5 Social Media Strategies to Build Your VO Brand

brand-aAt NMX (The New Media Expo Conf) the other day, I heard Michael Hyatt speak about branding.  He’s the Chairman and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers…a prolific thinker, blogger, and speaker.  He offered a multi-point plan for developing your personal brand, and two of them really stuck with me.

1)  Everything you do/are is a branding impression

2) Develop a value equation that looks like this:  Your professional identity plus your target michaelhyattaudience plus your unique solution equals their transformation.

His suggestion was to build the following narrative:

I am _________.
I help ____________.
I understand/do _________,
so _______(result or consequence)

My personal opinion is that Social Media is an excellent (free) way to extend your personal brand.  The real purpose of  today’s blog is to direct you to Susan Gilbert’s article on Personal Branding Blog.  Put this site on your RSS Feed.  I know there are a million and one schools of thought on branding, but this blog hits a lot of them over the course of time.

Her 5 points — all of which I do, and all of which apply to voice-actors — are:

1)  Make more connections on LinkedIn
2) Get in on the conversation on Twitter
3) Be found on Google search through Google Plus
4) Showcase your expertise with Klout.
5) Create a personal landing page through About.me

[See her original article here:  Pump Up Your Brand with These Social Media Strategies]

I highlighted #3, because I think this is where a lot of voice actors fall short.  I was speaking to my friend and fellow social media brother — Derek Chappell — about this.  We both administer Voice Over Communities on Google+, and neither of us can seem to get much interest going there.  Oh, we have people signed-up…but no one seems to want to visit and get into conversations.

Drop me a line with your Google+ Profile URL, and I’ll send you and invite to my G+ VoiceOvers community on Google Plus.  Start out 2014 by taking a serious look at your personal brand.  Start by building your Google search score, and your brand reach on Google.



Oh, the Fun You Can Have!

explainerNot everyone shares my enthusiasm for all things digital…I understand that.

But how can you NOT like all the fun things you can do online these days?  I’m not talking about social media.  I’m talking about the media you can construct on your own, using some fun new sites.

Many of them come under the rough heading of “explainer video authoring” sites.

For instance, a lot of people have reacted positively to the little ditty I did to explain the name brand-name “CourVO”.

I constructed this myself using the tools I found on VideoScribe.  The website is:  Sparkol.  This is a UK-based company that is always improving the product, has wonderful customer service, and an active user community.

I’ve also been a fan of SlideShare.  I use the past tense, ’cause I decided to back down from the paid subscription for budgeting reasons (and I wasn’t using the program that much).  Even the free version comes in real handy, though.  I used it this week, in profiling Brian Amador’s PowerPoint presentation on a paperless workflow on this blog.  Just upload any .ppt file, and it converts it to a SlideShare format that you can share, embed, email, and otherwise re-purpose almost anywhere.

This week, someone in the VO community mentioned PowToon.  I have not tried this site, but I’m licking my chops to find an extra hour somewhere to play with it.  Their headline says: Create animated videos and presentations. It’s free and it’s awesome! (and it looks awesome).

Finally, attending a Journalism conference in August, I was wow’d by a number of presenters who used a composition tool called PREZI.  This is also a visually engaging authoring site with a different approach than anything else I’d ever seen. Very effective.

All of the above digital tools strive to be intuitive and user-friendly.  Each takes a bit of a learning-curve to master, but you can have fun trying.

Why?  If you’ve been paying attention to my mantra over the months…VIDEO is where it’s at.  Video accompanied by YOUR voice, or marketing your brand, or BOTH is where it’s at these days (always has been, actually).  I can’t tell you the number of responses I’ve gotten to that simple CourVO branding video using VideoScribe explaining my brand.  I auto-tweet the link to it throughout the day, and constantly get hits.


“Las Vegas is My Home”

Las VegasThat simple statement is at the core of an image campaign built around the news anchors at the TV station where I work (KLAS-TV, Channel 8, #8NewsNow).

On a Labor Day weekend that saw an influx of 300,000+ visitors, it’s easy to forget Las Vegas is still just “home” to some 2-million people.

Those people are the bread ‘n’ butter of our viewership, and the theme resonates with them.  Most of them avoid “The Strip”, and instead attend town hall meetings, go to the library, take their kids to boy scout events & soccer games, and grumble about potholes like residents of any other big city.

Take a look at the :30 spot recently completed using me at several different locations around the valley. I know I’m biased, but this :30 spot is an inspiration for any voice actor hoping to build their brand through the use of video.

No, most of us don’t have the same budget as a TV station promotions department, but I hope you can appreciate the concept being carried through to a visually fetching, distinct, effective branding message using a simple meme.


Getting Serious

facebook-voIn the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen an exponential number of new requests to be in my FaceBook Group “Voice-Over Friends“.  As far as I can tell, there’s no accounting for it.  Terry Daniel, who administers “Voice-Over Pros” is seeing the same thing.  We’ve discussed it, and can’t figure out why the sudden interest.

For instance, I took a bit of a sabbatical from all-things-virtual over a 4-day 4th of July weekend, and in that time 55 new people requested entry into Voice-Over Friends.  I’m not going to waste your time or my time in offering theories for this…I’m just trying to keep my mission clear:  the only people that should be in this group are those who are serious about voice-overs.  There might be some newbies…certainly plenty of working full-time or part-time professionals.  I also accept audio engineers, producers, agents, casting agents, booking agents, directors, coaches, audio editors, and audiobook publishers.  In short… to get in the group, your FB profile should reflect that “serious” attitude about being in the business of voice-acting, or at least serious about being in an adjacent (supporting or attending) role.

Managing the Group

Terry and I both are diligent in our role as administrator.  We want to keep our groups “pure”, so-to-speak.  Nothing would be worse than to usurp the basic nature of such a private group by allowing non voice-actors to muddy the waters.  I’ve deleted posts, eliminated members, and reprimanded others who I think are not contributing to the heart of the group.

Here’s the thing, though…you’d be surprised how many people requesting entry show nothing….NOTHING…in their FaceBook profile that remotely reflects any association with voice-acting at all.

Sometimes, however, I’ll go digging even deeper, seeing that they have quite a few friends in the group.  Sure enough, I’ll find a link to a webpage that shows they are probably a working voice-actor, complete with demos and everything.  Don’t you find something intrinsically wrong with that?  If you truly are serious about voice-acting, don’t you think those keywords should appear somewhere in your profile?  Voice-Actor, voice-overs, voiceovers, etc?

So here’s what I’ve had to resort to doing to manage the sheer number of applicants:  I hover my mouse over the name of the person requesting entry.  If their pop-up profile description doesn’t mention anything remotely related to voice overs, then my decision about their entry is a big “NO”.  The only thing that might make me hesitate is if their profile reflects a high number of friends already in the group.  If so, I’ll waste an extra minute or so digging.  But the point is…I shouldn’t have to!

Be Present

If you are hoping to use FaceBook (or social media in general) to raise awareness on the internet of your role as a voice-actor, then every profile you complete in every social network you’re on should mention voice overs.  Period.  Even if it’s your personal page.  Voice over is what you do, and who you are.  This is the first place prospective clients will look if they’re using social media to screen new voice actors, and believe me, more and more clients are doing just that.

Do You Qualify?

A side note:  much is being written lately about criteria, screening, passing muster, qualifying, accrediting, certifying and making the grade as a voice-actor.  It’s come up in World-Voices.org, FaffCon, SAG-AFTRA, talent agencies, and certain pay-to-play sites.  This is a HUGE nut to crack, and I’m not going to do it here and now.  By comparison, I’m using a relatively lightweight measuring stick on FaceBook.  All I’m expecting to see is a mention of a keyword like “voice over” in your FB profile.  I’m sorry… but if you can’t express something that simple on your personal FaceBook page, your dedication to voice acting is suspect in my book…you’re just not “serious” about it…even on something as frivolous as FaceBook.  ESPECIALLY on something as frivolous as FaceBook!


Local Coverage

Nothing’s better than getting a local publication to write an article about what you do.


It can be a newspaper, a local radio station, a local weekly, a local TV station or talk show…you name it.

Nothing will elevate your profile to the market where you live better than this. Convince a local media outlet to do a feature piece on a person who does voice-overs.  Seriously.  People are fascinated with what we do.

Don’t believe me?

Read this article that came out Monday about a fairly small-town Michigan guy named Markham Anderson, and his story about how he became a voice-over artist.


I did a similar blog about Kelley Buttrick in December 2010, and she’s been growing and growing in her career.  Not because I did a blog about her local paper article, but because she’s a darn good voice actor who was featured in a local newspaper.  Like I said…it works!


The Case For Voice Acting You Can See

Everything you do online for your VO business:  Demos, Blogs, Twitter posts, FaceBook updates, profiles, newsletters…even email signatures should have a picture.

I used to sit on the fence on this debate…you know…the debate over whether a VO should be heard and not seen.  I was there for a long while.

The argument was that, say…an animation voice actor with a voice that rattles the bass register, but a real-life visage that looks like Pee Wee Herman sets up a conflict in the mind of the prospect deciding whether to hire this voice or not…and loses you the job.

That is perhaps the ONLY argument that has ANY merit.  All others don’t.  So in the case I just described, at least use your logo.

There are a few other scant possibilities where a logo/brand says more than your face, but even there, I would argue for using your logo AND your face.

These days, I’m firmly on the side of the fence that says put your picture of you on all your branding.  I expect to catch flak for this.  So bring it on…but I’m gonna stand pat.

“That’s easy for you, Dave…” you say, “you have a face for TV…I have a face for radio.”  That is a pathetic cliché…untrue…and I’m sick of hearing it.

Everybody…even the Elephant Man…can get a decent photo of her/himself with a modest expenditure and an able-bodied photographer.

Why have I switched sides of the fence?
1)  No client wants to see a picture of your dog or cat.  It’s lame.  It’s avoidance, and you stand the risk of the prospect hating Chihuahua’s  (or Siamese).
2)  Simpsons Avatars are childish and misleading
3)  Video/pictures are KING…no…Czar…no…beyond that…pictures are the subatomic “God particles” that power the universe these days
4)  They are your best bet to immediately personalize and solidify your character and identity to first-timers.
5)  Everyone, especially clients, have a natural inbred curiosity about how you look.  It’s not fair.  It’s not even legal (I think) but it’s how we’re wired.

‘Hate to run the risk that people don’t like moustaches, or glasses, or long hair, or tattoos or chubby people?  If they’re that close-minded and biased, do you really want them as clients anyway?

In case you haven’t noticed, the new currency on just about every manifestation of the digital universe is a picture (or a link, or both). 

So use a picture…make it a standard headshot, a photo with you and your wife, you and your kids, you cutting up (ever see Pat Fraley’s headshot…he’s always laughing, and his eyes are closed).  Use a pic of  you in B & W, you in sepia, you with a mic (cliché too, but bearable), you with a trophy, you upside down.

Nancy Wolfson can’t take a bad picture, and this is her current one…there’s a coy assuredness to it that says a lot about Nancy.

Use a shot that speaks to your true character.  For every photo of you that you think is edgy (risky) there will be as many who love it as who hate it…so it’s a wash.  In 1996 I shaved off my moustache of 26 years.  I told no one.  Viewers called in for days…somebody in the newsroom started keeping track.  It came came out absolutely 50/50, for/against.

Further reason supporting the argument for pictures or video.  YouTube.  Need I say more?  The thing is a juggernaut.  Bad video, shakey video, awful on-cam appeals…it all survives and thrives.  People are hungry for pictures — moving pictures, bad pictures, grainy images …ALL OF IT is worthy these days.  Don’t ask me why…but it’s true.

My final appeal to make you see the wisdom of including a picture — SOME PICTURE — with everything you do online, can be summed up in one word:  PINTEREST.

Pinterest is the hottest new Social Media site going…and it’s entirely driven by images.  Sure, there’s all the connections and relationships you can curry there.  Make comments, add copy…but bottom line:  it’s the picture that brings you in, and keeps you looking.  Don’t believe me?  Read this:  HAVE YOU EMBRACED PINTEREST FOR YOUR BRAND?  Or read an article from just a few days ago on my blog (in case you missed it):  A VO’s Place on Pinterest.

Still don’t believe me?  Google Bill DeWees or Terry Daniel…both of those voice actors have figured out how to capitalize on video to help their voice-acting business.

Get the picture?


Introducing the “CourVO” App!!

Didja really think I’d be able to resist the inevitable march of progress?

The COURVO app is now available in the iTunes store.  It’s free.

Now you can read all the great content of this blog on your iPhone/iPad.

You can also do a search for the app from your iPhone App Store icon by searching for “CourVO”. There’s apparently an app named “Courvoisier” too.  Not mine.  (the actual name of the app is CourVO’s Voice-Acting in Vegas)

The app presents all the branding and content of this blog by pulling the info from my RSS feed and displaying  it in a simple interface.

This was actually not brain surgery at all, and almost anyone can do it.  Visit AppMakr.com to see about doing your own.  There were some costs involved:  about $100 for the Apple Developer’s license, and some minimal AppMakr fees.

This was actually slated for launch a couple of weeks ago, then Apple announced iOS 5.o.  Immediately, all apps considered for review were rejected for rebuild to be compatible for the new operating system.  S’OK…the result is pretty much what I wanted.

  • From the app, you can:
    comment back to the blog article
    share the article on Twitter
    share on FaceBook
    “like” the article
    see the original blog layout in a browser window
    email the article

Some functionality of the app is still in development.  You’ll see that if you select the “camera” icon, or the RSS icon.  Pressing the ATOM icon will bring you back to the list of articles.

I hope you’re reading this blog on your iPhone.

BTW, the Android version of this is coming…likely within a week.

Let me know what you think.



Crafting Your Personal Brand

Wanna know why resources on the web about branding are never-ending?

1) New ideas come up every day.
2) New perspectives on old ideas come up every day.
3) People/companies change…and what works one day, won’t work the next.
4) There’s a lot of flailing around, and sometimes you just have to take calculated risks on things to see what sticks to the wall when you throw it out there.
5) What you can legitimately claim as your most marketable (branded) feature/service/product has evolved.
6) {and about a million other reasons…branding is a moving target}

For all those reasons and more…I will probably never stop posting and referring to great articles about branding….and this one is about as good as any I’ve read.



Why You Need a Brand, & How To Create One

That’d be great if I was actually smart enough to write a blog with that title…but the truth is someone already has, and I don’t want to be guilty of plagiarism.

I’ve mentioned FreelanceFolder before, right?

Good, ’cause that’s where you need to go to read this excellent article.

Sure, you could read books and books about branding…but that’s for tomorrow. For now, just start with this excellent blog.


URL:  https://www.google.com/reader/view/?tab=my

Brands Are Now Media Companies

I never stop trying, though, and this rather deep and erudite article from Social Media Today on the 16th (almost a week old!!! –gasp—) is about as good an analysis of “the way things are today” with social media that I’ve seen incorporating branding concepts.

In other words, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Heck, I KNOW I couldn’t have said it better!

Why is this important? Because Brand is important, and so is social media. I know there are doubters…but I’m not one of them….so don’t even try!