• Randy Sklar

How I Used Facebook Live as a Force for Good

$5 To Make A Difference

This is the third financial crisis I’ve experienced while running a business. The first two were related to the dot-com bubble of 2001, which nearly killed our business, followed by the 2008 Great Recession, which happened when I was running the business. While the COVID-19 pandemic is a new experience for me, I have a lot more confidence navigating the challenges of the resulting financial crisis we find ourselves in.

This time, I didn’t just look for ways to make sure Sklar Technology Partners survived and thrived — I took the opportunity to do some good in our community. This spring, I partnered with ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. Using the unexpected power of Facebook Live videos, I helped raise money for the organization. When I look back on how I got here, I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner.

Adapt, Digitize, or Die

I’ve been warning people about the digital revolution for years. I even wrote a book and have a podcast called “Crushing It In the Digital Revolution” about it! But I never expected it would take a global pandemic for businesses to finally embrace the level of technology and digitization they should have been using already. For example, my veterinarian has a small

parking lot. For years I’ve been telling him to set up curbside pickup/drop-off. Then the social distancing order was enforced and suddenly he discovered it was the ideal situation. They say necessity is the mother of invention. In this case, necessity is what finally got folks to get serious about adapting to the 21st century.

I’m not completely off the hook in this situation. I also waited until a pandemic to do something my mentor has been pushing me to do for years: Facebook Live videos. With so many people holed up in their homes, social media sites and streaming services saw a huge uptick in traffic. Facebook alone had an over 200% increase in activity, and I knew I

needed to take advantage of it, so I finally turned on the camera and started recording.

I made a promise to myself that I would do a new video every day and make a habit of it. For five days in a row, I recorded new videos, keeping everything upbeat and usually covering great things I was seeing from local businesses. This was right when the pandemic was really hitting hard, so I figured people would enjoy hearing something happy. Turns out, I was right. I began to get feedback from folks letting me know how much they enjoyed the videos.

Live With Randy Sklar

Once I’d found a groove, I wanted to take my videos to the next level. Inspired by the interviews Joe Rogan does on his shows, I branched out and started doing Facebook Live interviews. I interviewed personal trainers, dietitians, even my buddy who owns the bowling alley, River City Roll, which he turned into a grocery store during the pandemic. These interview videos really kicked off when I talked to Dr. Jonathan Schaaf, a doctor who has been treating patients infected with COVID-19. Turns out, folks really wanted to learn about the virus without politics getting involved.

These interviews were a lot of fun to do, but I didn’t realize the true potential of these videos until I talked to Mark Smith, owner of Midas of Richmond.

‘It’s never wrong to do the right thing.’ In addition to running four Midas car care franchises, Mark regularly supports local causes. His shops host blood drives for Virginia Blood Services multiple times a year, and he regularly helps raise donations for our local food bank, Feed More. During our interview in late April, Mark announced a new program called MOR Good Deeds – 7 Days a Week. For the month of June, Mark challenged Richmonders to do one random good deed every day. Anyone who sent Mark a list of 30 good deeds they’d performed would get a free oil change.

“It’s never wrong to do the right thing,” Mark said. “Every one of us can make a difference. If all of us did just a little, that would do a hell of a lot.”

$5 to Make a Difference

Mark’s words really spoke to me. Inspired, I got in touch with ASK, an organization dedicated to helping the families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Taking a page from Mark’s book, I decided to use my growing platform to raise money to support ASK. During the drive, I asked viewers to donate just $5 to ASK. In exchange, they would be entered to win a prize package filled with great goods and services from some of the people I interviewed in my videos.

The package included a three-month gym membership, house cleaning services, a box of groceries, bottles of wine, and even lawn care services. In addition to giving this package away to someone who donated to ASK, I put together a second package to be donated to someone in the medical field who has been on the front lines fighting the virus. This was my way of saying thank you to those who have risked so much to keep our community safe.

The drive was a great success and helped bring attention to their mission. Thank you to everyone who watched the videos and donated. In a time when a lot of folks felt powerless, it felt great to come together and support a good cause.

Doing these Facebook Live videos has been a lot of fun, and it’s something I

plan on continuing. If you’ve somehow missed all these videos, then you can

find them on my personal Facebook page as well as on the Sklar Technology

Facebook page at Facebook.com/Sklartechnology. Take a look and let me

know how you’ve had to adapt and digitize over the last few months.