Alex Ikonn: The four rules I used to build a community around my business, Luxy Hair
Want to know the calibre of mentors we provide at Virgin StartUp? Well, let us introduce you to one of them. Meet, Alex Ikonn, the co-founder of Luxy Hair, a business he started with his wife, Mimi and her sister Leyla. They used Youtube to create a community of followers which turbo-charged growth for their business. At the time of writing their Youtube channel has 1,939,013 subscribers and has had 222,164,030 views. This is how they did it, in Alex’s words.
"We started Luxy Hair in 2010 with the goal of simply creating a business that we ourselves would want to buy from and interact with. We did not anticipate building an incredibly large social media following or building a significant business. Little did we know that just a short 4 years later, we would have almost 2 million YouTube subscribers, over 200,000 Instagram and Facebook followers, and be considered one of the premier beauty experts on the internet. The past few years, while unexpected, had an incredible adventure in store for us, filled with numerous lessons, business success, and gratitude – all of which I would like to share with you today.
Like everyone else, I grew up watching television and watching ads that were constantly trying to sell me something. It seems as if I was constantly being marketed to, whether it was ads that I would see when riding the Tube or the giant billboards with an attractive young female tempting me to try a new energy drink.
Two years before we started the business, I had a bank job and coincidentally, positioned in a role where I also had to sell to people on a daily basis. Whether it was a credit card, mortgage or a guaranteed investment, I had to sell it to meet quota. Truthfully, I felt wrong and even felt sick to my stomach when my boss would bring me a list of clients I have to call that day to sell them on a new mortgage offer we had, when in reality I was aware there was little value they could gain from continual pitches for new banking products.
I knew there must be a better way to make a living and was eager to build a business that didn’t rely on traditional pushy sales tactics, but rather found a way to build relationships and deliver value to people without expectation of anything in return.
Luckily, shortly after, I got fired!
It was the perfect opportunity to create something that I really believed in and be forced to resort to selling the traditional way.
Fast-forward to today and we have built a successful e-commerce business entirely because of our social media community across social media channels like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Our biggest channel and contribution to our business is YouTube with over 2,000,000 subscribers all around the world and over 220,000,000 views to date.
Luxy Hair is considered one of the most influential entities across numerous social media channels. How did we do this, and how can you do the same for your business?
Firstly, pick one social media channel to focus on. You can be present on many if you choose to, however focused growth is incredibly important. As you can see from the anecdote above, we chose YouTube as our main content distribution channel.
Then comes your fundamental strategy that you can use to build a community and following on any platform. This is what we focus on and keep are the forefront of our minds at all times. We call this fundamental formula QVCA - Selling without selling.
Whatever content you choose to create, keep in mind what calibre of quality it is. For us, it is our mission to create videos that are visually impactful and are beautiful to watch. The same can apply for the Instagram photos that you post. With both photo and video, light is your best friend and do your best to learn strategies on how to use natural light properly.
If you are starting your blog, then keep in mind the quality of your writing.
People want to consume quality content and you have to do your best to create it. That doesn't mean that you will be able to produce this right away but constantly work on improving the quality of your content will get you there.
The reason I hated traditional selling is that I always felt that the businesses only want to push their products on me. Buy our stuff! they screamed.
That is why when we started creating our videos on YouTube, we ensured the purpose was not to sell our products but rather to create content that will bring value into people’s lives. In our case, we educated women on how they can style their hair in different ways by creating weekly hair tutorials. There was no pitch, no hard sell, just bringing value to the YouTube community and to anyone who wants to learn.
You might ask - if our purpose is not to sell our product then how are we supposed to make money?
You see, too many people are focused on trying to monetize, and they are trying too hard while focusing on the wrong side of the coin. People who are interested will purchase, especially when you bring value into their lives. Ask yourself, who would you rather buy from A) Someone who is just pitching the product B) Someone who has taught you something and made your life better in some way?
From our experience, delivering value to people is the ultimate formula for success.
The two above points of Quality and Value are super important, however, the next two points are true building blocks as without these you won't succeed in building your community or business.
Have you ever started something and gave up because you didn't see the results quickly enough? Well this is why most people fail on building anything significant, especially when it comes to creating content and building a community.
We have been creating and publishing weekly hair tutorials for more than four years. Consistency is king as people want to know that there is a previous history of consistent content which enlightens them as to whether "Subscribing" would lead to more of the good stuff.
Think of consistency as planting seeds that will blossom in the future: the more seeds you plant, the more chances of you and your business being discovered.
Also, remember to have a consistent style and message in your videos. We just focus on doing hair tutorials and don't have cat videos on random weeks to have more content.
This is the most important point of all. Do you actually care about the content, your community, and your product? Do you believe in it? Are you speaking in a voice that is genuine to yourself and the brand? If you are not then you might as well keep looking for a business and product that you can be authentically aligned with. People can tell pretty quickly if you are genuine or not about something that you are talking about, especially if you are on camera.
There you have it. Four simple words that are the fundamental building blocks of you building your content and community. Our business was built on these words and you can do the same."