Experimenting with Your Social Media with Tara Newman

Stacey Harris: I’m really excited because I have my buddy, my client, my coach, really all the things to me. She’s all things to me. Tara Newman joining me today. Hi Tara.

Tara Newman: Hey, Stace. I’m glad that we clarified whose podcast we’re on before we started.

Stacey Harris: So a little insider information. Tara’s a client. We produce your The Bold Leadership Revolution podcast, and frequently and recently we recorded an episode together for that show. So occasionally when we show up on each other’s calendar for a podcast interview, we have to get really clear about whose podcast it is so…

Tara Newman: Who’s on first?

Stacey Harris: Yeah, like who’s guiding this conversation? Otherwise we’d both just sit here and talk to each other for an hour, which might be entertaining content but probably not wildly useful.

Tara Newman: I think it’d be totally entertaining.

Stacey Harris: Maybe someday we’ll just start a …You know what need? A podcast of our team meetings.

Tara Newman: Yes, definitely.

Stacey Harris: Because that would be quality entertainment.

The reason I wanted to have Tara on the show today is because Tara is very good at experimenting in her business and her marketing and testing things. This probably comes from her much more corporate background than I have, but also it comes from a certain amount of comfort with risk that maybe not everybody is born with. Is that accurate to say, Tara?

Tara Newman: Yeah, I think that’s super accurate.

Stacey Harris: And one of the tests we played with, with your Instagram specifically, because that’s your preferred marketing method, was shifting from you being really present in your Stories only, to using some of the writing that you do every day to create some grid posts for Instagram.

Now I remember what started this. Do you remember what started this?

Tara Newman: Well, you tell me what started it and then I’ll-

Stacey Harris: Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones started this, because when Tara was watching Game of Thrones, she had feelings. And she had leadership lessons. Insert link to the Game of Thrones episode here because it might be my favorite podcast she’s ever done and I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

Tara Newman: Right, okay. Yes.

Stacey Harris: So you started writing on your Facebook profile your thoughts about Game of Thrones, which sort of started this semi-regular Tara rants style message. And I was like, “I love these,” and you were like, “Everyone does. Let’s put them on Instagram.” For you, making that shift, was it something that was super obvious or was it really 50 people being like, “Can you just write these all the time?” And you saying yes?

Tara Newman: You know, I think the insight for me at that time was around how comfortable I had become on Instagram Stories. And I started to realize that while I was being visible, I was also hiding. Our Stories get great results. They get a ton of engagement. I love doing stories. It was actually when I found Instagram Stories that I was like, “Oh wait, I think I can do this social media thing,” after struggling for years to find my place that I enjoyed spending time.

So I’d become really comfortable on Stories, but I also really like a good Instagram grid post. Like personally as a consumer, as a consumer of content.

Stacey Harris: You’re also a writer.

Tara Newman: Yes.

Stacey Harris: You’re somebody who writes really well, who enjoys that process. It’s an important part of your day. So the grid really is kind of where the two things can come together for you.

Tara Newman: Yeah. And so it was a combination of all those things. And I’m like, “Okay, well let’s just see what happens if I write.” I’d been craving to express myself, and I think sometimes as business owners, we have to have a clear ROI before we do something, and that can often times stop us from experimenting or stop us from taking action. There was a lot that was stopping me from taking action.

But that is probably one of those things, because I’m like, “Okay, if I’m going to spend my time on this, what’s going to be the return on my energy, the return on my time, and the return on that investment that I’m putting into putting this here?”

But sometimes we don’t always have that ahead of time, and we have to test it to see what is the ROI? What will the return on the energy be? And I write everyday anyway, so I was like, “Oh, I’m just going to write and I’m just going to put it here and I’m going to express myself in ways that feel good to me and that feel inspiring to me.”

It doesn’t have to lead to money. It doesn’t have to lead to more likes or more followers. Personally, I just really want people to read my words because I think my words are good and they deserve to be read. That’s the blogger in me.

I started out as a blogger and whenever I kind of feel wayward or adrift, I always come back to those feelings that I had as a blogger where I was just sharing my experience or sharing my words. I was sharing a story with people for nothing in exchange in the beginning and building a community around people who wanted to come and learn from me and hear what I had to offer. And that always feels really good. So I do like going back to that place.

Stacey Harris: So I want to touch on two things here. The one being closing the loop on what you just said, I think that we often think of, because there’s not a money exchange, we’re not asking anyone for anything then. But whenever we’re writing or doing a story or producing a podcast or sharing a video, we are asking for something.

Just as we invested our time in creating it, we’re asking them to invest their time in consuming it. And I think that one of the reasons your writing connects so much and your Stories connects so much is you show up with enough value that there’s a return on their time investment from a consumption standpoint.

And I think too often we think about creating content and our time and what’s going to be our ROI. But I think one of the reasons you do really well in content is we also think, as a team, about what is going to make this worth them paying attention to it? And I think when you go into any experiment with the knowledge that you’re going to be, if nothing else, getting a return on your investment from a data perspective and from a value perspective for whoever’s going to be a part of that, your experiment is already set up for success because there’s going to be something that comes out of it. There’s not going to be a wash.

So I want to make sure that we’re … As you guys are looking at experimenting, those who are listening, pay attention to what’s the return for you data-wise and what’s the return for them value in participating in that experiment whether they know it or not. Because it’s not like we announced that there was going to be some sort of change. It just sort of happened and we saw what worked.

The other thing that I want to go back to is you were talking about, you’d gotten really comfortable in Stories, so comfortable that you were hiding. And this is something we talk a lot about on this show. It’s something you and I have talked a lot about, this idea of faux marketing and faux visibility, where you’re going through all the steps, you’re checking all the boxes, but you’re not actually doing anything.

Was there something in those Stories that, looking back, you can be like, “Oh yep, that was definitely me with faux visibility.” Was there something that was different in those than is maybe different in your Stories when you’re actually showing up and it’s having a real impact for you and it’s not sort of that hiding feeling? Is there a difference in the kind of content you created or how you felt about doing it? What was the difference that you can identify that?

Tara Newman: So I think that what happened was when I challenged myself to show up in the grid, I challenged myself to look at my head trash. I challenged myself to look at why I wasn’t showing up there. And the Stories that I was telling myself that kept me in Instagram Stories.

So I don’t necessarily think that I was necessarily not fully showing up in Stories, but I think that by going to the grid, overall it challenged me to become bolder with my message. And not necessarily bolder in terms of louder but bolder in terms of really connecting with the things that I want to say and the way I want to say them.

It also really challenged me to get an integrity with this belief I have that when I show up and deliver value, I deliver from a place of generosity without any expectation of return. So can I show up here on the grid for 30 days and post every single day without any expectation of getting more likes, of getting more followers?

And the funniest thing is, is that I swear to God the algorithm took a dump that month.

Stacey Harris: It did, it did. About a week into the experiment, the algorithm was changed. Everybody got hit.

Tara Newman: And I went from getting 50 likes to like 12 likes, and I was like … So here I am, finally saying, “Okay, I’m ready to be seen in this way. I’m ready to showcase myself in this way. I’m ready to put myself out there in this way.” And they’re like, “Well, we’re not going to let people see you.”

Can you show up anyway without any attachment to the fanfare that you might get for your words?

Stacey Harris: It’s interesting because it reminds me of a conversation that we have a lot inside The Mastermind and inside The BRAVE Society of this growth edge piece. And it sounds to me like going to the grid was sort of you moving closer to that growth edge, going, “Okay, I know this works, and I could just keep doing just this because we know it works, but can I stretch? Can I grow? Can I really lean into that edge?”

And it’s interesting because I think we talk a lot about this growth edge idea with income and with getting on stages, and sometimes it really is, I think, the most impactful when we start taking these micro steps. When we go from, “I’m showing up,” maybe it’s Facebook Lives in my group, but can I do Facebook Lives on my page?” Or I’ve been showing up on the grid. Can I do Stories even though it might be my face instead of me just typing? Or in the case of you, sort of the other way around, you got really comfortable in Stories. Could you take this to the grid?

I think that’s a great example, and I really encourage you guys, I always really like action in this podcast. What’s your next social growth edge? What’s that piece? I like that you also mentioned a 30-day experiment. Was that something that you … Is that a timeframe you always work with with these kind of experiments? Or do you like a longer play when you’re toy with things?

Tara Newman: So, I like to chunk things down. It helps me mentally. So I might go into it and be like, “Okay, this is going to be a 90-day experiment, but I’m going to give it 30 days and then determine … ” I want to be in a constant feedback loop, basically is what I’m saying. And when I’m experimenting, the tighter the feedback loop, the better.

So if I could be in a 30-day feedback loop … Ideally I’m in a weekly feedback loop because I’m doing the CEO Debriefs every week, right? And you can even break that down and create a daily feedback loop. But at a minimum, I want to review this after a month and give us some time to see the statistics, right?

And actually we did get good results. I forgot how many people we added in terms of followers, quality followers, that month, but it was around 40 I think.

Stacey Harris: I’m was going to say 45 or 50, yeah. And again, let’s not get past that word of quality. These were people who were not bots. These were people who were not follow-for-follow. These were people who showed up, who engaged, who have become a part of your community, not numbers for the sake of numbers. I think that’s an important thing to highlight.

Tara Newman: Yeah, and you know, we should not ignore the fact that we did this really intentionally, as well, because it happened to coincide with us launching Brave in June.

Stacey Harris: Encouragement period, yeah.

Tara Newman: Having the encouragement period and it allowed me to do was get some really key pieces of content out there that we can repurpose in future encouragement periods. There was a lot on the grid at that point talking about our process, our purpose for the encouragement period, our process for the encouragement period, our values in the BRAVE Society, things that we do, things that we don’t do. And it was a really great opportunity to create things that could be repurposed.

Stacey Harris: And also was a huge value to our members who were already inside the BRAVE Society for potentially other programs, or just getting them really engaged inside the group. It was of value not just to the people who we were potentially bringing into the BRAVE Society, but our existing community and members.

Because I think sometimes when we go into these experiments and we go into especially prelaunch kind of experiments, we can get really tunnel-visioned around, “Oh, this is going to help us sell x, y, z.” Whereas generally the most repurposable, the most valuable content, is that content that’s serving both audiences, the people who haven’t bought yet and the people who have already bought, sort of reaffirming that they’re in the right place.

Especially when, with the BRAVE Society, we have a recurring revenue model. This is a membership that every month or every quarter or every year, depending on how they joined, they decide to stay. And this kind of thing is really helpful for maintaining those existing customers as well.

Tara Newman: Yeah, and I think that, just for anybody who wants to take this type of experiment on, to truly make it an experiment. Have some hypotheses, have some assumptions that you’re testing and challenging or some answers that you want to get.

Like I was really curious about what would drive comments. What drives comments? What drives sharing? So when I create this and then people go and share it, say to their Instagram Story, because that’s so easy to do when you have a great post that you see, that you want to share, is to share it to Instagram Stories, what made it shareable? What made it more likely to be shared? What made it more likely to have comments put in?

Stacey Harris: And one of the things I noticed that was interesting is what was shareable and what was super heavy comments were not necessarily the same posts.

Tara Newman: They weren’t.

Stacey Harris: That’s something really important for you guys to watch, is what are those differences in what’s getting shared versus what’s getting commented on? Because what we would see, is we would see somebody share and then sort of leave their comment in their share, versus commenting on the original post.

What’s great is from a numbers and algorithms standpoint, is shares and comments are both important as far as a reach. So you’re not going to be sacrificing one for the other. They’re both going to help you in your overall numbers from a just brass tacks algorithm standpoint. But it was really interesting to see where those differences were in content shareability versus conversation starter.

Tara Newman: Yeah, and the other thing for me was what did I like to write? What do I like talking about? What were some of the topics? How did I like to write? Like I prefer actually to write more micro blogs instead of short pieces of content. It’s funny, too, because the things that I like to read aren’t always the things I like to write.

So I love sometimes a really good picture and then a quote underneath it, and I tend to not do that. I don’t know why. Like I guess I just have so much to say sometimes that I want to be writing. So I really did learn a bit about myself through the process as well. There was a lot of self-discovery.

Stacey Harris: I like that. I want to talk a little bit about support-wise with this kind of experiment. I think it’s easiest … I think it’s impossible. I’m not even going to like soft-coat this, which is what I was going to do. We’re just going to … no soft-playing this. It’s really difficult, if not completely impossible, to do these kind of experiments without the support of a larger strategy, without the support of like, “Okay, we know that these things are going to be happening.”

We knew that we were going into an encouragement period for BRAVE. We knew what other kind of content was coming out. Is it easier for you now that you do have some support around strategy, and even support in management through Uncommonly More, to take on these kind of experiments? Or do you feel hesitant to sort of jump into the machine and try things?

Tara Newman: So, I just want to confirm I think you’re right. I think that this is … I don’t want to say it’s impossible, right? Because you know, forever language, nothing’s impossible.

Stacey Harris: You know, I like my forever language.

Tara Newman: But it would be really challenging on a lot of levels to try and take this on. One, because I was so focused on creating the content, I wasn’t … And I was intentionally not focused on a strategy. When you’re experimenting and testing, sometimes you have to let go of the strategy, right?

Stacey Harris: God. You know how uncomfortable that makes me.

Tara Newman: I do. And knowing that you were paying attention to not only the strategy, but the structure, because structure follows strategy, right? It gave me a lot of free space to experiment. But I mean, just in general, having you on my team gives me the space to connect with people more deeply, because you’re handling the strategy, you’re handling the content going out, and then I just get to be there and do the fun stuff, like talk to people and answer questions and ask questions and engage and, you know.

So it’s very powerful to have that support. Also, we had to move me through my head trash.

Stacey Harris: Yeah. Yeah.

Tara Newman: So I came into Slack and I was like, “Okay, I want to do this, but here’s how I’m feeling about doing it.” And you’re like, “Just go fucking do it.”

Stacey Harris: I think that’s a direct quote. And, move on.

Tara Newman: Yeah, you’re like, “Suffer in silence, go do it.”

Stacey Harris: “I’m uninterested in your suffering. Just do the thing.”

Tara Newman: So there was that, and then there was me coming in and being like, “I think this is working,” right? And you’re like, “Yeah, it is.”

Stacey Harris: I’d be going, “Yeah, it does work.”

Tara Newman: You’re like, “Yeah, it’s working.” I’m like, “Wait, we’re adding a lot of … We’re meeting a lot of new people.” And I’m like, “How many people?” Because you know, I don’t track the stats. You track the stats. And you’re like, “Oh yeah, we’ve got like 45 people.” I’m like, “Oh, it’s working, great. Let’s keep going.” So it definitely was a team effort.

Stacey Harris: Well, and I think it allowed us to then, and this is sort of the next place I want to talk about, that doesn’t mean you still create content for the grid every day. That informed our next phase and how we could create this kind of content in a way that is maybe more day-to-day, longterm feasible for you., Which was yeah, you write these, but maybe one day you write six of them and maybe one day you write none of them and they get scheduled out.

But you could do that because you’d kind of already had a proof of concept that you could do this over 30 days.

Tara Newman: Yeah. So just the process for when we were testing it was, Tara wrote it, Tara picked the picture, Tara posted it. Because I need someone who needs to be in my process, and I know sometimes everybody’s like, “Well, let somebody else do that. That’s work that you can be delegating.”

And I’m like, “Yes.” But initially, I really have to be in my process before I delegate it. I have to understand the pieces and how it moves and how I want it to move, and I have to play with it a little bit to gain clarity. That’s how I gain clarity. So, yeah, now that we have those bits, we can move them.

Stacey Harris: And one thing we were doing was, as you were creating this, we were repurposing them to other networks.

Tara Newman: True.

Stacey Harris: So that we could essentially be testing this kind of content, this micro blog content, in a lot of places. But you had your hands on the place where you were experimenting, and then the team was able to sort of leverage that experiment out, and say, “Hmm, well does this proof of concept work in other ways?”

And I think again that comes in having that support piece. So for you, as you sort of look back, because we’ve now finished it, we’re in our next iteration of testing new things, which maybe we’ll talk about in the future. What were some of the things that you really enjoyed about it? And what was maybe one thing that you learned from it that you didn’t like at all? Like maybe having to post it yourself.

Tara Newman: Yeah. You know, I love writing every day. I learned that I should publish more of what I write because I tend to-

Stacey Harris: In-the-moment thoughts, your audience loves.

Tara Newman: Yeah. Like I should really post more of my in-the-moment thoughts. So we’re in the process of carving out more time on my calendar for me to play with that, for sure. And yeah, I don’t want to be scheduling it and posting it and figuring out the fricking times to do it, or the hashtags that go along with it, or any of that stuff at all.

Stacey Harris: And this is one thing that I want to be transparent on, and feel free to tell me to shut up if you’re not okay with it-

Tara Newman: I don’t want to create the graphics, either.

Stacey Harris: And yeah, no. But also we did run into some sort of, and this is something you have to think of when you’re experimenting, especially when you have a team, we did run into some things where we had something scheduled to go out because that was the rhythm that we still had. And then you would post something half an hour before or half an hour later, and we’d have to go in and be like, “Well, we’re going to suck it up during this experimental period.” Or like, “Are we going to move things around?”

And I think one thing to be really aware of as you go into an experiment is, is there something you want to shut off temporarily? Is there something that you want to be in agreement in as far as timing? I think for us it worked because more content’s not bad for us. We put out quality content on both bases, both places got engagement. It never ended up being an issue.

But I think when you’re working with someone, and luckily we have such good communication and we talk so frequently through Slack, that it was never a problem. But I think it’s something when you’re experimenting to be aware of. How does this experiment play into the other pieces?

Tara Newman: You know what? The other thing, yes. The other thing that came out of this for me was I was definitely feeling like I was chasing two rabbits.

Stacey Harris: Yeah.

Tara Newman: So I felt like I was chasing two rabbits in the sense that I couldn’t focus on Stories as much as I had been in the past if I focused on the grid. Like that didn’t work for my brain. Like they were kind of very different, and I would spend my energy on writing the piece for the grid and then I’d be like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t really have anything or want to,” or, “I’m too tired to now show up for Stories.”

So I definitely think that by me writing ahead of time and you posting to the grid will give me a better return on my energy and allow me to show up on Stories because that definitely got short-shrifted while I was on the grid. Focus matters.

Stacey Harris: Well, and I think to focus on the experiment, because you’re not going to get good data out of the back end if you half-ass the process in what you’re experimenting on. I think that’s one of those things where you got to be like, “Well, this is why it has a deadline, this is why it has a window.”

Before we wrap up, because I want to let you return to, I’m hoping, writing and/or recording a podcast, just selfishly as the person who produces your show, is there anything you want to leave the audience with as far as an action they can take and something they can experiment on? Or, I know you do this a ton, is there any sort of words of wisdom you can give them to make them do it? Just tell them to do it, is what I want you to do here.

Tara Newman: Oh, okay. Yeah. Just do it. But I do, I do actually have something that I want them to go and look at … We talk about being inside your comfort zone or outside your comfort zone, and that’s actually not an accurate portrayal. There’s three zones. There’s your comfort zone, there’s your learning zone, and there’s your panic zone.

And I think we can all identify at a time when we have tried to get outside our comfort zone and accidentally threw ourselves into a panic zone.

Stacey Harris: I had a physical reaction when you said the word panic zone. I was like, “Oh god, I know the panic zone.”

Tara Newman: I think it’s like ambitious people who want to get big results, it’s our natural inclination to throw ourselves into the panic zone, but that’s really where you stretch yourself so far you snap.

So I would look to identify something that is slightly uncomfortable, that is going to stretch you, that you can play around with, so that you can clearly identify a learning from the experiment and not throw yourself into a panic where you completely shut down and you can’t get to the experiment, and then you feel like a failure. Because you’re not actually a failure. That’s biology that kicks in.

Stacey Harris: I love that and I want to pair that with, “Before you go, just do it.” Make sure you check out Tara’s CEO Debrief opt-in. The opt-in takes you behind the scenes of some of our CEO Debriefs and BRAVE, but also gives you 10 questions. And I think before you start experimenting, build in these feedback loops. This is one of the most valuable things, I think, that has come from the BRAVE Society for me, because that started before we started working in the Mastermind together, was that feedback loop.

I have been taught by dozens of people how to build these feedback loops in, and I have ignored them outside of looking at, as Tara knows very, very well, money. Which was pretty much my only feedback loop because I love it. And I think any experiments I’ve done subsequent to building in that CEO Debrief have been more valuable because I have the feedback loop of data collection throughout it and not just at the end of it. So it’s not a zero-sum pass or fail.

So if you have not yet built feedback loops into your business, make sure you check out that opt-in. There’s also a couple of episodes on the show where you hear inside the BRAVE Society CEO Debriefs. Then just go do the experiment and the whole learning thing. But like feedback loops, please. I don’t want to send like a thousand people to go test some random thing and they have no feedback loop. That would be irresponsible. Don’t want to be irresponsible.

All right. Thank you very much for joining me talking about this.

Tara Newman: Thanks for having me.

Stacey Harris: I appreciate it, because I feel like we don’t … Not we, but in general, there’s not enough talk about the experimenting, which is like, I don’t know, 80% of my job, I feel like, is just trying things out and seeing how it goes.

Tara Newman: Yep.

Stacey Harris: Which is super, super fun and why maybe I spend too much time in that panic zone. Might need to reevaluate my panic zone for another day. So thank you very much for joining me. Anything you want to leave them with before we go?

Tara Newman: No. Peace out, people.

Stacey Harris: All right, thanks guys.

Tara Newman: Bye.

Stacey Harris: Thanks again for listening to the show. I love, love, love these episodes. The thing I love more, though, is getting to talk to people one-on-one directly. So if you’re looking for some support, you’re listening to this episode and you’re going, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what our next steps are,” let’s have a conversation. Let’s figure out what your next steps are.

Inside of Uncommonly More, we do everything from training to coaching to consulting to yes, even done for-you services. So head on over to uncommonlymore.com, send a little contact form over, and our team will get back at you and we will find a time to figure out what the next best step is for you.

If you loved this episode, I would greatly appreciate it if you shared it with a friend. I am on a mission to make this whole marketing thing a lot less sleazy for one, but also a lot less overwhelming and crazy. So I do that, really with your help. So if there’s somebody in your life who is maybe feeling frustrated or who this episode could have been helpful for, send them the episode and tell them to take a listen. They’ll listen to you, probably before they’ll listen to me.

Also ratings and reviews, of course, over on Apple Podcast are a huge help. So if you haven’t before, head over to Apple Podcast and leave a review. Only really if you like the show, otherwise just stop. You really shouldn’t still be listening, right? All right. That’s it for today. Once again, the Stacey Harris signing off. I will talk to you next week.

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