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Oh, And Make Sure It Goes Viral!

So you want to make a viral video. Oh, and you only have a very limited budget.
Well, producing a video is a big endeavor in the first place. You need a good story, or at least some interesting information to convey. You need decent lighting and sound. You need patience and time. Sure, you can get by with very little these days. Most phones can shoot and edit video, so equipment is not as big an issue as it was just a few short years ago. Sound, on the other hand, is still a big hurdle. With a little research and some money, you can get good sound…but not with your phone. All that being said, to also want your video to go “viral,” meaning having it garner 10,000 views on Youtube, or more; well, let’s just say that puts your challenge in a whole new dimension.

When I get a request from a client to produce a video that goes “viral,” I always want to laugh out loud. That’s like saying, please go out and find a $100 bill somewhere. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, in terms of a metaphor, but you get the idea. Unless you have a huge following, meaning a built in audience of thousands of subscribers, just heading out of the gate with the intention of having a video go viral is ambitious.

Nevertheless, here are some hints that may point you in the right direction:

  • Tap into something that has a strong emotional connection, like inner beauty, true love, nostalgia…something deeply human.
  • Create a ‘Prankvert.’ This is a set-up in which an innocent bystander gets lured into a prank. The most important elements of a ‘prankvert’ are hilarity and surprise. You can try to take this one step further by making the prank ‘exhilarating’ in some way.
  • Tap into a trend, but only when it is very young.  Like the Harlem Shake trend. Even though there were about 40,000 variations on this dance craze video, collectively they were all seen about 175 million times. Don’t try to create a copycat video after the trend has faded. That’s the trick.
  • Think about timing. For example the ‘Spock vs. Spock’ video for Audi that came out just before the new Star Trek movie. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have actors Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto on hand. The success of ‘Spock vs. Spock’ really was due to the timing of its release.
  • The old standby: cute animals. Take for example this video of a Shetland pony doing the moonwalk.
  • Create an animated info-graphic, preferably about income inequality. Those usually do quite well, depending on key elements like good animation and a professional voice over talent.
  • Do an expose on a criminal underlord in Africa.

(Thanks to HuffPo for doing all the research!)

Is Lighting Really That Important?

I love this funny, creative video on how to achieve quality lighting effects with inexpensive lights you can buy at Home Depot.

Does Sound Really Matter That Much?

I always impart upon people I work with how important the audio is to your video. So many times when they are planning to produce a small, homemade video for their blog or website, they don’t think about the quality of the sound.

Well, this is an absurd example, but it makes a point. Without the music to Gangnam Style, the video becomes dull and comical. Add a few well-placed sound effects, and it becomes a very surreal, bizarre piece of work..

You Need a Youtube Channel! What Are You Waiting For?

I’ve been saying this since I joined YouTube in 2006. The thing is, most small businesses aren’t taking advantage of this remarkable tool. By creating a YouTube channel, a business can immediately begin to see it’s benefits. It is an advertising platform, a social media platform, a content platform as well as a storage site for video. By linking it to your website, it’s a great way to increase traffic and improve your SEO. Your channel can provide back links to all your other social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, strengthening your company’s web presence.

By creating a branded Youtube Channel, you are in essence creating another website for your clients to see and learn about your business. But this website is part of the nation’s second largest search engine following Google. Think of the kind of content that you can post related to your business: product launches and developments, introductions to your staff, how-to’s and tutorials, editorials and video blog entries, public relation messages and communications, advertisements and any other video content you can think of. It’s like having your own television station.

If you are a professional speaker, you shouldn’t even be reading this! You should be on YouTube now, creating your new channel.  By clicking on the image above, you can take a peek at speaker Cecilia Rose’s channel.  I helped Cecilia create this, and since it has gone up, Cecilia has had an increase in speaking engagements and customer traffic.  It’s easy to do, and if you need help, just send me an email.  (My contact link is at the bottom of the page.)

In an age where content is king, a YouTube channel is a no brainer.

How-to Make a How-to Video

My first suggestion for 2012 is to make a “how-to” video and post it on your blog or website. This would be especially important if you have a service business such as landscaping, home repair, decor and design, etc. The number one reason for doing this is that adding video to your website is always a good thing. As we have discussed in your page longer and create more interest.

I could go on with the benefits of video, but instead I’d like to show you a very simple ‘how-to’ video that I created with a client of mine, Glenwood Weber.

Creating this video with Glenwood took us 30 minutes. Now he has video content to put on his website, and visitors can immediately see what an expert he is and how personable he is; and they’ll want to work with him.

Branding Primer: Need to Watch

This video reminds me of the presentation I give when I talk about Personal Branding for Speakers and Authors.  It is a quick and comprehensive look at the development of an iconic brand.  I’m thinking of showing this to all my new clients.

What Are You Known For?

This Thanksgiving, as we reflect on all the things we’re grateful for, let’s also take a minute to think about the one thing we’re known for. It’s the principle of it shines.

Driving by the Flying Saucer Pie Company in Houston, TX, I saw “The One Thing” principle in action. Here is a small, unassuming shop that sells only one thing: pies. And, judging from the line on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, they do that pretty darn well. Driving by this line of people waiting to buy pies, I thought to myself, “Next time I need a good pie, I’m going to try the Flying Saucer Pie Company.”


Ten Things I Learned From the 30-Day Blog Challenge

On July 18, one month ago, I committed to the “30-day Blog Challenge” with my friends and colleagues, and members of my new Mastermind Group, Crystal Washington, Bambi McCullough, Danielle Forget, Cecilia Rose and Karen McCullough.  Since then, and it has been exactly 30 days, I have actually learned a few things.  That’s what I find so incredible.  In just one short month, this one challenge has taught me remarkable things.

1.  That I can commit to something rather difficult and fulfill my commitment!  I am proud to say that I have logged in 30 entries in 30 days.

2.  That I enjoy writing.  I’ve always known this.  In college, I minored in English Writing.  Creative Writing was one of my favorite courses at Boston University, followed by Script Writing, and then followed by Journalism.  So why have I not been writing all these years?  Instead of wondering why, I am happy I rediscovered it. The main fact is that I had to push through the difficult part to get to the enjoyable part.

3.  The first part was difficult.  As was the middle part and the end part.  But after each entry, I felt an amazing little feeling of accomplishment….and that little feeling lasts a long time.  It really helps to get me through the day.  No matter what happens each day, I can look back and think, “Well, at least I wrote in my Blog today!”

4.  The process of blogging with a group of people, and then Tweeting about each other’s blog posts, creates miracles in the Social Network.  Since I started blogging, results.

5.  The act of blogging has gotten me into online networking.  Every morning, after I blog, I spend a good hour on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin…saying hello to new friends and followers, spreading news and reading news.  This has really kept me connected to the world and to my colleagues, peers and friends.  In the process of doing all this, I have been strengthening my personal brand.

6.  Blogging means Learning.  In order to blog every morning, I need to do a little research.  That never hurts anybody!

7.  I have gotten to know my blogging buddies even better.  What a pleasure it has been to read Crystal Washington’s blog every day.  She is truly a miracle in my life today, and I am so grateful to have met her.  Of course, I am always interested in what Karen McCullough has to say…we are basically connected at the hip.  And I have enjoyed getting to know Bambi, Danielle and Cecilia in a different way, as well.  They each contribute to my day, each and every day.  That is such a blessing.

8.  I have connected with people I never dreamed of “meeting”.  Just by writing a post about Apple and how the Apple brand can help each of us as we form our own brands, I had the chance to “connect” with Steve Chazin.  And when I blogged about Klout, I got to “meet” Brian Ambrozy.  This was great, but on Twitter some of my Social Media and Professional Speaking idols started to follow me:  Connie Podesta, Mari Smith, Ed Primeau, Trey Pennington, Gina Schreck, Loretta LaRoche…just to name a few.

9.  I have been inspired many times.  Great ideas have come to me from blogging every morning.  Creativity just flows now.

10.  I am excited to keep on keeping’ on.  Blogging has rejuvenated my entrepreneurial spirit.  And that is worth gold.

Are You Getting the Micro-Message?

Are you sending out secret personal brand signals?  Yes, you are, and you are doing this without even knowing it!  I was just reading David Hoskin’s blog and began to think (obsess?) about my own brand signals.  Which ones am I sending out?

By now, most of us are aware of the value of personal branding and how our personal brand can enhance or devalue our professional brand.  But are we really aware of all the micro signals we are sending out everyday?  This is a sobering thought, but something many of us need to take to heart, especially in this era of self-promotion.  With the internet, we are each capable of pushing out content on a daily basis, and this content will undoubtedly help to form our personal (and thus professional?) brand.

Back to the micro signals.  Here’s a hypothetical scenario. We’re in a busy office, lot’s of interaction, many daily status meetings of various different departments that all interact.  Phones are always beeping, assistants are constantly tromping here and there with bundles of paperwork to be signed, and people are standing in office doorways chit-chatting as they conduct their business.  Then lunch comes around and many employees pair up or join small groups.  Some floors have lunch-and-learn workshops where pizza is served.  Some V.P.executives have business lunches with colleagues and new clients.  There’s a lot of interaction.

In any given moment, you have the opportunity to make an impression on many people, and visa-verse.  Somebody is standing in your office door just minutes before you are to meet another colleague for lunch, and they are completely unaware of this as they talk to you about their “busy” day.  They go on and on about the many little tasks that need to be completed, all the while thinking you will commiserate with them.  Instead, in your head, you are making a judgement.  “I wish they would shut-up so I could get out of here!”  That is a strong brand message.

You finally get to leave the situation and meet up with your lunch dates down the hall.  The first thing you say to them is something like “Wow, that so-and-so just wouldn’t stop talking!  He’s a nut!”  Moments after these words leave your mouth, your co-workers are making judgements about you.

As you make your way to the lunch event, you notice that one of your co-workers shoe is untied.  You look more closely at his clothing, and you see that his shirt is wrinkled.  Then, while you are eating, you notice he is talking with his mouth full of food.  At every point during your interaction with him, you are making snap judgements.  All of these judgements throughout the day are forming personal brands.

Now let’s move all this judging over to the social network. The same sort of personal brand building is going on there, but in a much more nuanced way.  Every Tweet you send, every photo you post, all the words you choose to use in your comments…they are forming your personal online brand.  Some of my Facebook friends are not aware of the micro messages they are sending with comments like, “Ugh! So busy today!”  or, “That business needs to learn about customer service! I just wasted an hour in the store!” or “It’s Friday!  I can’t wait to get out of here!!!!”  All of these seemingly innocent posts will eventually add up, maybe in a negative way.

On the other hand, I know a lot of online friends who are hyper-aware of the messages they send.  Some of them, send out inspirational messages every hour on the hour.  This approach can actually backfire, because they come across as being inauthentic.  It’s a fine line between being honestly you and artificially managed.

I realize that I’m probably freaking some of you out.  Don’t get discouraged, because this is what we do.  We’re human beings.  But there is a lot of power in what we do and say, especially when it collects to form a personal brand.  Harness the power of your personal brand by being aware of your micro signals.  It’s a daily practice and it actually improves with your awareness.  Start thinking about the brand messages you are getting in real life and online.  By noticing the personal brands of others, we can start to work on our own personal brand.

(For more info on Personal Branding, my colleague Karen McCullough and I are working on a four-part online series.)



You: The Greatest Show on Earth

During my days as an Event and Promotions director for a large company, I learned many lessons.  I likened those days to working in a circus, because of the many varied types of performers and stage set-ups we had to contend with.  On one day, we were preparing for fine dining and silent auctions; on the next, we were setting up for fire-eaters and disco dee-jays.  There was never a dull moment.

Although it sounds worlds away from the concept of personal branding, the lessons I learned while working in that capacity could easily be applied to my personal branding rule-book for professional speakers.

  1. Always have a ring-leader. This is a person who is hyper-aware of all that is going on in your three-ring circus. He or she can take keep your target audience focused on the main event, without letting our eyes stray from what is important.  Even though there are serious preparations going on in the other two stages, let those preparations continue in the dark, behind the scene, while the spot light shines on what is front and center.  Focus is paramount in this arena, and we should never be led astray.
  2. Let your trapeze artist weigh in.  This is the vantage point you will need every so often to keep things on the right track.  Where is the audience focused?  How much energy is coming from one area and lacking in another?  Your trapeze artist will need to shout out orders and cues to keep every other aspect of your brand in place.  Strategy comes from a clear view.
  3. Clowns are important!  What would a circus be without clowns?  NOTHING!  I can’t imagine any circus without this component.  Why?  Because humor is a pre-requisite, even if your topic or main focus is very serious.  People need relief from intensity and gravity, even if it comes in small and unexpected packages.  Poodles are always popular, as are clown cars.
  4. Everything should look good in the ring.  There’s an audience on every side.  An act cannot flourish if it is directed only at the audience seated in the front.  What about the folks on the sides?  Parade your talents around so that everyone can see them, not just the special few.  I have found that social media and the social network has really helped in this regard, especially for those of us less likely to go out and press the flesh.
  5. Change with the times.  Haven’t you heard that circus animals are no longer cool?  Don’t let the way things have always been done interfere with your success.  Be willing to change and grow with the times.  Try to foresee new trends and style changes.
  6. Good lighting is very important, in no matter what you do.  Whether you are creating a video blog or shooting your new head shots, the second most important element is the lighting. (You are the most important element!)
  7. A good poster always helps.  When considering advertising and promotions, a well-designed campaign really does wonders.  Don’t leave your design needs and challenges up to the folks at Kinko’s or to a family member who can fulfill school credits by completing your work.  No offense to Kinko’s or to your family members. Get professional advice or help.
  8. Keep them entertained!  Try hard not to be boring and irrelevant.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Nothing goes over better than a well-executed tumble or trick.

There is one thing that the Circus cannot help you with.  You cannot be all things to all people, and you cannot please everyone.  You will need to pick a lane.  Chose one act and concentrate on that!  Explore and expand your niche.  The circus has too much going on at one time, and can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  I know it left me feeling that way, and I eventually had to change careers!

Good luck with the greatest show on Earth:  You!!!