The glories of a video post

Nausea. Sweaty tension. That’s what the notion of creating 60 seconds worth of video for an on-line post does to me. Talking to 1,500 people? No problem. A room full of hardened executives? I got that. Me, in a car/train/dining room with a little video recorder? Heart-palpitating anxiety-ridden nearly comatose individual.

This isn’t a forum to work out my personal insecurities, tho it might do me some good. Let’s just skip right to the solution, because I tend to be a solutions-oriented gal. Within a week, I had three people in different corners of my life say the same thing.

  1. I need to “connect with people,” and the on-line, static means (FB, Instagram pics, this website) doesn’t do it and never will
  2. I need to show people my personality, voice and idiosyncrasies (e.g. realize that I’m human, see point #1)
  3. I need to share more wisdom and insight than I’ve been doing, not just a travelogue that ties back to my books

None offered up suggestions as to how I was going to overcome my irrational fears that followers would drop off like flies, further compounding my insecurities. I’m no Kardashian with legions of stylists around me. I’m essentially a working mom who is fortunate enough to continue providing business acumen to companies and writing while the kids are in school.

Still, I’ve spent my adult life telling others to hire the best counsel and then listen. So while these three weren’t hired (expensive friends aren’t in my budget) I had no choice but to follow their advice.

Here’s what happened. I asked for thoughts on topic, format and approach. I made an objective (on Monday I will start). I washed my hair (or did I? I don’t recall now), but what I did do was show my husband the first video. He vomited on it.

“You’re boring. Not smiling. Where’s the “real you?” he wanted to know. Hiding. That’s where. You see, I feel safe behind the non-smiling business face. It’s serious, which is what a business person is–unless with peers behind closed doors.

“Lose the business person. Be yourself. The one you are behind closed doors.”

Round two. I start laughing in the middle, because I can’t believe I’m doing it at all.

“Much better. Post it before you overthink about it.”

Now, what’s crazy is this: the video received over 150 views in less than 15 minutes. Do you know how long it takes any of my posts to receive that many likes? A few days. (No Selena Gomez am I).

Fast forward @2 weeks. My average video receives this many views in about this time. They are limited to 1 minute, and I think to myself that it’s easier to spend a minute watching than it is to read for 10 seconds.

Another thing. I’m always in my car. Why? It’s my quiet time. No conference calls scheduled, no dedicated writing time. No children, dogs, chickens…you get the idea. I may kill a moose while I drive in the snow, but hey, it will be recorded for posterity.

Lastly, the ties to my book sales in immediate and impactful. This follows on my last blog posting. After 5 video posts, I can legitimately say my book sales have gone up 40% over all, and compared to a static post, the numbers are 7x greater.

Does topic matter?

Not that I can tell. I’d like to say I have a marketing Jedi behind me, coaching me on what to say, but it’s not true (and I have this small thing about honesty. It’s important). I do keep a running list on my iPhone about key mantras, subjects and attitudes I have regarding success and life. Some of those things are in my business books–past and future–the short antedotes I can squish into 60 seconds, which isn’t easy.

I will say this: “active” videos aren’t as interesting to people. My skiing clip for example. Rog was convinced this would be cool–not so much. Viewers–at least those that follow me–seem to prefer words.

Connecting is cool.

With the objective of ‘connecting,’ out there, I wasn’t convinced it was going to happen. After this short amount of time, I can attest it’s occurring. The number of comments, along with the depth and level of emotion is incomparable to a static pic. It’s fulfilling, enjoyable and rewarding on a very personal level. To others who read the comments made–I suspect it’s also enlightening. The adage is proving true…when you share details, others will reciprocate. That’s a two-way connection that can’t be faked.

So am I still nervous? Yes. Do I take more than one video for each posting? Yes. On average 6. I talk a lot and always go over. Do I use a filter? Sometimes. Since I consider my posts more guerilla style than poised and professional, it works for me. I like the down and dirty, real life postings. Plus, I don’t have the time in my life to pretend like it’s my source of income–it’s free, to me and the viewer, which is probably the best part.

Instagram, Facebook & the conundrum of social media

The wide world of all things electronic is distracting, wonderful, irritating, fun, stressful and pays dividends. I guess that means it’s like most things in my life, family and hobbies included. My experience over the last ten years with the various incantations of apps has been largely disappointing, because I want results. In other words, if I want to talk to you (and you me) the phone is the best way to go. Deals don’t happen by text. Negotiations are done real-time, email employed when confirming what’s been agreed upon is necessary.

My data points are similar to other individuals who are continually trying to figure it out when to use what, and why:

Facebook:

Personally, I have an account, but probably wouldn’t unless it weren’t required for my business account. Again, I like talking more than sharing. Opinions, with the associated volatility of emotions seriously stressed me out. I can’t write fiction when I’m in that state of mind, and I certainly don’t have time to be surfing when I’m doing business.

Business…I do have an author account, but it’s largely ignored. That said, I found it was FB was very beneficial in doing one thing: driving traffic to my blog. What I did:

  1. wrote the blog
  2. linked the header and wrote a short note in the FB posting, along with an image
  3. the viewership/hit rates and time spent on my website skyrockets when I do that…and so I started employing this strategy around book launches, events, competitions, give-away’s and other business-related activities.

The only downside is when I fell off writing my blog (because I was actually writing or working on the business side) then the traffic to my FB page dropped dramatically.

Net: FB (for authors/businesses) can be very helpful if employed the right way.

Instagram

Let me count the ways I used to love this app before it was purchased by FB. The primary reason I loved it (I’ll list the reason’s I still like it in a moment).

  1. I could control the timing of my content. what I posted was done at that moment
  2. the culture of IG is nicer, more interested in the images than opinions
  3. the focus is global, vs FB which tends by its nature to be more demographically US

Unfortunately, FB has ruined a few features…now they are offering up random postings at random times (which is beyond annoying). As a biz person and author, the last thing I want to do is annoy my followers with too many posts. Well, thanks FB. Now they annoy my followers for me…their algorithms just offer up whatever, whenever. It’s horrid.

That said, until something better comes along, I’ll keep using it. Here’s why.

  1. my book sales have a direct connection to certain posts. Seriously. It’s been about 2 yrs, and I post, on average, once a day, but at times, I’ve gone for 2 weeks without a post. In that time, I have been able to determine what images/text a) increase traffic to my site, b) increase ebook reading, c) invigorate print book purchases and more
  2. my holistic approach to how I market “my business,” which is multi-faceted, is completed by my website, Instagram and facebook
  3. Instagram seems to reach a completely different audience than FB. I could go into detail on this (and may do at another time) but suffice it to say that whereas I can track direct postings and sales from IG, I have no clue on FB. Even when I advertised on FB, I saw very little (as in, negligible) sales connections.
  4. Video on Instagram essentially increased my followers (and hence, book sales, event attendance) 30%. Seriously. I just recently started doing videos (I was scared. yes. I get scared), and it’s been dramatic.
  5. The ability to connect with people on an individual basis is really great. It’s nearly impossible to do with other apps of a similar nature, and I truly love seeing and hearing from ppl of all walks of life, all cultures and countries–and we are bound by common interests from inception.

Twitter…sigh. I abhor what I see on Twitter, and for that reason, only joined it about 2 weeks ago. I posted a bunch in a few days, realized it just wasn’t for me, and stopped. I’m not a politico, comedian, or other major personality that has the acumen or desire to engage in that world. Further, the demographic of the people on twitter doesn’t seem to connect with the folks I’m trying to reach.

If I had to make one observation about Twitter is that the people who responded to my (few) tweets were mostly international, which wasn’t surprising. My captions were of places I visited and used in my recent novels.

So this is a snapshot of what I’ve experienced. I’ll continue to explore and track other apps as the come about, but for now, I’m still a big fan of Instagram.

 

 

Writing to get published – the sure fire way to fail. Write for self & self only

Every so often, a brave soul asks me a bonified, legitimate question about writing, publisher, or some business aspect that relates to my former (mostly) life of deal marketing and partnerships. Perhaps a half-dozen come across my desk every year, which I attribute to fear or skepticism I’ll actually offer a reply. This was one of them.

This last month, I was asked the following question.

Q: (asked via Instagram): how do you write? For yourself, or for the publisher, or for the reader?

This required a longer response than I was willing to put in Instagram, so I asked for, and received, an email. Turns out the writer is a man from France, an EVP for a telecommunications company who is writing a fiction novel in his spare time. I was just speaking about this topic with another prospective author (e.g. unpublished, not- agent represented), so I thought the universe was giving me a hint to respond. Here is my answer, verbatim.

admiral-ackbar-ole-miss-bigger

Be authentic. People like authentic, no matter how strange it is.

A: Ok, so I was just answering your latest question for another new-author. To write for the reader or write for self. The answer, unequivocally, is write for self. Early on, I knew I had an audience to write for—but that was non-fiction, business/trade, and all about making money and success. In that world, it was/is easier to write for the audience—because the readers had a mutual, self-identified/selected topic—success in business. In that respect, yes, I did consider the reader—but that was based on common denominators (age group, entrepreneurs etc).

Fiction is entirely different. For fiction, the audience is so broad and varied—my action adventure is read by 18-35 yr old males, but then a ton of girls/women internationally—it’s a complete grab bag. When writing the first version, I had to scrap my first two (fully complete) versions and write what interested me. It was that book that was accepted and is being turned into a movie franchise series.

That said, I suffered the same issue when I started writing in another genre—and found once again, that writing for self (me) was the only way to go. In fact, I struggled with this particular genre (general interest fiction) for years, because I was always writing for some demographic I had in my head. Turns out, my agent said the books were always sub-par and he declined to submit them to publishers. Three years ago, that changed when I went through some personal issues (death/destruction) and emerged just wanting beach reading. I churned that novel out in 3 months, my agent said it was the best thing I’d ever written.

The moral to the story is this: write a book you yourself want to read. If a paragraph or chapter drags and is boring for you, then it’s going to be boring to someone else. Ultimately, your favorite book to read should be the one that you, yourself, have written. That’s the ultimate test.

Note: all the comments on my blog are automatically deleted. I get spammed to the tune of 20K per day, which is awful. If you want my attention, hit me up on Instagram or facebook, and at least you have a chance. my Instagram  is Sarah_j_Gerdes and facebook is Sarah Gerdes author