How to put a spell on your audience.

4 Jan

Meet Jason Michaels, magician, illusionist, entertainer and social media champ. Jason won our books last month and when I checked out his website I knew he was doing things right. This guy has got his foot in every social media puddle and he’s stomping in all them and making a splash. I thought I would pick his brain a little bit to get some advice for writers for their own social media spell.

Q:   Theater is your background and is obviously a huge part of your work. Social media gives professionals a huge outreach to their audience. You have taken full advantage of it to share your work and grow your tribe. You have a Youtube channel, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a website. What has been the most effective way for you to build your tribe online?

It’s really all integrated.  And if it’s not currently for you, it should be.

First and foremost, in today’s digital world, having a website is absolutely a must.  It represents you to the entire digital world.  A website becomes your very best salesman that sells you to anyone at anytime.  Consider that you can integrate copy, photos, audio, video, webforms, auto-responders (to respond to people automatically), etc.  A well crafted website is huge.  If it’s done right, it’s totally worth paying whatever it costs.  It’s worth far more than print media was ever worth.  You could never print a flyer or brochure and have it show a promotional video or allow someone to listen to a satisfied client rave about you.  For example, look at my site You’ll see that I’ve integrated a promo video on the main page to grab the viewer’s attention.  If you visit the raves page you’ll see letters of recommendation that are downloadable on the left side of the page as well as an audio testimonial that one of my client’s recorded for me.  In fact, those audio recordings are all over my site.  I let my current and past clients help sell me to future clients.  You should use all types of interactive media to engage a visitor to your website.

Speaking of video, next to a webpage, YouTube is probably your next most important time investment.  You can be as creative as possible in the content you create and post on YouTube.  And that video content represents you and your brand.  And don’t think that you have to be super creative to create video.  You could do something as simple as sit in your office and give your top three tips to consumers that relate to your business or your brand.  You can’t afford not to be on YouTube.  You can buy a nice camera for $150 bucks at the store and immediately start creating video.  It is literally like having your own television channel that you get to program.  Every time you create a new video that you post to YouTube you can then also post it to your website, blog, facebook, etc.

In fact, you’ll notice that I incorporated my facebook and twitter feed on to my website’s homepage as well.  Your potential clients want to get to know you.  Social media allows them that capability.  Generally speaking, the people we do business with are people we know, we like and we trust.  Your clients can get to know and like you by connecting with you through social media.  And you can build trust through a solid website that shows that you are a capable business person.

In fact, one part of search engine optimization that search engines take into consideration is how many websites point to you and how many websites you point to.  Youtube, twitter, facebook, linkedin, and myspace are all free.  The only thing you have to do is update the content.  And search engines love it if you constantly update the content on these sites.  All you have to do is make sure to list your website address when initially filling out the profile information on these sites and “VOILA” you have pointed to your website from another source (that didn’t cost you a dime).

I would give a beginner this advice.  Start somewhere.  It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start.

Oh yeah, one more thing.

Educate yourself.  If you don’t know anything about traditional marketing or social media, etc. go to a library or a bookstore and start learning.  The information is out there.  All you have to do is go get it and apply it to what you do.  I got a theatre degree and have been a professional magician for over ten years.  I had no idea how to sell or market myself at first.  I had to teach myself the ropes.  If I can do it, so can you!

Q – So many authors miss the boat on this. (If you haven’t looked at my social media checklist yet, do it now. I am always adding to this list) My background is in fine arts and I find that my training has given me an edge on taking an original approach to social media . Have you had the same experience with your theater/entertainment background?  I find that ones voice is shaped by their unique background but so many people try to fit a mold when it comes to this.

A – Well, that’s certainly an interesting point.  I think the key to social media is to really just go with your personality.  Now don’t get me wrong, you should have a strategy of what you are trying to accomplish, but keep in mind what social media is really all about.  Ultimately, you are building relationships with people.  The best way to build relationships is to allow them to get to know you.  You can’t treat social media like traditional marketing.  You have to participate in discussions, you have to take an interest in other people, you have to be relevant to other people’s lives.  You have to take part in the community on a personal level.  If you keep that in mind, then it seems rather obvious that each of our backgrounds will certainly influence how we approach social media.  Participate in the things that interest you.  If they interested you in the past, you probably still have interest in them now.

Also, consider what makes your voice a unique one.  You are an original and will have insights and creative ideas that others simply don’t or won’t have.  Understand that your voice and your ideas are interesting to others.  I am often inspired by what I see other people do and say.  They give me all sorts of ideas.  You can have that kind of influence on others as well.  Your point of view is valuable to the conversation.

Q – Where do you find inspiration/influence for your magic? Do you use practices derived from a tradition and/or evolve your own?

A – Well here’s a question I could go on and on trying to answer!  The short answer is everywhere.  I find inspiration everywhere.  When I first started trying to create my own magic I thought I wasn’t a creative person.  I thought I was a good performer, but not much of a creator.  It took me quite awhile to shake that ridiculous mindset.  The truth is that we are all creative in our own ways.  When I finally decided to start trying to come up with my own ideas I began making a list of my interests.  I would listen to myself, deep down in my gut.  I would listen for that small, quiet voice that resides in us all.  In other words, I thought really deeply about the things that I found fascinating.  This took time.  Every time I came across something that felt authentically interesting to me I would write it down and add it to my list.  After awhile I had alot of things that I had different levels of interest in.  And I used those ideas as presentational plots or scripts or actual tricks, etc.

I also read a lot about magic’s past and present.  I think being well read gives me numerous ideas that others in my field may not have.

Of course, magic is based on tradition and it has a rich past.  Because I have a passion for my field I stay immersed in it.  It’s that immersion combined with my theatre training and my personal interests that has helped me evolve my style of performing to what it is today.

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