How to Be #Yourself: The use of Storytelling & Strategy with LIVE Video

Posted by Monique Johnson on Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Be #YourSelf: Live Video Storytelling & Strategy

Live Video Storytelling with Brian Fanzo

Brian Fanzo’s #ThinkLikeAFan philosophy has powered first-of-their-kind storytelling campaigns for many Fortune 50 enterprise companies leveraging Periscope, Snapchat, and Facebook Live. Storytelling and Live video storytelling is the ground he stands upon.

In 2016, Brian keynoted in 10 countries at more than 40 events highlighting his passion for change, collaboration and community. He was also nominated for the first ever #ShortyAwards Periscoper Of The Year 2016.

I am so excited to share with you this phenomenal interview I had with Brian Fanzo on live video storytelling. Be sure to watch it all the way through, there are so many golden nuggets!


Story of Brian Fanzo: How did you get started online and with live video? 1:35

YouTube was his first jump into social media and even though he went to college, Brian went to YouTube University to help grow his brand and understand different technologies.

In the Fall of 2013, he decided that he was going to be everywhere on social media and share his story of how he does things and why he does things.

In the Spring of 2015, he discovers Meerkat and two years later of this month (March 2017) he would have produced 1,900 live streams!

Brian loves live video because he thinks it is the closest to human interaction, face-to-face, and “being ourselves” as much as we can in the digital space.

Pre-Recorded Video vs. Live Video 3:38

Pre-recorded videos require a lot of time and effort up front: with planning the video, filming the video, and the huge time suck of editing the video. Next you have a “waiting game” of getting views, likes, comments, new subscribers, and finding out whether people like your topic or not.

Live video provides the opportunity to receive the instant engagement of views, likes, comments, new subscribers, and whether you score big with your topic choice. The biggest difference is human connection.

What is Brian Fanzo’s key to success and his ability to stand out 5:16

Short Answer: Be Yourself – “I am the same person offline as I am online.”

The #1 compliment to me is “Hey Brian! You are the same exact person as you are online as you are on stage!”

People are not sure how to be themselves online. In the last nine years, you didn’t have to be yourself. This is why he loves live video: “It separates the noise vs those that can be themselves online and offline…. If you suck offline, you’re going to suck on livestream.” He goes on to say, “live video exposes the truth of who you are.” In fact, if you can be transparent and are able to say, “I don’t know…”, you can be very successful on live video. This  same approach can also be applied to become very successful digitally as a whole.

The Importance of Being Yourself  8:00

It’s the best way to have viewers or people become more of a loyal audience. There isn’t a better connection because you feel like you already know that person from seeing them online and then having to compare it to the one on one connection is huge!

The Value of Storytelling & live video storytelling 9:27

Brian’s foundation and core of his course ,#BeYourself, is storytelling and his favorite topic to study because it’ll never be perfect. “Every time you tell a story your audience changes, who you are changes, where you are changes, and life changes around you… therefore, the story will never be complete, but you are understanding the value of your story.”

People might have an idea for a story, but are not sure how to tell it. For example, if you go to a fast food restaurant with your friends and they get their food order messed up every time… “Is it the people who are taking the order always wrong? Or is it the story that people are actually telling it, and actually ordering it, and not being very good at conveying what is the most important aspect of their order?”

Brian looks at storytelling as a way to relate to your audience, convey your message, and allow your audience to provide feedback because your story is always changing.

“Nobody cares about what you do!” People will think it is boring….,but “WHY you do what you”; “How is it going to impact the audience”; and “Why people should come back and follow you” are what matters.

Your story is not what you do. Your story is, “I started my own plumbing business because….”

When people begin to tell their story and not what they do, it’s truly transforming.

Apply to live video?

Welcome people when they come onto the screen and then introduce yourself. Introduce yourself in a way that is complementary to what you’re going to talking about.

Brian studies the stories of Steve Jobs, President Obama, Martin Luther King, and more because all of these prolific figures are great storytellers! They are able to relate to their audience and convey their message. Look at them and see how you can apply your story to your why and it can definitely become a game changer.

Storytelling is a great starting point, but can be the hardest for a lot of people to figure out what is their why?… and how can they share it with others. We have been told stories since we were infants and as a result we relate to them the most. Therefore, sharing your story is the way to go along with elevating your connection even further.

Social media, video, etc. are all mediums to deliver your story. If you want people to remember you, they remember WHY and how it made them feel. They don’t remember what you do.

Ways to share your story on social media 16:36

Your story does not have to be perfect in order to share it.

Here are two things that Brian preaches when it comes to live video. If you don’t understand these two things, you will never embrace live video:

  1. Perfection is a fairytale.
  2. Control

If you can embrace that I don’t have to be perfect and I don’t need to control the message, but I need to tell my story. If you are not telling your story, why would anyone else understand your story?

Focus on highlighting people around you and celebrate with them.

With live video, we only think about the front facing camera which leads to thinking only about yourself. Instead, flip the camera to the back facing lens and highlight someone else through interviewing them, etc. and you end up hooking your story to what he/she believes. This is a great approach to get your story out there.

Lastly, you must test, test, test with live video storytelling: how much is too much, what should I talk about, etc. You will not know until you do it.

What’s the best advice you can give to people about live vide? It’s simply, “Press the DAMN button!”

Live streaming is not about being perfect. It’s about being RAW!

“Live video is transforming the entire Digital Age because “those who have been faking it to make it” for the last 9-10 years of social media are getting exposed. Live video will amplify good but also highlight that you suck. For people who are faking it, this is a scary platform and it worries a lot of people. Live video is eliminating the barrier and it’s allowing awesome people to highlight what makes them great and help them leverage technology to accomplish this.

Should we choose one live video platform and master it or should we devote time to several for maximum exposure? 22:51

This is Brian’s favorite question. When someone start outs, he/she has to individually start where they are most comfortable. It has to be your own base and if you start where you think your own audience is, or what’s the most popular, excuses will begin to pop up… “I’m going to do live video because everyone is telling me, but I am not good on video…” OR “The lighting isn’t right.” OR “I need equipment….”

Start where you are most comfortable, but always listen and understand all of the other platforms so that you where your audience is going to be. Brian doesn’t believe in being on only one platform over a long period of time. The key is to be where your audience is located. There isn’t a platform that Brian is not on but when he goes back to his clients and goes on stage, Brian is able to tell the value of them. It’s not about being everywhere and being great. It’s about where you love to be and also going where your audience is. For example, if you’re audience is not on Snapchat, don’t go there but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to the value of Snapchat because your audience might move over to that platform in the future.

Brian love social media and live video because when he publishes content on them, he views it  as a one to one conversation. He approaches them from the mindset of, “If I can impact one person”, that’s all that matters…. not getting several hundred retweets and likes. Impacting one person is the ultimate goal and job.

This introduces the phenomena of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and this leads to people becoming so overwhelmed that he/she become paralyzed. In addition, this also leads to people having the desire to wanting to keep up with what someone else is doing online. However, Brian views it as “their version of success and individual goals are not the same as mine.”

How does one gain trust online and with live video content? 27:37

Video is a great medium for someone to use because it allows someone to trust or like you more quickly and live video amplifies it even more.

Transparency is the key. However, it does not guarantee trust. Transparency gives you an authentic window to allowing people to build trust. Being doesn’t mean you share everything you eat, etc… that is over sharing.

How do you focus on creating content that serves other people while simultaneously creating content that builds your business? Brian answered this question from a previous podcast answer with “I really do a bad job of that. I create content that helps everyone else and I sacrifice my own business success way too often.” This is transparency where Brian is still trying to figure it out all out himself. When asked a specific question like this, he doesn’t have to convey a perfect answer in order to build trust. Trust is sometimes built by sharing your vulnerabilities.

Embrace your vulnerabilities on live video. Brian talks about about being diagnosed with ADHD and how he struggles with reading. This used to be taboo where no one would share about themselves, but Brian realized that this is a part of who he is. This leads to what makes Live video so much fun. If you can say “I don’t know”, “That’s a great question! I never thought of that, I need to write that down!”. Little vulnerabilities and “transparencies” like these will help your audience to realize that since you are sharing these type of things with them, they can trust you.

“There’s no greater TRUST vehicle than Live Video. But it has to be done in a way that you are willing to share not just the good, but also the vulnerabilities and saying ‘I don’t know’…” Brian goes on to say that if you lose business from being vulnerable, that’s ok – “The business you gain from being vulnerable is the business you WANT.” You want to work with people who know who you are and the right people you want to work with.

Resources mentioned: Greg McDaniel use of Facebook Live in Real Estate

Lastly, transparency helps flip the switch were instead of chasing clients down, they are chasing you.


How to successfully get people to find your content? 34:55

Being discovered starts with being memorable. Go to where your audience is and be a part of that community and be part of the conversation. Not just going there and dropping links but also go in there and add value. People will come to you and ask what content are your creating, do you have a weekly show, etc. You also need to understand the platform itself.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other people. If you want to get noticed by someone, interview them and highlight them and they are going to share it with their audience. You got a front row seat of your content gaining more exposure and being shared.

“We are all famous to a few people.” Influence is not about the total numbers, we are all influential. Don’t worry about great numbers. Worry about getting that audience that you know are the people you want to get to your feed.

Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories 37:55

Brian thinks it was genius for Facebook (who owns Instagram) to steal what works on Snapchat. Innovation is not about creating something new. It’s about taking what is already there and making it better. Instagram Stories is great for complementing your Instagram posts and giving people a little bit more context. In fact, it has turned into a powerhouse because of the algorithm, Instagram live, and others integrated within the platform.

Brian’s issue with Snapchat is “consuming content is painful”. He made the mistake of following everyone back and as a result, his feed is chaos and it’s hard to watch content. Versus Instagram, it’s easier to consume content with the algorithm and they have done a great job in catching up to Snapchat with providing the value. However, Snapchat and Instagram have two different audiences.

Tips for brands on choosing a platform: Think about who is your audience, what kind of engagement are you looking for, and set yourself up for what does success look like on each of the platforms. For Brian, success from a numbers perspective is different on Instagram vs Snapchat. For example, he receives more views on his Snapchat compared to his Instagram Stories. But when he looks at the names of the viewers who are viewing his content on Instagram, they are decision makers on hiring him to be a speaker. On Snapchat, the viewers will influence others to hire him as a speaker but they don’t have the check book.

Brian believes that Snapchat more than any of the other platforms understand their users. All of the features on the Snapchat platform have been strategic. However, he doesn’t think Snapchat is going anywhere.

Snapchat has a lot of features for both offline businesses utilizing the conference feature and the geo- filters. The limitation with Snapchat is that if you don’t have a large following, it’s harder to get people to follow you versus on Instagram Stories, it’s easier to get followers based on the layout. “Limitations inspire creativity” and Brian explains on how he built 65 geo-filters on Snapchat last year. If you can be creative on Snapchat, you will definitely stand out.

How do you strategically use live video content 40:00?

People automatically assume that when they hear to be strategic with content, there must be call to action. Instead, ask yourself how can I create content that inspires, educates, or motivates? The end result of this content is “Wow Brian knew all of these things or Brian helped me solve this problem…. What else can Brian do for me?” This leads to people coming to him. He likes to “jab” so well that people “right hook” him (reference to Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Right Hook).

What is the takeaway you want people to FEEL? After you inspire, educate, or motivate, then give people a reason for your call to action. Brian is fan of no call to actions on live video but followup afterwards. This can be done on a platform such as Facebook LIVE where you can go back to a stream and respond to everyone’s comments and reach out to some viewers personally on Facebook messenger (the ones who have attended on a consistent basis). Show you care before people realize that you care about them and you will create advocates for life. Being strategic does not have call to actions, it means that you have a plan for your content. Some people have just all calls to action or just fluff when it comes to content.

Why most brands suck at live video 50:10!

Brands are treating live video as a check mark. Most brands do the same for social media. It’s pushed off to the intern and they have not put investment behind it. Ultimately, they are not look at video with the right mindset. Live video is not going to replace email marketing and other marketing strategies. It really highlights things and it really takes works. Live video is a double edge sword: Live video is great because anyone can press the button. The reason why there are so many bad live videos because anyone can press the button.

If you want people to watch your show, you have to give them a reason. If you are doing a marketing campaign, you spend three months to help prepare for it and launch it. For live video, we spend maybe one hour beforehand to get it done. But a workflow is created by sharing it on other social media channels and pointing people to the live video location. These are elements of educating people on what’s going on.  Brands are not educating people and have these elements. They just go live and complain about the results based on having a fan page of 200K likes.  There is a long game with live video and you have to be strategic about it (Brian provides a live video nightmare example with National Geographic and Facebook 360 video). You have to be consistent, have people put you on their calendar.

Ultimately, brands are not putting enough effort towards or when they put effort towards it, they are not willing to understand the true user experience.

Brian advises people for the first 50 live stream that they do, put a sticky note on the bottom of your phone that cover the part that tells you how many viewers are there because you should not change your approach or passion or why you’re doing it based on them.

Real time is easy but creating content at the right time is the hardest part and it’s the game changer.

Live video storytelling can be found and shown everywhere, including Brian’s course. Community is a section in every module of his course and storytelling is something you have to craft and community is the foundation across the board.


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