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Brian Fanzo: Press The Damn Button: Power of Video and Podcasting

Each week on the Content Marketing World blog, we’re going to feature a CMWorld 2020 speaker, one of their blog posts that dives into the topic they’ll be covering at CMWorld, and a few additional articles they’ve written to help you prepare for their session.

Today, we’re keeping the series rolling with Brian Fanzo, a social media expert and someone we turn to regularly for inspiration.

2020 is the year of VIDEO!

Just as it was in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 and I believe the reason for this as it’s without question the best way to build trust and convey authenticity in this digitally connected world.

The great thing about video today is, thanks to our smartphones, YouTube and every social media app including video in their platform is that EVERYONE can use video. The reason most video today sucks is well, because everyone can create a video.

My mantra for the last 4 years has been simply PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON but you might be surprised to learn that prior to 2015 the only video I was creating online was a weekly Google Plus show called Social Business Hour. I’m a computer science major and digital futurist without any formal training with video but I’ve always been a storyteller and when mobile live video came crashing into the digital marketing world in 2015 I was more than prepared to go all-in and well #PressTheDamnButton.

In a recent interview with eCAMM I explained the origin of Press The Damn Button:

The Origin of PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON

In 2016. I was doing at least one live video a day and this was when we just went live because we could go live. We learned quickly that there’s a lot of bad live content, but at the time we were just going live all the time and I would speak to these brands and companies and I would go on stage and they would say “Brian, you inspired me. I believe in video. I’m going to do it.”

Press the damn button was really a launching off of stop overthinking and just talking about doing it and start actually doing it.

Don’t miss Brian’s session, What Podcasting & TikTok Can Teach Us About Creating Empathetic Content! at Content Marketing World 2020 Oct 13-16. SPEAKER100 saves $100 off your registration.

And then they would come back a year later to the same event and they’d be like, “Brian, you inspired me last year and here are all of my notes. I wanted to go live, but this didn’t work or that didn’t work or we didn’t have the equipment. We’re going to think about going live this time.” And out of frustration. I was like “Jesus, just press the damn button.”

It was the launching point and now it’s my keynote that I’m giving three times this week and three times next week as well. It used to start with live video and now it’s more storytelling as a whole. It’s just something for people to remember. It’s about putting yourself out there.

Live video is scary. The first time you’re ever on live video is hard. The first time you ever watch yourself back on video you realize that you hate watching yourself on video. And these are all the things that everyone realizes… but until you press the damn button, we’re going to make all of these excuses. I have a hair appointment. I have a webinar. I don’t have the right lighting. I mean, I’m sitting in a hotel right now doing this on my laptop. You don’t need as much as what people say you do.

Press the damn button was really a launching off of stop overthinking and just talking about doing it and start actually doing it.

Yes, Video is Scary But Also it’s Life Changing

Putting yourself out there is scary and it’s hard. I like to tell people that if you’re not sure what your story is, ask your best friend and your worst enemy and somewhere in the middle of that is really what the story is that you should be telling. I think telling your story, you should believe in yourself and be yourself.

When social media was becoming a thing, I wasn’t a huge fan. I spent all of my time trying to create the perfect post or the exact right Tweet or control what people had to say about me and I was overwhelmed. I remember the day (November 2nd, 2013) that my mom actually messaged me and she was like, “I’m curious why you don’t have your hat on in your profile pictures on social media.” She was like..

“I just want to know that you’re being authentic online because you’re unapologetically yourself offline and I think that’s where you’ve found success.”

And I was like crap, I don’t think I am.

At that time I had less than two thousand followers on social and social was overwhelming. Now I have over a quarter of a million social media followers and a lot of that has to do with the fact that I stopped trying to be perfect and stopped trying to control the narrative. I stopped trying to say or tell stories that I thought other people wanted to hear and I started telling my own story. I started sharing who I was and started being okay with saying you know, “hey I screwed up” or “I made a mistake and I Tweeted this out this morning.”

Those that are trying to be perfect or trying to portray perfection are liars. You get to choose what you want to be. You can be known as a human or someone that’s lying — trying to sell unicorns and rainbows and stuff that doesn’t exist. So that’s where I look at it like telling your story doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s awkward and it’s something that not everyone is used to doing.

Why I Love Pressing The Damn Button On Live Video The Most

It takes practice to be yourself on camera. I think the reason I love live video more than any other medium is that it’s also a very forgiving medium where people are okay if you’re stuttering. I always joke that the very first live video that anyone does from their phone is just their feet because no one realizes that the back camera is on and not the front camera and they’re like “oh my God. How do I switch it around?”

I think that’s kind of the cool thing about a video and to your point on authenticity, I mean the idea of catfishing… the idea of faking it… nobody trusts brands today. Nobody trusts a logo. We don’t even trust the posts on social media because there are filters and people doing it for other people, but the thing about live video is that you can’t outsource it. You can’t mail it in. You can’t fake it. That’s the reason I have always gravitated towards live video. Because if I want to believe someone, I want to look at them in their digital eyeballs and live video is that catalyst for doing that compared to even something like YouTube where you can be really good at production video and cutting and you can make it look really good when you’re not actually really good.

I think part of this whole world we’re living in right now is that we want real people. We want to connect with real people and buy from real people and live video is that kind of gateway to let that all happen.

Social Media is Amazing But It Won’t Fix Stupid or Stop Bad People

I love social media. It has changed my business and my personal life. I believe we’re living in the day and age where we need to be empathetic to each other. That’s what Press the Damn button is about. Even my shirt says “we’re all human”.

Social media should allow the human characteristics that bond us to allow us to grow as a society. That’s not necessarily happening at the moment, but it’s something that I believe will happen. We have to put down the barrier of perfection and stop trying to control the narrative.

We have to start forgiving people that make mistakes because we all make mistakes.

Weirdly, in social media… I mean the whole Ellen DeGeneres thing, when she was sitting next to President Bush at a football game. I was on Twitter and the number of people that were bashing Ellen for sitting next to President Bush… and then Ellen came out with this beautiful video explaining why she did it and how just because she doesn’t get along with somebody and doesn’t believe in all of their same narratives doesn’t mean she can’t be friends with somebody.

And I’m like hallelujah; that’s what we need to hear more of and I think in the next year the United States will be more divided than we’ve ever been in the history of time and I think we need more vehicles to make us more connected. Like reading those Tweets that people were Tweeting to Ellen, it was disgusting. I was like you’ve got to be kidding me. It’s a balance, but I do believe in the cream rising to the top and the bad news and fake news hitting the bottom.

The only way that we can combat the bad news and fake news is by telling more stories that are good stories. If we keep giving attention to bad stories and fake news, then that’s what will keep getting all of our attention. It comes down to people putting themselves out there. It’s businesses and individuals telling their story.

How I Approach Trolls and Hate Online

Everyone can be a bully and say mean things behind a keyboard, but the majority of the time they would never say that in person. Interestingly enough, live video does invoke trolls. They like to put it out there because they can get an instant reaction. Like on Twitter, when you’re Tweeting at Ellen, you don’t even know that she read it, but if you come on live video and you make a comment you can see that I’m reading your comments. The neat thing about that is that there’s also this element of empowerment because you get to decide how you handle it.

I did a live streaming project in 2016 with Applebees. We did 12 hours of straight live streaming. It was a crazy cool project, but a couple of hours in someone actually jumped in and was making comments from TGI Fridays handle. They didn’t realize they were logged in under the TGI Fridays handle at the time. Then they realized and everyone in the room came to the defense of Applebees — not because they were like Applebees superfans, but because they were like “well, Applebees is going live and they’re admitting what they do and how they make all of this work. We don’t even know what these other brands are doing.” I think that’s where I look at people when they say I get worried about trolls and hate. You get to decide how you handle it.

I’ve been on live video and had times where someone disagrees with me first thing and I’ll ask them to send me an email and tell them that I would love to discuss this with them on live video. And you know how many times someone has taken me up on it? Once. And we both ended up coming to an agreement. So there is an element of getting people out from behind the keyboard warriors, but also realizing that you get to decide how the narrative plays out.

My Number One Advice For Building A Personal Brand in 2020

The number one way to stand out is to be consistent. The second way is to be yourself. I’ve always been a backward hat guy. I’ve always been someone who lives my brand. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and anyone that knows me knows that I’m a Pittsburgh fan. I have a Steelers tattoo. I drive a black and yellow Jeep. My company collars are black and yellow for obvious reasons. So for me, a lot of it comes back to that. Like with Steve Jobs’ shirts. You knew what Steve Jobs was going to wear. There was an element of that.

So I tell people, you don’t need a catchphrase and you don’t have to wear a hat… I mean I wear colorful shoes as well because I’ve always worn them. The shoes I’m wearing on stage tomorrow are hot pink. Like super hot pink Osiris shoes that Osiris hooked me up with, but for me that’s a lot of it. Like you know who I am and I want to portray that. The hats became a huge thing for me. I used to say that I used to sneak the hat in my back pocket on stage and then put it on whenever I was up there and  no people write it in the contract if they’re hiring me — Brian we want you to wear a hat. I even recently had someone ask if they could pick the hat I was going to wear.

In 2020, I’ve created a group of hats and I’m going to allow the event organizers to pick which hat I wear onstage for their event. I think that’s kind of the fun of it. How do you become memorable?

Part of becoming memorable is doing something that’s unique that helps you stand out. I’m a guy that doesn’t really have a niche. So if you don’t have a niche, it’s even harder to stand out. I’m a live video guy. I’m a social media guy. I’m an enterprise tech guy. I played semi-professional poker. I like to say that I’m the CEO of Team No Niche. So when you have no niche, you have to be able to be memorable and stand out in other ways. For me, part of it is just who I am. So I hear comments all the time like “Brian, I was introduced to you or someone mentioned the backwards hat keynote speaker guy…” and I’m like well, at least they remembered me. They didn’t even know my name, but they remembered me because of those things.

Podcasting vs Video or Podcasting + Video

I believe that podcasting is the most intimate medium there is out there. I believe it’s more intimate than any other piece of content you can create and part of the reason that is, is because you know when you read a book and then you go watch the movie why does every single person hate the movie? It’s because when you’re reading a book you get to paint your own picture of what you’re reading. So when someone tells you that they’re climbing a mountain or they’re walking the streets you get to decide as the reader what the streets look like. When you’re watching a movie or watching the video the Creator determines what the streets look like.
So podcasting, for me, the reason it’s so intimate is that when you hear me tell a story you get to decide what color hat I have on and all of these things. So, for me, I don’t need my podcasts to be the most popular in the world, but I wanted people to be able to listen to the content and give them an outlet to do that. Weirdly enough, I’ve done 3,500 live videos since 2014 and the thing that I consume the most personally are podcasts. I consume about 12 podcasts a week on a regular basis because it’s the way that I learn best.

So I decided early on that I’m going to create content in all different forms and let you decide the way that you want to consume it.

How To Use Live Video To Grow Your Podcast

Podcasting is a weird medium because you only find the podcasts that you like from someone else who is a podcast listener. You ask them to tell you their favorite and then you go and subscribe to it. That’s the weirdest element of podcasting. So for me, when I was first selling sponsorships, I said I don’t want to sell downloads. I want to actually tell you how many people I can reach.

So what I do is go live on Facebook Live using Ecamm and then I record my podcast from the live. If you go to Facebook.com/isocialfanz, I’ve been doing this for four years now. I get two hundred to a thousand people that will watch the live video and then I get a thousand to five thousand downloads of my podcast episodes.

The other thing about live video that works really well for podcasting is most people podcast on Skype whether they’re interviewing somebody on Skype or like on my podcast there’s no interviewing it’s just me talking for 30 minutes. People are like: “well, Brian, how do you get comfortable doing that and you don’t have an audience” and I was like “well that’s why I use live video because then people can comment and engage with me. So I actually record my podcast on live video because it helps me stay active and I get to see the live comments and it also gives my audience kind of another way to do that.

The nice thing is that I use the video as my Marketing. So anyone that has seen the promotion of my podcast, you know that I chop up the video and use it on Instagram and LinkedIn and then I take the audio and send it to Brie on my team and she listens to the podcast and turns it into a blog post that goes up on my website. And now I have all of this content all from one aspect, which is really nice.

I have two rules:

  • Perfection is a fairytale
  • Control is an illusion.

So I know I can’t control things and I know I’m not perfect. For the most part, my audience kind of forgives me for the “ums” and the pauses and I don’t bother with much editing. I edit the audio quality, but I don’t edit the actual show. I don’t go in and take out different segments on my show.

When I started doing live videos of my podcast everyone was like “Brian, you’re an idiot.

You’re going to want to get people to subscribe and you’re giving them the live video. You’re going to lose them as a subscriber.” And I was like not really. If the show is so good that they want to listen to it when they’re not in front of their computer or not watching the video, then they’ll subscribe. And if they’re not a podcast listener, but they like live video, then they’ll watch it on live.

The bigger piece for me was that I don’t care how someone consumes as long as they consume it. That’s my mantra on social media. When someone asks me where they should follow me, I always say “pick your favorite channel. Whatever it is, I’m on every single one.”
I create three podcasts, I have multiple videos a week… I don’t need someone to consume everything I create. I want to give them the option because everyone learns differently and has different habits.

I’m a big believer in zigging when they’re zagging. So when people are producing really high-quality produced shows, but they’re putting out a couple a year because of all of the editing, I’m going to go the other way.

The audience is pretty good at accepting my show.

My Answer to the popular question: How Long Should Your Video Be?

The only thing that money can’t buy is time and I think when people talk all the time like one bad episode just means people stop listening. They unfollow and unsubscribe and block or tune you out. So I take a lot of that to heart and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time. So even though I do it randomly and I go live, I always say like just because it’s live doesn’t mean it has to be sporadic, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a strategy or that I don’t think about the audience’s time. Those are big, important things to me.

For the most part, my audience doesn’t realize that because I come up with a topic like the iPhone (that’ll be this week), I’m like okay what are the three things that I want people to Tweet about this episode right now? So I’ll write them down and so it might only be 10 minutes worth of planning, but it’s 10 minutes that allows me to shape the 40 minutes or the 30 minutes of the show that I’m creating.

So with all of that if you truly want to stand out from the noise, build a community and tell your story there is no better day than today to
This post originally appeared on the iSocialFanz Blog

Looking for even more from Brian Fanzo? Check out these three blog posts that will help you dive deeper into the science of memorable content and prepare you for his CMWorld workshop:

  1. 2 Changes Leaders Must Make To Lead With Empathy
  2. 9 Ways to Utilize Social Media for Storytelling!
  3. What Marketers Can Learn From TikTok (without making a single video)

Register today for Content Marketing World 2020, where you’ll hear from Brian 100+ other incredible content marketing leaders. Use SPEAKER100 to save $100 off your pass!


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