Interview With Alex Brown On "Non Glory" A Video Series

05/27/2015

 

Alex Brown_ 5_15I've often said the social web gives more than it takes.

Meeting people who may be outside of your usual network is one of its best 'gifts.' Alex Brown and I are worlds apart. We met in the "blogosphere" in 1999 when he was managing one of the first and most innovative online communities for Wharton.

Needless to say Alex is a pioneer in digital media. But Alex has another passion .. his love for horses.

He was able to combined his marketing talents and social media skills to build an amazing horse advocay community. It was not unusal for posts to pull in 500, 700, 1000 comments. Unheard of back in the day and even more so today. He's also the author of a brilliant and beautiful book - "Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy."  Alex Brown_book jacket Greatness and Goodness Barbaro and his Legacy

Alex describes himself as -- " I am a horseman, who is also an internet marketing "geek." I have ridden horses all my life, and I have been using the internet for teaching and marketing since 1992." 

Fast forward to 2015. Video is where many see the growth of digital media. When Alex told me about an innovative video project he was launching for a rather controversial topic that once again combined Alex's love of horse and social media I was excited to learn more. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: Your latest project is a video series on YouTube, it seems a bit of a departure from the development of a book. Why did you choose this medium ?

Alex Brown: My goal for this project, Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter, is simply for content consumption, rather than distribution.

I wanted to create some content that would be easy for audiences to find, and then consume. No friction. With a book, your audience has to buy the book, and even after purchase, there is no guarantee that the book is read. I fear that quite a few people who did buy my book have not get read through it in detail.

For this project, I had messages I want to get out there. This made more sense. I also wondered, if I created an online essay, would people read? Would it have the same credibility, sharability, and so forth. I settled on a video series, and YouTube as the platform.

Diva Markeitng, Toby: To go the route of a well made video series may take even more effort than a book. What messages are you trying to convey that are so important to you in this project?

Alex Brown: The horse slaughter issue is very controversial, here in the United States. I think it is an issue that should be resolved, one way or another, in the near term. I believe it exists because most horsemen (gender neutral) and horse lovers really don't understand all the issues related to the subject, and quite honestly many do not want to know.

So I wanted to create a resource that examined all the issues, both for and against horse slaughter.It is comprehensive, basically a brain-dump of everything I know.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Although an important, but controversial topic, one might think that many people would be turned off by the subject. I might even think that most people would just avoid your hard work. Is that a concern?

Alex Brown: That is the biggest problem, for sure. Slaughter is visually dreadful, regardless of animal. I don't watch slaughter videos online. Only animal rights people watch that stuff I think, so really it becomes an echo chamber of the same people talking to each other, rather than getting the message out to broader communites.

My series is "NON GORY" and I make that very clear right at the beginning of the series. It is basically a 55 minute interview of me, discussing at the issues and context surrounding the topic, that is then overlayed with "b roll" of places I have visited etc. that are relevent to the conversation. My dog, Harriet, even plays a cameo roll.

Alex Brown_ Harriet

Diva Marketing, Toby: We like that your pooch Harriet plays a role! Max might want her paw print autograph! Seriously, so you create a great piece of content, that might be uncomfortable for some people to watch. You bring a wealth of experience in social media marketing, the big questions are how to you get the video out in front and what's your distribution strategy?

Alex Brown: I have been able to develop a pretty healthy social  media following over the years. First with the community developed on timwoolleyracing.com and then alexbrownracing.com as we followed Barbaro's progress at New Bolton Center.

From there the book helped me further build the community. I now have more than 5k followers on Twitter, 5k friends on Facebook (that's the limit for a personal page) as well as a new Facebook page for my Advocacy work. From this page I was able to purchase a Facebook ad (post boost at $20, which I will probably repeat during subsequent weekends, on the assumption that people have more time to consume content on the weekend). I am also pretty active on LinkedIn (some of that is due to my consulting work in the social media space). Basically I have quite a decent platform to launch content.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Initial distribution, seeding, is important, how have you tried to get the series to spread?

One of my goals was the timing of the launch. I wanted to get it out there during the Triple Crown series. This is important because it is the time of year that horses are on the national conscience. Media are covering our sport. We know when we explore the science behind "viral" content, an important factor is to design content that is part of the current conversation on the internet. 

Even in the video design, I ask at the end of the series for those who "liked" the series to post it on their social platforms. You have to be very deliberate about this stuff. I have also been able to reach out to my network of media connections, to try to help spread the word.

Again, you have to be very deliberate and go after every connection you have. You then need to try to track conversations about the series, in what I call the "free marketing" space. Any comments, you respond. Even negative comments, engagement is very important.

Diva Marketing, Toby: Totally agree. Without the engagement factor you might as well keep content on a website. The series has been out for little more than a week, how has it been received?

Alex Brown: So far, the three videos have received 1,000 views, according to YouTube. I think that is a pretty good start. I have had some media coverage, one of which really did help get the word out.

Now I am continuing to try too engage with media, and now directly with friends on Facebook to watch the series, and then post about it. I think that is important.

I don't just ask people to spread the word, it is KEY that someone watched the series first. That way, the person can talk specifically about the series, as she promotes it. I think that sends a much stronger message. 

Diva Marketing, Toby: What tip would you give people who want to step in to video? Bringing it back to digital marketing, are the results really worth the effort?

Alex Brown: Step in, experiment, fail forward (learn from your experiences) I am still experimenting with the medium, and am working on a couple of other projects for other clients, and the format is very different, short two minute clips focused on singular key ideas.

Finally, SEO is critical. What are the important keywords, and how are they included in the title, description and so forth.

And be passionate, because passion can overcome challenges.

Diva Marketing, Toby: I love that last thought!

Alex Brown: Yes, very critical. I have two passions, horses and the internet, my worlds collide! Horses - pre industrial revolution, technology -  post industrial revolution. Now we are trying to use the technology to save the horse.

Diva Marketing, Toby: As is our tradition, on Diva Marketing, we're tossing the virtual mic to you Alex. Wrap it anyway you'd like.

Alex Brown: Thanks Toby. Early reaction to the series has been positive; I just really hope it helps move the conversation from one among animal rights groups, to one among horsemen and horse lovers throughout the United States.

Connect with Alex: Website |Alex Brown Racing | Non Glory Video |Twitter |Linkedin

Diva Marketing Talks to Alex Brown! Interview about the story behind Great and Goodness Barbaro And His Legacy| Podcast with Beth Kanter "Tell The Stories Of Causes Through Social Media

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Comments

Nice interview and gave me some ideas on how to go about marketing with YouTube. I would love to hear more about that topic, specifically.

Great job. TY

Posted by: Debra Pearlman on Aug 5, 2015 3:11:01 PM

Thanks Debra! Alex has done a beautiful and innovative job using social to create, amplify & expand his passion.

Posted by: Toby on Aug 6, 2015 8:02:37 AM

Wow, nice interview. Well done! :D

Posted by: Stoian Ciprian on Sep 3, 2015 7:14:25 PM

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