Building a Likeable Social Media Presence – An Interview with Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen
Building a Likeable Social Media Presence – An Interview with Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm. Dave is also the author of a New York Times Best Seller, “Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook and other social networks, Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver and Likeable Leadership: A Collection of 65+ Inspirational Stories on Marketing, Your Career, Social Media & More

Dave’s company have managed over 250 accounts on Facebook and other social networks, for brands such as Verizon FiOS, 1-800, Neutrogena, Uno Chicago Grill, The Pampered Chef, and Heineken.

In this interview Dave gives tips on how to build a likeable social media presence and use social media in a profitable way. Dave reveals…

  • How to get people to listen to your message in age when traditional advertising is dying
  • Why word of mouth is the purest and best form of marketing
  • How social media and search are going to be converging together in the very near future
  • Why listening is 50% of all social media communication
  • How you can use social media as your very own focus group to discover what your customers really want
  • A technique for finding leads on Twitter in real time (Dave shares a cool story about this)
  • How social media gives you the ability to target like never before
  • How Dave was able to create a Facebook ad so targeted, he could send his wife an anniversary message that was only visible to her!
  • Why Dave believes Facebook's edge rank formula is one of the greatest technical advancements of our time
  • Why push marketing on social media just doesn't work (and what works a lot better instead!)
  • 3 tips for creating dialogue on social media
  • How to bring your brand to life through storytelling
  • And more. Just click the play button below to listen to the interview...

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Joey Bushnell: Hey, welcome to The Online Marketing Show. I’m your host, Joey Bushnell. Today’s special guest is Dave Kerpen. Dave is a social media expert and author of the Books “Likeable Social Media, Likeable Business and the newly released Likeable Leadership”. Go to to find out more

Dave, thank you for being with me today.

Dave Kerpen: Thanks so much for having me.

Joey Bushnell: Dave, as I just mentioned you are the author of several social media marketing books. The first in the series was “Likable Social Media”. How did you come to write that book?

Dave Kerpen: Well, we’ve been in the social media marketing business for 5 years now at Likable based in the US and with offices now in several parts of the world. We’ve worked with a lot of very big brands but I wanted to write a book that could help anyone, no matter what the size of their organization benefit from social media and using it well.

Our company works mostly with much bigger companies like 100 flowers, Verizon and Neutrogena and I wanted a book that anyone could pick up and use to help them navigate the scary, changing waters of social media.

Joey Bushnell: I’ve read the book Dave and it’s a great book and that’s why I got in touch with you because I wanted to ask you about some of the concepts and things that you’ve written about in them, is that OK to do that today?

Dave Kerpen: Sure I’m happy to talk about that and thank you for your kind words about the book. Of course what I tell everyone that gives me feedback is, personally I would love for you to share that feed back, whether it’s good or bad to post an Amazon review and share it with the world. That’s what word of mouth marketing and social media is all about.

Joey Bushnell: Absolutely I will do.

My first question is, you talk about how people are hardly listening or paying attention to commercials and adverts anymore, so as marketers what can we do about that?

Dave Kerpen: Marketers really need to think about what people are paying attention to and then think about, not necessarily how to disrupt them, but how to add value to their lives.

Instead of trying to interrupt them while they are watching TV which won’t work anymore because they will fast forward through the ads on TV anyway. Think about how you can add value to them, what you can offer them to make their lives a little bit better, more entertaining or more interesting using social media or whatever channels you have. Think more about adding value and less about disrupting.

Joey Bushnell: You mentioned also about word of mouth marketing such as amazon reviews and all the other kinds of things where people leave comments about their opinions of products. So how long has word of mouth marketing been around?

Dave Kerpen: I like to say word of mouth marketing has been around since Eve said to Adam “You gotta try this apple!” The truth is word of mouth marketing has always been around, it’s always been the purest and best form of marketing.

Even back in the old days people use to go to the town square and talk about their experience with the local barber or tailor. Now it’s the same thing but social media allows for incredible scale, it’s word of mouth and word of mouth marketing at scale. Never before could you go to the town square known as Facebook and talk to 900 million people. Word of mouth marketing like I said, is no different to the old days of a town square or a cocktail party but now it’s being done at scale in front of hundred’s, thousand’s or millions of people.

Joey Bushnell: How is social media impacting search engines like Google?

Dave Kerpen: There is going to be a great conversion of search and social in the next couple of years.

Google’s main entry into social is Google Plus. Google has used Google Plus to really drive their own social movement.

At the same time Facebook is building a search engine of its own. In the near future you won’t really need to leave Facebook in order to search for something and when you search for something on Facebook you won’t just see a product that has been optimized for search or been paid for search, you will see a product that your own friends like. It’s the convergence with search and the social graph that is so powerful and so exciting.

Joey Bushnell: Absolutely amazing, so do have any idea when that will be released the Facebook search engine?

Dave Kerpen: I don’t and they are a public company now, so even if I did it wouldn’t be good for me to talk about that but certainly they are hard at work on it.

Joey Bushnell: We’ll definitely stay tuned for that one, I’m really looking forward to that. You talk in your book about listening, so what role does listening play in social media?

Dave Kerpen: Listening, I’m not going to say it’s everything but listening is truly 50% of all communication.

For far too long marketers have relegated listening to 5% or 10% of their budget because it was easy. Most of the work you could do was the talking part the TV commercials, the radio spot, the outdoor advertising, that is all the talking part. They used to spend just 5% of a budget or less on listening, some focus group testing or market research.

Well now, social media allows for a 24/7/365 focus group. You can listen all the time to what your customers are saying, prospects are saying, employees are saying, what your competitors are saying, what your competitors customers are saying. There is massive data “big data” it’s being called that companies can tap into when they are listening.

The story I open my book with is the same story that I tell a lot of senior executives that don’t yet fully understand the power of social media, listening and the power of twitter. It was about a year and a half ago I was staying in Las Vegas, I had taken a flight from New York. I was taking a 6 hour flight to Vegas and I arrived at the Aria hotel which was the hottest hotel on the strip.

I was tired and frustrated I just wanted to go to bed but I was waiting in line to check into the Aria for nearly 45 minutes. I was so frustrated as you can imagine and I did what any big social media nerd would do I tweeted… “Waiting in line at the Aria over 45 mins. Not worth it. #fail.” The Aria wasn’t listening to my tweets and the Aria didn’t do anything but The Rio another hotel right up the street was listening to my tweets and they responded within 2 minutes.

When I tell this story Joey, senior executives that I tell get excited and say “Wow, what did The Rio say back? You have to come stay over we have a room for you?” Well, they didn’t say that, they said I would have got 2 things, it’s a bit creepy they were following me this closely and why is it wide open at The Rio when it’s jam packed at the Aria?

What the Rio tweeted back was “Sorry you’re having a bad experience Dave, hope the rest of your time in Vegas goes well.” That wasn’t a marketing message at all, that was was them listening and them demonstrating to me they were listening with a little empathy. That ability to listen and demonstrate empathy is what social media is all about. Guess where I stayed next time I went to Vegas?

Joey Bushnell: The Rio

Dave Kerpen: The Rio! They earned my sale not through marketing but through listening.

Joey Bushnell: That’s a fantastic example. How does social media mean that we can define our target audience better than we ever could do before?

Dave Kerpen: If it’s not clear yet to you, I’m not a huge fan of linear advertising, I think that it’s very wasteful. But as wasteful as traditional advertising is, social media advertising allows you to target more precisely than ever before.

So Facebook has data on 900 million people around the world. You can target people by job title, interest, age, gender, marital status, home town or work place. You can target as precisely as you’d like.

When I have been playing around with the targeting, and I’m married to my wife, and I was playing around with the targeting criteria on Facebook. I was at a hotel in Texas and I took out an ad on Facebook, targeting 34 year old married females that work at Likable Media. That ad said “I love you Carrie”. She was the only person in the world to see that ad, which is sort of silly but at the same time it shows that if you want to reach one person or just a few people, you might want to target the CEO of the biggest company in your town. Or the ten biggest architecture firms in your city. Or chief marketing officers of 20 specific companies and you can do that.

There’s a famous line in the move “The Social Network” which is “You know what’s cooler than a million dollars? A billion dollars!” When I talk about Facebook ads I like to share a line that’s the opposite to that “You know what’s cooler than reaching 900 million people on Facebook? Reaching the right 900 people or the right 90 people or the right 9 people” depending on the size and scope of your business.

Joey Bushnell: So your wife when she saw your advert, was she responsive to your ad?

Dave Kerpen: She was, she actually took out an ad back to me. The beauty is that’s ads are cost per click so you can run ads back and forth between people and never spend a dollar as long as you don’t click on the ad.

Joey Bushnell: Brilliant. There’s another thing you speak about in your book which is the edge rank formula. What is that and why is it important to us as social media marketers?

Dave Kerpen: In my humble opinion Joey, the edge rank formula is the most innovative and important technology advancement of our time.

Before I explain it, I like to ask people what they think of their cell phones. I ask them what they think of their smart phones and getting email all day on their phones. Email has been this horribly abused marketing channel, it’s really horrible and almost 90% of all email is unwanted. It might not be illegal unwanted but it’s that mailing piece that you sign up for that you don’t really want to get. It’s that idiot at work who insists upon clicking “Reply All”. It’s material you don’t want to get when you are getting it.

Well, contrast email with edge rank which determines what shows up in your Facebook news feed. At any given time the average person has 150 friends and likes 10 pages. That means 160 or more pieces of data are fighting for your attention. Edge rank is a formula that determines what shows up in your news feed based on how relevant it is, how many times you’ve interacted with that person or brand, how recently you have interacted with them, the type of content that it is and literally how likable that content is. How many likes and comments that content is generating.

It’s really awesome because it means for consumers that we don’t get spammed anymore. We only see content on our newsfeed on Facebook that is relevant, interesting and important to us. But for marketers it means we can’t use Facebook as a push marketing mechanism. We have to use Facebook and other social networks to share engaging relevant, likable content. If you share content, it doesn’t matter how many likes you have, if it sucks people aren’t going to see it. If you share content that is great even if you don’t have that many fans, everyone is going to see it, that is the beauty. That is why social media really is the great equalizer of our time.

Joey Bushnell: Do you have any tips about creating real dialogue with our fans and our followers and the people who like us on social media?

Dave Kerpen: Sure. Ask questions, be engaging, be interesting, don’t make it about you the brand or the marketer, make it about me the customer. Ask me what I want to do and what I’m interested in.

Then continue to follow up in the conversation, don’t make it so I ask a question and then you talk, then it’s over. Make it so I ask a question then you talk then we continue a conversation. Just how we would in real life. That’s how conversation and relationships work in real life, that’s how it should work in social media as well.

Joey Bushnell: As well as asking questions you talk about telling stories and even one step further than that to get our customers to share their stories too, so how would we go about encouraging people to do that?

Dave Kerpen: Story telling has always been really important in marketing. It used to be that in order to be a good story teller, you had to be a big ad agency who are television advertisers and you used to have to spend huge dollars on a 30 second spot on TV or radio.

Well, those days are over because now you can tell a story on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. You can tell a story about how your company started, you could tell a story about a customer, a staff member. It’s all about bringing your brand to life. The cool thing is if your story doesn’t resonate, tell a different story the next day.

You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on a big budget. You can tell a story with 140 characters on Twitter or a picture on Facebook or Pinterest. Or a short amateur video that you make on YouTube or Facebook. It’s just far easier to tell a story and now it’s all about the content. It’s more about thinking about how to bring your brand to life.

Joey Bushnell: Dave, where can we get more of your information and where can we get your books?

Dave Kerpen: If anyone has any questions for me they can ask me them on Twitter at I’m also on Facebook you can connect with me there and on LinkedIn. If you have specific questions about the book or you want to learn more about the book you can visit us on Amazon or

Joey Bushnell: Great. That’s the end of today’s show, thank you for listening in. Dave, thank you so much for coming on the show, I really appreciate it.

Dave Kerpen: It’s my pleasure it’s been great chatting with you and all you listeners have a likeable day!