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When the Road Ends: What Athletes Do After the Olympics

For some people, there is a fear of being bound to one goal, to days filled with the same activities, weeks split up by the hours of “what, when, and where.” For others, the fear is the opposite. 

There are those who fear that suddenly, the walls of control and schedule will crumble, and they will be left standing in some space of unknown, surrounded by possibilities they can’t see.

An elite athlete is a well-trained, tightly-scheduled individual, whose mornings, afternoons, and evenings are bound by specific regimens to perfect her body’s performance. It is easy to imagine that after years of this kind of training, the schedule becomes a blanket of comfort, and suddenly, after the event or the career is over and that blanket is taken away, the athlete is confronted with an enormous feeling of loss, as if the identity she held after years of performing one task is no longer hers.

What becomes of Olympic athletes after the Games end? While we hear the stories of preparation and aspiration in the lead-up to the events, we seldom get a look at the next chapter.

My good friend Elise Laverick Sherwell retired from her sport of rowing after three Olympic cycles (Sydney, Athens, and Beijing) and two bronze medals in the double sculls (one in Beijing and one in Athens). She explains her decision:

The reason I didn’t want to stay in the sport is because I saw that it had a short timeline. When you retire as an athlete, you can either walk away from the sport completely, or you can stay with the sport and either do public speaking or coaching. That often isn’t long-term. When you watch the Olympics in 2012, no one can remember who won the bronze in 2008. Surely, there were a few people who remember, but in 2012, it’s not really about 2008 medalists. If you want someone to come and speak publicly, you want the latest medalist. So I just felt that it wasn’t really a long, term sustainable lifestyle.

Also, I don’t completely want that recognition. I want recognition for being good at something, not having been good at something. How long do you live off of having been good at something, when you no longer do it, and suddenly, there are people out there who are better than you? That wasn’t good enough for me.”

Elise and Erin
Elise has done well for herself after her rowing career, and credits her tremendously supportive home community for her post-Olympic success. Today, she is an attorney at a London firm and has begun the journey of motherhood with her nine-month-old daughter, Erin, who she calls her little gold medal.

But this post-Olympic career came with sacrifice, a constant balance between rigorous studies and rowing commitments, for which her non-rowing career always took the backseat. Elise studied two years at a time between Games until she earned her law degreeand was hired in 2007 by a London firm, which contracted her for work six months after the Beijing Olympics.

After her Olympic career, Elise had to remind herself that she was never just “the rower,” and that she could eventually find something else that filled the tremendous hole she now felt. Elise explains about her experience looking back on the Games:
When the Road Ends: What Athletes Do After the Olympics
Your life was so regimented before. It was a four-year goal. Every month, you knew what you had to achieve and perform at. Suddenly, you don’t have that same structure. You can choose your own life, and that’s so frightening when you come straight from sports because you had this full-on lifestyle right from university that was tightly scheduled, and suddenly, you’re faced with this unknown where you plan your own path."

Another former Olympic rower from the 1988 Games in Seoul, Anne Martin, has similar sentiments. Anne says:
It’s clear what your goal is and what you had to do to get there. Your path is very straightforward. You race people in training, and there’s a status check all the time, soyou get a lot of feedback. Day to day, somehow, you have to translate your dreams to the single day. You have to think, I have to make this stroke and this practice the best I can.”

But Anne, unlike many other athletes, was able to keep her career moving while she was training for the Olympics. Even when she was competing in world championship events in 1985-1987, she never left her desk completely as an East Coast consultant. Anne says:
I wasn’t one of those people that felt I could put the rest of my life on hold. I was really lucky in finding a work situation that was challenging and flexible—I had a boss who loved sports and arranged project work where I could take lots of time off in the summer. As a result, I was able to have a pretty good career. I was able to move forward and learn in a different sphere outside of rowing, even while I was rowing. I was in a single boat so I had a lot more flexibility. For most people, the big challenge is that it’s really competitive now, and people train three times a day, which makes it hard to have a job.”

After her rowing career, Anne attended the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is currently the Chief Investment Officer of Wesleyan University’s endowment.

The transition of going back to business school was really easy. It was a chance for me to be in a group of people who had also taken a few years off before coming to business school. And in the U.S., there’s an attitude toward athletes that says, ‘she’s competitive, she has stamina, she’s a team player, she can learn from mistakes, and failure won’t kill her spirit.’ That puts you at the top of the class rather than the bottom.”

But what has been the most challenging journey for both these elite athletes-turn-full-time-professionals? Elise would say that having Erin has taught her to work just as hard as her Olympic days, but without sleep. “You can’t just put her in a desk full of pillows like you would a medal when you’re tired!”

Anne describes raising her twin boys, now 17, as “driving a Maserati in a traffic jam,” but goes on to say that the key to managing the chaos of work, a deeply and continuing athletic passion, and family life is a responsibility balanced between both parents (her husband, John Pescatore, was also an Olympic rower).

Of course, despite the challenges these women faced in preparing for, competing in, and transitioning from the Olympics, they explain that they wouldn’t have wanted a different experience. For both Elise and Anne, competition and sports have been an outlet for an incredible energy that needed to be expressed in one way or other, either on the boat or in the office. I asked both women what their advice to young, elite athletes would be.

Elise responds:
I think if you take a long time becoming the successful athlete you want to be, then it takes a long time coming away from that. You have to give yourself time to enjoy what you’ve done. After the Olympics, don’t think about the future as this big, scary thing. Enjoy the experiences, and then give yourself a deadline to look forward. I think people try and rush it too much. They feel they have to do something, and they panic. Whereas actually, if you give yourself six months to detrain and not be so hyped up and emotional, you can transition more smoothly. You’re not going to change yourself in five minutes to become a new person.

For example, I found this year to be hard. People ask me, ‘Why aren’t you going for 2012?’ Whereas if I were at a law firm, no one asks, ‘Why have you moved firms?’ If you’re an athlete, it really seems like all these personal questions are fair game to the public. Expect that to happen, and move on.”

Anne’s advice is:
If you were an elite athlete, you have certain characteristics you need an outlet for, like competition and learning and feedback. I think what helped me was going to school, which was a lot of the same things, and then later into a career. Find something else you are passionate about and channel yourself into it—a career, nonprofit work, a different sport on the side. Once I left the elite sport, I didn’t row very much, and the few times I did, I was so disappointed. You will never be at that peak again. But finding a different sport has been terrific. I can get better at it.
You just have to find a way where those personality characteristics have an outlet that is close to what you were doing but different enough, so you can be on a different learning curve and feel like you are gaining something new in life.”

While Elise and Anne both look at their lives as an everyday search for the next everyday challenge, their stories bring deep wisdom and comfort to the women of 2012. Their continued passion and energy extends beyond the sport, and it is in this reincarnation of athleticism that we are all propelled forward, by example, in what defines a strong, independent, and confident woman. We thank you for this. www.themuse.com

Blog About It! The Author’s Guide To Building A Successful Online Brand

I had no idea what I was doing when I started my original, free WordPress blog in March 2011, at the beginning of my journey into self-publishing. 

One important thing I did know: I had a full-time day job and had to keep my “side-blog” from overwhelming my life. Why did I take on the project? Because like many of you, I heard blogging was something writers should do. Agents and book publicists worldwide are advising aspiring authors that a blog can do wonders to establish a platform.

It’s absolutely true.

Blogs are dynamic websitesdesigned to engage readers by regularly publishing fresh, relevant content. A content-rich blog can become the vibrant core of a marketing strategy, the hub of all business-creating efforts, and the vehicle to launch and promote your work. So if you’ve published a novel and you haven’t already started, no doubt blogging is on your must-do list. How exciting! A successful blog can impart tremendous satisfaction and a terrific feeling of mastery and success.

Your website will help define who you are as an author and writer, drive your social media presence, draw readers from Google searches, populate your all-important email marketing list, engage with potential readers, and act as a repository for other content, such as testimonials, events and appearances, book club questions, and interviews.

But figuring out a blog’s point and purpose – not to mention the mechanics of setting up a website and writing posts – can be a time drain and a headache. Spending hours in learning mode may not be an exciting prospect for many. I feel your pain. That’s how it was for me two years ago when I started blogging. I spent the better part of a year just trying to figure out the basics.
Blog About It! The Author’s Guide To Building A Successful Online Brand
My education inspired me, so I wrote a book sharing the highlights of what I’ve learned about blogging. It’s called Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand. My goal with this book was to break start-up processes and blogging best practices down into manageable portions any author – at nearly any stage with their blog – can master with minimal effort.

One bite at a time.
Once I joined the wonderful online community of bloggers, I found I was voicing the same questions almost every new author asked when faced with the task of setting up and maintaining a blog. This book will help you avoid many of the challenges I had to overcome. Here are just a few issues pondered by most authors new to blogging. I cover these points in Blog It:
  • How and where should I set up a blog?
  • What topics will I write about?
  • How will I find time to manage this added responsibility?
  • Where will I find readers who will want to read my posts?
  • Will this blog do anything to help promote and sell my book?
  • How could this venture possibly build my reputation as a writer?

Blog It! is a simple-but-complete manual of blogging strategies and best practices that will help any author build a thriving, successful, dynamic online presence. This how-to is written for nearly all experience levels, from beginners to bloggers who haven’t had great results and need guidance, encouragement, and an infusion of new ideas. My goal was to help you build a great blog without sacrificing writing time or losing your mind!

You’ll find specific, easy-to-understand suggestions and instructions covering all blog-related subjects, such as how to set up a blog, write compelling posts, build traffic and gain subscribers. It provides just what you need to either start down a solid path or gain traction and renewed excitement about your blog.
Keep this in mind: your blog is and will always be your own little kingdom. I don’t mean that in a “lord it over others” way, I mean it in a “you call the shots” way. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads have the option to change their rules at any time, to charge you for your presence and even bar you from their platforms, but your blog is yours. You make the rules. You nurture and build it. You reap the rewards. Your blog is your baby. Just like you would any child, grow it with love, compassion, and discipline, and it will pay you back in spades.

Great Tips For Beating Blogging Blues

Boredom is the conviction that you can’t change … the shriek of unused capacities.”Saul Bellow

When you were a kid, did your parents ever tell you off for complaining that you were bored?

The standard view of boredom is that intelligent, active people have no place giving in to it – that we should all have the mental resources inside ourselves to stave off boredom, managing to find enough to do with our time to occupy our minds without succumbing.

However, this view of boredom doesn’t factor in the feeling you get when you are forced to repeat a task again and again, running out of passion and enthusiasm, without being able to do anything differently.

Let’s be honest. Sometimes, blogging can be boring.

It’s late in the evening, you’ve been slogging away at your laptop or PC all day, you’ve been dealing with irate customers, you’re tired. You want nothing more than to shut down, escaping the office in favor of some family or downtime.

But your needy, hungry, neglected blog beckons.

It’s like a whining child, demanding attention. You know you need to get your act together and produce an interesting, lively article or video post. But the thought of it makes you drag your feet, put your head in your hands and wish you could be anywhere else rather than coming up with a new idea.

It’s pretty much the same with any repetitive activity. No matter how much passion you have for your subject, and how dedicated you are, blogging blues will hit you every once in a while. It’s at this very point that some of the most dedicated bloggers out there turn away and let their blogs lie neglected, losing readers and missing out on potential customers because they can’t muster up the enthusiasm to break through the blues barrier.

Just as with any other activity, though, it’s simple enough to break through to the other side and come out on top. If you were bored eating the same thing ever night, you’d vary the menu. If you got tired of wearing the same clothes? You’d invest in a new wardrobe. It’s the same with blogging. If you’re fed up, and you’re losing your enthusiasm, it’s time to change things up.
Great Tips For Beating Blogging Blues
Take these five simple steps to revolutionize your take on blogging and rekindle your passion again:

1) Switch Subjects

If you’ve done a particular topic to death, not only will you be bored of writing about it, your readers will be bored of hearing about it too. Expand your horizons, branch out in to a new area and switch to a different subject related to your industry. You’ll get a new lease of life as you discover new subjects, and your blog will get a much-needed boost too.

2) Get Learning
Nothing sparks enthusiasm more than learning about a new subject. If you’re feeling jaded, take some time out to learn a new slant on your industry specialism. Take a class, research online, talk to people and figure out a way you can approach your area of interest from a whole new angle. You’ll get new ideas, and a lot more enthusiasm once you have a head crammed with interesting new facts.

3) Take A Break
By this, I mean go out there and find someone who can blog on your behalf. If you hate plastering, you don’t slog away doing a bad job – you hire someone in to do it for you. If you really need a break from your blog, leave it with someone you trust and let them keep it going for you, while you head off to work out exactly why you’ve got so jaded with your business that you can’t bring yourself to write about it anymore.
4) Check Out Your Competition
If you’ve been doing the same old thing week after week on your site, the chances are things have moved on in the industry since you last did some decent research to get new ideas. Take a sneaky peek at what your top rivals online are doing, to generate some decent ideas and rekindle your zest for writing about your subject. If it suits, try a different approach such as images or vlogging to get a break from articles, choosing new subjects and evolving your li st of subjects to tackle.

5) Get Feedback From Those Who Matter Most
If you have the blogging blues, this may well be translating across in to your site, leaving your readers wondering what’s up. Instead of ditching your blog and ignoring the problem, come clean online and ask your readers for ideas, suggestions, guest posts and input in to how you can shake things up and make your site more interesting for them. The very fact that people care enough to respond should start that old familiar spark of enthusiasm, reminding you why you are doing the blog in the first place, and just how many people rely on you to make it work.

It’s natural at times to lose your enthusiasm for blogging, either because of the activity itself, or because your passion for your industry and niche has gone stale. The trick is to try the tips above and work to turn things around, giving both you and your blog a much-needed shake up to do things differently, and better, in future.

Nine Types of Clients Oudney's Studios Will Cut Loose In 2016

Every great gardener knows the benefits that winter pruning will have come springtime. That basic gardening principle can have a huge impact on your business when you use it to cut unruly clients loose.

With the year already half-way through, you are looking forward to taking advantage of the year's remaining opportunities that will help your business grow and blossom. What you are not looking forward to is the remainder of the year full of Client A cursing you out every time you have a meeting. Or Client B always asking for more, more, more and then complaining once they get the bill. Or Client C being so slow to respond that every project takes twice as long as is necessary. These are the clients who starve your business of the energy it needs to grow and prosper. It might be time to do some winter pruning and cut off those bad branches.
Nine Types of Clients Oudney's Studios Will Cut Loose In 2016
Seasonal pruning makes the trees grow stronger and produce more fruit, and the same is true of pruning troublesome clients. When you disconnect your business from these toxic energies, your employees will be happier, you will be happier, and everyone will be able to focus their time and energy on more productive, more rewarding tasks.

But before grabbing your pruning shears, it is important to have a plan. First, you need to truthfully evaluate the situation. Do you have more troublesome clients than happy campers? In other words, are you the real problem? Is the client behaving badly because you're providing bad service or are they chronically abusive and disrespectful even when you provide great service? Second, you have to prune with finesse. It should be done in a way that prevents bad feelings on both sides.

Make it about you—explain that it is not about them, but about the direction the company is heading at this time. Depending on what the case may be, tell them that you're reorganizing, making changes due to personnel issues, focusing on a set number of clients, and so on. You do not want to permanently burn any bridges.
So what kinds of clients should you consider putting on the chopping block? Here is a list of client types that you should prune this year:

  1. The Abusers. These clients never have a kind word for you or your employees. In fact, interactions with them are usually peppered with demeaning language and expletives. It's one thing when they treat you like crap, but an abusive client being nasty to your staff is something you simply can't tolerate. Nothing can sink employee engagement and happiness faster than rude and abusive clients. I find that a popular phrase with Abusers is always “or else.” They yell at you or your employees that you better do such and such or else! Know that you'll never be able to please them. There will always be an 'or else' looming. Know that at the end of the day, you're in control and you get to decide whether you're going to put up with them or not.
  2. The Pot Stirrers. These clients aren't team players but they do infiltrate your team. Unfortunately, once they're working with you, they do nothing but stir up trouble. They say bad things about you to your employees and vice versa. Clients might do this because they feel like it gives them an upper hand. If they can play everyone against each other, they think they may be able to work out a better deal or keep everyone scared enough that they'll do everything they ask. Pot Stirrers are poison to a company. It's important that you nip this kind of behavior in the bud as soon as you realize it's happening.
  3. The Unhappy Campers. Time and again, you deliver great work, but your unhappy campers always find something to complain about. They're never fully satisfied, and their lack of gratitude has taken the wind out of you and your employees' sails more than once. Unhappy Campers may not be the worst clients on your list, but they can be exhausting. When you and your staff have put time and energy into a project and you're pleased with the results, your clients' appreciation means a lot. And it doesn't have to be a big show of gratitude. A simple “thank you!” is all it takes. But Unhappy Campers can't be bothered. If they're not happy, you're not happy, and it's best to cut them loose while you still have energy to give to other clients.
  4. The Cheapskates. Any business owner knows that deciding on how to price your products or services is never an easy decision to make. Chances are before presenting a client with a price list, you've already put a lot of time and thought into it, running the numbers to settle on a price that works for your business and potential customers. But Cheapskates don't care about any of that. They're the clients who always ask for a discount or want to keep paying based on an outdated price list. Of course, it's okay to give clients a discount here and there. But Cheapskates have no problem bleeding you dry. And the worst Cheapskates are also chronic late or non-payers. They never pay invoices on time, causing you to have to spend time tracking them down in order to get paid. Your energy is better spent elsewhere.
  5. The Know-It-Alls. These are the clients who make you wonder why they even hired you in the first place. They never want to take your advice, fight you at every turn, and then change all the work you send their way. Even worse, when they do it theirway and don't get the results they wanted, they find a reason to blame you or call you and need you to fix it under a ridiculous deadline. When a client prevents you from doing what you do best, that's a big problem. It makes the work you do for them less satisfying, and worse, you run the risk of having your business's name attached to subpar work.
  6. The Sponges. Your Sponge clients seem to think they are your only clients and use your time accordingly. They call constantly, send email after email, and request needless meetings or flake on important meetings and deadlines because they view their own schedules as much more important than yours. You put much more into your interactions with Sponges than you get back. They eat up valuable time with unimportant tasks and worries that keep you from servicing other, more profitable clients.
  7. The Headache Inducers. These are the clients who hold up a hoop and expect you to jump through it. Then, they hold up an even smaller hoop and expect you to jump through it. And on and on. They specialize in making unreasonable demands and last-minute requests that put unreasonable stress on your company. If anyone is going to give you a migraine, it's this type of client. You might be able to rein them in by setting boundaries—for example, “no changes can be made within 24 hours of a deadline”—but if they repeatedly breach those boundaries, it might be time to pass them on to your competition. You don't need the headache!
  8. The Cowboys. Every interaction with these clients feels like a Wild West showdown at high noon, but instead of carrying a six shooter, their biggest threat is firing you. They constantly remind you how easily you could be replaced. Unfortunately, the best way to handle Cowboys is to be the first one to pull the trigger. You might suggest that they'd be happier working with another company and help them take steps to make that transition. There's no joy in always being under the gun, and you're never going to do your best work when you're being threatened with termination.
  9. The Two-Faced. With these clients, you never know what's up or down. They won't hesitate to lie to get what they want—or conveniently forget previously agreed-upon goals or deadlines. They're always changing the rules and moving the goalposts. You can never reach a satisfactory point with them because they're always changing their expectations. You never know where you stand with these kinds of clients. And that can cause a lot of unnecessary frustration and confusion. It becomes difficult for you to make the right decisions for them. You end up constantly second-guessing yourself or wondering when they're going to turn everything on its head. Don't waste your time. There are plenty of honest clients out there.

You have to get rid of dead weight in order to open yourself up to new opportunities. Whether you think of freeing your business of troublesome clients as pruning away the bad or opening up a port to welcome new opportunities, the results are the same. Your business will be healthier. You and your employees will be able to blossom and pursue those activities that can truly improve your business.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are coauthors of The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. For more information, visit TheBarefootSpirit.com.

5 Things You Didn’t Know Were Popular on YouTube

There are few things on earth more fascinating than human beings. We run—an activity that our ancestors did to escape predators. We eat white ovals that come out of chickens. 

We freak out at the possibility of fainting, but make an effort to be unconscious for seven to eight hours every night. And we love watching videos of people destroying things.

There might be no online network that showcases the weird habits of human beings better than YouTube. With 300 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, there are abundant opportunities for our weird to show. And there’s a video to satisfy any curiosity or off-the-beaten-path interest one might have.

But these niche communities aren’t as niche as one might think. Unusual internet phenomena run rampant on YouTube, soaring in popularity before you can utter the word ‘viral.’ To try and understand what makes video content skyrocket in views, we took a look at some YouTube sensations you might not have known were popular, and found key lessons you can use for your own marketing strategies—weirdness encouraged, but not required.

What’s in my bag?

5 Things You Didn’t Know Were Popular on YouTube
Key video approach: Behind-the-scenes content
This YouTube phenomenon includes popular fashion, beauty, or lifestyle vloggers showcasing the contents of their bags. While a seemingly mundane topic, there is a mammoth interest in these types of videos. As blogger Ink and Leathers explains, “I’m intrigued by the banality of the videos, of seeing strangers show me their favorite type of chewing gum, or a pen that they stole from a doctor’s office, or the scrap of fabric from that dress fitting six months ago.”

Audience members turn to these YouTube influencers for advice on shopping, beauty products, and lifestyle must-haves. And the ‘what’s in my bag?’ format provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the items that they recommend and use themselves. As Octoly explains, “The relationship between YouTube beauty gurus and their fans is an intimate, personal one, based on trust and transparency.”

While an exact ‘what’s in my bag?’ format may not be a good fit for your brand, the core idea of providing a behind-the-scenes look at your business is one that you can definitely apply to your video marketing efforts. Share a YouTube video of a day in your offices, a look into the production processes of your products (if applicable), a mashup of office dog moments, interviews with employees, or any other creative way you feel you can showcase a behind-the-scenes look at your brand.

When your audience gets the chance to see not just the calm duck above water, but the rapidly paddling feet underneath, the entire perception of your brand can be positively influenced. As ClickZ says, “Providing users with a glimpse behind the scenes not only gives them something more to explore, but lends authenticity to the content itself.”
Things being crushed

Key video approach: Use your industry expertise and resources
There are few things on YouTube more satisfying than extreme videos of dominoes being toppled. That is, until this year’s phenomenon of things being crushed by a hydraulic press became the face of video destruction. Since October 2015, Finnish YouTuber Lauri Vuohensilta has filmed videos of crushing objects for his account, Hydraulic Press Channel, which has gained 700,000 subscribers and nearly 51 million total views in just seven months.

This YouTube phenomenon started when Vuohensilta amazingly shattered a piece of seven-times folded paper under 300 bars of pressure (i.e. a lot of pressure). Since then, most of his videos have gained over 1 million views in mere days. As the owner of a factory that produces building supplies, Vuohensilta has access to countless materials he can experiment with. This love of destroying things didn’t come out of nowhere. As a child, Vuohensilta would crush things such as smaller rocks and toy cars with bigger rocks.

If you have access to a hydraulic press, the popularity of crushing objects might be one you can use for your own business, but if you’re like most people and don’t have easy access to heavy machinery there are still lessons to be learned from this YouTube sensation. Vuohensilta’s videos are a perfect recipe of creativity mixed with the materials and items he has on hand.

Think about what makes your business unique and sets it apart from other products or services in the industry. These qualities are what you can use for your YouTube content. Does the glass cleaner your company make cut through dirt amazingly? Clean the grossest, most intense messes you can think of and film it. Could you showcase the artisanal dog treats your brand sells being devoured by different dogs around the world? Demonstrate that your brand is an authority and expert in the field. Use resources you have access to, and think about all the possible ways these materials or knowledge could be showcased through video.
Contouring tutorials

Key video approach: Instructional and how-to video content
If I had a dime for every time I got sucked into the contouring video vortex, I’d be a wealthy gal. Contouring—the act of applying different shades of contrasting makeup to shape and sculpt the face—used to be a technique reserved for high fashion shows.

Thanks to YouTube, contouring has become a worldwide phenomenon. There are hundreds of thousands of videos showing contouring tips and tricks, as well as the routines of popular YouTube beauty vloggers. Even if you don’t intend to contour your face, the videos are hypnotizing to watch.

As Allure explains, “Despite the time and expense (hello—a decent sculpt-and-powder brush can run you $50), there’s a seductive quality to how attainable the whole thing feels. Anyone who’s watched the sped-up portion of a YouTube contouring video knows how deeply satisfying it is to see upside-down triangles of taupe, dun, and white turn into brighter eyes, lifted cheekbones, a shrunken chin, and a pert nose.”

While your business may not be ready to make a contouring video, you can definitely be inspired by the popularity of instructional YouTube content. As our post “A Guide to Social Video” explains, “How-to videos are among the most popular search queries on YouTube, and a great way to offer value to customers.”

Over 100 million hours of ‘how-to’ video content was watched on YouTube in 2015, up 70 percent from the previous year. Think about what your customers could learn from your brand, product, or service.

As our guide recommends, “Use how-to videos to show your customers how best to use your products, or as a brand awareness tool. For example, if you run a bicycle repair shop, creating an instructional video of how to fix a broken bike chain could be an effective way to showcase your skills and put you on the radar of local cyclists.”
Pregnancy announcements

Key video approach: Tap into viewer emotion
The main reason for creating a new human is to have a source of endless social media content, and the phenomenon of pregnancy announcement videos are just the beginning of this. I’ve definitely found myself clicking on videos with titles like “First-time grandparents pregnancy announcement!” and “Best pregnancy announcements compilation” (hey, I don’t judge your online viewing habits).

When discussing this phenomenon, Grandparents.com explains, “The unbridled passion and emotion of the moment leap through the computer screen, touching even those of us who have no idea who Jen [the mother] is — or any of the other protagonists of the myriad videos that appear on YouTube, for that matter.”

Your brand might not have a baby announcement coming up anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use emotion to tell your brand’s story. Most (if not all) purchasing decisions are driven by some sort of emotion, and “these feelings are powerful motivators and prompt your audience to take meaningful action.”

To help you tap into the power of feelings, ReelSeo provides four ways you can use emotion in your brand’s YouTube content:

Tap into authentic human experience—”Tell stories that are real, that are true—that draw on genuine human experiences to tell a beautiful and inspiring story.”
The power of positive thinking—”Researchers found that videos designed to produce negative emotional responses in viewers (especially anger) closed their minds from making a strategic decision,whereas videos designed to produce positive emotional responses from viewers opened their minds to making a strategic decision.”
The delicate dance of logic and emotion—An emotional message shouldn’t come at the expense of actual information.
Keep an eye to the future—”From their product to their brand voice to their messaging, big brands use video to make people feel optimism—not just about their brand, but about the future.”
Unboxing videos

Key video approach: Share practical brand information and highlight user-generated content
Human beings are fascinating creatures, and the YouTube phenomenon of unboxing videos truly drives this point home. Unboxing videos—where a user unwraps a product (commonly a consumer gadget, beauty product, or children’s toy) and shows it off to an online audience—have grown 57 percent in popularity since last year. As Google explains, “It would take more than seven years to watch all the videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in the title that have been uploaded so far just this year. And those videos have more than a billion views in this year alone.”

There’s something about the anticipation of seeing a product get unwrapped like a Christmas present that makes these videos so popular, with YouTube data showing that “34 percent of the views for unboxing videos related to food, electronics, toys, and beauty/fashion happen in the October to December time frame—that’s 1.5 times higher than the average volume of unboxing video views in other quarters.”

As a marketer, you can take the power of the anticipation built through unboxing videos and use it to share practical product information. With a Google Consumer Survey finding that 62 percent of people who view unboxing videos do so when researching a particular product, this genre of video is great for helping you get information out about your product in a popular format, to those who are actively searching for this type of content.
Unboxing videos are also a great way to encourage user-generated content. As our post on user-generated content explains, “Having many YouTube videos featuring your brand name in the description or the title helps increase your organization’s visibility in searches; being long-term Google property, YouTube videos are favored by the search engine in search results.” If this is a possibility for your company, send relevant YouTube users samples of your products in exchange for an unboxing video. Then, repost these videos to your own YouTube channel and other social media networks to provide exposure to these ambassadors.

There is no rhyme or reason for many of the most popular YouTube phenomena, but many learnings that can be applied to your own brand’s video efforts.
Source: blog.hootsuite.com
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