How Do You Make Money With Social Media?

Ultimately.. I get paid because I can do things other people can’t do. Period.

Bill CammackSo, The other day, I go to lunch with a friend of mine who isn’t into Social Media. I start showing him my personal fansite, my business site, Facebook, Twitter / TweetDeck, blip.tv, YouTube, Tumblr, Ustream, IRC, Skype, iChat, so then he goes:

“So how do you make money with all this stuff?”

So I laughed a little, because I knew I had a long, LONG explanation ahead of me. 😀

Special Case

Before I get started with this, I need to mention that I’m a special case. PART of what I’m about to say will be useful to someone else. Most of it’s only useful to me. Continue reading “How Do You Make Money With Social Media?”

Why Professionals Avoid Web Video

In professional productions, broadcast or corporate, there is a deadline. If you miss that deadline, you lose. If you don’t want to miss that deadline, you have to hire someone competent and trusted. People competent and trusted have rates. If you don’t want to pay that rate, you can hire someone else.

Since you have an air-date, there isn’t an infinite amount of time that can be spent on your project. This is another reason to hire a competent editor. You can either have a REALLY GOOD video in 8 hours or an “ok” video in 8 hours. Actually, depending on how much you skimp, you might not have a video AT ALL in 8 hours and miss your deadline.

Quality’s important when you’re doing professional work. This is because the company that hires you cares about its image and its brand. The whole point is to get people to feel like trusting the company with their business based on how they present themselves through media. Because of this, companies tend to go with post houses or editors that they know can and will make them look good, and pay those people accordingly.

Elizabeth Hummer & Bill Cammack

Getting involved with video productions on the web is totally different. There’s no revenue stream coming from advertisers down to companies down to producers, shooters and editors. If a company’s going to make videos for the net, they have to be prepared to take a financial loss in return for increased brand recognition or social cred. They will NOT be making their money back via revenue-sharing. Unless they get tons of views, they will NOT be making their money back via sponsorships. They *have* to treat their videos as ADVERTISING and not some vehicle to make money with. They have to weigh their increase in social and business cred against the cost of their videos in order to justify a budget… ANY budget.

This is what makes it tough for professionals to feel like getting involved with the internet video business. Everyone in the space is trying to “make it”. Everyone’s clawing for that next dollar and that next passionate viewer and that next page hit to the point where it’s like a high school play. “Oh… could you run the lights for me?” “Could you dress up like a tree and stand in the background here for an hour?” “Can you pull the string that opens the curtains?” It’s REALLY incredibly unprofessional, but like I said, it needs to be, because these aren’t video production companies… They’re companies that are attempting to UTILIZE video on the net to gain something else. The bottom line is to spend as little as you can to produce videos that get you as many views as you can get that you can turn around and sell to someone that wants to advertise something.

So what you end up with is individuals or groups whose budget is 1/3 of your day rate who want you to get on board with doing a project that you know is going to take you three days. This is where TIME comes back into play. The question you have to ask yourself as a freelancer is “What else could I be doing during the time that I’m spending on this person’s project?”. Let’s see… You could be:

  • Doing work at your actual day rate
  • Socializing and making new business connections
  • Learning new styles and concepts in editing
  • Learning about new sites and apps on the web
  • Reading what others have to say in their blogs about your chosen field
  • Doing Trial & Error testing of new tools and concepts you’ve recently acquired
  • Doing follow-up calls & emails on invoices people haven’t paid you for yet
  • Posting to your blog or video blog
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Enjoying your hobbies & other entertainment
  • Living YOUR life

So, basically, the point of the budget is to get the producer, shooter or editor to focus on YOUR project instead of doing ANYTHING ELSE UNDER THE SUN that’s more beneficial or entertaining to him or her. Therefore, the lower your budget is, the less time that person’s willing to apply to your production.

Unfortunately, there’s a baseline to the amount of time that’s necessary for a project, so there’s a baseline to the budget. For instance… If someone gives me a tape that’s an hour long, off the bat, that’s an hour that has to be spent loading the tape onto the drive (less time if it’s coming from a digital source, like an SD card or P2 card). There are only two other ways around this expenditure of money/time. Pay someone else to be a loader and make sure they coordinate with the editor so they know how to load the tapes properly, or DO. IT. YOURSELF. Do it yourself and say to the editor, I have this drive with all the footage on it, and I need you to edit it. Saves you money right off the top.

There’s also a baseline in PLANNING that’s necessary for a video. If you give me a page with clearly marked ins and outs, video and dialogue cues, I can crunch that out in no time. If you give me NOTHING, then you have to pay for all the time it takes me to watch all your footage and make up an entire story in my head that makes you and your company look good. Even if the final product is 30 seconds long, if you gave me three hours of footage from which to select the best 30 seconds…….

Then you have to deal with changes. If the editor you hire isn’t also going to be the EP (Executive Producer), you’re going to have opinions about the video after it’s done. “Change my title”. “Move this part here”. “Take that part out”. “Change the volume”. “I don’t look good here”. This means that MORE time is taken listening to / reading your changes and more time is taken making them and then encoding the file and getting you a review copy. This is why a lot of work is done on a day rate basis instead of a package deal basis. Video is almost entirely SUBJECTIVE and people will tweak and tweak until they run out of time (air-time deadline) or money (budget / agreement). As long as they’re paying for the time they’re taking up (and to the degree that it makes it worthwile to the editor), more power to them.

Bill Cammack

This is why production companies are now swooping down into the space and creating all these web shows. Their editors are STAFFERS. They get paid REGARDLESS of how many people watch the videos, whether they go viral, whether there’s rev-share advertising on it, whether it has a shelf-life of more than three days. This works for the reasons I stated above. Production companies gain social & business cred from doing QUALITY WORK. Since they pay their editors to DO that work, their ROI is continued and increasing business from clients who want that same level of quality and consistency for their productions.

Is there a solution to this? I don’t think there will be. In fact, it’s not even actually a ‘problem’. Since most people are concerned with hits and viewership and membership, it’s not an issue for them to output GARBAGE and do that for as close to $0.00 as they can. Their reputation is based on how many eyeballs they can attract to sell to advertisers and NOT the quality of the video on their site(s). Nobody’s ever going to ask them to get their team to make a web video for them or a corporate video for them or something to go on broadcast television. Nobody’s going to ask them to work on a film… evAr. As long as the video is the means and not an end, it’s going to remain a high school production, and as long as that translates into hits, views and sales, these web companies are going to be happy.

The only decision here is whether to dress up like that tree and go stand in the background or only entertain video production proposals from individuals and groups with a focus on quality and an understanding of what it takes to make that happen.

~Bill Cammack

Twitter: BillCammack
Social Media Category: billcammack.com/category/social-media
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Delusions of Grandeur : Stats

This season of my video show/stream/whatever is entitled “Delusions of Grandeur”, basically because the only way I could swindle myself into doing it was to pretend that I had an audience. I already know everything I’m typing, and I’ve already seen everything that I post as a video, so the only reason to post them is for other people to see/read them, for whatever reasons they might have.

The problem with this is that since the audience isn’t real, I do whatever I feel like doing. If I feel like playing guitar, I do that. If I feel like talking to myself, I do that. If I feel like making a 15-minute documentary about Harlem, I do that.


The Harlem Renaissance 5-Mile Classic

Because of this, there are lots of different reasons that people visit my site. They visit from all over the planet, but they basically arrive through a Google search. Maybe a couple of times a day, someone’s actually looking for me (or someone named Bill Cammack), but the vast majority of the time, people are looking for ONE INSTANCE of a topic that they were thinking about at the time and decided to look up on google, like Dating women in NYC and they end up here.

I know this because web sites compile stats (statistics). People go to major lengths to compile and analyze statistics in order to determine what’s working for them, what’s not working and what they want to do next or differently, going forward. There are some major problems with “analyzing stats”, however… rather… I *should* say that if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, you’re going to have a skewed view of your readership/viewership… AND… Even if you *DO* know what you’re looking at, you’re still not receiving information which accurately depicts what’s really happening with your media.

Originally, I thought stats were the answer to DoG, because you would be sure about the size of your audience. Unfortunately, stats are merely general indications of possibilities… not even PROBABILITIES in case you decide to post something similar in the future.

Stats are like getting hit in the side of the head with a tomato.

If you’ve ever tried to hit someone walking down the street with a tomato, you know what I mean. It’s hard as hell, right? 😀 Wind conditions… Judging how far they’re going to travel in the time it takes the tomato (or egg, if it’s Halloween) to cross the street… Anyway… The point is that when you post stuff to the internet, you’re walking down the street. People are on the other side of the street, throwing tomatoes at you, except you don’t know it because they never hit you. As long as it doesn’t pass your head close enough to make that sound or smash on the gate next to you, letting you know what time it is, you’re going to keep walking down the street like nothing’s happening.

When you make a post, it’s the same way. Unless you see stats or receive feedback from people, it feels like nobody’s throwing tomatoes at you. Thus, DoG is the remedy for inertia in that you imagine a bunch of tomato-throwers. MEANWHILE, depending on how you monitor your statistics, you’re actually missing A LOT OF PEOPLE that *did* hit you.

For example, Tyme White informed me that since I had been separating sections of my entries using the “more” tag, people with feed readers were only receiving the information up to that “more”, and unless they clicked through to my site, they couldn’t read the rest of the post. I removed my “more” tags, because I’d rather have people able to read what they want however they want than have them skip the rest of the article because they didn’t feel like accessing my site… or maybe they COULDN’T access my site, because they pre-loaded their readers and don’t currently have fast internet access or any internet access at all.

Liz Burr informed me that I could use FeedBurner to catch my audience’s feed reader stats. I wasn’t interested in going that route, because I used feedburner for my video blog for well over a year, and although it’s good to see which videos of yours are going out so that you can spot trends or popular videos that you’ve done, there’s something really important that it doesn’t tell you…..

WHO! IT! IS! :/

This is why your stats are a tomato to the SIDE of your head. When you get hit with it, you STILL don’t know who threw it! 😀

When I used to monitor my iTunes feed with feedburner, if I saw that in one day, 100 of my videos were downloaded once each, I knew I had a new subscriber. I didn’t know WHO that person was, AT. ALL. Therefore, I’m content with my current stats setup as an indication of trends of random people, and I’m not interested in even MORE stats of people who read my posts although I have no clue who they are.

IME, the net is immensely asynchronous and voyeuristic. I’m ‘guilty’ of the same thing. I don’t leave comments on EVERY video I watch or blog post I read. The environment only makes DoG worse, because in one’s own mind, your audience expands and contracts depending on how you feel about what you’re doing. If you feel like nobody’s watching… They aren’t. If you feel like Everybody’s Looking At Youuuuuu….. They Are! Ultimately, there’s no reality at all. It’s just you… floating messages in bottles….

I had a couple of experiences recently that made me want to ‘talk’ about stats. The other day, I was hanging out with a friend of mine, and I went to get out my iPod Nano (which I won in the NewTeeVee Pier Screenings game show audience survey contest. Thanks, Om & crew! :D) to show her this video I had done, and before I even got it out of my pocket, she was like “oh. I saw that.”…. :/ ….. This is always a shocking experience, because I don’t actually HAVE DoG. If I did, I would have assumed that she and everyone else with a computer had watched/read my material. It’s one of the few surprising things in life… finding out that someone knows more than I thought they did. 🙂

This is where I internalized one of the useless aspects of stats… for me, at least… What good does it do me to know that three people in Australia and two in the UK watched my video if it doesn’t help me to understand that my friend I’m hanging out with right now has already watched my video? I’ve had this happen to me lots of times. Most recently, I got in a car with my cousin who had some very interesting things to say about my Fame post. This was ANOTHER shocking experience, because I wasn’t aware that she even knew that I text blogged at all. It took me a while to get up to speed on that conversation, because I totally wasn’t prepared to discuss an aspect of my existence that I didn’t know she knew about… much less that she had thought about at all OR would have had any opinions about it she felt like expressing to me. 😀

The other interesting ‘stats experience’ was reading Mike Hudack‘s post on the blip.tv blog called “On Stats”. 99% of the videos on my site are served from blip.tv, so I found the first paragraph very interesting:

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days about how video sites count viewership. This is an extremely important and constructive conversation to have. In general, blip is one of the most conservative video sites on the Web in counting viewership. We only count one view per IP address per session and we have a number of very stringent controls in place to prevent gaming viewership numbers, whether that gaming is intentional or not. We believe that it’s in our interests — and in the interests of the overall Web video industry — that we be conservative in measuring viewership. Failing to be conservative invites a backlash from advertisers, investors and content creators as they realize that they can’t trust viewership metrics offered by major Web video platforms. We don’t want to invite such a backlash. We want to be conservative from the outset.

Let’s say an IP address is the “name” of your modem that connects to the internet. If I understood the statement about the counting of blip.tv video views correctly, that means that if you watch a video of mine, then you play it again, it only counts as one view. It will also count as one view if your roommate watches it from the same internet connection. Similarly, if you tell your whole office to watch it and they’re all accessing the same router, they all count as hits from the same IP address. I’ll have to find out how long a “session” lasts, and like I said, I’m not sure I have the exact understanding of how blip handles the count. However, this makes sense, because it stops people from doing the old YouTube trick of refreshing their videos over and over and making themselves look popular & talented when they’re not.

The point for me, as a content creator, is that before I read this, I thought the count was the count. I was actually subtracting numbers of views from my videos. This video, for instance, currently has 315 views:


How NOT To Do Internet Video

Now… Besides the fact that I know more people than that saw this particular video because Kfir Pravda showed it at a conference he was speaking at in Israel, I would have assumed that maybe 200 people watched the video and the other 115 were re-runs. Of course, this doesn’t take into account situations like people downloading my videos and showing them to people on their computers or iPods, as I was attempting to do when my friend informed me she had already seen it.

You see how, again, in the realm of video, there’s the exact same “over/under” as there is in text blogging. Almost simultaneously, you feel like the numbers you’re seeing underrepresent your viewership AND overrepresent it.

Also, like I mentioned before, the numbers are useless anyway, unless you’re trying to sell a show, get sponsorship for a show or make money through revenue-sharing. Even if the stats tell me that a video of mine was watched 60 times from IP addresses in NYC, there are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THAT LIVE HEEEEEERE!!! 😀 On top of that, according to Facebook, I have 271 friends in the New York, NY area. So, if I assume (ridiculously) that only people that have heard of me before are watching my videos, and not a single “random”, I still only have about a 1 in 4 chance of guessing who those 60 are. 🙂

The obvious solution here is to fuhgeddabouddit! Forget about stats altogether. They’re making DoG worse instead of better. More confusing instead of less so. The point of DoG in the first place was to kick-start my creativity process and answer the question “Why should I do something, film it and post it… instead of just doing it and enjoying it for myself?”

The answer, strangely enough, isn’t in the stats or the crowds. It’s not even in the audience of ten.

It’s in the One….