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BK Magazine Social Media Savvy
Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place!
By Charlotte Ashlock
Digital Producer & Editor
Youtube abounds with rags-to-riches stories. Youtube comedian Wheezy Waiter (482,979 subscribers at the time of this writing) worked as a waiter and uploaded over 100 videos before his channel went big and he was able to quit his day job. Corey Vidal (220,712 subscribers at the time of this writing) was homeless when he first started making Youtube Videos. Then he made a musical Star Wars video that went viral. In this interview, he says, “I went from being homeless to making $50,000 in about a month because of that video… That video changed everything.”
Now Corey Vidal is directing a documentary a bout the transformative effects vlogging has had on people’s lives. Watch the trailer here, there’s a lot of food for thought, including the quote, "It's not just the future of entertainment, it's the present of entertainment."
I listened to dozens of Youtube stars tell the “secret to their success” at VidCon, and here are just five simple pieces of advice about how to be sucessful on Youtube that I heard over and over.
Youtube fitness guru Blogilates, told us, “Be yourself. Never be fake. If you’re focused on fame and fortune, that kills your inner fire.” I heard dozens of people say the same thing. If you’re on Youtube seeking fame, you’ll just be a big flop. If you’re motivated to be on YouTube for the sheer joy of creation, it’s possible that thousands of others will eventually partake in that joy. Blogilates, who boasts 787,802 subscribers, made her first videos because her friends were curious how she exercised. When she started, she had a terrible camera and didn’t even know how to edit footage-- but it didn’t matter. Her friends appreciated what she was doing, and the ball was rolling.
The successful Youtube star’s deeper goal is to serve the fans. It's not a one-way broadcast, it's about building relationships between the content creator and the content viewer. This is the exact opposite of the Hollywood model, where the star is on a pedestal above the fans. Youtube stars told me they routinely spent hours responding to comments on their videos or interacting with fans on Twitter. Since they build their platforms from scratch, they always feel tremendous gratitude to the fans who helped create them. They are always asking themselves, "What will help my audience? What will entertain my audience? What do peple need?" It's a much more humble, open, and loving attitude than one held by your traditional media celebrity.
The kind of videos most business professionals produce today are glossy and free from mistakes, and frankly, a little boring. Mistakes make things more interesting, more human. With video, it’s possible to re-record a million times until you capture yourself without mistakes, but most vloggers don’t do that. They leave the mistakes in (especially if they are humorous ones) and make fun of themselves. It’s one more way to create a sense of connection. In this little Youtube video I filmed, I mispronounced a word. Instead of editing it out, I put it in the title of the video. Sure enough, the mispronunciation seemed to be what people latched onto the most when I tweeted out the link. Nobody’s perfect. Why pretend to be?
Of course, being a servant leader for your fans, doesn’t mean mindlessly doing everything they say. Sometimes you can get more mileage and views from doing something totally unexpected. The host of PBS Idea Channel says, "Don't try to follow a trend, play with expectations!" Likewise, Wheezy Waiter says he picks funny topics rather than popular topics and warns against rehashing the work of others.
Of course, popular topics DO get more attention sometimes. I think the sweet spot is having an unexpected take or opinion on a popular topic. Check out this against-the-grain musical analysis of four popular Disney movies. He sneaks several social justice messages in there as well. It’s not many social justice messages that can get nearly 18 million views!
My favorite quote from the Vlogumentary trailer is, "If you can turn on the camera for a minute, and make a connection with ONE person, you’re a Youtuber.” All too often, people become obsessed with metrics, collecting new social media followers like they were points in a video game. I always feel sad when I see our Berrett-Koehler authors sucked into that trap. It’s not about getting bragging rights about how many people love you (although that’s always nice.) It’s about forming relationships. And the quality of the relationships matters as much as the quantity.
The YouTube stars told their fans, "So what if you're not popular? Work ANYWAY.” If your viewcount is what motivates you to keep on working, you’re pretty much doomed from the start. You need to be motivated by a love of what you’re creating, a love of sharing. If your intentions are right, good things start happening.
Most important question: How to get past feeling nervous?
Many people feel nervous about sharing deeply creative work. Hank Green offers some wonderful thoughts about this, which I think book writers and vloggers will identify with in equal measure.
Yes, creation is scary. But you're not the only one that's scared. Every genius, every thought leader, every book author or YouTube star out there raking in the money and the retweets and the love... they probably trembled with fear when they made their first video or penned their first article. They're probably still scared. But they create anyway, and that's what life is all about.