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How a Facebook community of 1.2m was built for Uplifting Content

Ione Butler is a trained performer, but despite a passion for acting, giving leads her heart, which is why she’s developed Uplifting Content, a Facebook community and business that share her beliefs.
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(1) You’re a trained performer, having studied at The Brit School and Rose Bruford, so how and when and why did you come to create Uplifting Content?

A couple of reasons. (1) I was fed up of trying to get hired. (2) I don’t agree with a lot of messages on TV and in film such as having things equals happiness, the glorification of violence, over sexualisation of women, that a woman, or anyone really, can’t be happy unless they are in a relationship.

I disagree with these messages and I felt weird about trying to so hard to be in something I didn’t agree with. I was friends with a very successful influencer who had a large following, I saw that people were coming to him, asking him to work with them. He was creating the content he wanted and had people lining up to work with him.

I thought that was brilliant so started working on building my “brand” rather than trying to be hired. I launched Uplifting Content (formally know as Unified Soul Theory) in March 2016 because I wanted somewhere people could go to find Uplifting Content.

(2) Can you explain what Uplifting Content is in your own words?

It’s currently a Facebook community with 1.2m followers and a website in which:

  • We create and share uplifting content – we create our own and share content from incredible people and companies with positive messages.
  • We have a blog full of uplifting stories and articles offering advice.
  • We encourage people to take action and are building a Facebook community of amazing humans who want to help each other and make the world a better place with our Uplifting Causes. We take submissions from people who need help with their cause and encourage our audience to support in whatever way they can, be it by donating their time, money, skills or resources.
  • We give away free stuff!

We have a clothing line and release a new design each month with a meaning behind it.

(3) How did you build up such a large Facebook following, and which demographics are among them?

Viral video is the best way to build a Facebook following, we had a number of videos go viral and that’s how the page grew. 66 per cent of followers are 18-34 and there is a 50/50 split between women and men, while 35 per cent of our audience is from the US.

(4) How have you monetised the Facebook page? At which point did you realise you could?

One of the ways pages like mine monetise is through advertising on their blogs, I learnt that early on by seeing what other people do and asking questions. I’ve just launched my blog but instead of Google or Facebook ads on the blog, I’d rather find a company who wants to be aligned with our mission.

This is not how other pages do it, but I think it’s much better value for both parties, we’re cutting out the middlemen (Google and Facebook). The sponsor gets their message or brand in front of my audience and I get a budget to grow the business. I’m also looking for branded content sponsors and sponsors for specific shows, as I have a number of shows in development.

(5) What are the most popular topics that have resonated with your audience?

Personal development, acts of kindness and the environment.

(6) Why is now the right time to launch an Uplifting Content website?

There is a lot of division in the world right now and there is a lot of negative content everywhere. My idea was always to be a platform that is a hub of inspirational and uplifting content and it’s taken me to now to get it off the ground.

(7) You’ve also introduced an Uplifting Clothing line. Who do you expect your average customer to be?

Any human being that wants to wear a T-shirt that inspires or uplifts others. I have no expectations outside of that.

(8) Ten per cent of profits from the Uplifting Clothing line will be donated to the causes you help promote. Why did you make that decision?

Not everyone gives money to charity, but if they know some of the proceeds from their purchase are going towards a good cause, we’ve got them contributing. Another reason, it feels good.

My goal is to encourage more people to be of service to others. Part of the platform is Uplifting Causes, in which people submit their cause and we help promote it. Not only do I want to help promote people’s causes I want to be able to give to their causes too.

Last year I had a woman contact me about her son who had a disease. She was raising money for his medical bills and I shared the link on the page – I’m not sure how much it raised but I’d like to one day have the Uplifting Community and money from the clothing line be able to help pay for a kid’s medical bills, build a school in Africa and send a really bright child to college.

I also want people to offer their time, skills and resources so it’s not just about giving money. If someone needs legal or business advice, or a mentor, this is the place that people can ask for help or give back.

(9) Do you think your career as a performer has helped your entrepreneurial pursuits?

I guess so, having the confidence to get up and speak to people and large audiences has helped but the main characteristic that has driven my entrepreneurial pursuits is inquisitiveness. I’m always asking questions, learning and trying things.

(10) Where did your knowledge of social media come from?

I learned it on the job. I haven’t been able to grow all social media platforms because I’ve mostly done this on my own but I’ve learned by copying what other people do, asking questions and trying things out.

(11) What has been, or what is, the hardest thing about managing social networks?

Organisation, I need to get better at it. Also, finding exceptional high quality content can be very time-consuming. And dealing with Facebook and its ever-changing algorithms.

(12) Which are the best and worst platforms for building a community?

Facebook sucks! You can have an audience of millions but your post might only reach a few thousand people, unless you pay them. And now Instagram is following suit. I really dislike them for that. Why bother building an audience when you can’t reach them unless you pay?

Building an email list and phone numbers is the most important thing and is something that is my priority now.

(13) What advice do you have for British businesses and entrepreneurs that want to grow social media followings?

Provide content of value, video is the future, have subtitles in your videos because a lot of people watch them without sound and focus on getting emails and phone numbers rather than just building a social media following.

(14) Where do you see the future of Uplifting Content?

An engaged community of millions who help each other, a platform full of thousands of uplifting videos, a successful clothing line and blog and a production company that makes great uplifting content.

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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