When MTV played the annoyingly catchy Buggles hit ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ as its first music video in 1981, nobody could have predicted what a dominant force the medium would become in the digital age.
Videos are everywhere on social media and their uses are varied, from pure entertainment to learning new skills through tutorials.
Research conducted in the summer by Take Note, a transcription services provider for the market research industry, found that, on average, UK adults watch five online videos a day, excluding streaming services like Netflix.
Although younger age groups watch the most videos, even in the over-55 age bracket, 48% of people said they watch online videos daily.
Sherlock does not think it is the technical side that puts some women off creating video content. It is fear.
The message for anyone with a business to promote – including financial advisers – is that you ignore online videos at your peril.
Last year, the Openwork Partnership Inspiring Women in Financial Services conference discussed how many female advisers are successfully using video to help drive new business.
It was said a short video on a social media platform has more impact and engagement than a text-heavy blog, however some female advisers are shying away from creating them. So, what’s behind the reluctance?
Creating successful video content does not depend on having lots of fancy equipment or being highly skilled in professional editing and production software.
Female advisers are finding they can jump into the technical side as deeply as they want and, once they have taken that initial leap into creating, it all starts feeling less daunting. Part of the learning curve is discovering what works for the individual and their business.
In some firms it is only the advisers who create video content but others, like Stan Sherlock Associates, take a broader approach.
Advisers didn’t get into financial services to be on the internet.
“Everyone is required to do videos for social media, including the business support team,” says the firm’s director Emma Sherlock. “We want the back-office team to be as visible as the advisers because they do a lot of the legwork.”
Sherlock acknowledges that having spent 15 years at the BBC before becoming an adviser may have given her an edge, as she does not find creating videos technically difficult. “I’m from a media background and I’ve done editing. It would take me 20 minutes to show someone else how to do it,” she says.
But having spoken to other people, she does not think it is the technical side that puts some women off creating video content. It is fear.
“It’s the fear of putting themselves out there because, for a lot of women, the first thing they do is scrutinise what they look like in the video. It’s acute self-consciousness – some over analyse what they look like and how they sound.”
We all like to look our best in front of a camera. We can all point to things about our bodies we would rather change and find a photo of ourselves that we detest. So it follows that male advisers will feel just as self-conscious as females when appearing in an online video.
As Sherlock says about all advisers regardless of gender, “they didn’t get into financial services to be on the internet”.
The thought that someone might be as critical as women are towards themselves is enough to put some off ‘putting themselves out there’.
Clean-shaven men will worry about their stubble, bearded men will want to appear groomed and some will tell colleagues they hate the sound of their voice. But in western culture, women grow up to judge themselves on appearance more than men do, and the fear of others also doing this can make the thought of video content a daunting prospect.
In a work context, women can feel they will be judged on whether their outfit is ‘appropriate’ and whether they look ‘professional’.
“I decided to wear Dr. Martens instead of high heels to a recent conference. I didn’t want to wear high heels because my feet were killing me but I wonder would that be judged on video?” says Sherlock.
Some female advisers feel stress over details like the height of their neckline, while others have received unwanted offers from men wanting to take them out for a drink because of how they look online.
Even if nobody has ever commented on the way a woman looks online, the thought that someone might be as critical as women are towards themselves is enough to put some off ‘putting themselves out there’.
I have a lot more confidence in who I am. This is me – if you like it, you like it and if you don’t, you don’t.
“Women naturally overthink and are hypercritical of others and ourselves,” says Robyn Allen Solutions director Robyn Allen. “There’s a risk of it turning into a monster if we don’t reign it in.”
Allen’s experience of creating video content for social media couldn’t have been more positive. Nearly three years ago she made a conscious decision to do more videos to express what she does as a protection adviser.
Given protection advice involves discussing some harsh facts about health and mortality, Allen’s clients need to feel they can trust her. Videos in which she is just being herself helps put potential clients at ease and she has found her self-confidence has also grown as a result.
“I have a lot more confidence in who I am,” she says. “This is me – if you like it, you like it and if you don’t, you don’t.”
Allen has only received positive comments about her looks when creating videos. But female advisers want the talking point of their videos to be the content, not the colour of their lipstick or their outfit. Discussions about how good they looked online can detract from the message they want to get across.
A related issue is that, as the minority in a largely male profession, women often feel the need to prove themselves and want to deliver perfect video content.
If I’m judged on my hair and lipstick, I don’t care but if I’m judged on the content or advice I give, that’s more detrimental.
Yorkshire Financial Planning aims its video content at women who are not dissimilar to its founding partners Caroline Allen and Joanne Baker. The idea is to show they are people that female clients in particular can open up to over a glass of wine, as many women do with their friends. But the quality of that content has to be there, which takes time and effort.
“It has got to be perfect, as you do feel you are going to be judged on what you put out there,” says Yorkshire Financial Planning’s Allen. “If I’m judged on my hair and lipstick, I don’t care but if I’m judged on the content or advice I give, that’s more detrimental.”
Female advisers just starting to use video should not expect instant results in the form of lots of new clients.
Doing it well is time consuming and reaping the rewards of all the time and effort you put in by building up a decent following happens gradually. It is also worth remembering to put the number of views you get into a proper context – video content from a UK financial adviser will not have global appeal, so even if a couple of hundred people see it, you are doing well.
“If you get 50 views in a few weeks don’t get disheartened; it’s about quality over quantity,” says Hillier Hopkins tax adviser Natasha Heron. “It takes time, but a lot of people give up too soon.”
Heron has immersed herself in the technical side of videos and podcasts to learn how to do them. She has worked a lot of things out through trial and error, like recording in the wrong format then having to convert it to upload onto a social media platform. Things like knowing how to set up her microphone properly and realising when equipment has failed during a recording have also been challenges.
Heron has found editing the most difficult task and has hired professionals where needed.
“Editing is a hard job if you can’t use a lot of the software because you don’t have an Apple Mac,” she says. “You have to find a good video editor, tell them your vision and ask what they can do.”
Allen at Yorkshire Financial Planning has also found keeping videos ‘short and sweet’ – which is intended to keep the audience’s attention – challenging. Script it too much and the delivery sounds unnatural but if you don’t script it, keeping under 60 seconds – which is generally what social media platforms require – is too hard. Keeping to those time limits is important because each platform has different limits catering for different audiences.
“You couldn’t put a long video on Instagram – if I spent an hour talking about tax, people would never listen,” explains Heron. She says people tend not to watch past 20-30 seconds on Instagram. “Most people upload videos of 15-20 seconds on Instagram but if you want to cover something in detail, you direct people to a page on your website,” she says.