Episode 36 | Posted on

Making the Most of Viral Success with Steve Spangler

You can’t predict when your content will go viral, but you can maximize the odds of it happening by following internet trends and engaging with your audience. Steve Spangler took my advice and started blogging back when no one realized how important it was for businesses to create quality web content, and it paid off. He’s also made himself hugely popular on YouTube with his engaging and entertaining science videos, and he has a lot of insight on how to grow your YouTube audience and what to do when you experience a sudden popularity spike. We discuss the advantages of following internet trends, going above and beyond for clients, and how to encourage engagement with your audience.

Transcript

Welcome to Marketing Speak! I’m your host, Stephen Spencer, and today I have the distinct pleasure of having on our show Steve Spangler. I’m so happy to have him on. He’s been a longtime friend and client. I started working with him in… I think it was 2001 or 20-something like that, so early days of the web, and he’s a rock star so. Not literally, but… pretty much. When you hear the stuff he’s accomplished, you’ll be suitably impressed. First of all, he’s been on The Ellen DeGeneres Show 19 times. That in itself, I mean he’s the science guy on Ellen and just the experiments he does… it’s amazing. He has two best selling books with nearly a half million copies sold-that’s impressive, too-he has a nationally syndicated TV show on Fox that’s going to be coming out soon called DIY Sci; he’s the inventor of the Diet Coke Mentos experiment that swept through YouTube some years ago and really started this whole viral sensation for him, and put him really in a whole different realm; he’s a multiple Emmy Award winner, and one of his Emmys is for a TV show he did called News for Kids; he’s a National Speaker Association Hall of Fame inductee; he has multiple popular YouTube channels that across them have over 200,000,000 views; he has over a million and a half subscribers on YouTube, and he was selected by YouTube as one of the 100 content providers that they would sponsor, and they had 100,000,000 dollars to basically give away to 100 really great content producers, to sponsor and build out new show content for YouTube, exclusive YouTube content, and so he was one of the 100 and really quite an impressive feat just to be selected and then the content he created is just, as part of that, is really awesome. So we’re going to be talking about a bunch of stuff like getting your celebrity status built out on TV, on YouTube, and through the blogosphere, creating viral content, so viral marketing, how to be remarkable online, integrating video into your marketing strategy, so we got a lot to talk about. Welcome Steve! It’s great to have you on.

Wow, if I could only be that good. I don’t even know where you read that; it’s not even true. I’m just a, I don’t know, science teacher in Colorado. Hey you’re really really nice to have me on. Listen, here’s what people need to know early on: you were so nice to take me under your wing, and within a couple years of getting to work with you and building out a website… Truly, you shouldn’t have been a part of the project that I was on. We were such a tiny little company, and you said that you would help us out, which I used to get an opportunity to speak with you, and so if people are listening, we would go to, I don’t know, ACCM, or you’d go to Shop Online or what was it called-

Shop.org.

Shop.org and ACCM and EM Retail, and I would just walk behind Stephan. And that’s why I nicknamed him Yoda: because everybody would come up and ask for pieces of advice and this wisdom that he had, so I just got to pretty much just sweep along on that little cloud that was behind him, and I’m so fortunate that we’ve learned just a fraction really of what he’s tried to teach us. But it really has done us well, so thank you, Stephan, for having me on the show.

First of all, thank you for the kind words. It’s been such a pleasure and an honor to work with you. You’re definitely the most entertaining client I’ve ever worked with, and seriously, you have such chutzpah and are just so engaging and awesome, just-

Well, as you said, now if you could just turn that into like a profit, that would be great. If we could use that to actually pay for the employees here and that find a home at stevespanglerscience.com or the speaking business, that’d be great. You know, it’s been a tremendous amount of fun, and you’ve helped us find a groove, and if at the very end of the day we fulfill our passion pieces, and we had some purpose, and if people came away going, “He wasn’t a bad guy. He did kind of help contribute to something along the way,” then I guess we’ve done what we need to do.

Well, you’ve had a huge impact globally getting kids and their parents and their teachers really excited about science and turning that into something really special. You use all sorts of different venues, marketing channels such as TV, as we described just a few minutes ago, YouTube and other social media platforms, and the blogosphere and SEO, and just it’s pretty cool to see your evolution. When we started working together in two thousand-was it 2001?

I think we found each other in 2002. I found you with a business partner, because you have a company called Netconcepts and you were performing audits-you would take a look at somebody’s website, and our website was horrible, but we didn’t know that. It was 2002, right, and it was a little ecommerce website, and who would have known how bad it really was, and so you had this service that you would perform an audit and basically give us a checklist of things that we would need to fix. I remember getting from you an email containing a 97-page audit, and it wasn’t boilerplate stuff at all. You and your team put together 97 pages of stuff that we had to do, and it was just breathtaking. When we got done reading it, you know, you just wanted to just finish the bottle of scotch and go to bed and just go, “I’m done. I cannot do this anymore,” and when we reached out to you, you said, “How big is your company?” and this is how dumb I am, when you said, “How big is your company, Steve?” and I said, “Oh, we have about 18 employees,” and there was just this long pause and you go, “No no no, how much money do you make? What is your revenue, that’s what we’re talking about, how big is your company?” so we were so green, and I remember you very graciously going, “I don’t think this is the right person. It’s not the right match. We have different clientele,” and you were so kind to personally call me back three days later, and you said, “You know what? You’re quirky enough I’m going to say yes,” and that’s exactly what we did, and you were so nice to take us on as a client, so couldn’t be more excited.

It’s been quite a ride, too. We worked together. We’re not working together currently, but over the history of Netconcepts, which I sold in 2010, we were working together from 2002 up until that point and about that, and we’ve got to do some stuff together again.

We do, but you know what I got to tell listeners? Here’s the real take. Now you’re a couple minutes now into the podcast, you’re going, “Where is this thing going?” right? And here’s what you need to know is that my wife and I did everything we could, we mortgaged the house to be able to pay for the website that Stephan and his group, Netconcepts, created for us, so not only did they take the blueprint but we asked them-They never came to us and said, “We’ll build you a website.” We pushed them and said, “Would you do this for us?” and we did everything financially we could to do, and we got it out there, and I remember making a little bit of money and thinking Okay, I can afford 5,000 dollars, maybe 10,000 dollars to go back and see if he can animate the homepage, and put flash on there, and maybe I could come in from the side and make Mentos explode all over with Diet Coke, and so I remember calling you and with your business partner pitching the idea, and “Here’s the budget that I have,” and “What could you do for that?” and I remember very distinctly you coming back and going, “I’m not doing that, so that’s… I don’t care,” and I go, “No no no, I got the money,” and you go, “I know. I’m not doing that. There’s this thing called blogging-” and…what? and I go, “What is blogging?” And this is 2003-2004, end of three or early four, and you said, “No no no, I just want you to do this. It’s not going to cost you anything; in fact, I’ll set it up for you for free on this thing called WordPress” and all this seemed like Oh my gosh, what has this guy been smoking, and you say, “I will coach you through the process, but you have to do it,” and you know what? We sat down, and my wife and I talked about it, and I thought, Well, this guy’s been so smart up to this point, let’s just follow his lead. And he wants to be the leader, so let’s follow him, and it was one of the greatest business decisions ever, because it didn’t cost me anything other than time commitment and it-what we got from it not only was this great marketing wisdom and this way and process of doing this, but we also got a great friendship out of it as well, so that started the whole blogging career, and I remember very distinctly calling you one night at like ten o’clock Denver and time and going, “Oh my gosh, the traffic on the website’s crazy, and it’s because this little website called Boing Boing-” What is it called, boingboing.net, something like that?

Yep

-had featured one of our projects, had asked about Insta-Snow, which is a product that we created. It’s a powder that turns into snow when you add water, and the traffic to our site just crippled it, and our numbers shot up, and Stephan is on the phone with me in the middle of the night going, “That’s the power of blogging,” and who would have known?

Well, I knew.

I know, you did and thank God I followed. So I guess that’s the thing here is when you ask for advice from somebody and you don’t follow it… maybe you shouldn’t ask for the advice if you’re not looking for advice that truly might change the way you think, make you uncomfortable, make you step out of that comfort zone. And there was just this sense you had hit so many home runs that I knew stepping up to the plate the likelihood of you hitting another home run was huge, and while this was totally counter intuitive and the dumbest thing I’d ever thought of-that I think you could ever do-we followed, and it was really a very smart wise business decision.

The thing here is when you ask for advice from somebody and you don’t follow it… maybe you shouldn’t ask for the advice if you’re not looking for advice that truly might change the way you think, make you uncomfortable, make you step out of that comfort zone.

The trick that listeners need to get is that you guys have an opportunity to go after some sort of amazing thing, right, but you don’t know what that is yet. So at the time, 2003–2004, blogs were not a big strategy for online retail, and so I’m here presenting this idea that seemed kind of ridiculous at the time, like nowadays you might hear an equivalent of, “Well we as a retailer need to have a significant presence on Snapchat,” and people are saying, “Are you crazy? That’s for ‘beep’ heads! I’m not going to say the word, but what’s the point of that?” So you have to get outside your little box that you’re in and think, “Well this is only what we do because this is what we’ve always done.” You need to be future-focused, and actually, I took the StrengthsFinder test, StrengthsFinder 2.0-great personality assessment, it’s like 15 bucks so definitely take it-and my number one strength is futuristic, so I see what’s heading-maybe we can cover a bit of that in this episode-what’s next, what do we need to prepare for, what do we need to start jumping into, because everybody else is focused on the stuff that’s been working, but we need the stuff that’s going to be hot in two, three, four years’ time so that we’re set up for success. So let’s dig in first of all into YouTube. It’s the number two search engine by search query volume-more than Yahoo, more than Bing-and most folks aren’t even tracking their rankings in that search engine, YouTube. They don’t even know how, because the rankings trackers that you normally would sign up with just don’t do it. They track Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and so what is the secret to your success for dominating on YouTube? And I know that you got lucky a little bit with being one of the 100 companies that was chosen by YouTube and-

That was down the road though, that really was down the rode, and I think what we got lucky is to have this little feeling in your gut to go, I think I should try this. I had been working-so, background: teacher, science teacher, taught elementary school, while I was teaching elementary… I don’t know if you know this, but teachers make so much money that we go get another job sometimes, and so the other job I got was doing my little monkey show, doing my science show, science assemblies and library programs and whatever, and a producer from NBC television who was working on a project for educational and informational programming that’s required by the FCC happened to see me at one of these shows and said, “I’d like to talk to you,” so I came in, and that’s when I started with these, at this NBC syndicated show called News for Kid. Back in the ‘90s, we had no internet, so here we were faxing experiments to viewers who wanted to engage, and we can talk a little bit about engagement later on as well, but that was true engagement. You had to fax us something and we had to turn around and fax you something, and so the transaction actually took place to define the engagement. So here I am doing these kinds of things. I had dropped a-long before Mentos and Diet Coke, it was Lifesavers. It was wintergreen Lifesavers, and to nerd out for two seconds, the reason wintergreen Lifesavers, dropping them into soda produces such great volume of carbon dioxide being released is because there’s little pits on the outside. Little imperfections on the outside of the wintergreen lifesavers. It’s a nice leadership metaphor as well, because it’s those imperfections that attract the carbon dioxide in the soda and they sit, and they’re placed in the very bottom of the bottle, so when you drop them in, they’re heavy, they sink to the bottom, all those bubbles get released, and you get this giant geyser. Well, the people at Lifesavers changed the size of a wintergreen Lifesaver! Believe it or not, you stopped buying them in those roles and you bought them in the green pouch, and I never even thought about it until I was in front of a group of 500 science teachers in Ohio and it didn’t, I couldn’t get the dumb wintergreen Lifesavers into the bottle! So what was floating around in some of the teacher groups was, “You know, try this other candy called Mentos.” It was this European candy, and I thought Eh, okay, trying Mentos. Well, lo and behold, it worked, and it worked extremely well. And so I had done it on television, in fact national television, twice leading up to the one that really took off for us, and nobody really cared. I mean, it was clever, but nobody cared, and this is just being in the right place at the right time and harvesting the content the correct way. Because I worked for the local because affiliate here in Denver, KUSA TV, and had worked with this lady many many many times, and I said to Kim-we were in the backyard-”We’re going to do the Mentos and the soda again, and just make sure you stand back, remember that, you got to stand back,” and my producer is the one who said, “You know what, if you’re going to use a Coke product, you should probably use a Pepsi product as well since we have both sponsors,” and I’m the one that chose the diet, and the reason that I chose the diet is because diet’s not sticky. There’s no sugar in diet. And they both worked equally as well. That’s the other myth that’s out there. So we did Diet Coke first and then Diet Pepsi. If you take a look at the original video, you’ll see if-well, she didn’t stand back fast enough. She was wearing this beautiful St. Johns outfit, and she got drenched, and it happened three more times on live TV during the three-and-a-half minute segment, and my good friend Stephan Spencer-don’t know if you’ve heard of him or not, but he taught me how to blog and he taught me how to write a title that’s enticing, and so I immediately took some, we had some pictures, but I took that content. Well we’d uploaded the content to 9news.com, and unfortunately I got called in the next day and was chastised because we had shut down the server, and he says, “You shut down the server,” and “How did you do that?” and he says, “We’ve noticed that people outside of Colorado actually are watching this video,” and this is just how foreign the internet and that whole idea was to some people. And so I just simply took the little three-and-a-half minute clip and uploaded it to this little site that nobody knew about called YouTube-because YouTube was only three months old-and that silly video took off. And it took off because, I think there’s two reasons. One of them is that for 20 years we had been looking into kids’ eyes in science education saying, “Don’t try this at home, don’t try this at home. Here are all these things you can’t try at home,” and finally kids are going, “Not only am I going to try that at home, but I’m going to upload it to this site called YouTube, and that’s where I get this psychic income.” Not physical income, not financial but psychic, like “How many views did I get?” and so I think that’s one part of it, but you taught me to have a blog, and so the blog post that I put out that we still have on the site today is “News Anchor gets Soaked Science Experiment Goes Awry,” and it didn’t really go awry, but she did kind of not step out of the way at the time, and that’s what was picked up by all these brand new bloggers and, lo and behold, that silly little video took off.

Yeah, that’s awesome, and yet somebody came in, swooped in, and almost took your lunch. This viral video team named Eepybird.

Oh, they’re fine.

Yeah, well I mean they’re, they’re doing some cool stuff, but at the time they kind of outshone you with an amazing video, like Bellagio fountain style video, with I think 200 bottles of the Diet Coke, and all very well synchronized, and it was, you know, went crazy viral, huge success, and then they started getting a lot of the credit for the Diet Coke/Mentos experiment instead of you, so we had to kind of chase the train. And we managed to catch up to it, thankfully, and make sure that you were the one getting the credit, in part by using Wikipedia, because there was a Wikipedia article about the Diet Coke/Mentos experiment. We needed to make sure that you were credited as the originator of that experiment in the Wikipedia article, you needed a Wikipedia article for yourself… I mean, you’re certainly notable within the notability guide, the notability criteria required by WordPress, so you’re definitely encyclopedia-worthy, and so you got into Wikipedia, with our guidance, and yeah, just basically chasing the train and we caught up.

Well, let’s go back and talk about that for a second, because I think it’s a pretty good business message and part of the things that you fail to realize at the time as a good thing. There were, the Eepybird people are great people. They’re nice. They had actually seen one of their friends, a guy by the name of Leland Falkland or something like that, had seen the original video, took the idea to them, and they went, “Wow, how can we blow it up and make it bigger?” And that’s great. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. They clearly were not the originator. If I go back, I’m clearly not the originator. I’m not the first person to do it. I don’t know who the first person is. I learned it-the guy who shared the Mentos piece with me is a guy by the name of Lee Marek who’s a chemistry teacher who’s now retired, so I guess the kicker here is we live in a day and age where you can sit there and spin your wheels and take all your time trying to go, “This is mine and I’m going to protect it…” I’m just the guy who popularized it. Nobody cared about it up until that video, and so for some reason we were at the right place at the right time, that video hit, but them just, like, planting a seed… With your guidance, we were able to water it, and it didn’t matter that the Eepybird people or whoever else was out there doing the setup, it didn’t really matter. What I really wanted was to take the toy that I had invented as a result of that. I had invented this toy that hold the Mentos over the Diet Coke. When you pull the pin, it drops them in, and you get the best geyser you could ever imagine. I invented that toy and patented, started the patent process for that toy, and ultimately we now have three patents that are variations on that toy. I wanted that, and that meant that, if I was going to sell that in Wal-Mart or in Target or Toys R Us, I needed a license agreement with the people who make Mentos. And I had contacted them since 2001 and nothing ever came about. When that video went viral in September of 2005-and by viral, that was the standards with YouTube, like ten thousand views in a day or something was considered viral at the time-when that video took off, we got a call from the people at Perfetti Van Melle who own Mentos, that brand, and they said I think you should probably come down and talk to us, so the business lesson there is we thought we were going to get sued, so I thought, Oh my gosh, this is… Here we go, we’re going to get sued, and I went down there by myself, no attorney, no business partner, nothing like that ,and I just thought I’d go, “I’m sorry for doing this without asking you!” I sat in a room with about five people. They looked at me and said, “All right, you got our attention. What do you want?” And there’s silence, and I guess that’s that point where if you don’t know what you’re wanting when you’re doing the social media, then why’re you doing it in the first place? And the opportunity was presented to me, and thank goodness I had thought about this enough but never put in that term to go, “Here’s what I want,” and I said, “I’d like to have exclusive North American distribution rights on all Mentos used for educational and science purposes for a period of three to five years for a license agreement because of this toy that I invented,” and they looked at each other and said, “That’s probably doable. What else do you want?” I said, “I’d like to have 100,000 rolls of Mentos to give away to teachers this year at the conferences that I’m speaking at because I think that there’s a lot of science under the fizz,” and they looked at each other and said, “I think that’s probably doable. Is there anything else you need?” And I said, “Could I be your ambassador? I want to be the guy that helps you take this and keep this going,” and they laughed at each other and just said, “Look, kid, this is a quick little flash in the pan idea. Might as well capitalize on it while you can and go from there,” and we have now gone through the third round of signing license agreements with them, so that’s how long. We just celebrated ten years of the original Geyser Tube that was debuted at Toy Fair in 2006, so…

Boom!

Yeah, pretty cool.

And you’re not just an inventor of the Geyser Tube, you are a serial inventor of all sorts of toys; you founded or co-founded “Be Amazing!”

We founded it and then sold the company.

Yep, and so you were chief toy inventor whatever your title was there. You have… how many toys have you invented?

About three hundred products, and so currently there’s, well, they’re not all available anymore. It’s whatever’s hot for 18 months and then it’s off, but in total about 300 separate products we’ve put out over the years. Some of them are mass market. Stevespanglerscience.com that again you kind of helped us with really is a research and development platform because that has an engaged group of probably 200,000, maybe 250,000 people who on a weekly basis will engage with us, with our experiment of the week or that kind of thing, but the profile of the person that’s there is a really get engaged parent, nowadays a STEM enthusiast or better yet a STEAM enthusiast, right? Educators. But you’re the one that taught me that there’s kind of a glass ceiling with educators, that you can only do so much with those limited budgets, and so, for the first time ever, we were really able to break out of that “Steve’s a supplier of material to educators” to “Steve’s a supplier of materials for anybody who’s trying to make science exciting and more meaningful for their children.”

There’s kind of a glass ceiling with educators, that you can only do so much with those limited budgets. Click To Tweet

Great. So parents around the world. Love it. You were trained as a magician as well, right? So, we didn’t mention that yet.

You’ve done your research! That’s the thing, Stephan, is you do not forget stuff along the way. Remember when we were together and I was lighting that wallet on fire and we were doing card tricks for the waitress-

Yeah, that was fun!

Oh, those days. I was trained as a magician. My mom and dad were magicians. My dad was in fact a wonderful chemical engineer and electrical engineer, very very smart, very early internet creator. He worked for, had worked in advanced technologies for a company called Information Handling Services and then over with a company called Quest, or US Quest at the time, so when I was nine years old, I was programming a searchable database for him as a project, as kind of an intern project for the general services department, and the whole idea was you could type in a search term like “hammer comma clock comma ten pound,” you know, whatever it was, and it would somehow bring up this data in the database. And I was programing it in Basic at the time because that’s all I knew, and it’s kind of funny how that whole thing kind of evolved from there. But Dad was, you had asked about the magician, Dad was that kind of person for the day time. I didn’t really realize that until I got older because how I knew my dad was he was a great magician, and so my first recollection of my dad was sawing my mom into three pieces-it’s an illusion called the zig-zag illusion-and then closing the show by doing fire eating, which is kind of a cool thing. So when you’re five years old and you go to show and tell and you talk about your dad cutting your mom into three pieces and then he eats fire, the social worker also contacts your parents at the same time, but that’s fine, you know. My dad actually-

Yeah, you’re fine after, uh, years of therapy, right?

There, you’re a biochemist so you get this, my dad invented fake blood, so all the blood that the KISS rock group used in the 1970s came out of 3M, and my dad helped come up with that micro-encapsulated formula for that blood. That was his kind of claim to fame, so as a kid, we had these great phone calls from people like KISS and Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures, the movie Jaws featured our blood, and my mom made that blood in our basement, so she had blenders that she would blend this blood to get it into solution, and then they would sell that blood in these half-gallon and one gallon jugs, and every day, they would take a whole carload of blood to the post office. So my dad made blood, or my mom made blood, my dad ate fire, whatever it is. I kind of learned showmanship and the power of presentation from those great people.

Amazing, and of course now you are in the Speakers Association Hall of Fame, you certainly took it to the extreme.

They’ll let anybody in, right? They’re let anybody in.

I don’t think so. I mean, I just saw Sally Hogshead, who is also an inductee, last week at an event, and she such an incredible speaker-like you. They’re very selective, NSA. National Speakers’ Association, not the other NSA, very selective about who they let in. I think there are only 180 in total?

Now we have, there’s up to five a year so I think we’re in… This year, I’m going to MC the event in Arizona, and I think we’re on 223, I think there’s 223, but by attrition and it’s been around for a while so unfortunately we lose some members. They’ve passed away and so at any given time there’s probably a hundred and some that are active in the world of thinking.

Very cool. Let’s circle back to blogging and ways to leverage blogs, because some people think blogging is dead or is just not, it doesn’t have the cache anymore, but it’s still a really valuable way to build rapport and add value in people’s lives, so what are some of the approaches that you found most valuable in blogging? You still are blogging, right?

Yep, I’m still blogging. Not as active as I was before. There were other things that kind of popped in, and one of the things that I learned from you early on is how important it is to develop relationships with your blogging ,so it’s not only pushing content but actually pulling content as well, and reading other blogs, and commenting, and so that’s one of the strategies that we kind of put in place. And while our blog is not anything to write home about, it truly started us into how to provide content on a regular basis in other area of social media as well. Everything from Facebook and Pinterest, which believe it or not, for our science business, number one and number two come in through Facebook and Pinterest. From the speaking side of the business, Twitter, because it’s a completely different voice. Instagram is a pretty big deal now, and we’re just kind of learning the ways there, and then we’ll find a reason for additional content, so being able to use that other area of social media to draw them to somebody who wants to engage on a higher level, so then they go to the blog post and take a look at it there, but, anymore, what Facebook… these are these little micro blogs that are out there. The same techniques hold true; it’s just a shorter period of time. And I make the analogy that it’s almost like a TED talk. TED Talk has changed and revolutionized the world of speaking, because those of us that had an hour’s worth of solid content now need to come up with 18 minutes of solid content, and I think our audiences are wanting that. Whether they’re online or in person, it’s, “Get to the point, tell me what you need to tell me, and then kind of move on.”

When we started working with you on blogging, there were some techniques that we tried to leverage your time, because you’re a very busy guy, and one of those was for you to dictate the blog post and then create a draft from that. That was something that I had been doing myself and was very successful with. According to Robert Allen-I learned this from him, that-you’re either a writer who speaks or a speaker who writes, and I’m definitely a speaker who writes. I think you’re the same, right?

Yeah.

So it’s just a lot easier to speak out something, especially if I’m talking to somebody. If I’m just talking to a tape recorder, so to speak, a digital recorder, nobody’s on the other end, it’s really hard for me to get the words out. But if I’m in conversation with somebody, even if it’s simply my assistant, I can just flow. I found that the way, that was kind of my secret to getting great blog content out there was to just simply dictate but not in the traditional form. I actually have to be in conversation with somebody, and they would kind of pull it out of me, and then we’d record it, and then I realized I could turn the original source material into podcasts as well. And we experimented with podcasting years ago, I mean you were podcasting in 2006 or something like that, right?

Yeah, well we were using that instant audio generator or whatever it was at the time where you could-it was revolutionary: you could click a button and actually hear the person on your website and actually listen to it, you know, on the blog, and so yeah, it’s, you’re very early on. Whatever you’re looking at, it hasn’t become a trend yet, right? You seem to get into these things when you start to see a pattern develop, and by the time it hits a trend and everybody’s already doing it, so that’s what’s so great about following the things that you’re doing is you’re able to see those patterns start to evolve.

Yeah, that’s a definite skill that you want to develop is pattern recognition and then applying what you see and the opportunity that presents from that pattern that you’ve recognized that nobody else has, so pattern application. Do you use that approach still of dictating blog posts, or do you sit down and just bang it out on your keyboard? How do you blog these days?

If I’m going to take the time to do it, I’ll sit down and bang it out. And it’s not as easy as it was before, because the website’s got to look a little bit better, and it’s more rich with photos, and there’s just other elements that are there, so if I try to keep these under 300 words, it’s really really hard to do for me anyway, trying to keep them so that people can consume them really really quickly. I think we saw in looking at our analytics, we saw traffic to the blog still pretty good, but we saw the time on site was less because people are skimming it-looking at the stuff, clicking to another link and then jumping on. And I think it’s just, we’re learning how to consume content differently, and so one of the struggles that I continue to work on is being able to produce stuff that is short, concise to the point and then move on to the next thing. You want to put down as much content in the world as possible, and even with something like an Instagram, you just go, “Hey, it’s a picture a day, that’s it.” Maybe two if you’re doing something really cool, but quality vs. quantity I think you taught me a long time ago is really important. We consider, back at the time when we were doing more of the blogging, YouTube was in its infancy, so here we’re producing content for YouTube… You’d asked about some of the things that we learned with YouTube. Now almost 1,300 videos that are there in three separate channels, the most noteworthy channels, the three separate channels that are there, and it’s almost like our video blog, and so that really has kind of taken over the written piece of it, but I’m still trying to stay connected as much as I can. And we have a new product out called Spangler Science Club, which is a kit of the month club, and it took me 25 years to figure out that, if you put stuff that’s worthwhile in a box and just simply say, “Hey, we’ll deliver it to your door every month and it’s 25 bucks or whatever it is,” that there’s some value in that, and so Spangler Science Club, that’s yet another one of those pieces that we’ve learned, to go find bloggers that are really focused and it’s their area of content to find these enrichment activities for their kids, so instead of us trying to put out content all the time about that, being able to partner with them and say, “Hey, listen, can we get you these so you can review it? Could you help us make these better?” and so you help other people be successful with their blog and in turn your content is being offered up to people at the same time, and it really is valuable.

Yeah, so a couple things I really like about this Spangler Science Club: One is you’ve nailed the recurring billing thing, which is a huge cash cow, right? Instead of just waiting for the next order to come in, you proactively are billing them every month, so that’s great. Also you have this kind a mystery component to your products in that they don’t know exactly what they’re going to get that month, so I like that and it’s all in a box. There’s this thing on YouTube that’s a thing, it’s unboxing.

Yeah, oh isn’t that true! And that lady who unboxes stuff from Disney, she was one of the top money earners from Google because of the vast number of clicks, and her CPM is just crazy, and she unboxes stuff from Disney! How crazy is that?

Yeah, but that ties into people’s dopamine hits that they get from unboxing the thing that they went and had a little shopping spree or whatever. It’s not even your thing; you’re just watching somebody else open their thing, and you still get the dopamine hit. So taking that video of unboxing and mixing that with your Spangler Science Club, have you thought about doing that? Like going after unboxing folks?

No, and it’s a great idea! No. No, and anecdotally we’ve kind of discovered something that is again another struggle. You hear people on podcasts, they tell you how successful they are. I could tell you for hours about how unsuccessful I am and things that don’t work for me, but somebody who’s very very wise, a good friend of mine, Dr. Neil Cobain from High Point University, says the most interesting conversation is to have lunch with somebody who can tell you, “Here’s the problem that I had, here was a really bad situation that I was in, and here’s what I learned and how I’m trying to dig myself out of it.” He says that’s an interesting conversation, and one of the things that we have learned and may be interesting and may not be interesting but for Spangler Science Club, we found that people to some extent were not renewing past a three month period of time, and the reason why, during the exit interview with our customer service team, was they said, “There’s too much stuff in the box! Oh my gosh, I can’t get through all the stuff with my kids!” and the question was, “Well, do you like the stuff in the box?” “Oh, my kids love it, but it’s piling up in the corner over there, so we’re going to suspend the subscription, catch up a little bit, and then we’ll come back to it again.” Well, that’s a nightmare for a marketing, you know, and so when we asked them, “Would you want less stuff in the box?” and the answer was, “Oh yeah.” “But would you still, is the same price okay?” “Absolutely. We like the experience and it’s not overpriced. We just need you to make it so that we can consume it more easily.” In a time of content marketing, isn’t that true? Sometimes we try to flood people with so much content and so much information and they would like it a lot more if we didn’t, if we had three good things and then let us move on to the next thing. And part of that unboxing process and the dopamine that you’re talking about I think is their money is well spent when they see their kids running to the door after the FedEx truck has dropped off the box. The box comes, they open it up, and they can hardly wait to make sure that it happened.

What a great distinction, that if you overwhelm your recipient, your target person, with too much content, too much product, to much whatever, they’re just going to either unsubscribe or they’re not going to consume that content, or the product, and you’re just going to lose them. What a great lesson for folks: instead of giving away a 150 page eBook on your site as a lead magnet, give away a 29 item checklist that’s two pages long and can be consumed in five minutes.

But I get one idea, it’s great. I mean I just made an investment of time looking at 29 things; if one of those I could actually put into play, and it made me better, you, the engagement was so high that you can’t help but come back and go I need more of that but I’m buried in your 150 pages and I get nothing out of that. It’s kind of like, “Ugh quantity vs. quality,” and you’re absolutely right, but it’s totally counter-intuitive, isn’t it?

Yeah. Because an eBook that’s 100 and some pages long, where does that sit? In the downloads folder, right?

That’s exactly right.

You’ll never crack that open.

Nope.

Like, “Oh, I’ve got a spare hour and a half; I wonder what’s in my downloads folder that I haven’t read yet?” Not going to happen. So let’s circle back to the unboxing and just the experience of opening a box. And one more concept I want to share in that regard is shock and awe box. Have you heard of this concept?

No.

Okay, so I learned this from Dan Kennedy. It is so cool. So instead of just sending a-let’s say that you wrote a book, like I did. I wrote three. And you send that in the mail to somebody, not a digital delivery, but actually you send a physical-like in the case of Art of SEO-thousand page book that I coauthored, send that in the mail, that’s pretty impressive, right?

Yes!

I don’t know if that’s shock and awe yet, but imagine if you sent something in a big FedEx box. and the book was part of it, but you also sent a bunch of other things… So one example of a shock and awe box that is pretty darn cool is this guy who helps companies break into Mexico…in terms of the, not break the border you know, the Trump’s famous wall that’s going to be built, right? No, it’s break into that market from the US, and he’s a specialist in that. He sends a shock and awe box that costs about 60 bucks for them to create, it’s really nicely packaged, it includes not just a copy of his book on how to break into the market over there but also chips and salsa and a bunch of other stuff.

So smart!

It is genius, and you just don’t forget that. I remember back in Netconcepts days, when I was running that agency, we would send out-one of our clients was Cabelas, and we would send out hunting socks to our prospects, and we would encourage them to Google “hunting socks” and see that Cabelas is number one, thanks to us, so there was a connection there, it made sense, it definitely was shock and awe. Because they’d get this tube, a FedEx tube in the mail, and they’re like, “What the heck am I signing for” and they’d open it up and there’s some socks in there, like these really furry thick socks, and that was definitely memorable, so shock and awe box, I’m a big proponent of that. I love it.

It’s a great idea. Great idea.

Yep. Okay, so let’s move on to, we talked a bit about YouTube, but we didn’t really go into strategies for our listeners to use in terms of getting more visibility on YouTube. What would you recommend as far as strategies and tactics that will really blow up their presence on YouTube?

The experience that I have-really the only experience I have-is helping other speakers who want to be on YouTube. They take a look at the catalogue of videos that we have, and they go, “Oh, I want that! If I could have those views… You know when you put out a video there’s 20-, 30-, 50-, 100,000 views on it? I want that instead of the 10, 15 views,” and one of the things that I often just say to emerging speakers is, “How much content do you have that we don’t know about from your presentation on stage? Because they just saw you on stage, and now, if you want me to go and watch you on YouTube, what kind of content do you have that you don’t have on stage?” Because I heard somebody doing a workshop one time going, “Well, just take the content that you have on stage and then just kind of elaborate on it, and that’s how you create your library of YouTube videos, and you can make four or five YouTube videos. That’s great for people to watch,” and I always say, “No, I don’t think that’s probably the best strategy in the world.” I want people to find out that I’m on YouTube and then go, “You know what, Margaret, I think I’m going to sit down and type in ‘Steve Spangler’ and see what I can find.” When they do that, they find so much content that they can’t consume it in one sitting. That took us a long time and just dedication to try to get to that point, and it didn’t happen in the first four or five months, but it was just like the blogging strategy that you taught me: this is a regular thing that we deal with, so every week, we were pumping out one or two videos and trying to actually produce these videos. So I like the idea that, if you have more to say than what we can hear from you on stage, or, from a business owner, if there’s more you have to share that’s outside of what I can just find on your website or as part of the engagement with you one on one, then I think it’s probably time to start up that YouTube channel, because that’s a great place for content. You now become known as a content expert if there’s enough there. If you’re a business leadership speaker for example, and I go and you only have five videos on business leadership but you’re the, according to your bio, “America’s foremost authority on business leadership and strategy development” or whatever it might be, you sit there and go, “Hmm, but they’ve only got four videos or three videos,” so I think that there’s a sense of quantity that you’ve got to put out there, and it’s got to be quality as well, and I think if you’re going to have momentum on YouTube. I’m going to really nerd out on you, but we’ll play a little physics game: so, here’s the formula for momentum, because a lot of people talk about, well I have momentum, and I think you have momentum, but you just gotta follow the actual formula, and the formula for momentum is mass times velocity. And if I break it down, velocity is really speed, and so a lot of us are really excited. We go to a conference, and we get an idea, and we go we got to start a YouTube channel, and we start putting videos out there that are all over the place; there’s actually no rhyme or reason for those videos. Velocity from a physics standpoint is speed with direction, right; it has a vector on it, so that’s velocity: wow, if I know that I’m going to go after this particular market area, and I’m the business leadership expert, then I’m going to start putting some videos out that have to do only with business leadership, business leadership. I’m not going to steer off into another area, and now the second part of that equation is mass. So I’ve got to now start to build up a library, and so five videos becomes ten, becomes 20, becomes 50, becomes about 100, oh my gosh, now all of a sudden because of that mass, I’ve got momentum. When somebody goes to take a look at us online and see what our authority is on YouTube, they think, I can’t consume that guy’s content; there’s so much stuff there that I’m going to have to come back to learn more and come back to learn more. I guess this person really is one of the authorities in this particular area or a thought leader in this particular area. It’s not because I deem myself a thought leader; it’s because other people have said, “This person is a thought leader, there’s so much content that’s out there.” So, it’s a long answer to your question but I think it has to do with dedication to developing content.

Yeah, and I believe in business karma, that the more you give, the more you get in return from the universe, so if you are concerned about all this content that you’re creating and offering for free, and will they even hire you to work with you, realize that people are going to get overwhelmed by all that content, they’re going to feel like you are the thought leader the authority, and then they’re going to want that done-for-you solution. So they’re going to want to come to you for consulting, for your service, so that they just don’t have to learn all that themselves, because it’s overwhelming.

Absolutely. So, I think that that’s a big part of it. The other part of it, too, that we learned was that sense of engagement. One of the things that caught the attention of YouTube, we have, if you’d like to take a look at it you’re more than welcome to. If you go to youtube.com/sickscience, SICK Science came about because it was a name that caught my attention. I was working with a group of kids, and we were doing some chemical reaction I don’t know what it was, and the foam erupts, and some kid yells out, “That’s sick!” and I thought, What does that mean ? And when I said, “What did you say?” and he goes, “That’s sick, man,” and I said, “What does that mean?” and he goes, “Sick means like-oh yeah, you’re old. Uh, cool, it means really cool,” and I go, “Does it mean like ‘phat’?” and he goes, “No, different meaning.” You know, so here I am trying to be all hip, but I said, “Oh, so this is sick science?” He goes “Oh, yeah, that’s sick science,” and so it was just a name that sat in the back of my mind. Second piece of it was, again going back to this regular blogging kind of thing, I had challenged our video team here at Steve Spangler Science to produce weekly content, and Bradley Mayhew, who’s our video director, came to me and said, “You’re not around enough to create video content,” and he said, “so I can’t do it,” so he said, “I did come up with an idea, and I want you to take a look at it,” and so, if you go and watch one of the SICK Science videos, all you have to do is watch one and you’ll see the format. Because I sat down and watched, and here is this video that comes up, of-it’s focused on materials sitting on the table, so you know dish soap and milk and food coloring and a plate and cotton swabs and whatever else. When the person came into frame, you could only see their torso, you know, their hands. You couldn’t see their head, and you saw the rest of them was covered by the table, and I thought, Oh, that’s clever: that’s how they’re going to make it seem like it’s me or whatever, and then you heard this music come on, so there’s no voice, and there’s these words that come up and says try this try this try this, and so I watched this video of this candle being covered by a glass, and the water… and the candle goes out, and the water rises, and at the very end, it goes, “So why do you think the water rises?” and then the video’s over and it comes up with our logo. And Bradley flips on the light and I go, “I hate that, that’s horrible. Number one, it doesn’t feature me-” Oh man, talk about narcissism. “Number two, it doesn’t have my words of wisdom that I need to impart on the world.” Ugh, gosh, and so I went through all these things, and he said, “Well, we produced five of them, and we’ve already uploaded them to YouTube. I looked at him like, Why did you do that? and he goes, “But look what we just discovered. The secret was this: at the end of the video, it says, “Share your comments below on how you think the science experiment works.” That’s it. Because he said that and because he invited the audience to engage by sharing their knowledge, and that’s the thing that they want to share the most, right, I want to tell you about me, we had 850 quality comments in first two hours. So, all of the sudden, here is this way to be able to crowd source this amazing content with these videos by simply asking them, “How do you think it worked?” Now, if you would have looked at the show notes, you know, the show notes, show info on YouTube, there was a link right there to our website, because that was the strategy is drive them back to the website so they’d see how the experiment works, but they didn’t want to do. That they wanted to share their thought on how it works. So SICK Science took off, and that really was the first time we’d ever had a viral video. And there’s 250 videos in that collection. They’re not more than a minute and a half apiece, there’s no words that are with them at all, and collectively those videos have about 150,000,000 views. So that was a secret that we learned with engagement was to ask the audience to engage and then allow them to engage. We had a full time person that did nothing but monitor those comments. We were getting so many comments that, every once in awhile, you get the inappropriate ones that you got to weed out. For the most part, it’s the reason why educators across the country started asking for SICK Science as a curriculum to be used in the classroom, because it was a wonderful engagement tool to get kids thinking about science.

Yeah, and so it’s not just asking for the engagement. You have to be really clever in the way that you get the engagement. It’s almost like they’re scratching their own itch by posting in the comments, right, so just simply saying subscribe and comment below-

No!

That sucks. So you got to create something that, it sets the stage for them wanting to engage, like for example it’s a murder mystery and you want them to weigh in with their guess on who did it, or it’s like a choose your own adventure-remember reading those books when you were little? Like, what would you have done? Choose your own adventure, which path would you take, or a scavenger hunt and you have to collaborate with other people online to try and aggregate the clues and figure out where the prize is hidden, you know, something where they feel like they have to scratch their own itch by posting in the comments.

Absolutely. You know, and it happens, let’s take… People are listening, going, “Yeah, but I don’t have a science company. I don’t have that.” We actually partnered with a company, a company came to us that produces the material that you can put on a surface to make water fall right off, that’s a hydrophobic material, and they have this ultra hydrophobic material so you can cover your clothes in this stuff and just squirt ketchup and just anything you want to on, and it just rolls off. So part of the videos we helped create with them were a line of videos that we asked viewers, “So what do you want us to cover and what do you want us to dip it in and we’ll do it,” because this stuff was fairly expensive. Oh my gosh, the engagement was crazy, because people were like, “I want you to cover an iPhone, and I want you to drop it in a fish tank, and I want you to see if it still works,” or any of the things that went with that. That level of engagement was huge, because the company was smart enough to say, “I’m going to ask, we’re going to listen, and then we’re going to do,” and once viewers see that they’re actually responding and doing it, man, the level of engagement goes up even more.

Yeah. So, as far as YouTube strategies and tactics, I mean we could go for another hour at least on different ways to increase your, the metrics that matter to YouTube, like one of the key ones is watch time, and you’ve got watch time in spades, right? You used to get watch time of, we were talking about this before we started recording, you got up to 20-some minutes, but can you quickly recap what that was?

Yeah, so were producing content for the original content series for YouTube, and this is where they had commissioned this and they wanted us, their goal was, the average person in the world watched YouTube about two minutes and 20 seconds a day, and they wanted over 20 minutes, so they didn’t want cat videos, they wanted some engaging content. and they wanted to see whether or not people would stay engaged that long. So we produced right out of the chutes-if you go to youtube.com/thespanglereffect was the name of the show. First couple episodes, we lost 40% of our audience, which was the magic number. Once you lose 40% of your audience, they consider your audience disengaged, and we were losing 40% of the audience in the first 23 seconds. First 23 seconds. And we though, “This is a great episode! This is when we got our Guinness World Record of…this is a big event that we did,” and what we found out was that people were clicking off because we were following the same kind of show formula that you’d see on TV: “Hey everybody, this week on Spangler Effect, you’ll see this, and you’ll see this, and you’ll see this,” and it was like this professionally produced open, and then there was a quick little “Hey, be sure not to try this at home, but you can do these things at home,” and the safety talk and whatever else, and we found out that, when they got through all that stuff, they went, “I don’t want to be a part of this at all,” so YouTube made it available so that you could click through an introduction and if you have a standard open that you do, there was a little button that we could add that says Skip Intro, I’ve already seen it one time and I don’t want to ever see your intro again. A brand new person needs to see the intro. So that helped a little bit, but what we learned was how to engage the audience in the first 20 seconds, so it would open and you would see me say, “I’m going to stick my hand in this liquid nitrogen. I don’t know why I’m going to do it, but it’s 320 degrees below zero and you need to learn something about the properties of solids, liquids, gasses, and I’ll do it right after this,” and then all of a sudden the intro would play and people would stick around. And then we found out that you had to do something right away early on that would grab their attention, and because the format of the show was kind of a do it yourself thing, we found that any time we were doing something that they couldn’t do at home, like that whole idea of liquid nitrogen-nobody has liquid nitrogen in their house, but they all have some milk and food coloring and soap and whatever else-as soon as we did something that you could do at home, the engagement went up or at least stayed the same. As soon as we made the experiment so big that they couldn’t do it at home, we found it fall off, it would fall off. So a great example was we were teaching people how to crush a can at home, a soda can, by putting a little water in the bottom, heating it up on the stove, and then you use tongs to turn it upside down and invert it in a little bowl of water, and it’ll crush. It’s the craziest thing; air pressure crushes the can. Well you know where I’m going to go with this, because you got to crush a soda can, then you got to crush a solvent can, and then you got to crush a five gallon can, and then you got to go outside and crush a 55 gallon drum. Well we found that people disengaged once we introduced the 55 gallon drum. And we’re thinking, that’s the big finale, why would you disengage? You know why? Because I can’t do it at home.

Well I can; I’ve got one right over here.

Yeah of course you can, but see that’s where I started to find engagement. I think engagement is transactional; you give me something, I’ll give you something. I’ll teach you how to be a hero at home, if you’ll watch the show. And so here is this transactional piece whether on stage or in life or in person whatever it might be. If I give you something, you give me something, in that transaction I think is a great way for us, anyway in our world, to define engagement and the level of engagement. And as long as we were showing people how to do things that they could do at home, they stayed engaged. It was a very interesting way, so we changed the show format and we found that, within two minutes, we could keep people up to about 18 and a half minutes. That seemed to be our magic time, so that meant that anything that we want people to know, make sure you put it in the first five, ten minutes, and if I’m doing a small video now, a YouTube video now, I got to make sure that I’ve got valuable content at the very beginning and the call to action close to the top, vs. waiting to the end of the video when they have for the most part disengaged for the big call to action. It’s just, you know, marketing 101, but it’s funny how we have to reverse it a little bit and get that play up front.

As long as we were showing people how to do things that they could do at home, they stayed engaged.

So, one of the most critical metrics according to YouTube in their algorithm is watch time, and you really got to work on this, because putting some spinning flaming logo at the beginning of your video for nine seconds…you just killed it.

Yep.

And it’s not just on YouTube; it’s on Facebook too.. People scroll through their Facebook newsfeed, and they’re seeing videos autoplay with no sound. You have to be so engaging that I don’t need to see the sound, I’m already intrigued, and wasting those precious first few seconds with a spinning logo, just, you blew it.

Done. Exactly.

Circling back for a second to the idea of, like if you’re on stage and you want to really dazzle with some additional content after the fact, like let’s say a set of YouTube videos, well one thing that I’ve been able-I’ve done a lot of speaking from stage, right, so one thing I’ve seen that works really well, I’ve applied this, I came up with this idea of creating extended edition PowerPoint docs. So I have a PowerPoint doc, it wouldn’t have a lot of words per slide, it’d be very visually rich. I used to do tons of bullets with tons of text, and it was just overwhelming, so I cut down on that and I made it more content-light, but then I was able to speak to each of the points so that it was a lot of content when you hear it, it’s just not overwhelming to look at, and then I offered an extended edition version of the PowerPoint where they didn’t have to take copious notes, they could just download immediately that doc with the additional notes, and I gave them a text phone number to text a keyword to.

So smart! Really smart.

It works like gangbusters. I could get half the audience to opt in, so to have their text phone number, so their cell phone number, and I would have their email address because I would follow up with a text message after that saying, “Okay, now I need your email address because you didn’t text it to me yet,” with Instant Customers. So the two different services that I’ve used for this, one is called Instant Customer, and that’s what I started with, and I could have them text their email address in the first message. With LeadDigits, which is part of LeadPages, it doesn’t work that way, you have to text a keyword to a short code and then you can have a follow-up text back to the person saying, “Hey can you send me, can you text back your email address so I’ll send you this PowerPoint doc.” So, still works. It turned out to be cheaper, because I had LeadPages already, that I could just do LeadDigits and close out my Instant Customer account, but either way, if you have something that is immediately valuable to them, not just-hey, I’m all for overwhelming them with amazing content via video on YouTube after they have, after you’ve left the stage and they’ve left the room, but in order to get them to scratch their itch right then and there and not have to take copious notes, get them to take immediate action, and what do they have on them? They have a cell phone, and texting is going to give you a much higher opt-in rate than directing them to send an email or to go to a website URL to a landing page.

We’ve seen as speakers this whole area evolve. Even a couple years ago, trying to get people to take out their cell phone and text a message to a number or a keyword to a number, speakers threw their hands up in the air and went, Gosh, these audiences don’t get it.” Now they get it and so services like your LeadPages or whatever you’re using, your text to be able to grab the email address is so valuable and people will do it, they’ll take advantage of it and we can service them right away and again try to keep them engaged in this whole process.

Yeah you can even get people to vote, like let’s say you give them three different options and they can vote for the one that they prefer right front stage you can be offering this and get instant feedback. It’s really cool.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

So one last topic I want to cover, because I know we’ve gone long here, and that is repurposing content. So we kind of covered this a little bit, but let’s say that you have a great blog post or a great video, and one of the ways that you can really milk that content piece for all it’s worth is to get it onto multiple social platforms; get it into the blogosphere; get it on, if it’s a blog post, get it onto video; get it into a slide doc sort of format, etc. So a great example of this: you have a listicle, like a top ten list sort of thing, like “These are the 13 things you must do in order to save an hour of time from your work day” or whatever, so you take that blog post, that listicle, and you turn it into a slide doc and upload that to SlideShare, which is now owned by LinkedIn, and now you got another platform that you can leverage, namely SlideShare and LinkedIn, with the same content piece not massively rewritten or anything, just kind of condensed and reformatted. So, what would be some other examples of content repurposing that you guys are using?

How we’re doing it so they can, well, you know, we talked about the SICK Science videos, and here are these minute and a half videos, we went back and took that same content and said all right, so how can we develop some additional content around that, so those people who are already excited about it, people who have commented for example and they go, “Hey, I’m a teacher; I’d love to be able to use this in the classroom.” We went into the studio and, using a learning management system, we put out videos, companion videos that now were instructional videos for what they saw on the video that they liked, so maybe it’s a video of how to make silly putty or maybe it was a SICK Science video of how to make an electromagnet or whatever it might be, then we went in and now this is a ten or 15 minute instructional video that not only did we produce the video but then online we produced a curriculum that they could now integrate into their standards. So we had this original content that we repurposed and put it into a curriculum, added some more, and we now can use that not only for an online asset that we can sell, but we’re using that as a workshop and trainers that are traveling around the country that are training teachers and school districts. It all originated with that same video at the very beginning. The technique that we use here is to create once, publish everywhere. I’m sure it’s an acronym that everyone uses but “COPE” create once, publish everywhere. What can we do to create it one time and to be able to not only generate a blog post, but it turns into an Instagram that is rewritten for that audience that turns into a Facebook post that…as long as it’s appropriate for those individual audiences and meets the voice of that individual audience, then we don’t seem to get into trouble with repurposing the content. Did I answer the question that you wanted me to or is it off in a different direction?

No, I think so. I mean, you mentioned Pinterest earlier, you guys are really crushing it with Pinterest. If you had a blog post that’s like “These are the 13 things…” and you didn’t even have an image to go with it, what are people going to pin? Right? So you gotta have a really visually interesting and engaging image, a graphic that, whether it’s an infographic or a comic or inspirational quote with a beautiful landscape in the background, whatever that is, it’s got to be relevant and add value to the post itself, and it’s got to be able to stand on its own on Pinterest like, “Wow, that’s really worth repinning,” without having to even go through click and follow through to read that blog post that’s associated with that.

Exactly.

Yeah. There’s also another opportunity, and that’s creating follow-on content, not just repurposing existing content but follow-on content that, let me give you a quick example. I just interviewed Jason VanOrden and we spoke about manifestos and the power of using a manifesto in your marketing, creating-whether it’s an eBook or a book that’s your manifesto, you could for example take that manifesto and create a companion piece that would be a companion workbook, so people now know your philosophy on life or business or marketing or whatever that manifesto’s about, and now you have a companion workbook which allows them to take action on what they’ve learned from that manifesto and apply it in their own life or business.

Absolutely.

So definitely look for opportunities to expand and adjunct to the content pieces that you’re creating and also repurpose those content pieces for other platforms, whether it’s an image-heavy platform or a microblog platform where you only have 140 characters kind of thing, or maybe long form content, so you got something more short form and you want to take advantage of a long format medium like medium.com.

Super super smart. And any of those ways to be able to repurpose the existing content that you have to make it better has been something that we have, that you instilled in us early on. There’s no reason to create a one-off. If it’s so special that it is a one-off, it really really better be special, but for us to be able to use existing content and to make it better by being able to add something, or like the value add that you’re talking about is just super important.

Okay, so we’re definitely out of time. This is a long episode, but it’s a goodie, so thank you so much for sharing your brilliance. I guess the bottom line lesson here is you got to be remarkable with your marketing, whether it’s online or offline. I mean you’re remarkable in both worlds, remarkable on YouTube, remarkable with your website and in the blogosphere and so forth, and you’re remarkable offline with your TV appearances, now you’re going to have your own nationally syndicated TV show. I mean that’s just amazing, so you’ve conquered both worlds, and that’s pretty rare, but I think you’ve given us an inside view on how you were able to achieve that, so thank you for that, and for my listeners, I hope you get from this also that with this remarkable online marketing that you’re going to be doing that it’s not just a one-off one hit wonder, but you’ve got to do this on an ongoing basis. This needs to be a machine, that you are churning out content pieces on a regular basis or you’re just going to end up stale.

Couldn’t have said it better.

Everyone, be sure to go to marketingspeak.com for the transcript, and we’ll make a checklist of action items to take from this episode. Also the show notes, which will have links in there to all the stuff we’ve been talking about. If folks wanted to communicate with you directly, Steven, I know you’re busy guy, so don’t give out your email address, but is there a place you want to direct people like your Twitter or Facebook or YouTube channel?

Oh absolutely, yeah absolutely. Simply anything /stevespangler seems to work, whether it’s twitter/stevespangler or facebook/stevespangler, find me on Instagram the same way or simply go to stevespangler.com and you’ll find a little bit more about what we do with our trainings and television and everything else, and a link will pop you over to stevespanglerscience.com as well.

And you’re available to do keynote presentations too, and you do an amazing job, you’re just like the most entertaining speaker I’ve ever seen so you’re available for hire. Just, they find you on stevespangler.com and fill out the form to inquire about hiring you for whatever conference.

You’re very very nice. Thanks, I appreciate you doing that, and yeah, so who doesn’t want to have a conference with 4,000 ping pong balls exploding with liquid nitrogen explosion? Everybody wants that, right? Who would have thought that a science teacher from Denver, Colorado would be speaking to people like you and these marketing professionals about engagement and just some of the limited success that we’ve had along the way and some of our experiences that have helped us.

It’s been an amazing journey, and you’re heading for the stars, so keep it up.

Thank you!

All right, thanks everyone. This is Stephan Spencer signing off. Catch you on the next episode.

Important Links:

About Steve Spangler

Steve Spangler is a science educator and toy inventor who rose to fame after a video of him performing the “Diet Coke and Mentos” experiment went viral. Since then, he has appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show 19 times. Steve has also published two best-selling books and has hosted two television programs. He is a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame and has even won an Emmy. You can find him on Twitter @SteveSpangler.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *