Erica Blair is marketing strategist and personal branding coach who helps people transform their businesses through the power of social media and digital storytelling. She works with purpose-driven entrepreneurs to increase their influence and income, by both embracing their own personal narrative and strategically broadening their online visibility. Erica shares her all top personal branding tools and resources at ericablair.biz.
Erica is also the author of the upcoming book Digital Nomad Mindset, based on interviews with 25 digital nomads around the world. The book explores how a diverse cross section of digital nomads have made the leap into the location independent lifestyle, working remotely and running online businesses while travelling the world. Videos of all the live streamed digital nomad interviews are available at digitalnomadmindset.com.
When Erica’s not Snapchatting her way through Thailand or broadcasting on Facebook Live, she spends her time meeting other digital nomads and throwing giant dinner parties in her Thai jungle mansion… because the #nomadlife is like that.
Definitely, have to come visit you in that jungle mansion, Erica 😉
Anyway, over to Erica to explain to you why you should be using video to build your audience…
I used to be a nobody.
I mean, I existed. I had my peeps. At least 20% of my Facebook friends legitimately thought I was cool.
But the world? All those people out there busy trying to fulfil their own hopes and dreams and thoughts and goals? They didn’t give a shit about me.
And hey, I’m not kidding myself… most of them still don’t.
But over the last six months, something shifted. I came out of hiding. I decided to stand up, speak up, be loud. I decided to go public online.
And now? Well…. People know me.
While sadly there’s no Anchorman emoji to convey the tongue-in-cheek attitude with which I brag about this fact, the truth is, there are huge benefits to people knowing who you are—monetarily and otherwise.
Because I meant what I said before: People really don’t give a shit about you. Unleeeessss…. they know you. Then they give a lot of shits about you.
Chances are, if you haven’t put yourself out there, you’re not really on the radar of many complete strangers… Yet. But it’s totally possible to turn that corner.
What’s in it for you? Well, when people know you, they care about you. They do things to help you. They share your posts. They buy your programs. They become your friends. They have your back.
But no one is going to give you the time of day unless they feel like they understand and like who you are as a person. And they have to know you to figure that out.
I managed to start cracking this code six months ago, and I will never look back.
In the past six months I have:
- Gone from complete unknown to waking up each day to cascades of messages from strangers telling me I’m awesome.
- Transitioned from a silent behind-the-scenes social media manager scouring the internet for job openings to a marketing strategist who regularly has to turn people away when they approach me.
- Switched from someone with little to no influence in the world to someone who can inspire people to give me money with a single snap, tweet, or post.
- Done all of these things while travelling the world as a digital nomad, working from coffee shops, coworking spaces, jungle bungalows, and lakeside retreats across Asia.
So how did I create an environment where people found me, got to know me, liked me, and decided to give me their money?
The answer, my friends, is simple. VIDEO.
Video has been at the very center of everything that has made my career expansion possible, and I highly recommend that anyone who is trying to build an audience commits to trying their hand at video content, no matter what stage you might find yourself at in your business.
Video is the new king
As it stands right now, video is the most powerful medium on the planet for relationship and community building, and anyone who is trying to promote a brand without it is likely going to be knocked on their ass within a matter of years.
Video has already been internet marketers’ not-so-secret secret for awhile now. Any digital strategist who is worth their salt will tell you that video is the surest way to conquer social media algorithms, to get your ads to convert, to capture attention in a saturated marketplace.
As a marketing strategist myself, it’s my job to watch digital trends. And from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Facebook fan, an Instagram gal, or a Snapchatter through and through. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if you avoid social media like the plague. Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet can see that video is rocking the boat in a big way these days.
Which is why I’m gonna come right out and say it: Video is THE place to be investing your content-making energy if you want to have an impact in the world today.
Why? I’ve boiled it down to one main reason: Video’s unbeatable ability to help you form real, lasting, meaningful connections with your audience. To make people feel like they actually know and relate to the person behind the content.
Blog posts are great. Instagram selfies are wonderful. Facebook group participation is amazing. But NONE of it compares to the relationships you can inspire through someone catching a snippet of you on video.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t also write the blog posts, take the selfies, post in the groups. You should do those things, provided they suit your workstyle and forward your business goals. But in terms of disproportionate impact for time invested? Video blows them all out of the water.
The changing landscape of web content
It wasn’t always like this.
In the span of the last eighteen months, video’s position in the marketplace has morphed tremendously. It has gone from being just one in a dazzling array of marketing options to its new position, front and center in the digital experience.
Right before our very eyes, video has transformed from a wouldn’t-it-be-nice, icing-on-the-cake marketing approach to a you-practically-don’t-exist-without-it necessity.
This is all occurring due to a mix of evolving consumer preferences, increased technological capabilities, and conscious corporate design.
From a basic level, it’s impossible to ignore the powerful pull that moving pictures have on the human psyche. Ever found yourself watching a detergent commercial on a bar television when you could be gazing into the eyes of a hot date seated across from you? Then you know the effect that video can have on a person’s attention span.
Take this basic human trait to seek out moving stimuli, sprinkle in today’s cheap data storage and lightning-fast internet speeds, and you’ve got a winning combo that is able to capture our attention like never before.
It hasn’t taken long for the tech giants to pick up on this trend, either: Social media executives at Facebook have even gone so far as to predict that your news feed will be all video within the next five years. Other studies have reported that the internet will be 80% video by 2019.
Quite simply, video isn’t just the future—it’s also the present. And getting comfortable on camera is perhaps the most important thing you can do right now to ensure your long-term success.
Using video to create meaningful connection
Trust me, I didn’t want this. I loved hiding in the shadows, keeping to myself, posting content anonymously for the brands I worked with. It was awfully comfortable. I felt smug knowing that I would never be one of those narcissistic people talking to themselves into a shiny iPhone. I was so above that.
But the world changed, and I had to change with it. It took years for me to shift my attitudes. And when I finally realized how crucial video content was and decided to come out online (face first, name attached, talking head babbling) the shift in my business was stunning.
Simply put, I could not have imagined the world of difference that video content would make for my business endeavours, my professional network, and my personal brand.
The power of video comes down to its ability to help a random individual person—mere seconds ago a total stranger—appear relatable, approachable, and, well, human. We’re so used to bullshit online that getting the chance to watch a normal human being on the internet is absolutely thrilling. And the more human you’re able to act on camera, the more people like you. It’s a hilariously simple but yet shockingly effective approach.
I started out slow with my own video strategy: Snapchatting daily and live streaming when I had the chance. I shared my life, talked about what I knew, and just generally tried to capture my off-camera personality without added pretense. I documented my journey and recorded my thoughts whenever they crossed my mind. There was no planning, no stressing, just doing my best to get comfortable while mastering an entirely new skill.
And it worked. Within a matter of weeks, I had begun building an audience of several hundred people who tuned in daily to see what content I was going to share next.
The best part? These people weren’t just casual viewers passing by. They were people who really got to understand who I was on a human level and decided they liked me as a person. They were people who I actually got to know in return, people who would come to form a dedicated base of support that travelled with me across social media platforms and from one venture to the next.
Video is amazing like that. When you’re on camera, viewers see your personality, warts and all—which means they only stick around if they handle the real you. Connecting with your unique audience is perhaps the hardest and yet the most important part of building a brand, and video content allows you to cut the fat quickly and painlessly.
In the end, people only gravitate to your video content if they’re truly on your level. They become your fans only if they’re really your people.
In my case, video allowed me to find people who were attracted to my vibe, and in turn, they became my tribe.
And because my videos gave them a glimpse not only into my personality but also my everyday life, they know me as a real person. The result? This little tribe of mine is fiercely supportive in a way that most brands can’t match.
The dilemma of getting started on video
There’s a catch in all of this, though.
It’s not enough just to produce video content. You have to be real in your videos to be appealing. And that’s not an easy task.
First of all, talking to yourself into a phone is awkward. It doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up in the selfie generation or not—pretty much everyone struggles at first to make videos that don’t sound cheesy, canned, stilted or fake.
Your first few videos will be painful to watch. So shelve them in the archive to laugh at years down the road and press on—you have genius waiting to be uncovered, and it takes practice to get it right!
My approach was to make my first videos using the disappearing stories feature of Snapchat (now also available on Instagram). Yeah, my first snaps were embarrassing, but they’re lost to the winds now, free from the judgment of the ages.
Whatever approach you decide to take, there is only one way to get started: Hold up your phone and start shooting. Create something. Make a video where once there was nothing. Start refining your voice and your message through actual distributed content.
And don’t worry if you can’t stand to watch your own videos at first. As LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman put it, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
The time will come—promise—when you sit back, watch one of your own videos, and think to yourself, ‘Damn. I’m pretty good.’
And when that moment arrives, you certainly won’t be the only one appreciating your awesomeness.
So go forth and forge your tribe in the most 2016 way possible: Make a video.