Have you seen the video with all the jelly beans?
If you ever spend any time on Facebook or surfing through YouTube videos, you probably know what I'm talking about. In late 2011, singer-songwriter Kina Grannis debuted a video to her song "In Your Arms." It took 288,000 Jelly Belly jelly beans and nearly two years of planning and stop-action photography to create the three-minute video. Since its release in November 2011, 5.4 million people have watched it on YouTube. The video directly led to Grannis's appearances on Ellen and The Jimmy Kimmel Show. At the moment, she's on the European leg of a very busy world tour, and her Stairwells album is currently climbing the records charts.
But none of this success was left to chance. Instead, it has been the result of savvy social-media marketing and a lot of hard work.
There is a truism that success requires three things: ability, affability, and availablity. The ability part is taken care of with Kina's talent and appearance. Those are mainly something you're born with. Sure, you can take lessons and practice to improve your singing and playing, and there are things you can do to burnish your appearance, but if you're born tone deaf and homely you may want to consider another field.
Kina has the ability part down, being possessed of both talent and beauty. She has a sweet, mellifluous voice that well fits the music she plays. And she's gorgeous, with large, liquid eyes and a melting smile. But ability and looks are just table stakes; there are plenty of attractive good singers who never manage to get their careers off the ground.
The second factor, affability, is also a combination of the innate and the intentional. Kina projects a light, infectious charm that makes you feel like you'd enjoy getting to know her. It may be perfectly natural, or it may be partially an act (which I doubt); either way, it comes across as authentic, and that's what matters most.
The third factor, availability, is where the hard work comes in. More than most up-and-coming artists, Kina has worked hard at using social media to make herself as available as possible to as many fans — and potential fans. She has a well-developed blog (kinagrannis.com) where she connects with people to say where she'll be touring, when she'll be on TV, and how people can get her latest music or videos. She has a good Facebook fan page, and she tweets frequently on Twitter.
She does an exceptional job with her YouTube channel, where she hosts more than a hundred videos, including several different performances of the same songs. At the end of some of the performances, she talks into the camera for a bit, addressing her fans directly. Many of her videos are embedded with links that allow for further interaction. For example, if she mentions on camera an upcoming show in Paris, a link will appear that will take viewers to a page on her website where they can order tickets.
And she doesn't just sell tickets and records, t-shirts and tote bags. At most of her shows, she offers fans the opportunity to pay a few bucks extra to receive an armband for a show. The armband covers the fan's admission to the performance, but also lets the buyer come backstage after the concert is over and meet her in person. Now that's availability.
So what can professionals learn from Kina about marketing their services? A lot. Too many accountants, lawyers, and other professionals rely on their abilities alone, expecting that because they're talented at what they do, the world will beat a path to their doors. But ability is a table stake for professionals, just like it is for singers. It's the affability and availability that will bring in the business and lead to success.
Many professionals often ask what the return on investment (ROI) is on the use of social media. The answer is that social media can effectively project to your clients and potential clients both your ability and your affability. Social media gives you the availability, allowing people to learn about you, get to like you, and see how good you are.
Are you a good writer? Clever and creative blog posts can inform the world that you're talented at your profession. Have a comfortable presence on camera? Short, interesting videos posted to your branded YouTube channel can get people to like and trust you. What can you do differently to make yourself more noticeable online — to make yourself remarkable, in the true sense of the word? Think Kina's "In Your Arms" video with all the jelly beans. That video was different enough — remarkable enough — to get 5.4 million people to notice Kina's talent.
What can you do that will showcase your ability, affability, and availability? Figure it out, and start working on it today.
Also check out the seven-minute "making of" video that shows how the jelly-bean video was created.