I interviewed Mandy Swift, a self-dubbed “online marketing personal trainer” about the benefits of developing a fitness plan for one’s online marketing and social video activities that helps build business success, professional growth, and overall personal health and well-being.

The “Personal Trainer” Approach To Doing Social Video Marketing

Mandy Swift of FitnessMarketingSOS.com is a good representative I think of one section of our audience here at ReelSEO: People who gravitate into online video from a very different profession, and apply some of the skills and experiences of their previous career into online video marketing.

Mandy is a veteran professional fitness trainer (now part-time) out of the UK, who infused her experience and passion for physical fitness into her personal marketing brand. Why the fitness theme? “Because Fit Businesses Perform Better,” is her own site’s tag-line, which I think sums it up tidily.

Mandy’s videos, many of which you can find on her YouTube channel at MandySwiftOnline, are self-made and often consist of just a quick shoot at her own gym. Now I do realize some of our more established video professionals would comment on a few of the technical qualities, but I would say that they’re missing the point of doing “social video;” and they can certainly learn a few things themselves with Mandy’s very natural presentation style.

In this video she custom-made for us at ReelSEO, Mandy provides 3 of her own top “social video fitness tips” she says everyone involved with online marketing can and should do:

Talking Video Marketing and “Social Video Fitness” with Personal Trainer Mandy Swift

Mandy, how did you make the transition from personal fitness trainer to online marketer?

My background is as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I spent 15 years full-time in the industry and now teach on a hobby basis because I still love it.  I used to train people how to get their body in shape and now I train them how to get their business into shape; and people can relate to that. Everybody knows that if you want to get fit fast, the best way is to hire a personal trainer. Well the same is true for your business.

When I made the shift from personal training to online marketing, I branded myself as “Your Online Marketing Personal Trainer” to describe myself. Because, for me, the term “Online Marketing Strategist” is a bit stuffy and it doesn’t really inspire people. That is a big part of who I am – casual, down-to-earth, results-focused, high energy, and motivational.

How do use your fitness background motivate your clients to do online marketing?

People understand that if you want to get fit, you are going to have to put some work in. Nobody can get you fit except you. If you want to get fit you are going to need to be able to get the excuses out of the way, set some goals, be realistic about what you want to achieve and have the discipline to keep going when you don’t see results on day 1. The good news is that it gets easier, more fun and much more enjoyable as you go.

Those exact same principles in fitness apply to online marketing. Today’s online world is very much about “social.” You cannot, in my opinion, just go out there and hire a PR ‘guru’ to do it all for you. You need to actually participate (in the process). You have to be ‘in the game.’ You need to have a game plan, a strategy. You need to know what to do and more importantly, what order to do it in. And then guess what – the whole thing starts to become fun, you start to see results, and what was once ‘difficult’ becomes easy.

What we know with fitness training is that you don’t have to do the whole thing by yourself. Working with a trainer, a partner, or as part of a team – any or all of that can be much more motivational, easier, fun, and rewarding in the long run.

What qualities do you believe a online marketing “personal trainer” should have to be able to properly help others, professionally?

In terms of how people see my own role in helping them, if you hire a personal trainer you would naturally expect them to (a) know what they are doing (b) be able to motivate you to take the action you know you need to take and (c) know the techniques and the strategies to help you reach your goals in the shortest possible amount of time. All three of those things are exactly what people can and should expect from an Online Marketing “Personal Trainer.”

How do you think the social aspect plays in to your “fitness training” online? Especially, with online video?

We are ‘social creatures’ by nature. Not many of us were born to be hermits living in a cave. We crave relationships. You cannot have a relationship with a business or a logo. To be able to truly ‘get to know you,’ I need to be able to look you in the eyes (or at least have you feel like I’m looking right at you and talking to you.) That is the power of online video, to create that social experience.

You have a fairly casual approach with your own online videos. Would you recommend that approach to most of your audience?

Just as teams like to go to the bar together after the game and celebrate, it is ok to ‘let your hair down’ with your online marketing. In fact that is where the magic happens. It is in that moment of ‘social’ that teams gel and the real relationships are made.

What types of questions does your audience and customers tend to ask you about doing video?

The first thing everyone wants to know is how to make a video without being nervous! Now of course people want answers to the ‘techie’ side of things – how to edit a video, where to host, how to get your video on the first page of Google. But I’ve personally found that people, who want to do video, or realize how important it is for them to do it, are mostly worried about these things:

  1. How to get over the fear of getting started
  2. How to come across as ‘natural’
  3. How to ‘look good’ on camera, and
  4. How to come up with ideas and know what to say.
  5. How they can do it without it being very expensive

That last concern is a big misconception a lot of people have – that doing video as part of your online marketing strategy is that it is somehow going to be very expensive – not true!

What is your own “exercise plan” with online video?

As with any ‘exercise routine’, you have to start from your current level of fitness and build it up from there. The first level is to practice at getting comfortable in front of the camera, and the only way to do that is to actually start making videos. You may have to make 50 and trash them all, but that how you actually start.

Here’s my own example: I first started making videos in my vegetable patch with my Dad on ‘How To Grow You Own Vegetables’. Each one took about 20 takes, and a long time for me to learn how to edit. That experience was a lot of work for me, but it taught me two valuable things: How to make a video without cringing at myself, and how to use a software program that I would be comfortable enough to use regularly. (I still use that same software today – Window Movie Maker!)

Once you are ‘comfortable’ with whatever video exercise plan you have, the next step is to learn how to get ‘competent.’ And eventually, almost without realizing it, you will become ‘good.’ (Your standards of what good for your business may differ greatly for what a serious video production specialist does, and that’s perfectly alright because we’re talking about you doing it, and regularly.) Remember it takes 6 weeks to build a muscle, so you need to give yourself time to build your video marketing ‘muscle.‘ And as with any good exercise plan, start small, keep it simple and be realistic. I tell people: Everyone is nervous when they start, everyone feels a bit stupid; it’s not just you.

For me, one of the essential components to any video marketing ‘exercise plan’ is to practice putting the camera on and making a whole video, start to finish, without stopping. Even if it is rubbish, practice learning how to finish sentences ‘on the fly’ and verbalize ideas that are only just coming to you. That ability to ‘keep going’ will really build your confidence and hone your video marketing muscle!

How do you prepare for shooting one of your own videos?

Once I have an idea for a topic, I write down a couple of bullet points to ‘seed’ the idea. In the beginning I used to write out my ‘script’ in detail and try to learn it. Now I find it is much quicker to sit down and start making the video and ‘think my thoughts out loud.’ It may take me three or four takes to really formulate that idea but as soon as I have something that makes sense, I run with it and that I think helps you to stay ‘natural.’ In my experience, the more takes you do, the worse it gets. You start to get hypercritical and you start to come across as ‘canned.’ (Plus it takes hours editing to choose the ‘best’ version!)

I also highly recommend you do not use a teleprompter. I said above, you want to build your confidence and your video marketing ‘muscle’ and not constantly rely on props.

Lastly, remember that you will need to ramp your natural energy up by about 10% in front of the camera or you will come across as ‘flat.’ Put on some loud music or even just practice what I call ‘big smiling’ before you turn on the camera … it really helps!

What’s a typical setup you use for doing the actual video shoot?

I believe in ‘point and go.’  Especially if you are making ‘social videos’, you want to appear normal, natural, like you would be if your customers were to bump into you in the street. And that is very hard if someone has just wheeled in a big production team! I think the more obstacles you put in the way, the less likely you are to ‘just do a video’. Also I like to make videos ‘on the fly’ – either outside or at the gym after a workout. So I use a simple Kodak Zi8 with lavalier mic (to stop the wind noise) if I am outside or simply my camera or my phone if I am inside!

In terms of lighting, I like natural light. If you are inside, choose a room with plenty of natural light. If you are outside, make your video in the morning or the early evening to avoid the harsh glare of the sun, stand in the shade of a tree or choose a slightly overcast day.

For editing, again, go for simple and edit the least amount possible. I still use the Windows Movie Maker software! Techsmith’s Camtasia for PCs or Screenflow for Mac are part of the standard ‘social video editor’s’ tool kit.

What would you like to leave people with about deciding if and how they should be doing their own social video marketing?

I want to remind people that social video marketing may be the latest “big craze” but that is not a reason to jump on the bandwagon, just because ‘it’s there.’ Video, just like everything else online, will evolve and change. So yes, you need to be ‘on board’ so that you can evolve and change with it. But if you want to be truly successful with video, especially social video, you need to be looking at where your customer naturally is online already and meeting them there. So for me, a big part of the ’emerging social trend’ is video email. (I use IWoWwe for my video email marketing needs.)

Above all, whatever social video marketing strategy you choose, be creative, have fun, and think differently. Don’t try and be ‘perfect’ and don’t just make another video the same as everyone else’s!

My Own Daily Video Fitness Exercises for Everyone

I’m no physical fitness expert myself, but I think marketers can reach their audiences a lot better by incorporating fitness analogies in their own online marketing, and especially with doing “social video.” I tell people that one of the best methods to be a better video marketer is simply by doing a series of video exercises and participating in the space on a regular basis. The good news is that this doesn’t require any technical knowledge, just discipline and some focus to channel your passion. Here are just a few of my own tips for how I suggest you can incorporate the fitness theme into your own video marketing training, and “optimize yourself.”

  • Set goals. The first thing to do is write/type down what you expect to accomplish. (Here’s an idea: You can make a “before” video of yourself saying your goals on camera!)
  • Set a workout schedule. Make some time out of most every day you can to engage with your audience, clients, and colleagues one-on-one with video, or around a video. I recommend committing to a plan you know you can devote 12 straight weeks to. Make a list of all of the types of videos you think you’d like to do, and organize them into “video exercises.” Start with the simplest ones in your first few weeks, and gradually do the more advanced.
  • Measure your progress. Every 2-4 weeks, assess what results you’re getting both online, and in your own professional growth and personal satisfaction.
  • Assess your personal experience. Successful marketing isn’t only about traffic, leads and profit goals. It also needs to be about building positive experiences –what you have for yourself, what you can share with others, and the feedback you receive. Enjoying what you do and sharing your passion will show through in your videos, and that positive energy will draw people to you. (Now I’m starting to sound more like a swami-jami guru than a fitness marketer, but why fight it? ;)
  • Shoot yourself with steroids in your butt. I’m just checking to see if you’re paying attention. I don’t actually recommend you do this, although it might make for an amusing video. ;)