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Making a Personal Connection with Video – @schmittastic
The Agents of Change

There is no doubt that video has proven itself an effective marketing tool. When you’re on camera, you’re allowing your audience to make a personal connection with you. In doing so, they’re earning your trust and feel a connection to you and your products or services. And with so many options out there today, there is zero excuse not to create video, whether it’s your face out there or not.

Amy Schmittauer’s passion for video turned a hobby into marketing success. She knows how businesses can leverage the use of videos to help them grow their organic reach.


Rich: Amy Schmittauer is creator of a YouTube show, Savvy Sexy Social, a series dedicated to helping you go after the life you want. This proactive lifestyle channel has amassed a community from over 179 countries whose viewers have contributed more than 3.5 million views.

A co-founder and marketer at Aftermarq, Amy has helped design interactive experiences through video content for clients since 2010. An internationally acclaimed public speaker and edu-tainer, Amy has presented on stages all over the world, including Portland, Maine. She has achieved high marks at the most influential marketing events, including Social Media Marketing World, Hubspot’s Inbound, Tropical Think Tank, and Agents of Change.

Amy shares her strategies for video in her first book release, Vlog Like A Boss: How To Kill It Online With Video Blogging. Amy, welcome to the show. 

Amy: Hello, Rich. I love, love that you mentioned that I’ve been to Portland, Maine now, because that just happened not too long ago. I was so excited that’s on the list.

Rich: It was so great hanging out with you, and great having you here. This is actually your second time on the AOC podcast, which is great.

Amy: Yeah.

Rich: Although I’m trying to think about whether it was called the Agents of Change podcast when you were on, or whether it was my original name under The Marketing Agents podcast.

Amy: Oh, I think it was AOC. I think.

Rich: Ok, you might be right. If you listen to Pat Flynn’s how or John Lee Dumas and they refer to “Episode 19”, and I’m like, “Dude, you’re on episode 1,333 and you’re remembering that I was episode 19?” He probably had some VA look that up for him, but it always seems like it’s on the tip of his tongue.

Amy: He’s like a doctor; he has all his records so he can just say, “Remember on this date when you were feeling like that?” It’s like, wow, he really took notes that day, great.

Rich: So Amy, we’re here celebrating you, your new book, and the fact that you are the queen of video right now. So tell me a little bit about your journey to video. What brought you into online video and why were you so excited about it?

Amy: I’ve had a computer in my life for a really long time, but the first real social network I feel like I was on was YouTube, and it just happened by accident. I made my first video for a bride whose wedding I was in, and I found a social network where I could easily upload videos to share them with my friends. And it was that simple. There was no big strategy to all of this.

Other social networks of course were around, I dabbled in them, but I really was all about uploading video and I loved watching video. It really starts from a user perspective for me. I wasn’t in the marketing space, I was working a regular 9-5. I went to school for Political Science, I was lobbying and fundraising, and I thought that’s what I was going to do.

Video is truly my little passion that I did when I came home from work and it was just for fun. That’s honestly how I started. And I think knowing how to use the internet very well, that was helpful for people. And good friends and small business owners that I knew would ask me simple things, like how to use Facebook, and I’d just point out very little things and they’d say I’m good at it and should do that.

So social media marketing became something I learned more about and it became a side hustle. By the time I took that business full time in 2011, I knew I needed a platform where I could let people know I actually knew what I was talking about, and no marketers were actually doing well by video content at that time, it was really tough to learn about marketing through video if you really didn’t like it in the first place. It was just a chose all the way around. Nobody was doing video well to teach it, and I thought here’s a hole, I’m going to fill it. And that’s how Savvy Sexy Social came to be. That became the place that I went to as a professional to teach the trade that I knew, and I could start to bring business in to my new full time business that had been a side hustle for about a year.

So that’s sort of the long story, it really started for fun.  I love to edit video, everybody thinks I’m crazy. I’m not necessarily incredible at it but I enjoy it, it’s something I love to do. And that’s really what started this whole thing.

Rich: You do a great job with your editing. It always feels like you somehow crammed 15 minutes of content into about a 4 minute video. There are no “umm’s” and “ahh’s”, I don’t hear you breathe and yet I understand everything you say.

Amy: Oh that’s great, than you’re my target audience! I don’t like to let you hear me breathe unless it’s for comedic relief or something. We keep it fun. I think the best thing you can do is look at a network like YouTube or Facebook or Instagram – and this is rule of thumb for anything – you look at that space and you say, “How do people like to watch/learn/read things here?”, and you fit into that mold.

The thing that works with YouTube that I fit into the mold with is that people don’t have a whole lot of time; they’re trying to have a little bit of fun because they want to laugh, and they want to learn something. So I said I’m going to teach marketing, but as quickly and as fun as possible, because already we’re seeing these businesses saying, “Ugh, I don’t want to learn a new marketing thing.”  And now we’re seeing that that marketing thing didn’t turn out to be a fad and that’s a very big deal. And it’s a good thing that they found me because I made it somewhat less of a chore to learn about.

So that’s a testament to how do you best present your content on a social network. Well, you have to know the cadence of that network first. So that’s why it has been able to succeed and why I do not allow you to hear me breathe.

Rich: I don’t even think you breathed during that entire explanation. So while you catch a breath, I’m just kind of thinking through this. It seems like you’re saying spend some time on your platform of choice – video or non-video – to understand how things are done there so you kind of take some lessons. You still want to make it your own, but when in Rome, act like the Romans do, so to speak.

Amy: Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m saying. When explaining it lately, I’ve been using this analogy of, “every social network is a party”. You don’t wear the same thing to a cocktail party that you would to a Super Bowl party. So that’s sort of where the beginning of this whole invitation to the party comes from. We get to go to these free parties and talk about ourselves and make friends with people. That’s cool, you show up and fit in. But then you let your personality takeover is that helps you stand out. But if you don’t do that first thing and you show up to the Super Bowl party in a cocktail gown, it’s going to be a little weird.    

Rich: That would be very weird for me, for sure. Although, you’ve never seen my New England Patriots Tom Brady tuxedo, I could wear that anywhere. 

Amy: There’s always an exception. Of course you are.

Rich: So you’re your own brand, and you are kind of getting out there to promote the fact that you are getting savvy in social media. But at the same time, a lot of listeners to this podcast are going to be consultants for sure, but some are just small business owners. Their business might be sexy, it might not be. What are some of the lessons that the entrepreneurs and marketers – who are not necessarily in the consulting business – what lessons can they take from your journey?

Amy: I think it’s very similar, especially if we’re going to touch on this issue of sexy, because in every aspect this tends to be the excuse of most people no matter what form of content you are trying to avoid. Most of the time video is a really good argument, but you could be avoiding blogging or Instagram photos, or Snapchat, it could be any of those with the issue of “we’re not fun enough, we don’t have the right personality, the business itself is not sexy enough.” And I think that all really does go back to, where are your people hanging out and what is it that they want.

Too many times we have this disconnect between needing to market ourselves – and that’s fully why we’re all here –  and the fact that it doesn’t necessarily mean that product needs to be presented and a business plan needs to be laid out for all the world to see. It’s just not going to happen. You simply have to be on someone’s radar to tick on the register of their day so that they may potentially remember you at some point when they need whatever it is you do.

You don’t need to have this grand presentation for that, you just need to see that party, know what happens at the party, and be a part of the party. So I think that’s truly what I’ve done. Marketing could have absolutely… it doesn’t matter how sexy it looks today and how many people are sort of saying they think they could be good at this and jumping into it. It is not that fun for most people, and I’m sure there’s a lot of small businesses that do not find it fun today.

So in reality what I wanted to teach people may not have actually been the sexiest thing in the world back then. But the difference was, how do I take that information and package it in a way that’s approachable and something you’re actually going to enjoy going through the process learning, because you know it’s valuable for you because you’re searching for it. But you’re also not going to want to kill yourself before you get halfway through it.

I think that’s what you have to think about. Again it goes back to the cadence and it goes back to what does this environment look like that you can be a part of it and be really good at it. And not, “how do we push the product out there as much as possible?” Because that may be your priority, but too often we forget what the priority of our end customer is, or who our perfect viewer is in our audience. What is their priority, what are they thinking about? They probably have never thought of you yet and they don’t even know why they need you. So if that’s the case, how do you change that mindset where you have to get on their radar first?

Rich: That makes a lot of sense. Now you’ve been doing this for quite some time, obviously. You’ve racked up a lot of shows and on YouTube people can leave comments. What kind of feedback do you use to engage your audience, and does that help you create content going forward? Are you constantly mining your own community to find out what they like, or do you just sense that these are the kind of things that they should find interesting?

Amy: I wish I could just say that I have a sense, because I think that would be amazing. And I think you do after a certain amount of practice and publishing. But if not for comments, I wouldn’t have an idea the next day, because truly when you do start to hit the nail on the head, that’s when things get really special. If you actually create a video or a blog post or anything you do, if you create a video that really resonates with someone and makes them think of the next question, there’s content for days just sitting there, and you never want to ignore that.

Which is why I say a lot of people talk down about YouTube comments, but if you’ve actually done right by your content and truly provided value, you’re starting a conversation and the continuation of that conversation is a big deal for your content plan. So I actually love this question because I get so many ideas from the comment section. I can do keyword research for days, and that’s what helps me to break through if I don’t have an audience at all or I’m at a total loss for a topic I haven’t covered lately. But it’s what happens in the comments that shows me if it was the right thing – and if it was the right thing – what’s the next thing I can do to continue to build on this.

One really important lesson I learned directly from YouTube when I was invited to their NextUp camp over the summer, they said we want you to come up with series ideas, but you should never really start a series unless you have 5 that you know you can do. And that resonated with me because I love to just have ideas, go do them, and see if stick. But that was a big one because if you don’t’ have at least 5 ideas, what happens if this thing fails. And if you don’t have an audience built in yet, that’s even harder because you’re waiting for feedback you may not get simply because momentum is there.

So comments are really important, but it’s knowing where it’s going to go anyway and hooping that you can make sure you’re aligning with where those comments are going. That’s how you start to end up having the sense and being able to soundboard with your audience and create chemistry with your content. And that’s what keeps a series going, and going, and going. 

Rich: Alright, so that certainly kind of ties into what type of content we should be creating out there. As far as putting these videos together, you obviously are very camera-friendly and not all of us are. Some of us have, as you say, a face for radio. And I actually know somebody who has a voice for newspaper, but that’s a whole other story. Do we need to be on camera, what are some of the options for those of us that are a little camera shy, in terms of creating valuable content that’s going to help attract an audience?

Amy: Well here’s the good news, when I say video is easy, it’s so much easier today than it has been in the past. So let’s touch on that. When you ask if you should be on camera, someone should be on camera, if that’s the actual question here. It may not have to be you. If you have a face on camera you will do a little bit better because someone can make a personal connection with someone on camera. That’s a very important element of video – specifically the vlog – the reason video blogging works is because of that personal connection. So that’s why a human face is really good to have. That being said, you can still ease into video without making this huge commitment of having your face on there right from the beginning.

And so there’s a number of ways you can do this. Obviously Snapchat and Instagram stories have opened up so many opportunities for us today, because you can shoe behind the scenes and if you have an audience that’s following you over there behind the scenes, there may or may not need to be a face to guide them through that process.  

We see a lot of fashion brands specifically on Snapchat and Instagram stories that if there’s a photoshoot going and enough people in the shot, then you can get through and it’s not like it’s this one main personality. So that’s a context that where that would work.

The other thing, and the thing that I think would be most helpful for anyone listening here, is you likely have considered Facebook – if not already have a Facebook page – and you’re trying to figure out how to get the most organic reach with. What I would recommend there is, there are tools where you can create video for Facebook, upload natively to Facebook, and you will actually do better than the talking head on YouTube because you’ll have to be a little bit more visually strategic to pull people in.

And the reason why I want to point this out is the video on Facebook versus YouTube is fundamentally and entirely different. When you go to watch a YouTube video you click ‘play’, the things that go into that decision making process are a headline and a thumbnail/photo. But on Facebook that video starts playing immediately with no audio on someone’s newsfeed. So the pulling in of the person that’s going to watch your video is a difference process. And what we’re seeing on Facebook is text is actually really powerful in Facebook video today. Now that might include a balance between a face and text, but written word on a pretty much glorified slideshow that you upload as a video can work just as well as a talking head video with caption on Facebook. And the reason for that is someone doesn’t have to hear it – which is crucial – because on Facebook they are only turning audio on about 15% of the time, based on research and analytics.

So that’s something to consider. This is not a commitment to put your face on camera just because you’re going to create video content. It’s going to be more powerful when there’s a personal connection, but today there are so many ways to pull somebody in video that don’t require a face.

Adobe Spark is a really great example of a tool you can use for this. They’ll help you create the whole thing in a webpage, and you can put out a video and upload it to Facebook and it will do very well if you have words on screen and a message worth seeing. And it people want to like, comment or share, then your organic reach is through the roof.

So I do recommend a person on camera, but we have a lot of options today. There is zero excuse to not create video.

Rich: It does sound like there are a lot of options put here, and I was actually going to get to that question, so I might as well speak a little more to it. In the old days it was definitely YouTube. But of course now we have new programs – some of which have already come and gone – and others like Facebook and Facebook Live that really seem to be here to stay. How have you changed your video marketing strategy in the last few years, and what should small businesses be thinking about as we head into 2017?

Amy: Well the first thing is the Facebook factor whatsoever, because YouTube is truly my home base. As a talking head, that video that I create will do better in a YouTube environment than it would Facebook. That being said, I don’t want to lose out any opportunity to grow my brand with Facebook as I’m sure many people who are listening to this. We worked so hard to grow pages over there, now we’re trying to fight for that reach.

So the way that I specifically changed my strategy at all, I think the competition of YouTube overall is getting faster and it’s definitely got to be more visually compelling than ever before. But even more so, it’s just allowing myself to get any traffic whatsoever and eyeballs from Facebook. The thing that’s different there is I just can’t upload my same video from YouTube to Facebook, that’s not going to work for reasons I can’t explain. It’s not a video that’s customized for that environment, therefore it will not so as well.

But what I can do is I can take advantage of the things that we see are working well – uploading short, native video to Facebook or going Live – and using those to promote the thing that I’m trying to get more eyeballs on. So let’s say it is a YouTube video, I’m actually going to do myself a bigger favor by not re-uploading that video to Facebook, but instead putting the link to where I want people to watch it in the caption of the Facebook Live. And going on Facebook Live and saying, “Hey everybody, just checking in with you. Let me answer a few questions, here’s what I’m up to today. By the way, there’s a link in the caption, go check that out and watch my video.”

So previously all I had to do was upload a thumbnail in my YouTube link – and I still do that sometimes – because that was good enough. Uploading a photo to my Facebook page was good enough. Photos are not doing as well as native video on Facebook today. So if I want the most traction out of that feed, I’ve got to go with more Facebook ones. So I would say that’s been the biggest change for me in the last couple of years.

Rich: Alright, so you’ve got the video – and I know you do a 3 day a week show with Savvy Sexy Social – and so if I understand you correctly, so you do a video and put it up to YouTube and you figured out the thumbnail and the headline and description, and then you want to go bring some people over to Facebook, because not everybody subscribes to YouTube. And so if I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re doing is you’re going to Facebook and you’re doing a Facebook Live session and talking maybe about what the video is about, and then in the comments of that you’ve got a link over there.

So Facebook right now where it’s trying to promote the Live video so much, you’re going to get a little bit more visibility, a little bit more attraction which what you’re really doing is leveraging Facebook and their love of live video to get people to check out your YouTube video. Am I correct?

Amy: Exactly. And it’s just like any other funnel. I can talk about exactly what I talked about in my YouTube video in the Facebook Live, or I just do whatever makes the audience happy in that Facebook Live. It needs to be somewhat aligned, it’s all a funnel. So what makes the most sense in that Facebook Live to talk about so that I can get you to take the next action. If the next action is for you is a sale going on in your brick and mortar, then awesome. So everyone has their own funnel, I’m just using the opportunity for organic reach right now with Facebook Live to send people where I want them to go, and it’s usually to my YouTube content.

Rich: I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing for the podcast. So launch the podcast episode on Wednesday, do my regular promotion including my email newsletter, and then maybe by Friday or over the weekend I would do a Facebook Live and just talk about what I learned from, say, Amy Schmittauer and here’s where you can go to check it out.

So how long are your promotional videos when you’re doing a Facebook Live? Do you have a set amount of time, because your regular videos are only like 4-5 minutes long?

Amy: That’s right, yes. Absolutely. They’re different worlds. AI actually learned this from my business partner, Vincenzo Landino, who’s more the specialist in why video than I am. I love doing the prerecorded edited video, and he loves to do the live thing.

Rich: He’s crazy. It’s like walking on a tightrope without a net.

Amy: It’s crazy, but he’s so good. He’s very good at talking to a camera, but also respecting the audience that is live and being able to engage with them at the same time. I focus very hard on one thing at a time, I can’t multitask because I just don’t believe it happens.

But what I’ve learned from him is you have to remember what exactly you’re trying to achieve. You’re trying to get organic reach on the Facebook feed. So actually the longer your Live time is, the more time you actually have to achieve organic reach while you’re live on that stream. So I think the general rule of thumb is to try not to be less than 10 minutes. 

Rich: Oh my God.

Amy: Yeah.

Rich: Spending 10 minutes to promote a 4 minute video. That’s crazy.

Amy: Right, which is why you have to get really creative. But that’s true, because the more people engage, the more people are liking and commenting, they’re excited because they’re live with you. All of that activity is generating that video being pushed up higher and higher in the newsfeed, so you really don’t want to lose any of that opportunity of the people that are excited about being live with you to continue to grow that reach. If you jump off too soon and you didn’t really reach a point where there was enough people commenting and liking, this video is just going to start to fizzle out a little bit more quickly. But the momentum behind engagement is true everywhere you go, that engagement during live time is going to help it live a little bit longer.

We’ve all seen the things on our newsfeeds that seem to be 2 days old, and we’ve seen it so many times. But because we’ve seen it so many times and ‘liked” it, it stays. And that’s essentially what you’re trying to achieve. 

Rich: That’s really interesting. And I had some success with Facebook Live stuff promoting Agents of Change, and I did it every day for a month just to see if I could do it. And then I just kind of stopped. And it does make me wonder if I should be doing it more often. Have you seen a difference between Facebook Live – I did mine on my own personal profile, because I just felt I had more reach than my page would – have you seen a big difference between a business page doing Facebook Live versus a person doing Facebook Live? Is there a difference in reach that you know of?

Amy: Well I think it’s tough for me to say because I generally don’t advise people go Live on personal profiles. That being said, Vincenzo is a really good example of this exact scenario being correct. He has a verified stamp on his personal profile, therefore Facebook kind of looks at you a little more favorably overall anyway. So I think there are factors there where it’s like, “Oh you’re a verified account so we’re going to move you up a little in the fee.” So his Livestreams will do better on his personal account then they do on his brand accounts.

In all, every time I’ve seen someone be successful on any account whatsoever with Live, it has to do with the rapport you have as a channel no matter what it is. But I think it is true that we know Facebook is favoring personal profiles. We know for a fact. Because they want people to be happy when they log in, and they’re going to be most happy when they see their loved ones and their friends. So I do think they are favored.

Rich: So I’m confused. Are you saying I did the right thing by doing it on my personal profile, or that I should have done it under my Agents of Change profile?

Amy: I think for the impact that you wanted, you did the right thing on your personal profile. That being said, I don’t think Facebook is going to be a big fan of people doing business on their personal profiles for much longer. I think it’s been hard for them to police it, so they really don’t do much of that.

I would prefer to see someone using Live on their brand page because you’re going to be helping your brand page so much with anything else it does, simply by having the regular activity of native video. Facebook’s going to see that you’re doing things that matter, and instead of fighting the short battle of getting more views by going on your personal profile – that’s true – but if you at least start doing native video on your brand page, you’re going to start to build that rapport with the newsfeed and with your followers and with the shares, that you will continually get more reach as you go as a brand page. It just might be a little bit more longer term than your personal.

So my usual advice for this is, choose when it’s a moment that makes sense to share to your personal profile, go Live on the brand page, share it to the personal profile. Because then you’re getting the eyeballs of your personal network on the brand page, not just on you.

Rich: That makes a lot of sense.

Amy: I personally think it’s you’re fighting a battle versus you’re fighting a war. The personal profile is an easy battle to win, but if you keep getting frustrated that your brand page isn’t getting as much reach, you’re really not doing anything to help it. Because you’re going Live in a different place and that is the most powerful thing that we are being given. You’re being handed organic reach for free on a silver platter right now. And who knows how much longer that’s going to last.

Rich: I agree. It’s not going to last much longer, but we might as well make hay while the sun shines. Hey, I know that we’re running out of time and I want to talk a little bit about your book. You’ve got this new book coming out called Vlog Like A Boss. Why did you write this, why didn’t you just make another video?

Amy: I know! Oh my God, Rich, I love you. Thank you for saying that. Everyone asks why I wrote this book, and I’m like, I should be making a movie or something. Everyone also asks why did it take this long. I make videos, I’m not a writer. I did want to write a book because it’s a dream of mine, but not because I love the writing process. So it took me some time. But the reality is that I wanted to be able to take all these crazy things in my brain. If you’ve learned anything the last half hour, I have a lot of crazy things in my brain, and everything sort of works but it’s just got to get out. I didn’t have quite the comprehensive guide on this that I’ve been hoping to get out there. So that’s really the reason for the book.

I’m just so excited to feel like I can finally accomplish something. It’s so easy to say I upload videos and do so much, but I can go delete those videos anytime I want. If I write a book and it’s out there, it just feels so real.  

Rich: There’s no “Control Z” on the book.

Amy: Right! There’s no “undo”.

Rich: So in the last minute here, give me the elevator pitch. What are we going to walk away with after we finish reading Vlog Like A Boss?

Amy: So I break down literally how to kill it online with video blogging in this book. I do take you through my story a little bit, but most importantly I explain to you what video blogging is, why it matters, and the three fears that you need to break down in order to get started.   

And that’s really big because again we talked about this being on camera and all of that stuff, it can be hard, but let’s break it down and get through it. But there are 7 main steps in this book on how you can achieve vlogging like a boss, all of which go into the process of not only coming up with your strategy and what a good video looks like, but I include my formula for good videos so you’re not floundering when you’re pressing ‘record’ for the first time.

And I also talk about the best ways to market it – including by far and away the best way to market video – which is to collaborate with other creators. So I talk extensively about that as well as getting that engagement that you need for it to continue to give you the momentum to grow organic reach, as well as how you leverage social media. And of course we talk about camera gear and all that fun stuff, because I couldn’t get away without talking about that, because it is video.

So this is really a comprehensive guide if you want to get started with video content marketing, this is the book you need.

Rich: Very awesome. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. I know people are going to want to check you out online, where can we send them?

Amy: Go to vloglikeaboss.com/aoc and I will have a special little gift for you there.

Rich: You’re so sweet.

Amy: I love you guys.

Rich: Amy, always a pleasure talking to you, and come back anytime.

Amy: Thanks, Rich. Thanks for having me.

Show Notes:

  • Check out Amy working her magic in front of the camera on her web series, and be sure to follow her on Twitter.
  • Be on the lookout for Amy’s new book, hitting shelves very soon!
  • Go grab the “freebie” that Amy has graciously offered exclusively for AOC listeners. (Thanks, Amy!)
  • In between running flyte new media, organizing the next Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, and interviewing amazing guests for his podcast, Rich Brooks can be found writing his first book – The Lead Machine – due to hit shelves in early 2017.