I was fortunate enough to meet Jon Loomer while attending the AllFacebook conference, NYC in 2012. His passion for family, work and baseball were a delight to learn about. And I was blown away at all the valuable content he produced daily about Facebook and blogging. He is an astute professional who is kind, wickedly intelligent and fluent in all things Facebook. Plus, he’s not just a Facebook consultant – he blogs five days a week, has a podcast and introduced vlogs recently. It’s ALL talent here, folks. Let’s get to know Jon!
Question: Where are you from and what do you do?
Jon’s Answer: I grew up mainly in Wisconsin, but my family and I live in Colorado now. I’m a Facebook marketing coach, blogger and online entrepreneur.
Question: You and your wife have three boys, what’s it like being a father to three boys?
Jon’s Answer: It’s awesome. I grew up with an older brother, so it’s great seeing my boys grow up while partially reliving my own childhood. I’m a bit of a baseball fanatic, so being able to share my love of the game with them is something I cherish. Summer is my coaching time, and while it can get a bit hectic with all of the games, it’s also incredibly rewarding. I coached my oldest for six consecutive seasons, but now he’s moving up and I’m coaching my middle son for three years. Honestly, if I had daughters they may be doing the same thing. Since the only girls I’ve lived with are my wife and my mom, I’m kind of girl-stuff ignorant.
Question: What sports do they play?
Jon’s Answer: My two oldest play football and basketball, but their main sport is baseball. My youngest is just now old enough to play. He’s only played soccer so far, but he’s finally getting his first shot at baseball this summer.
Question: When and how did you get into social media?
Jon’s Answer: It depends on how you define “social media,” but in terms of a business sense it was in 2007. I was working for the NBA at the time, overseeing Fantasy Games development and content. When I got there, the NBA wasn’t the social juggernaut that it is today. In fact, they didn’t even have message forums or blogs on their site. I was lucky enough to be involved in the NBA’s foray into Facebook when they partnered to build an app together in 2007 (before you could build your own apps). I was actually one of the original admins of the first NBA Facebook Group (before there were Pages). Things have changed quite a bit since then!
Question: Why is Facebook your favorite social network?
Jon’s Answer: It mainly comes down to comfort level. I’ve been using it for six years now, so it’s been fun seeing the transformation. I also know that it’s a big reason why I’ve been able to reconnect and stay connected with so many friends from the past. I remember how exciting it was in the early days discovering names of people I hadn’t heard from in 20+ years. That doesn’t necessarily happen as often today, but I owe so much to Facebook for those connections as well as the advancement of my business.
Question: Why is Facebook unique from other social networks?
Jon’s Answer: The easy answer is access to 1 Billion people. You can market on Twitter or Pinterest or Google+ or other social networks, but it will always be a much tighter niche. The other difference is that Facebook is not afraid to rapidly change and innovate. This drives some people crazy, but I love it.
Question: What services do you offer clients and who is your target audience?
Jon’s Answer: My target audience is a technically advanced small to medium sized business owner or marketer willing to invest in their online business. My topics are typically over the heads of those just trying to get started on Facebook, and I also can’t help those who want to do everything for free. While I certainly don’t mind if they don’t want to pay me and just want to read my content, they won’t ever be all that successful if they refuse to invest in their online presence (for example, pay for Facebook ads). Too many people view content marketing as being “free” – this is not my target audience.
My main services can be broken down into two main buckets: 1) “Light touch” consulting (one-on-one coaching, Facebook Page Strategic Review) and 2) Project Consulting. It’s often a natural evolution form the first to the second. After providing recommendations, a client will need help implementing by having apps built, running ads or getting help with a content strategy. I have expanded my team to be able to take on all of these tasks.
Question: There was a turning point in your career when your oldest son was diagnosed with cancer. Can you tell us about it?
Jon’s Answer: It was as much a turning point in my life as my career. Our oldest son was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer in 2003. He was 2 1/2 years old at the time, and I was working full-time in insurance (a career I hated) while trying to build a presence within the fantasy sports world. When he got sick, it completely changed our perspective – as parents and as people. My main focus shifted entirely to him, especially for that year. I stopped doing the side work during that time, too. But an old contact pulled me back in starting in 2005, and that led to me eventually getting the job with the NBA starting in the 2005-06 season.
I guess the biggest impact this made on my career is my desire to be as close to my family as possible. I have worked from home since leaving the NBA job in 2008. And we now live in a quiet suburban neighborhood within walking distance to school.
His sickness shifted priorities, which made me less willing to take a position that required a lot of traveling or to work away from home. And ultimately, it led me to starting my own business because of the flexibility to walk my kids to school and coach their sports teams that I simply can’t live without.
By the way, he’s 100% cancer free!
Question: You shared some of this experience with your blogging audience. Did you deal with any moral dilemmas by sharing what you and your family went through?
Jon’s Answer: Yes and no. I didn’t share much until I started my blog. I heard both sides of the argument regarding sharing personal stories. Some said that no one cares about you and to focus only on helping people. But I’ve found that people want to deal with people, and the story of my son is something people connect with. The other story is the rise from being jobless to starting my own, profitable business. That’s something people need to see. The main dilemma I’ve faced is sharing stories and photos of my sons with a public audience. But the way I see it, I can be protective while sharing smartly. And it’s important and worthwhile if these stories help other people.
Question: How do you feel about online privacy?
Jon’s Answer: We need to shift our expectations. Nothing is completely private. Even if you keep a conversation to your Facebook friends, many of us have 500+ friends. So how many of them are actual “friends” who can be trusted with extremely private information?
It’s the same with email, and I’ve seen this as a continuation. There are some people who were never smart in their use of email, either. They’ll share private and controversial topics that can easily be shared more broadly by simply pressing “forward.” That same profile type is using Facebook in ways they think are private, but they’re sharing content and information they should not. There needs to be an adjustment not only in expectations, but in understanding the consequences of sharing content online.
I still segment my friends and only share certain things with certain groups. But I also understand that even my most private posts can be shared to a broader audience if someone was motivated to do so. In the end, no one should share anything that they don’t want the entire world to see. That’s been my biggest lesson over the past few years.
Question: You are a prolific writer who blogs 5x a week. How do you stay creative and continually produce relevant and valuable information?
Jon’s Answer: Part of it is easy because Facebook gives me so much to write about. Things are constantly changing, and I always listen to what my readers are saying and asking about. Many of my blog posts are structured around their questions.
But there is also method to the madness. I’ll brainstorm occasionally and write a list of topics. Then I craft as many questions as I can that are associated with each of those topics. My goal with my blog is to answer as many of those questions as I can.
Also, I read constantly. If you know me, this may seem like a contradiction since I’ve read two books from cover to cover since college, and both were baseball related. But many of my “unproductive” hours in a day are spent reading other blogs and articles, so I’m always adding to my knowledge while generating new content ideas.
I also try to focus as much as possible, exhausting one topic within a blog post instead of covering multiple topics at once. This makes it much, much easier to have ideas left over for later.
Finally, I try to create a theme and routine. Starting this year, Monday and Tuesday will be my posts about Facebook; Wednesday will be a guest post from an outside writer; Thursday will be my video blog; and Friday will be my podcast. This actually cuts down my writing a bit from 2012 so that I can focus more on my business.
But the routine is certainly important. By creating that routine, I know that I am writing a post on a particular day. I do not make excuses for myself, even during the holidays. It is very rare that I skip a day, and that’s partly due to knowing how hard it is to stay disciplined once I break a routine.
Question: Besides your blog, you have a podcast and vlog. How has the podcast/vlog helped your business? Are they difficult elements to introduce into a business strategy?
Jon’s Answer: My blog has been central to my business. By being a content writing machine, I get a ton of referral traffic from all over. This leads to revenue in the form of advertising and affiliate sales while adding value to site sponsorships. I get approximately 1/3 of my revenue from these sources. Another 1/3 comes from product and services sales on the site. And a final 1/3 comes from consulting. Almost all of this came about because someone read my content.
My podcast and video blog are more of an experiment. I’m always looking to diversify my content and my audience. I started my podcast about six months ago, and the video blog is a completely new development. I won’t say that either have yet directly led to business, but I’m always looking to grow, innovate and improve.
Question: I love your weekly podcast creation, Social Media Pubcast. How did you come up with it? And how is it different from your regular podcast?
Jon’s Answer: During 2012, my podcasts were a way for me to expand on the content that I had written during the past week, and talk out what I was thinking when I wrote it. Additionally, it allowed me to reach people who may prefer to consume content in that way.
However, I started to get tired of hearing my own voice, so I decided to invite guests starting this year. I wanted it to be a relaxed format. I don’t want to submit questions to my guests like it’s an interview format. I want it to be much more natural — the type of conversation that we would be having if we were sitting down at a bar. This includes going on tangents that weren’t necessarily planned.
So the angle is that I require my guest to have a drink of some sort. It could be a water if one of us needs to be responsible. But the idea is to set a conversational tone from the start. The “pubcast” label actually came from a listener!
Question: The Social Media Examiner just awarded your blog as one of the top ten, Congratulations! What is it like to be awarded for your blog? What would be the ultimate award you’d like to achieve?
Jon’s Answer: Holy crap, it’s pretty awesome. On one hand, it’s validation for all of the hard work I’ve put in during the past 17 months. It’s incredibly cool to be recognized with all of those names, many of whom I’ve been following so closely and learning from along the way.
Last year at about this time, I actually used the 2012 list as a starting point for me to learn from. Amazingly, I set making that list as a goal. It may have seemed far fetched at the time, but now it’s even sweeter to be considered within that group.
I’m hoping to be able to inspire those who are currently in the position I was a year ago. It can be done. It takes a ton of hard work, but it can be done.
Now, the flip side is that it doesn’t necessarily change anything. It’s going to bring some more traffic (though traffic is not currently a problem). It’s also a completely subjective list from three people I respect. But I could have easily been left off of this list if three other people had been picking the blogs. I fully understand and appreciate that.
So the key for me is to not get caught up in it and think it’s going to change everything. Nothing really changes. I need to leverage it the best I can, but I can’t suddenly rest and relax.
Question: What advice do you have for new social media marketers?
Jon’s Answer: Don’t… give… up. Understand that I didn’t create a Social Media Examiner Top 10 blog on August 29, 2011, when I wrote my first blog post. I had no idea what I was doing. It took months of hard work, collecting responses, experimentation and evolution that led to where my business is today. I’ve been through three design changes and several restarts. It’s due to commitment and discipline, but it’s also not rocket science.
During the months of October and November of 2011, I received as much traffic as I now get in a single day. It takes time to get there. You have to be willing to read and learn and commit and change. You have to set goals, and you can’t get too high when things go well or too low when they don’t.
Similarly, I did not start a raving community when I created my Facebook Page on November 4, 2011. During the first month, I wrote 36 posts. Of those 36 posts, 26 never received a single comment or like. I could have given up. I think many or maybe even most would have. But I believed in my path and stuck with it. Now I have a very active audience approaching 9,000 Facebook Fans accumulated on a shoestring budget.
What I’m saying is there are very few excuses for giving up. I did it on close to no money. Part of the reason I did was because I left myself no choice. I had to provide for my family, and I absolutely did not want to go back and work for the man. As Amy Porterfield says, I stormed the island and burned my boats. I was not going back. You can do it, too.
Question: Would you recommend newbies stick to one subject on their blogs or a variety?
Jon’s Answer: That’s a great question. The ultimate goal should be to find your niche. But you may need to spend some time writing about a wide variety of subjects before finding your sweet spot. So while I think newbies will find the most success by getting as focused as possible, it’s important that they write about what they are most comfortable with and that will get them traction. An experimentation period may be necessary to figure out what works and what doesn’t as well as what topics provide the most fodder for content and generate the most discussion.