Isaac Hinds has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years. He started as a fitness and body building participant and fan. He evolved his passion into building websites for athletes and then into body building and fitness photography. In 2004 he started hardbody.com. A year and a half ago he created the Hardbody Facebook page. Today he has over 28,000 followers (and over 15,000 followers on Twitter).
Thanks to Skype I was able to talk to him at his home in the US from my home in Spain.
Here is a bit of his story.
How did Hardbody come about?
A friend of mine owned the domain name since 1993 or 1994. He is the brilliant one. He wasn’t using it. I was going to all of these [body building and fitness] shows. I was following the industry and the shows. I was posting my reviews and comments on other people’s message boards. I took what I was doing on other’s forums and started blogging show reviews and comments on hardbody.com. It started as a blog with random postings and it grew from there. I did not set out to build the site there is today, but it morphed into that overtime.
When you started Facebook were you thinking 18 months later you would have 28,000+ followers?
No, growing up in South Dakota my home town had about 1300 people or so. Now I have 100s of times more Facebook followers than I did have living in my hometown. I didn’t set out for Facebook to be what it is, but I just started experimenting with stuff. I did polls. I noticed people were not interested in doing them because it attaches their name to their answer. I found it was easier to post a question where they could like it. That is where I got a bigger response and could start a conversation, with a question such as, ‘Do you like to work out in the morning?’
28,000 followers are great. This time last year I had 7000. I think that is awesome, but then I look at UFC and Nike and they have millions of people. There is still such a bigger audience out there.
Was there a tipping point?
There was not one thing. But when I started posting photos [of the women I was taking pictures of] the number of followers started to grow. What I also found was helping increase the number of followers was posting motivational quotes. At first I was posting what other people were saying, but then I realized it was an opportunity to put hardbody.com out there. I started taking quotes and putting them in a hardbody.com graphic. People will share these Hardbody quotes which in turn brings more followers on Facebook. It was not one in particular event that attracted all of these followers. Doing things that are more sharable brings in more followers.
One of the points where the number of my Facebook followers started to pick up steam was incorporating the concept of, ‘I am a Hardbody’ and putting that on the photos of women I had taken at body building shows and then posting those pictures on Facebook. This gave the people I photographed exposure. They would in turn put that photo it on their Facebook page and it spread from there. They also started making these pictures their profile picture and sharing it on their fan pages – that definitely helped. I do not let anyone post on my Hardbody Facebook page. It has upset some people. That was the way I chose to run it. I did not want it gunked up with people spamming it.
Is there anything interesting about being a man that is communicating with an audience that is female?
Yes. I am trying to bring more women into the fold to speak with women. I can give a show review and I can be pretty blunt. Some people do reviews and just say that everyone is great. I give objective reviews and previews. Being a dude and trying to write about women only goes so far. Often I am reminded that I am not speaking in a tone or manner that is appealing to women.
With my SEO Company, I get asked all of the time, ‘How do I get more Facebook followers and Facebook friends?’
What I find annoying is the weight people put into how many followers you have. There are tools out there that can automate companies getting more Facebook followers. Then there are all these gimmicks and contests I see. Like model searches that require people to, ‘Have your friends vote for you by liking your picture.’ If you have 100,000 likes or fans how many people are actually participating in your brand or make a purchase or are loyal to that brand? If you have 100,000 likes are you selling more product? With some companies they are not doing ads in magazines. They are targeting online which is great for sites like mine. But when it comes to sponsoring athletes, companies are looking at who has a blog, who is active on Facebook and who is on Twitter. Someone who has more of a following has more leverage.
Did you put a significant investment into getting 28,000 Facebook followers?
Just my time. People ask me about it [getting Facebook followers] all the time. The best piece of advice I can give is what I learned from an ESPN Conference on women and that is — to be yourself. Be authentic. When you are authentic people are either going to like you or they are not going to like you. I see companies or people trying to put out a message that they think people want to hear. They try to please everyone. I sometimes try to fuel the fire by putting more controversial things out there. The easiest way to get a response is to put something out there that is negative and that is easy to get roped into. Everyone loves to bitch. Twitter and Facebook are often a places for people to complain.
Is the revenue generated worth the work you put into getting all of the Facebook followers you have?
For me it was. When I look at my traffic a significant amount of it is coming from Facebook and Twitter posts. I am at a point now where I need to capitalize on what I have built. What I am missing now is having something to sell when people get to hardbody.com. Something like clothes, posters and calendars. People have asked for it. People are motivated to look like the women on hardbody.com.
Is the advertising on hardbody.com not generating enough revenue?
It is, but I see yet another revenue stream. Also if you have one advertiser that has a premiere spot and then they don’t pay you for six months – well that sucks. The advertising has turned into a second income. I would love to do it [hardbody.com] full time. Right now the site is run by just me. I get emails every week where people want a job or want to speak to the Human Resources department. The perception you can put out is funny.
It does look like a huge company when you look at the hardbody.com.
How I came across a company, Perky Jerky, is I called someone a jerky on Twitter. Perky Jerky must have had alerts set up and they saw it and asked me if I had tried Perky Jerky. We were messaging back and forth and they asked if we were going to be around in the office tomorrow because they would send the Jerk Man over. I was like, ‘That might be a little awkward. It is just me and I work from home.’
Did you track your social media effort?
I love that stuff, but it becomes very time consuming. My biggest pet peeve are the companies that use Facebook and Twitter as a one way communication tool. Facebook and Twitter are meant to be conversational tools not just tools to push information. Obviously it [one way communication] works for some companies because they have 100,000 fans. Some companies ask, ‘What did you do for working out today?’ and 70 people will answer and the company won’t respond at all.
I am not obsessed with how many fans I get on Facebook. I am more interested in the types of stories that get traffic
to Hardbody. At the end of the day I was spending too much time on Facebook and trying to grow that and in the process was not updating the website itself. At the end of the day it is about getting people to the site.
Facebook can also hold you hostage. I have had people who have 50,000 fans have their whole Facebook page pulled down because someone did not like a photo or said a photo was too sexy or pornographic. I have had it where I got blocked out for a couple of days where I posted a picture someone said was inappropriate, but Facebook won’t tell you what photo or who reported you so you have no way of blocking that person or of not making the mistake of putting that photo up again. It is pretty annoying. Those are the drawbacks of investing all your time into Facebook. They can control it and that can be kind of scary.
I tell clients all the time they have to build good content. I think some people look at it backwards. They want people to like them on Facebook without any compelling reasons for people to want to do that. The compelling reason comes from good content.
Exactly. I see a lot of people who are creative, but not good marketing people and all they do is spam the shit out of other’s walls. You may see results in the short term, but I think you risk alienating people in the long term. You see the same thing with these dumb contests, ‘Go vote. Go vote.’ I don’t want to go vote and in fact I am going to unfriend you because you are doing nothing but that. I have definitely found that pinpointing content that evokes a conversation or takes a stand one way or another — that ends up getting linked on Facebook. It is like politics if you take a stand for or against something there will always be someone who does and does not agree with you. If your content is not relevant – why would anyone ever link to it? It forces people to be copywriters.
What about other social media outlets? StumbleUpon, Digg, Pinterest?
StumbleUpon I need to use more. I just started to embrace Pinterest.
Do you do any other link building outside of Facebook or Twitter?
I don’t. I think it is good. I haven’t done it because it is just me. I only have so much time.
No. My PR is word of mouth. Writing for magazines helps, but it is mostly word of mouth.
Is there a specific day or time of week that gets a better response from Facebook or Twitter?
6:30 – 8:30 am MST is the biggest response. That is when I get the most followers and the most likes and the most responses and the same thing towards the end of the day. But definitely the most response in the morning and then the next most response would be around 4:00 – 6:00 MST.
I find the weekends are crap. Would you agree?
Yes, except I do a lot of things that are event driven and then the hard core fans follow along on the weekends. I think Monday’s are the biggest draw. The other thing is the RSS feed and that drives a lot of people too.
Do you have one recommendation on what people can do to drive more traffic to their site?
I don’t think there is one thing. First and foremost you have to have relevant content and update it frequently. If you start to update it every day then you have to update it every day. If you update it once a month then you are going to fail. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter. If you want more fans it is going to take time. If you post once a week you can’t expect people to participate.
Do you think it is a 7 day a week thing?
I have seen on Hardbody if I don’t post any new content for a couple of days I will get emails and people will think I am dead or something.
How does it feel to have the job that is the envy of all guys?
In what regards?
In working with hot, half naked women.
There are definitely worse jobs to have. While they do look good, it is still work. I am paying attention to their hair and how they move. I am not sitting there thinking, ‘This girl is hot.’
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Be authentic and be consistent. It definitely takes work and a lot of effort.
To learn more www.hardbody.com.
Follow Hardbody on Facebook
Follow Hardbody on Twitter
To learn more about Isaac’s marketing and photography he offers to clients please see: http://liftstudios.com/
Learn more about content writing and SEO services provided by the author.