Recently I had the pleasure of talking with my friend and colleague Lou Bortone, also known as the Online Video Guy. He talks about branding and online visibility about as much as I do, only in the context of video. So I snagged about 20 minutes of Lou's time and asked him to clarify how video can be used to boost your visibility on the Web.
Interview with Lou Bortone
Denise: Hi. I'm Denise Wakeman, founder of The Blog Squad and today I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to my friend and colleague, Lou Bortone. Lou and I have known each other for a few years and have partnered on a couple of projects most notably, our self study course "Online Video Made Easy."
Lou is an online branding specialist, a video pro, and a visibility expert. A man after my own heart. He's also known for his wacky LouTube videos. I'm not sure if he's making these any more, I'll have to check on that. Also, he's well known for the montage videos that he frequently creates to celebrate people he knows.
The purpose of talking with Lou today is to learn about his perspective on creating visibility with video and why it's so important. Welcome Lou.
Lou: Thanks. It's good to talk to you.
Denise: I've wanted to grab you for a few minutes for a while now to get into conversation versus a teleseminar about your take on creating visibility with video. Before we get into that, would you give us a nutshell version of your background to set the stage?
Lou: I grew up in the TV industry because my dad worked at a TV station. So I followed in his footsteps despite his warnings to stay away from TV. I ended up working in Los Angeles for several years at E Entertainment Television, another division of Fox. When they sold my division I came back to the Boston area to start working with online video and I've been doing that ever since.
Denise: Cool. The reason I invited you to have this conversation with me is because you are truly a master of using video for branding and also building visibility on the web. It's very clear in everything I see that you're doing online that you're a passionate evangelist about online video. That's why I want to hear from you why this is so important.
To start off, do you have a few stats at your fingertips about online video about who is watching and why people like you and I, service professionals, small business owners should pay attention?
Lou: Yeah, it's really incredible just the way it's like a tidal wave or tsunami of popularity with online video. The thing that's interesting is that a lot of folks will still say, "Oh, you know that YouTube is skateboarding, cats and kittens on the piano." The truth is, the stats for YouTube are really across the board. Everyone is watching YouTube, using YouTube, and in fact I know that we've used the stat before.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine. Now when folks are looking for answers to their problem, they're not just going to Google, they're looking for "How To" videos and looking for answers to their challenges on YouTube. That alone is a reason to start getting into it. It's not just YouTube. Obviously the channel gets all the attention. It is really now completely across the board and it somewhat follows social media in that regard. It really isn't just for young folks. It's completely across the board. Every age group, every demographic, it's become a total-it's like pop culture now.
Denise: I don't have numbers in front of me, but I know that as penetration of the Internet becomes pervasive, really across the world, there's something like 1.8 billion people who are connected to the web world wide. When you think about YouTube being the second largest search engine, that means people are going onto YouTube to look at more than skating cats for sure. I don't think I've ever watched skating cats. Like you said, I use it to find "How To" videos. If that's not a case for a business being on YouTube, I don't know what is.
Lou: It's leveled the playing field. When I worked in TV years ago, at the time it was known for the four big networks and a few media conglomerates kind of controlled every message that you saw. Now, anyone in their basement literally with a webcam can start a business and become really popular really quickly on the Internet. It seemed sort of Internet TV kind of came out of nowhere. It doesn't take a whole lot of technology and time to master that if you have a compelling message.
Denise: Right, and you don't have to be slick. You don't have to be videographer, or professional videographer. You don't have to be a professional actor to be able to really have a powerful message.
Lou: Oh, not at all. I guess Gary V, is one of the best examples of that. He almost celebrates that it is low tech or that the lighting isn't right. It doesn't matter to him because it's the message not the medium.
Denise: Right, Gary V(aynerchuk) is at www.winelibrary.tv and he's got gazzilions of followers. I recently watched a webinar that you hosted and I had to laugh out loud when you I heard you talking about the phenomenon about hearing people say, "I see you everywhere." I hear that a lot personally, and I also use that a lot in my presentations as well because it is so powerful. It's about being acknowledged by people when they say that about you. Everyone wants to be seen. It's one of those deep things that's rooted within us.
How specifically does video work to boost visibility?
Lou: Yeah, it's been great. That is, it's funny, I forget about that. I see you everywhere – the four sweetest words that one can hear. When we go to-and we've both experienced this-when we go to a conference or event and we finally meet a person who we've been talking with via social media or video, you've already gotten that kind of getting to know you stuff out of the way. You've already established a connection.
The benefits of being visible like that with video is that you can attract new clients without ever having met them in person. You can drive people to your website more easily because they feel connected with you, they feel like they know you. It helps you stand out in a really crowded and competitive marketplace. The benefits of visibility go on and on. You know-we've both experienced this too-you get all kinds of amazing business offers and opportunities to speak just because the visibility almost builds on itself exponentially.
Denise: Yes, I often say visibility equals opportunity.
Lou: Absolutely. The model that I use, and I'm certainly not the first to do it, visibility builds credibility and credibility builds profitability.
Lou: …following for a long time and working with my clients, I tell them, "Look. You get visible and if you have a compelling message, you can really establish yourself as an expert in your field very quickly."
Denise: There is no doubt about that. In my view, video and blogging-of course blogging is my thing, that's what I'm known for – in my view, video and blogging work hand in glove. Can you talk a little bit about your thoughts on that? Do you agree? Disagree?
Lou: Absolutely. I think that they are definitely cousins, if not brother and sister. Again, if you've got a blog and you decide to turn that into a video, you just decide that maybe one of these posts that we read every month is going to be a video it just opens it up that much more. It allows you to really connect and communicate and it's just a perfect, perfect platform. Even if you want to just do a series of tips and you say, "Okay, this month the theme for my blog is going to be on sharing tips via video about my area of expertise." It's an amazing platform and a powerful platform to be able to-you really get the best of both worlds. The best of blogging and the best of videos.
Denise: Now, going back to what you said just a second ago about visibility creates credibility creates profitability. How does video help create credibility?
Lou: A lot of ways. First of all, if you can manage to go on video and not make a fool of yourself, like I often do, you can really establish yourself as an expert in that area. The person that is the expert or seen as the expert is not necessarily the one who has the most degrees or has been studying the longest. It's really the person who is out there promoting himself and appearing.
The perception is wow, I do see you everywhere and you're always talking about video, or you're always talking about blogging. You must be the expert. Other people start to refer to you as that. You don't even really have to blow your own horn. It's really powerful that way in terms of-if you're out there and you're giving a consistent message in your area of expertise, it's going to constantly build upon itself.
Denise: I think the added benefit of video is being a visual medium inherently. People can connect with you and we talked a little bit about it not having to be perfect. Just having the ability to see your face, your gestures, your expressions, I think that that helps. Actually accelerate that process.
Lou: Absolutely. We're a visual society anyway. People tune to television to see and hear and connect that way. Again, that's like when you-if you see an actor or actress for years and then you see them on the street in LA or something you feel like, "Oh, I can go and talk to this person because I know them." It's the same with video. You build a-not necessarily celebrity status-but you build a connection, a familiarity so that when you do connect in person that connection is that much stronger. The other great thing is it really just accelerates the sales process. You know we always hear that people buy from folks that they know, like and trust. Video goes a long way in creating that know, like and trust factor.
Denise: Okay. I agree with that. So what do you think it is that stops people from using video?
Lou: I think a lot of folks that I work with are not comfortable being on camera or they don't know where to begin. It's like the idea of it is overwhelming them and they don't realize it. First of all, you don't necessarily need to be on camera to do a video. Like the presentation you referred to earlier was just a PowerPoint presentation that was narrated. That was a video even though I didn't appear in it. We don't have to necessarily be on camera to be on video. If you do want to be on camera, it could be something as simple as doing it with a webcam and doing 10, 20, 30 second message. It's not like you have to have a big script, a teleprompter, and lights. The whole deal. It's very down to earth simple.
Denise: Right. I think even in the last year or so-we started teaching newbies how to use online video almost 2 years ago, wasn't it? Even in the last 2 years the number of resources have grown and they're so easy to use. Some of them are so cheap too.
Lou: You go on Facebook if you have a webcam, I don't know if a lot of people know this. You can record a video live and on file just by hitting the record button in the video section of Facebook. If you have a webcam, you can literally have a video in 30 seconds on Facebook.
Denise: You can do it direct from your status update, I believe.
Lou: It's amazing. You can do it on YouTube too. You know what, I'm just going to do a quick little message. You can record on the fly on YouTube without having to upload or do anything ahead of time.
Denise: It's incredible what people create. It's great. So, what kind of trends are you seeing with online video?
Lou: I'm seeing a lot of the-I guess they're called gurus and big marketers-who are trading in their long drawn out sales pages for videos. I've seen a lot of those too where it's literally just a video message and a sign up or a buy button. Sometimes these videos are 20 minutes or half hour long. Again, if they simply glorify PowerPoints and narrate PowerPoints it tells a story and explain the benefits of the product. Then say, hit below to buy. The sales page is being replaced by the video sales page.
Denise: Do you know stats or anything that is bearing out that they are getting better conversions on that kind of a sales page?
Lou: I know anecdotally by what I've heard from some folks and also the fact that some of the big successful marketers who test everything are doing this consistently and abandoning the traditional sales page. It's got to be working pretty well. The other neat thing is it levels the playing field because it doesn't matter-these big time marketers, they have a lot of resources but they're still just narrating PowerPoint presentations and that's something almost any of us can do. It does sort of level the playing field.
Denise: Great. I think I'm going to have to start doing that myself because I really hate copywriting. It's not a strength of mine, creating a script that's talking through some bullet points basically. I mean, it needs to be a little more sophisticated than that. It has this sense of being a little bit simpler.
Lou: Yeah. Definitely. A lot of folks are intimidated by the prospect of doing copy and doing a big sales page. Now knowing that you can literally just put a video within 10 minutes or half an hour of you explaining a concept on line, it's a great way to do it. The other thing is you can also-I'm starting to do this a little bit-you can also teach and sell at the same time. You can share your information, you can definitely add some value. Then, at the end, "Hey, if you want to learn more press the link below and sign up."
Denise: Right. That's a good one to be paying attention to. What's your number one tip or your favorite tip for using video to boost your visibility?
Lou: I'm a big fan of-you probably know this – of doing montages on Facebook-at first not being the sharpest knife in the drawer I kind of fell into this. As I was doing montages and I started with a follow Friday -a visual version of Follow Friday-and uploaded it to Facebook and it occurred to me I can tag these people. If I tag these people, the video shows up on their page. Sometimes they comment on it and it goes on and on and on. Almost by accident I discovered a way to create a lot of visibility on Facebook by highlighting other people.
Denise: Yes, and they do make a big splash because I know that when you tag me in one of those videos-I'm just amazed at how many people are going on and commenting. A big thing about that is that it's what some people call ambient awareness because you've seen these people's names and their faces, their names and their faces, every time you log in to your Facebook account. Somebody else has commented on it and you keep seeing that.
Lou: It keeps popping up. I'm not a proponent of random tagging of information, I tag their name to get their attention because that's pretty close to spam in my book. If you're legitimately highlighting these folks, like when I came back from a conference I had pictures from the conference and I put them-it would be a nice way to relive the conference and say hello to the people that were there and they get showcased and you get a lot of publicity in the process.
Denise: I'm going to be working on one of those for a conference that I hosted a couple months ago. I just got the pictures and I'm going to be creating a montage video on Animoto which is a tool that I like a lot.
Lou: Exactly. And those are relatively easy to make. You don't need to be on camera yourself if that's not your thing. You put the focus on other folks and everybody wins.
Denise: That's right. So while the intent of this interview isn't about promotion, I am curious about the new service that you're offering around branding videos. Could you quickly tell me what is a branding video and why would I need one for example?
Lou: Good question. My definition of a branding video would be-really what it is is a video you don't have to appear in. It's a no-work video. I did one recently, a launch video for my friend, Molly and she wasn't in the video. She said "I need to promote my mentorship program", so we put together a branding video that just promoted that brand and obviously gave the website at the end. The neat little 20, 30 second videos that the person doesn't have to appear in, almost like animated TV commercials. It's a lot of fun to make them and it's very hands off for the person making them. They don't have to be on camera, they don't have to deal with webcams, they don't have to come up with a script. It's really just a matter of putting a message into neat little high end 30 second promos.
Denise: Okay, okay. I've seen some of the ones that you've done and they're beautiful. They're just brilliant and they really push that message out very nicely in a tasteful way and fun too. High energy.
Lou: It's fun because it's almost like you can have a network TV commercial on the web without having to go to a big production company or agency.
Denise: Right. Very cool. Okay, well it is the most important question for you Lou. Where can people reach you and connect with you online and learn more about your branding videos and the other things that you're doing?
Lou: My main website is www.loubortone.com and I am on Twitter at www.twitterlou.com. For folks, they can do their own Twitter name and direct it back at Twitter. Or, www.facebooklou.com.
Denise: Okay, so Lou, I really want to thank you. I appreciate you taking the time and spending a few minutes with me here today sharing your expertise about using video as a marketing tool and boosting visibility on the web. I am always thrilled to have an opportunity to chat with you. I look forward to connecting with you on the web and blog on!
Lou: Thanks Denise.
Online Videopolis (free video resources)