In the previous entries to the Struu blog, we’ve discussed big concepts and macro-scale matters, such as the insight economy, new communications culture and knowledge sharing. On this one, however, we’ll dig deeper into the bread and butter of the Struu service: video content creation and distribution.
To highlight best practices and styles to vlogging (yes, it’s video + blogging), we listed six exceptionally good business vloggers who are leading the game of sharing insights via video.
Above and beyond good quality, wide-ranging topics and insightful content, Blake’s approach to vlogging is in itself exemplary: “Always be creating”.
Blake’s topics range from business advice to helping other content creators maximise — or monetise — their creative efforts. His aptly casual style and demeanor render his content approachable and “real”.
The contents itself comprise a great deal of valuable information, dressed up just enough to affectively carry Blake’s personal brand. Sometimes the seemingly simplest touches, like the cool watermark on Blake’s videos, wrap the message perfectly.
2. Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk’s, or GaryVee’s, immensely popular content is an inviting mix of high quality production, rough takes and straight talk. The way GaryVee presents himself very naturally and uninhibitedly likely stems from his premise to producing content, slightly contradicting Roberto Blake’s principle:
“The key to content success, is you gotta start documenting instead of creating. Let me tell you how: just start!”
The lesson is a relevant one: you need to be committed to producing, yet patient in expecting results. Obviously it helps the likes of GaryVee to have his own team dedicated to producing his content. That doesn’t, however, take away the value in his advice to just start.
The videos combine enlightened (if straight-shooting) commentary to imagery which frames the message nicely. Instead of the typical “talking head”, you’ll get a view to the world of Gary Vaynerchuk.
3. Rand Fishkin (with Moz)
The Man with the Whiteboard. Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, proves that in content creation flashy post-production isn’t all that necessary. More important is to establish your own sound way of producing content. Fishkin did just that with his excellent Whiteboard series.
Fishkin tackles seemingly complex SEO and SEM challenges in an understandable manner, using just a whiteboard as a backdrop and a means to visualise information.
The quality and popularity of the content goes to show that it’s the insight and authenticity we’re looking for as consumers, not the special FX.
4. Brian Tracy
Who ever said that vlogging is a game reserved for the young? Brian Tracy, a renowned public speaker and self-development author with decades of experience, converted his fame into a thriving business channel, reaching over half-a-million insight-hungry subscribers to date.
Tracy delivers practical life, business and leadership advice with minimal bells and whistles. His personal brand is clear yet unobtrusive, and the advice he shares relevant and actionable. What more can you ask for, really?
Most of all, Tracy is a fine example of the nature of vlogging: anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a model or a hunk, or seamlessly fit the archetype of a young, flashy YouTuber in order to succeed.
5. Behind The Brand with Bryan Elliott
Behind The Brand has been a popular fixture amongst business channels for quite some time. With over 75K subscribers and a steady production frequency, churning out an average of three videos a month, Behind The Brand with Bryan Elliott is a major force within influencers.
What makes the channel exemplary and inspirational, is the way Elliott deploys his network in creating content. If you’re hesitant whether you alone have enough to say for a whole series, why not get your professional network involved?
Obviously we don’t all have in our contacts the likes of Magic Johnson, Daymond John or Mark Cuban, but surely there are people in your network, too, that can provide some interesting insights. And most experts and professionals are more than willing to share their knowledge for some mutually beneficial screen time.
It is said that insight is a combination of content and conversation. Hence, producing content based on conversation and interviews may spur some great material.
6. Sunny Lenarduzzi
Last one on the list is probably the best known amongst the business heads. In fact, the Senior Brand Director of Hootsuite, Cameron Uganec, called Lenarduzzi a “social media rock star”. This immensely popular young media consultant gives away tips on creating content, branding and marketing. Or as is described on her channel, “a mix of video and marketing tips, subscribed to by more than 49 000 YouTube users”.
Her contents are a fresh combination of advice regarding various themes, ranging from travel vlogging to performance tips to video production advice. Lenarduzzi discusses topics, styles and production means and techniques in an avid and interesting manner.
Her simple and appealing production style compliments the topics, and the contents are branded well enough to support brand consistency and differentiation. Lenarduzzi is a prime example of an ascension from obscurity to global fame by vlogging. Hats off, folks.
What They Are Doing Right
Looking at the best players in the vlogosphere might be slightly discouraging at first, if you focus too much on their well-honed professionalism and established styles. But the thing is: anyone can do it, as long as you have the right tools, a bit of vision and guts.
Many of us still view video as too revealing a format. In that respect, the most admirable trait in all the above listed vloggers, is their bravery in exposing themselves, week in week out. It takes a few courageous individuals to kick-start a movement.
That said, arguably the most important quality to a great vlogger is having a healthy lack of concern about one’s appearance: an indifference just big enough to prevent you from stressing about every little detail in your performance. As the cliché goes: you are perfect just the way you are. So, don’t worry about it too much!
giving a few f**ks is good, but giving too many may result in a seriously inhibited state of mind
This is not to say we shouldn’t ponder on the conveyed message as a whole as to what is said and how it’s said. Just like we ought to plan what we’re going to say, we should be aware of the nonverbal elements in our communication. Our attire, demeanour and expressiveness embody meaning, frame of mind and individuating details which — coarsely put — shape our personal brand.
So, giving a few f**ks is good, but giving too many may result in a seriously inhibited state of mind, mentally blocking you from actually releasing anything.
Authenticity and personal style
We really can’t stress authenticity enough. All the above influencers have that in common; they come across as — lacking a better word — real. You can believe that these people would appear like that, should you meet them in person.
Authenticity renders the message relatable and personal style makes it remembrable. In this respect, the whole concept of personal branding should construct upon delivering information as the real you; from your standpoint and with your own voice, rather than conveying an airbrushed and branded image of you.
So, please don’t “fake it until you make it”. Just be real.
Interactivity and community
As much as vlogs revolve around a given central figure, we get nowhere without community. Best vloggers harness their community in mining for content ideas, feedback and conversation. Or in the case of Behind the Brand, interviewees. Best vloggers are in the business of delivering insights, rather than mere content. And crystallising information into real insights requires interaction, just as interaction requires community.
A communal approach to content production will also entail in an improved learning environment for your audience. In the words of Benjamin Franklin,
“tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
As much as you may want to speak about a whole lot of things at once, keeping content condensed and clear is key to providing digestible information. Best content producers state their case clearly in the topic and speak about it in a concise manner.
Adding a few bells and whistles — like your own logo watermark or branded slides — onto the content is a good way to have it pop out. However, more important is ‘sticking to the script’; stating your case intelligibly and in concert with the headline.
The above listed influencers know how to walk you through the message, enabling both affection and learning. Especially when delivering a denser load of information, it is absolutely critical you rhythm your content right.
Condense your message, present your key outtakes, phase your video using slides and conclude clearly. Absorbing insights — let alone enjoying a bit of content — becomes a laborious task if the given content is a coil, rather than a roll of information.
Using slides or still images with headings to indicate different segments in your video, is a good way to rhythm the content.
In search of actual content success, dedication is where it begins and ends. Anyone — with a bit of luck — can land a viral hit, but real, long-lasting success is something only dedicated work produces. Conversely, lack in dedication will likely dilute whatever traces of success one might’ve garnered in the past.
Our culture is characterised by a preoccupation with immediacy, and thus, content may ‘die’ quite soon after its inception. Keeping up with producing new content works to keep alive what you’ve already released.
With regard to means of production, your smartphone is the only mandatory tool you ever need. However, with a few minor investments, you can instantaneously elevate your level of production to match any pro-vlogger out there.
The extra bits and bobs to start with include a smartphone-compatitible tripod such as this handy Joby, a microphone like this Rode, and a wide-screen lens for smartphones. Investing a relatively small sum in these equipment will likely come in handy in your pursuit for content success.
Above and beyond hardware, key is to deploy a suitable platform for recording, editing, distributing and curating your videos. Social will continue to serve as the main aggregate media to reach a wider audience, but seeing how that landscape is developing in terms of the nature of content and interaction, you might want to look for solutions such as Struu to support the creation and distribution of more professional insights.
In addition, when facing broader content success through your elevated expert profile, Struu allows you to move on from free releases to monetising your video content.
Where to start?
To answer the question: start with an opinion you have, a work-technique you master or a bit of knowledge you’ve immersed yourself in. Start with the phone in your pocket, and start recording.
Don’t worry about your first video not going viral or changing the world. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by small tremors along the way, they’re part of the game. And don’t worry about the quality not at first being the same as with the popular counterparts. We learn as we do.
If you feel like vlogging is for you, and that you have something to say that is worthwhile, just go for it!
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Struu is the social enterprise video platform, designed for knowledge-sharing professionals and organisations.
Struu is an independent video creation and community management platform. Struu allows you to produce branded on-demand and live videos with synced presentation slides, and manage multiple public, private and hidden video communities for various communication needs.
Sign up at struu.com and download the iOS application here.
By Eero Alasuutari
CCO, Struu Oy
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