Developing your Social Media Video Style

“Fashions fade, style is eternal”-Yves St. Laurent

How should you present yourself to the world in your social media videos? The advice we hear a lot is: “Just be yourself.” That’s a lovely thought, but you have to think about it a bit more. You are a complex person. Do you really want to present that entire melange to the world? Face it, even those who love you dearly go through times when they really don’t want to be around you. (It’s OK, you have the same feelings about them at some point, right?)

Let’s say one morning you wake up on the wrong side of the bed (the empty one) and, frustrated with the extended drought in your love life, you snarl at everyone you see for the next three hours. During the first hour it’s just the cats (my, you’ve accumulated quite a number of them since that nasty breakup nine months ago) but by 10 AM it’s extended to the barista who put too much soy in your latte, the guy in the cubicle next to yours at the office, and that demanding customer on the phone. Even those who don’t get a direct taste of your ire can sense it radiating off you in waves. Small children cower behind their parents when they see you coming down the street, like you’re Skeletor. Dogs whine and slink into the nearest alley. Flowers seem to wilt as you pass by.

This is you being yourself. It’s not who you are all the time, but it’s who you are at the moment. Do you really want your social media followers to see this part of you? Or how about the whiney part of you that comes out when you have to put in extra hours at work? Or the part that believes you’re absolutely justified in telling people exactly what cretins they are (after you have a few margaritas under your belt)? Maybe you could reveal the side that thinks it’s just easier to go out and buy new underwear rather than doing a load of laundry.

Yeesh. No wonder you only have to make one side of the bed every morning.

The path to success with social media videos includes developing your persona

The path to success with social media videos includes developing your own unique style

This is why it’s critical for you to develop your own persona and style to project in your social media videos. Select the traits you want to be known for, and leave the rest behind. Think about Rachel Ray. Undoubtedly she has days when she wants to use that santoku knife to put the fear of God into someone. But do we ever see that in her videos? No, we only see bubbly, perky Rachel. If you have a clearly defined persona, a clearly defined style, you will be much more successful in gathering and retaining your core audience, because they’ll know what to expect from you.

Does that mean you can only be sunshine and light, weaving cotton candy dreams for your followers? Absolutely not. We’ve all seen those social media posts from people who really take the “just be yourself” advice to heart. Back in the mists of time when social media first developed, that unbridled honesty might have seemed refreshing. It was, at least initially, interesting to get a glimpse into the unedited trains of thought other people were experiencing. “Refreshing” and “interesting” went out the window around the time people started tweeting about their bathroom habits (“Feels like I’m giving birth to a cyclops, :-o”) which was, oh, roughly three days after Twitter debuted.

But those Honest Abes still had followers, and they got more as time went on no matter how rambling their posts and tweets became. How could that be, you ask? Because there was a niche for it. In social media, there’s a niche for the vulgar, a niche for the vain, a niche for the acerbic, a niche for those who refuse to say anything negative about anyone. Much like reality TV programming, social media have become a buffet where there’s something for everyone.

So the first thing you need to do when developing your social media persona is to figure out which niche, or niches, you want to appeal to the most. You’re not going to appeal to everyone. No one can appeal to everyone, nor should you even try. It will dilute the impact of your core social media activity so much that it will become meaningless, insipid, not even worth the quickest glance. And it will only get worse if you try to appeal to everyone in videos as well as posts, because then you’ll be on camera. If you want to try to maintain a perpetual expression of bland acquiescence, have at it. A heavy dose of Botox could help. But if that’s not who you are, or who you want to be in your social media posts, then you must accept that you will appeal to some people and not others.

Determining your core audience, your niche or niches, is easier if you decide what topics you want to focus on in your videos. Take care, because this is a crucial part of developing your personal style in social media. Just as no one goes up to Angelina Jolie simply to talk about the weather or exchange recipes for gingersnaps, no one who follows Bethany Mota’s videos expects her to break down the pros and cons of investing in the Japanese yen versus the British pound.

So if you plan to provide political analyses for the next big election in your social media videos, you might want to avoid swerving off the path into a discussion about the role dark matter plays in the expansion of the universe. If you do video reviews of current movies, it’s best if you keep quiet on your theories about the role shamanism played in giving social influence to women disenfranchised by the misogynistic views the Confucian ethos fostered during Korea’s late Silla dynastic period. If you’re an optimist who believes the Cleveland Browns have a chance of making it to the Super Bowl in the next decade, steer clear of discussing any topics remotely connected to reality. In short, figure out what area you want to address in your social media videos, become an expert with demonstrable credibility in those areas, focus on those areas, and you will get and keep your audience.

Does this mean you can never go off topic? Of course not. The occasional glimpse into other areas of your life can, when used wisely, broaden your appeal a bit and attract new followers, while cementing your relationship with your existing social media audience. So yes, if you are disappointed that your team played poorly in this weekend’s football game and you want to spend a few moments talking about it, go ahead. If you’re clever, you can even find a way to weave it into the overall theme of that video.

But don’t overdo the detours. No matter how light your chosen topic is, a clearly-defined focus will give your videos greatest impact. It can help to write out notes, or even a full script for each video, so that you can organize your thoughts. You don’t have to read the script word-for-word. The simple exercise of putting it all in writing can be enough to help you maintain focus while giving you something to review right before the camera starts recording.

A good video production company can help you develop and hone your social media persona. Don’t underestimate the value of outside feedback in this process. Experienced production companies like Hencar can help you with a wide range of services including concept development and scriptwriting as well as the technical aspects of producing your social media videos. Many of us at Hencar have worked with some of the best on-air consultants in broadcasting, and gained valuable insight into developing rapport with large audiences. When you let the experts weigh in, a lot of weight gets lifted off your shoulders so you have more time to enjoy watching your social media presence grow and thrive.