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Supporting image for Telling Your Story with Online Video – @joelcomm
Telling Your Story with Online Video – @joelcomm
The Agents of Change

Using video to reach and engage your audience isn’t just a new fad, it’s here to stay. So don’t be afraid to jump in front of the camera and utilize its awesome power to connect with your audience through the power of storytelling. Everyone has a story to tell, and that personal touch helps to gain trust and personal connections.

One of the best parts of video is you don’t even need to drop a serious amount of cash on fancy equipment. If you have a smartphone, you have everything you need in the palm of your hand to start right away. And your content is literally all around you.



Rich: Joel Comm is a New York Times best-selling author, professional keynote speaker, social media marketing strategist, online video expert, technologist, brand influencer, and futurist. With over 2 decades of experience harnessing the power of the web, publishing social media and mobile applications to expand reach and engage effective relationship marketing, Joel is a sought after speaker (I know this firsthand) who leaves his audience inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create highly effective new media campaigns. He is also the co-host of the Bad Crypto Podcast, one of the top cryptocurrency and bitcoin shows in the universe. Joel. welcome to the show.

Joel: All that is true, I know, because my mother told me.

Rich: Exactly. And she sent me a copy of it, she said this verbatim.

Joel: Mom’s always right.

Rich: So yeah, that’s pretty cool. That’s a lot of good stuff that you do. You do good stuff.

Joel: I try to. I don’t always succeed but it’s certainly a motto.

Rich: You and I have known each other for years. We go to the same events – many of them – and hang out.

Joel: Weren’t we babies together?

Rich: I think you babysat me.

Joel: I’m not that old.

Rich: I was very excited to have you come on and talk about online videos. So online video is very hot right now with every digital marketing guru claiming that it is the next big thing. Yet you Joel have been doing it and talking about it forever. Why do you think video is so important?

Joel: Well I believe that video provides instant connection with an audience for any business, whether they are a small mom and pop operation or whether it’s a Fortune 500. The goal of our marketing communication is to connect with an audience, and live video is this instant thing. You push the button and you go live and you’re speaking to the people on your page or your group and you’re sharing your message, you’re telling stories, you’re showing them stuff and you’re creating conversation. Live video is not just a one-way broadcast. With all the technology we now have, your viewers can instantly ask you questions and give you feedback and you can engage and interact with that. So it is the quickest shortcut – as far as I’m concerned – to building your brand and building an audience online. 

Rich: So you spend a lot of time doing these live videos. I was going through your feed on Facebook and I’m sure there are a lot of small business people out there that are like, “There is no way I could put any more time in the day towards anything else”, and yet you seem to be cranking out live shows that are anywhere from 30-60 minutes long. What would you say to somebody that says they just don’t have the time to do live video?

Joel: Well you don’t have to do a show. A lot of times I’ll have guests on and I’ll have a format and there will be very specific content. But really live video is just about bringing value to the conversation and engaging with your audience because it is a shortcut to a relationship. And when I say “shortcut”. I don’t mean that you can shortcut a valuable relationship. What I mean is it’s a fast way to build it.

Quality content plus engagement with people in your audience builds relationships. Ultimately that’s what you want in business. You can’t send an email out and get this kind of engagement. You can’t make a marketing piece for the mail and get this kind of engagement. You can’t do a podcast and have immediate engagement with people, they can listen and then they can write you or send you hate mail, but with live video it’s happening right now.

So why not just pick something that’s happening right now in your world and broadcast. Tell people what’s happening and show people what’s happening. But even more than telling, bringing them into an experience. In your store, go ahead and set up a camera.

My friend “Chocolate Johnny”, John Kapos, lives in Sydney, he’s a third generation chocolatier and Johnny sometimes sets cameras up in his store and people come in and he’s online talking with them as they’re ordering their milkshakes or whatever it is they’re getting, and they’re in this experience with somebody even though you can’t be there. And there’s something about us that we connect with people that way.

Rich: Alright. Now you’ve had a few popular videos over your career. What is your favorite video that you’ve created?

Joel: A live one?

Rich: It doesn’t have to be live, just any video that you created. I’ve seen quite a few and they can be pretty funny.

Joel: Actually I’m going to date myself, it goes back 10 years, it’s when I hosted and produced the world’s first competitive reality show called, The Next Internet Millionaire. I was inspired at that time by reality show host Donald Trump from The Apprentice, and the rise of YouTube. And we filmed a full 13-episode show that was just one of the most incredible experience of my career. And to this day I still have people reaching out asking me when Season 2 is going to come.

Rich: That’s awesome. I personally really like the video you did after you fell in love with Uber, and you did basically your day as an Uber driver and videotaped everybody, almost like a Taxicab Confessions.

Joel: Yeah, a little documentary.

Rich: Yeah. And then there was a video you did about you had gone to the store and bought Oreo Stuff. It was no longer Double Stuff, it was just the stuff that was the middle of the Oreo.

Joel: Big money in that for the makers of Oreo.

Rich: I know, honestly. I was like, people would totally buy that, I don’t know why they don’t sell it. So you do a lot of creative videos, those are just a few of them. But for a lot of our listeners and people tuning in right now, they’re small businesses and entrepreneurs and they just want to leverage video to generate more business. What type of videos would be right for a doggie daycare, or a septic company, or a natural foods store? Those are three websites that we launched this year so I was trying to come up with examples.

Joel: Let’s start with the first one, doggie daycare. People love watching puppies, dogs make us smile, they are man’s best friend. Sorry cat owners, but dog is still man’s best friend. If you stick up a “puppy cam” at your places and people will watch. You don’t even have to do anything, the dogs do all the storytelling. It’s the easiest live video in the world. You just point your camera at a cute animal.

What was the second one?

Rich: Septic company. Let’s see you go with that.

Joel: Well that would make for a really crappy broadcast.

Rich: Ah, boy.

Joel: Here’s the deal, there are people that choose that line of profession, so therefore there are people who would be curious, how does this work, what is this job. This is like a Mike Rowe thing, “dirty jobs” is there ever was one, right? And so you could do a Q&A with somebody from your company and answer questions from people live about what it is you do, how you do it, how you feel about it, what kind of stories. And of course somebody tuning into that is going to have to have a little sense of humor to it as well, but you know the basis of all successful live video is successful storytelling.

That could be information, you’re teaching people something they didn’t know, so we’re speaking to the mind. It could be inspiration or motivation, so we’re speaking to the heart. It could be just plain old entertainment, and I don’t mean you have to be a talented pianist or singer or magician, you might just be entertaining to watch or listen to.

And of all else fails and you don’t know how to teach, you don’t know how to inspire, or you’re not sure how you would entertain, then do experiential live video. Which is really the easiest thing to do because it’s just a matter of showing people where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing, and the story writes itself. If what you’re doing is interesting enough for you to go live, then some people will want to enter into that experience with you and find out more.

Rich: I would also think that a lot of us just love construction and the installations and stuff like that, and are just curious to know how they did that, how did it get made, how did it get built. So I think that maybe turning on the video – I don’t know how long it takes to put in a septic tank – but the bottom line is you could even have a live feed and then maybe shorten it to one of those sped up videos afterwards. 

Joel: Absolutely. There’s a lot of ways you can create a video and there’s always a story to tell. As long as there is people and the things that people care about involved, then there is an audience.

Rich: Awesome. Alright, so another question that I’m sure comes up – I’m sure you fielded it too many times – is somebody decides they are going to get into video and they want to know what kind of equipment do they need. So if we’re just getting started, what can we start off with, and then what should we aspire to when it comes to equipment?

Joel: Well the beautiful thing is that a couple years ago we had a perfect storm for live video. It used to be you had to have really sophisticated equipment and you had to have a really polished set, you had to have your own T1 line for bandwidth, and you had to have software that was fairly complicated to use.

But the perfect storm, which occurred 2015, brought together all of these elements in a way that was completely accessible. We all carry mobile phones now so the audience is readily accessible. The apps – like Facebook Live, Periscope, You Now, and so many others – are really easy to use, they’re free, and even out 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular towers can provide the bandwidth we need to go live, you don’t need to have a fickle T1 line anymore. And if you’ve got Wi-Fi, all the better.

So as far as the gear goes, as long as you have a connection and a mobile device, you can start. You don’t have to invest anything, in any other software, in any other gear, in any more bandwidth, you’re ready to go. That’s why video is the simplest way for somebody who is just starting wondering how to get out there in front of their audience. Turn on your phone, launch Facebook Live, type in what you’re going to talk about and push the “go live” button.

Rich: That definitely makes it sound like it’s approachable for most businesses. Do people ask you questions about lighting and stuff like that? I’ve seen your home office where you do a lot of your videos, what other equipment do you have? Obviously you’ve got your desktop there, but do you have a special mic, do you have lights, who does your hair and makeup?

Joel: Well so I am at my desktop most of the time when I’m doing video, except when I’m not and I’m in the field so I just have a simple Logitech HD cam that I use. Because I’m a professional broadcaster by trade – I got started in radio many years ago – I like good sound quality, and you don’t need to spend as much as I do. Like this mic, I use a high 3LP microphone, it’s a $300 microphone that brings out all the dulcet tones when I do a lot of podcasting.

It’s all to make sure it sounds really good, but honestly you can get an Audio Technica microphone for $50 if you want to up the level of your broadcast significantly from your iPhone microphone. But if you don’t want to do that you don’t need that. You can go live just using the mic on your mobile device just as easily. And as far as lighting goes, I have a lamp in my corner that’s got directional lighting on it – I’m not sure it’s actually pointing the right way – but it provides enough light for me.

I feel like the things that people worry about are typically the set – including the lighting – whether or not their hair and makeup is on point, and their script. And I feel like all of that has kind of been thrown out of the window as we enter into an age of discarding the phony, polished, broadcasters. We are instead embracing people who are authentic. And we really, really got this when “Chewbacca Mom” hit the scene about a year and a half ago. And of course for those that don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to come out of your cave, it’s 2017.

But Candace Payne is the woman that left Kohl’s department store and she had just bought this Chewbacca mask. She stepped into the front seat of her SUV and proceeded to go live on Facebook and showed people this mask and how hilarious it was. IT was the first time she put it on, when you put it on it makes the Wookie noise and she was laughing as it’s growling and the whole world laughed with her. We’re talking 115 million views in no time at all. It’s probably way beyond that right now. Candace didn’t have a set, she was in the front seat of her car. She didn’t take time to do hair and makeup, she was out running around at the store. And there was no script.

Rich: She did put on a mask.

Joel: She did put on the mask. But there was no script, she just shared her experience. And if that doesn’t point to us how unnecessary some of the things that we thought were important that really aren’t, then I don’t know what else does.

Rich: Ok, but let me play devil’s advocate here because I’ve seen that video dozens of times and the first time I saw it I was almost moved to tears I was laughing so hard, because that woman’s joy is palpable through the screen. But there’s a difference from a woman who seems to have just struck lightning with a Chewbacca mask and the natural food store that’s trying to come up with live video ideas for their editorial calendar and how to get more people into the store. That’s a big different thing, so how do you take the idea of the Chewbacca Mom and then put it into your idea for business and really use it as something that this is one of the channels that I’m going to communicate with my community?

Joel: Well let’s take the whole foods store for example. Let’s see how many different ways we can come up with that the whole foods store could create engaging video using Live. So first of all there’s always the interviews with the staff. Who doesn’t like to meet the staff all the way from the President who was in his office to the cashier who has stories to tell? Because everybody’s got stories to tell and we’re always meeting interesting people and have interesting stories that we want to share. So that’s the immediate low hanging fruit.

But what about showing people some of the products or take us behind the scenes and show us how are the donuts made. Take us outside of the store and show us the neighborhood, let’s meet some of your customers. You can be creative, show a demonstration of cooking something in this store, give people a reason to come on down right now. Maybe there’s a contest or sweepstakes of some kind, or you’re giving away samples for the next 2 hours and you’re reaching people via Live and they’re in your neighborhood. They come on down there and this engagement goes from engaging with people online to engaging with them in person. It’s all a matter of just being creative and seeing that content is literally all around you. And if you have to overthink this, then you’re probably missing the bleeding obvious.

Rich: “Content is all around you”. I love that, that’s great stuff. Alright so one of the things that we even chatted a little bit about this before we turned on the tapes, so to speak…

Joel: We don’t use tapes.

Rich: I know. But you are somebody who plays around with a lot of tools and a lot of apps. When it comes to live video what are some of the things that you’ve been playing around with in terms of apps or tools that you feel are really promising?

Joel: Well there’s a couple that I started using about a year ago and I became fanatical about them to the point where both of them came to me and asked me to be a brand ambassador. I don’t take that lightly, but I always give that disclosure before I mention them, I want people to know that I was a fan beforehand and that’s why they approached me.

One of those tools is called BeLive TV. And what I love about Be Live is there’s a lot of opportunities for us to interview people on our Facebook Live, but Facebook has not made it readily accessible for everybody to have 2 person broadcasting yet. In fact, the only way you could do it is if you’re on an iPhone and you’re live and one of your viewers is also on an iPhone, you could invite them to do a split screen.

That scenario is very limited but I do shows twice a week on Facebook Live that welcome guests to the show and I’m able to do split screen, I’m able to put comments that people leave on Facebook with one click, it puts them on the screen very stylized, I’m able to do screen shares. There’s just  a lot I can do with it, and for a broadcaster like me, that’s really useful. They’ve got a 14-day free trial at BeLive TV.

The other tool I really like is I get sent a lot of technical gear and people love to see “unboxings”. But to do an unboxing well you have to have multiple cameras. One pointed at your face, one pointed at the box, maybe a wide shot. And without setting up a whole studio that can be really difficult. So what I discovered is an app called Switcher Studio, and this allows me to use my iOS devices as cameras so I don’t have to go buy a bunch of other high end cameras, and allows me to produce with my iPad on they fly while I’m doing this unboxing.

So there’s a lot of other great apps. People are always coming out with new stuff that’s good for solo broadcasters, some of them are attempting to help people monetize their live broadcasts, and then there’s others that allow you to do these interview or webinar style live videos. The space is just getting started and I think the adoption of live video is going to continue to increase as the years go by.

Rich: We’ll definitely have to check those out. Now we talked a little bit about tools, let’s shift channels. I see you on Facebook Live quite a bit. What are the channels that you’re prioritizing for in terms of distributing your video, live or otherwise?

Joel: Really Facebook Live and Periscope, which is Twitter, are my two main venues. I dabble with some of the story apps which kind of feel live to me, so I’ll dabble with Snapchat or Instagram Stories a little bit. But because I have these tools that work with Facebook Live most of my videos end up on Facebook or on Twitter.

Rich: Now do you ever take your Facebook videos and post them up to YouTube?

Joel: I do. Sometimes I’ll take them and I’ll put them on YouTube, but I discovered that they don’t really get a lot of play there. People don’t tend to go to YouTube for interviews, they tend to go for the faster moving 5-12 minute videos that are really content heavy and feel more like TV. But these interviews don’t feel that way, these are for people that have a little longer attention span and really want to know my guests and the content.

Rich: So how are you getting more people to watch your videos, what promotion mechanisms do you have in terms of getting people to tune in to your Facebook Live shows?

Joel: Well scheduling ahead of time is always a good move because it shows up on your feed and people can click to get notified when you are live.

Rich: And that’s within the Facebook app itself when you schedule a live event coming up, people see that then?

Joel: Right. And it also works with BeLive TV. So I schedule through BeLive, it posts it to Facebook the same way if you were going to go into Facebook. And then I just go live on BeLive TV at the time of the broadcast. It opens up the producer’s panel when that show goes live. So that’s one way.

Email is still a fantastic way to get people to take action, and messing around with messenger bots on Facebook to let people know I’m going live in 5 minutes, if they’ve subscribed to my bot. So really any cross promotion on Twitter or any of the other places that say I’m doing the show and here’s my guest, come and see us. The more you can talk about what you’re going to be doing the more people are going to be aware and hopefully show up.

Rich: Alright, that’s all sound advice. Now as you watch other people doing live video you must have seen some things that just make you cringe. What are some of the mistakes you’re seeing people do when it comes to creating live video?

Joel: Well you don’t have to have a script, but just endlessly rambling. I say it’s cringe-worthy but I’ve seen people do it, there’s some people that go on and they’re just talking about whatever, and people will watch Because we’re so hungry for engagement and real human interaction that some people get away with just rambling. I don’t like to just ramble.

Occasionally I’ll go live from my hammock on my front porch, but I’ll have some things that I’ll want to talk about in mind to kind of spur conversation. I think if you’re a celebrity or part of a big company that will attract an audience, then you can get away with saying, “Ask me anything” and not have a particular agenda. But pretty much people that have absolutely no reason for even going live I’m wondering what they’re doing. But just about everybody should have a reason.

Rich: I think if I did an “ask me anything”, the first question would be, “Why don’t you have a script?” So there you go.

Joel: No script necessary.

Rich: This has been great. Besides your Facebook page, where can we find you online Joel?

Joel: Everywhere, I’m @JoelComm in pretty much all the places. But joelcomm.com is my blog and I’ve got a freebie in the live video space for your listeners.

Rich: Whaaat?

Joel: That’s right.

Rich: I would love for you to share that.

Joel: I’ve got a 19-page beautiful PDF, I think it is the loveliest PDF I have ever released, the designer just crushed it. But it’s called the Live Video Playbook and it is a 8-step guide for anybody to get started with live video. It really takes you by the hand and gives you a little more details than we’ve gone over here about how you can do this and how you can feel confident to turn on the camera and go live. It’s at lvplaybook.com.

Rich: Very cool. And of course we’ll link to that in the show notes.

Joel: Of course you will. That’s what you do.

Rich: Of course we will. That is what we do. Joel this has been great, thank you so much for your time and your expertise.

Joel: Always my pleasure, Mr. The Rich Brooks.


Show Notes:

Joel Comm is a great example of how to use video to engage your audience. Learn the secrets to his craft via a great free PDF that he’s put together, check out his website where he writes a blog, and everywhere on social media.

AOC named as one of the 30 Top Podcasts for Influential Entrepreneurs https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294024#

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!