Looking for tips to help you focus your brand on a different area?
To explore how to pivot your personal brand, I interview Amy Landino.
More About This Show
The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.
Amy explains how she researched and tested new content before rebranding her YouTube channel.
You’ll also find tips to help you determine whether pivoting your brand is right for you.
Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
Pivoting Your Personal Brand
Amy’s Pivot From Video Marketing to Empowerment
Amy is known for her work as a video marketing consultant, which she did for about 10 years. In 2011, after she left her 9-to-5 job, she branded herself to convey that she was someone you could trust because even then, she had to contend with oversaturation in the social media consulting space. With all the incredible thought leaders, Amy wanted to stand out.
In the marketing business, people didn’t frequently talk about how to make a good video, and Amy had that skill. She started using YouTube in 2007 and became an active user in 2008. With her first public YouTube channel, Schmittastic, Amy learned how to make video and market content to get viewers. Although she didn’t think of it as marketing, it led to her love for the industry.
In 2011, when Amy started her business channel, Savvy Sexy Social, she wanted viewers to know, like, and trust her for social media and video content marketing. On this channel, Amy consistently produced three episodes per week, and her YouTube presence was helpful as she started and grew her business. She needed clients, and the videos were the best way for Amy to market herself.
At first, Savvy Sexy Social offered social media advice that would help organizations be more social. Video became a big part of the conversation because video was her medium. In other words, because Amy used video to teach what people wanted to know, she began teaching people how to use video to teach what they know.
In 2017, Amy’s book about video blogging came out. She also married and changed her name. And her channel content was evolving. Savvy Sexy Social was no longer the right name, so she knew the name had to go. Ultimately, Amy built up to a big change and decided to make 2018 her time to pivot. In January, she released a video under her new name and welcomed people to AmyTV.
Amy pivoted and rebranded her channel for several reasons. First, she had more to share than tips and tricks about video. Most of all, her audience wanted more. Plenty of people tuned into her channel with zero intention of “vlogging like a boss.” They simply admired her motivational content, which Amy discovered by reading comments on her videos.
Whenever Amy shared a video, she tried to understand what was going on in viewers’ minds after they watched it. She wanted to know their first barrier to entry. As she investigated those comments and dug into the issues of her audience, she discovered they wanted her to talk about productivity, time optimization, and how to go after success even if you don’t feel destined for it.
Amy knew this change was coming for a couple of years. She didn’t rebrand just because of her name change. In early 2016, she started to wish she was known for something else. But she also felt she’d worked very hard on what she had and wasn’t done yet. She felt like her video work was a project she needed to finish before taking her next step and helping people on a deeper level.
Listen to the show to hear Amy and me discuss how we met at BlogWorld 2010.
How Amy Faced Fears and Criticism About Pivoting
As Amy worked toward pivoting her personal brand, she had to grapple with a number of fears. First, Amy chose the name Savvy Sexy Social because her last name was difficult. She also thought Savvy Sexy Social was not only fun, but also highlighted the value she offered her viewers.
She wanted businesses and people to be savvier. She wanted people’s content to be sexy, even if their ideas or products aren’t necessarily that sexy. She also wanted to help businesses and people to be much more social. She had a whole plan based on that name, and it did amazing things for her. Amy didn’t feel that she was abandoning that name; she was graduating from it.
However, Amy was afraid her audience wouldn’t view the change in the same way. What if no one else thought she should graduate? Also, no one ever called her Amy Schmittauer; they called her Amy Savvy-Sexy-Social. So she had all kinds of branding issues to handle, which is both a good and bad problem.
On the good side, people know who Amy is and share her content. It’s great. However, her Twitter and Instagram handles are @Schmittastic. People thought Schmittastic was her last name, not Schmittauer.
However, her biggest fear was whether it would be okay to change her name. She calls it her P. Diddy move (a reference to Sean Combs’ shift from the stage name Puff Daddy to a different stage name, P. Diddy, and later to Diddy, and then LOVE or Brother Love). Because so many people know the name Savvy Sexy Social, the shift to AmyTV was huge.
Beyond the surface-level fears of whether Amy could move on with a new name, she also began to wonder whether she was enough because the whole transition depended on whether her face, personality, mantra, and the way she runs her own life would be enough to teach people how to optimize theirs. The process of pivoting her brand was a lot to take on, along with the change of getting married.
Because Amy said earlier that she saw her video brand as a project to finish, I ask for her thoughts on whether it’s sometimes right to give up on a plan because it can stop you from moving to the next phase. Amy says she agrees, and the answer depends on the plan, who you are, and how you really feel about it. Are you following a plan because someone told you to, or do you fully believe in it?
Amy fully believed in her work educating people about video and the ways she had helped people. People reached out to Amy to say the video they made using her advice helped them get a job or a client. That feedback told Amy she was in a good place, so she wanted to finish what she started.
However, if something’s not working and it’s not right for you, that’s a different situation. Amy would agree, in that case, you should stop immediately. Similarly, Amy reads all the time and has no problem stopping when she’s gotten what she needs from a book. Doing something that’s not right for you is a waste of time.
I then ask how Amy responds to outside critics who think she’s wasted an incredible opportunity by moving on from Savvy Sexy Social. Amy says she’s immersed in her community, which she’s known since the beginning. And that audience hasn’t changed.
On the surface, the content is shifting in new and different directions. However, the individual Amy has been thinking about since the beginning is the same. Amy listens to her, and when Amy does that, she knows she’s on the right track. Amy’s doubters don’t understand because they aren’t her target audience.
When Amy knows she’s doing the right thing for her target audience, staying focused is easy. That audience lifts her brand higher and brings in more people who are just like her existing audience. Focusing on a niche can be scary, but when you do it well by focusing on your target audience and avoiding the distraction of what others are doing, the results can be amazing.
Listen to the show to hear how I let go of a lucrative white paper business after I started Social Media Examiner.
How to Choose a Focus for Your New Personal Brand
When Amy was looking to pivot her personal brand and searching for her next thing, she knew her audience was going to tell her what that thing was. However, Amy also needed some evidence that the changes she planned to make would work. To research her idea, she focused on listening to her audience.
Amy was especially interested in trends in the conversation. On many social platforms, you can upvote someone else’s comment because the feature allows people to show support for an idea. Amy also looked for comments where people said the same thing in different ways. To find questions people were asking, Amy used her browser’s Find command to look for question marks in the comments.
Amy tracked what she found and used it as market research on her own community. With Evernote, she tracked and compartmentalized questions. This helped her see how many times a question was asked and whether it was becoming a trend.
In her research, Amy focused on the underlying obstacles people face as they prepare to make their first video. She wondered what held people back from not sharing their message, no matter what that message was. For example, before the question of what camera to buy even matters, people have issues with confidence or vulnerability.
Based on what Amy found, she made videos to test her ideas. Amy believes this approach is good content marketing practice. Amy stresses that you can’t just put your content out there and gauge whether it did better or worse. On YouTube, the content can live for years, especially if it does well. When Amy sees a YouTube video do well, she leans into that.
To illustrate, at the beginning of the year, Amy posted a video called Make Time for Everything You Want to Do. When Amy saw the video go micro-viral, she knew YouTube saw that it was starting to peak and her community was bringing in new people.
To build on the success of that video, Amy created a video based on commenters’ questions about how to wake up early so you can make time for everything you want to do. The video talked about how to wake up at 5 AM even if you don’t feel like it, and it’s had more than 350,000 views.
Those views demonstrate the value of researching and testing your content. Through this work, Amy was able to address the big “what ifs” that people in her community were thinking about.
This example also illustrates the value of flexibility. When a piece of content works, you don’t move on to the next thing you have planned. You might need to save the planned item for later so you can lean into what’s working at that moment. When a piece of content is bringing new people to your channel or platform, you’ve got to satisfy them pretty quickly so they stay.
Listen to the show to hear Amy explain an easy way to do a Q&A and how it’s different from market research.
How to Prepare Your Audience for a Transition
To start, you need to become comfortable with the idea that not everyone in your current audience will follow you after you pivot your brand. Amy likens this to a conversation she frequently has about email marketing.
People will unsubscribe, and that’s okay because they probably weren’t going to invest in your business anyway. As long as you treat your list the way you need to, those unsubscribes are fine. Pivoting your personal brand is similar in that you develop a more specific niche. Your brand may have helped people who don’t understand your next step. It’s okay if they fall off.
Before Amy began to transition her audience to her new content, she had to get through her book launch and promote her book. The book came out on January 31, 2017. Amy vlogged every single day in January leading up to the book launch. She showed behind-the-scenes videos about launching a book into the world.
The book promotion videos also helped people get to know Amy on a basic level. She invited viewers into her home office, where she did interviews. She also shared valuable information about video, but the videos were mostly about Amy. You saw her dog and her fiancé.
From there, Amy began to transition to her real goal for 2017, which was developing her relationship with her audience beyond delivering video hacks. She started getting people used to the idea of interesting, engaging, or valuable content other than a quick hack on the back end of YouTube. Amy experimented with many different types of videos to kick it off.
I note that Amy pivoting her personal brand right after the book launch seems counterintuitive because the book will lead to incredible opportunities in video blogging, which Amy was pivoting out of. I ask Amy if the book kept her focused on the topic she wanted to leave behind.
Amy says writing the book about all her hard work related to vlogging was important to her. Also, in 2016, Amy and her husband co-founded Aftermarq, a company that creates done-for-you video in a creative studio. Although the book didn’t directly reflect her new personal branding, the book did help her introduce vlogging to very big businesses, which is important in their business strategy.
Going forward, Amy knew the book would help her because as she continues to educate people on pursuing the life they want, her audience will need some level of attention to accomplish their goals. Someone just out of college might need to develop their personal brand to get a job. Someone with a company might need to figure out the role of video in achieving their goals.
The messaging in the book reflects Amy’s belief that if you know whom you’re talking to, you can get the attention that you need or deserve. That’s a theme in everything Amy talks about.
Listen to the show to hear how Amy’s book influenced me.
Tips for People Who Want to Pivot
After changing the name of her YouTube channel and her content, Amy is confident in the direction of her brand. She says it’s the most satisfying feeling because she knows she has something greater to give. Although her new videos are only beginning to share what she has to offer, she feels like she set herself up for success and changes are happening the way she needed them to.
Starting in 2016, Amy was patient. She did all the legwork she needed to do to pivot successfully. Therefore, the people in her community who were destined to stay are saying that her channel has never been better. The people who absolutely benefited in the past but aren’t a great fit going forward are a little bit more confused but still respect Amy for the value she provided.
To people who want to pivot but are scared to make the leap, Amy says, “I have been in your situation. I know it’s hard, but if you’re able to work as hard as you did on chapter one, I think you can move on to chapter two and you can do it bigger and better than ever before.”
Amy knows it’s easy for someone in her situation to suggest doing all the work and trusting that people will jump on the train with you later. However, Amy notes she was all alone at one point, too. Her parents didn’t really understand what she was doing. They just let her do her thing.
Also, after Amy built her first successful channel, not all of her cheerleaders understood the changes she wanted to make. That can be tough because you might feel like you’re back to zero again. You have to believe in what you’re doing so much that even if those around you don’t get it yet, they will. It’s always going to be that way.
If your people don’t get what you’re trying to do now, they will. You just have to press through and make it happen. Just make sure your goals are right in your heart and right for your community. Make sure they want the changes you’re planning to make and the changes reflect where you want to be. When those factors are in place, nothing should hold you back.
Listen to the show to hear my words of encouragement for anyone who wants to pivot their personal brand.
Discovery of the Week
RealtimeBoard is an online whiteboard that can help digital teams collaborate.
For instance, team members can share images, movies, slides, and text. Also, everybody can work in different places on the board all at once, as if a real whiteboard were in front of you in a conference room.
As an example, if you’re trying to wireframe a website, your team can add prepared assets and draw lines in different places on the whiteboard.
You’ll also find templates for different tasks, such as a story map with virtual sticky notes you can write on and move around. The Kanban template allows you to move different pieces in a business model or to-do list to show the progress you’re making. You’ll also find web page and flowchart design templates.
RealtimeBoard works best on desktop computers. With the free version, you can have up to three members and three boards. With the solopreneur plan, you pay $10 per month for unlimited boards and screen sharing.
Listen to the show to learn more about RealtimeBoard and let us know how it works for you.
Key takeaways from this episode:
What do you think? What are your thoughts on pivoting your brand? Please share your comments below.