviewed many different experts around the world, one of my friends that sold over a billion dollars worth of products through social media tea breaks down his methodology, and process of how to, you know, speak to people’s desires and needs and challenges. I’ve got another friend. It’s one of the top creative directors in the world that has worked with the likes of Nike and Redbull, and all these big brands. And he breaks down the psychology of how he approached winning markets, like he got sent by Nike to go to Europe and figure out how to win that market. So there’s so many different perspectives from thought leaders that have achieved remarkable things, all sharing their knowledge with you, on how to really stand out so that you can scale your brand you can hit your goals and overcome any challenge or challenges or obstacles that you face when it comes to growing in terms of marketing in terms of grabbing attention.

Katie Brinkley 23:46

I love it. And that is so important. I mean it like you said before the algorithm, it doesn’t know how are you going to stand out as a business between pictures of your aunt’s dog and then all the other businesses out there? You have to have something that’s going to stop the scroll. Before we finish up? Is there anything I didn’t ask you about today during today’s discussion that you think is important for for us to hear?

Brendan Kane 24:08

Well, I think you’ve asked some some really brilliant questions. I think that the only remaining parting thoughts I would express is so much of this is mindset driven is this takes work to get good at I mean, we’ve been doing this for 15 years. It’s why we built a consulting firm to actually develop bullet points for clients. But if you really want to be successful, just be relentless with it. You just don’t give up you know, just keep going. facing the challenges and obstacles and keep learning. It’s even with us. We’ve been doing this for so long. We’re constantly learning. We’re constantly testing and trying new things. And if you really set that foundation from a mindset perspective, you will find success.

Katie Brinkley 24:49

I love it and mindset is everything. Brennan this has been such a great conversation. Where can we find your book and find out more about you online?

Brendan Kane 24:57

Yeah, if you want to check out the hook point book We’ll go to book dot hook point comm because with that you get access to a free masterclass and you get the physical book plus the audio book there if you want to connect with me. I do respond to direct messages when I have time on Instagram at Brendan Kane, or you can email me at be Kane at Brendan J. Kane calm or learn more about me at Brendan J. Kane calm.

Katie Brinkley 25:26

Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Brendan Kane 25:29

My pleasure. Thank you for having me. It’s so wonderful to connect with you and all the listeners out there.

Katie Brinkley 25:33

And if you’re ready to take your social media to the next level for your small business, head over to my website and check out my free video training the three biggest mistakes small businesses make with social media and how to avoid them. Discover how to make your social media marketing stand out from the crowd online. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at or connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.