Learning from Influencers About Growing an Audience with Video

These strategic video tactics will help you make stronger, more personal connections with your audience.

July 30, 2018

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Jenny Coppola


Chances are you’ve heard the phrase “influencer marketing” thrown around at a meeting or two. But is this buzzworthy marketing tactic really all it’s cracked up to be? Doesn’t it only work for huge brands with massive budgets? Can you really get Oprah to endorse your SaaS product?

And while the truth is, not every business can invest in influencer marketing, there are some big lessons to be learned from the way influencers are able to grow their audience with video. Marketers everywhere can learn from this creative approach to content creation — share lots of high-quality videos over time, and slowly become a trusted resource, tastemaker, and leader in your industry.

We’ve gathered a few key lessons from top influencers in the SaaS and digital marketing spaces to show you how you can use video to build and engage your audience. Let’s get to it!

1. Use repeatable formats

Influencers produce a ton of content, and often at a fast-pace, to keep their audiences coming back for more. So when they find something that works, they double-down on it, knowing it’ll perform well time and time again.

Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, is a leading SaaS influencer and video pro. Patrick and his team regularly produce a series on ProfitWell’s blog called “Pricing Page Teardown” in which Patrick is the star. Each week, he analyzes the pricing pages of big-name companies like Netflix and Tinder to determine whether they’ll be successful or not in the future — check it out!

What’s great about this video series is that while the topic is narrow, it also happens to be one where Patrick has deep expertise, which is key. And aside from that, he’ll never run out of companies to analyze!

When producing videos on a schedule, it helps to have a few tried-and-true formulas in hand so you can execute quickly and reliably. Influencers often host a series or return to familiar video formats so they can deliver content on time, and also so that viewers can know what to expect from them.

“When producing videos on a schedule, it helps to have a few tried-and-true formulas in hand so you can execute quickly and reliably.”
Get Inspired
Before you go out and make multiple videos in the same exact style, test out a few video formats with your audience — you may be surprised at what people respond to! Once you’ve gained some traction with one formula, you can then scale it, and start building a dedicated audience.

2. Communicate in your own personal style

Influencers often gain elevated status by building trust with their audience over time. Here at Wistia, we’re also huge believers in establishing trust by being open about the way we run our business (we just published a 3,000 word tell-all story about why we decided not to sell the Wistia, check it out!). This honesty and transparency has been a cornerstone of our brand over the years and has become something our audience continues to point back to as a positive.

Creating this sort of audience trust is what ultimately helps businesses push the products they create. Take Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, for example. His Whiteboard Friday about SEO earned him legions of fans in the digital marketing community, and became a tradition that his former employees carry on today. He’s also opened up publicly about his departure from Moz, and has spoken very candidly about his time there. After publishing a post announcing his departure, he participated in a series of interviews where he discussed his failures in detail, his desire to bounce back, and even his struggles with anxiety and depression. As a trusted source of startup advice, his sharing conveys a genuine desire to help other founders.

Opening up about fears and failures is just one way to connect with your audience over what makes us human. Influencers remind us to be empathetic, tell people-centric stories, and maintain a level of transparency that fits the age of social media.

“Opening up about fears and failures is just one way to connect with your audience over what makes us human.”
Get Inspired
Marketers can leverage this by being more creative and vulnerable with their storytelling. Stay true to your brand and your company’s values, and then use the powerful storytelling medium of video to get your message across.

3. Collaborate with other influencers

Looking for a quick path to audience growth? Collaborating with other influencers will get you there, fast! A successful collaboration allows both parties to get double-exposure from their followers and the partner’s fans. When both parties are committed to spreading the word far and wide, it’s a win-win for all.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who’s a vulnerability and empathy expert, and the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers, frequently guest stars on the video series "Chase Jarvis Live." Chase Jarvis is an influencer in his own right — he’s a critically acclaimed photographer, director, artist, and entrepreneur with over 400k followers on Twitter.

The Chase Jarvis Live series features interviews and Q&As with influential individuals across a number of industries — notable guests include everyone from Jared Leto and Adrian Grenier, to Gary Vaynerchuk and Guy Kawasaki. Brené Brown has made three appears on the show, effectively leveraging Jarvis' reach to promote her latest book releases.

This show allows both Jarvis and Brown to broaden the scope of their respective audiences by introducing themselves to each other’s followers. It also offers a boost to both influencers by giving them content to promote on their own social channels.

“This show allows both Jarvis and Brown to broaden the scope of their respective audiences by introducing themselves to each other’s followers.”
Get Inspired
Team up with other companies who have similar audiences (or new audiences you want to get in front of) on things like blog posts, Twitter Chats, and Instagram takeovers. This will help with brand recognition and can have an substantial impact on overall awareness!

4. Promote across platforms

Building a presence on more than one platform will allow you to reach people where they are and then direct them to your content on their preferred channel.

Gary Vaynerchuk is notorious in the digital marketing and investing worlds, after starting out in the wine business. With his brash, tough-love advice, he’s a motivating force for anyone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey. He’s also an early adopter and super-user of every social media channel. Just take a look at look at his homepage:

Gary has a knack for adapting his content to the platform of choice so that he won’t miss a chance to engage any of his followers. His social media posts are the perfect example of the old cliche that it’s not always about what you’re saying, but how you say it. Gary reposts recordings of his Facebook Watch Show, The #AskGaryVee Show, to YouTube and creates memes of YouTube video snippets for Instagram. Packaging could be the simple key to more video views and conversions!

Get Inspired
Marketers should repurpose content for multiple channels in order to meet the needs and desires of the viewers there. Create content that caters to the viewers and their experience, which means bite-sized content on Instagram and Facebook, and longer form content on your website.

5. Invite the audience to participate

Influencers often take advantage of direct access to their followers to build or improve customer relationships. To break down any perceived barriers between their audience and themselves, they often do Q&As, giving authentic, spontaneous advice and providing insight into their professional and personal lives.

Arianna Huffington, who has worn many public hats throughout her career, now uses her social clout to advocate for better health and wellness on behalf of her new company, Thrive Global.

She recently hosted a Q&A about these topics on LinkedIn (where she has 7.6 million followers), using an introductory video to invite audience participation in the comments.

Watch the whole video.

This easy format takes little effort, but can have a profound effect on how your customers view your brand. An individual who feels heard and responded to will become more personally invested in your success. Taking the time to read comments, answer questions, and incorporate product suggestions can help win someone over for life. A small effort towards building a customer community will make your mission come alive, so that your brand is strong, no matter what you’re building or selling at the moment.

“An individual who feels heard and responded to will become more personally invested in your success.”
Get Inspired
Ask your company’s founders or other notable individuals in the business to host a live Q&A after a big announcement. Put out a call for questions ahead of time, and broadcast a live stream where your viewers' questions are answered.

Win friends and influence people

The rise of video has given brands more opportunities to engage with their customers than ever before. This opportunity comes with a responsibility — to get to know your customers, care about their struggles, and celebrate their successes. Influencers have bridged this relationship naturally, allowing people to discover products they like in a casual, non-confrontational way.

As you build your own content strategy, consider why you want to change the way your audiences think. How can you help them solve their problems? How can they help you? If you think like an influencer and remember the individual, you can’t go wrong!

Jenny Coppola


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