Today we’re going to talk about the two most important concepts in
creating online video success: Persona and ESPN. Don’t worry if
you’ve never heard of them. In a few minutes you’ll be an expert.
Today it’s a given that content is 99% of what will make you
successful in online video. And personality is 99% of what will
make your content fly. So doesn’t it kind of behoove you to know how
to create it? (your personality, that is)
“But wait a minute,” you say. Everyone says ‘Be Yourself. Don’t be
a phony. People can sense that right away.’
Well, yes and no. We can sense if you’re trying to be something
you’re not. Or if you’re lying. (must…not…get…political) But
on the other hand, we don’t want to dig down into the basement of
your personality to see if you’re “real”. In fact, we don’t even
have to. You’ll tell us everything we want to know. Unless you
Let me explain.
Success Concept #1 – Persona
The minute you decide to get involved with online video, like it or
not, you sign on to create a persona. A persona is that part of you
which determines your success in communicating online.
Here’s a familiar YouTube persona. This gentleman demonstrates one
aspect of how “Internet Killed Television”
This is where most of us start in our thinking about YouTube:
So anyway, really knowing what a persona is, is kind of important.
(did you see those views?)
Webster’s dictionary has a number of definitions for persona, but
we need only one:
“The image of character and personality that somebody wants to show
the outside world.”
When I used to teach acting, I reminded my students that no matter
how much they might try to twist themselves into knots, they were
still going to be themselves. They could do the twisty thing
anyway, but it would just look silly and no one would be persuaded.
The truth is, you never really stray that far from who you are, no
matter how hard you try.
You can prove this to yourself with a quick thought experiment.
Picture any Clint Eastwood movie of the last half century. Can you
think of any character he’s ever played that was really yards of
change different from any other character? Probably not. The same
goes for Russell Crowe or Julia Roberts. Yet we keep going to their
movies to be entertained by their same personality. Why? And how
does this work? How do they get us to view them differently in each
What makes each character different has more to do with the concept
of “Given Circumstances.”And they do it with a focus that
approaches fanatical religion. So it’s a good thing to know about
for you, too!
Given Circumstances make up the world of the movie. Here’s a tiny
list of factors that affect this concept:
So while Russell Crowe may put on the costume of Robin Hood in one
movie, and a fat suit to play a corporate whistleblower in another,
he’s always going to be Russell Crowe. He’ll walk and talk and
breathe and move like Russell Crowe. And if he didn’t you just
might be tempted to ask for your money back.
So if being Russell Crowe is good enough for Russell Crowe,
shouldn’t being you be good enough for you? Of course! That’s the
good news. But it’s not quite enough. There’s still the problem of
persona that actors have been trying to solve for 100 years.
The truth is, Clint and Julia and Harrison and Russell didn’t make
it until they discovered their personas. And the same could be said
for you and me. We need to look for those elements of ourselves
that are the most compelling aspects of ourselves, the âoenotesâ
of our personalities. Then we need to adapt them to our audience
and our consistent message. We have a much easier job of it than a
movie actor because we don’t need to keep changing the notes we
play on ourselves from video to video.
Ah, but there are those pesky given circumstances again. How do you
deal with those? Easy, just list them out and answer them for
yourself. Then add a few more vital ingredients into this heady
stew of online popularity. Which brings us to our second major
concept for today.
Success Concept #2 – ESPN
So what is it that makes you more interesting than how you are in
real life? Going back to the top of this article, everyone
still earnestly says, “Be yourself. That’s what attracts people. It
doesn’t matter how you perform.” Well, if that were true, there’d
be a lot of dull movie stars or even YouTube stars and the truth
is, there just aren’t any of those.
So what’s a poor business owner with a “radio face” to do? Don’t
worry. I wouldn’t have brought this up if there were no solution.
And the solution is pretty easy. So let’s look at the elements of
what makes a successful online video star. You can think of this
second major concept with the acronym ESPN, because online
popularity is more than a spectator sport.
E is for Energy
Your energy level is important. It’s been said that sales is
nothing more than the transfer of enthusiasm. You can fake this for
awhile. It’s OK. It’s better not to, but you won’t get in too much
trouble for it.
S is for Sense of humor
Online video is rich in humor. Let your sense of humor out. Doesn’t
matter if it’s dry and subtle or crude and bombastic. But whatever
it is, don’t leave home without it!
P is for Passion for your topic
This is a pre-requisite for getting on camera. Don’t even bother if
you don’t have the passion. Actors can fake this, but why would you
even want to? Ick!
N is for the “Note”
The part of your personality you want to present to the world. Are
you grumpy, happy, sneezy, or dopey? (oh, wait. You may not want to
be a dwarf) But think about this a lot and talk to your friends and
relatives. They’ll tell you what you’re like and what they like
Go to YouTube, wander around and see who appeals to you personally.
No matter how original we think we are, there’s always somebody
who’s doing a version of you and doing it successfully. Analyze
what makes them successful and emulate what you can without trying
to twist yourself into something you obviously are not.
But before you go for your deep dive, take a gander at these
selections. Which ones you enjoy will say a lot of you and your own
Why does this young lady have over 100,000 subscribers for her
series on understanding Japanese
Or finally, Mr. Safety:
Yes, the persona is the single most important aspect of your
success in online video. It works if you’re on camera or doing a
motion graphics video. It will get you more views, more fans, more
traffic and more clients. It just plain works.
And it’s more fun than a person should be allowed to have 🙂