In 2022 I made dozens of voice over reels.
You probably did too.
We all hated them, but we did them… hoping to catch a wave.
In 2023 I made 49 of, what I call, “6 second bangers”
You know, it’s a 6 second reel with a trendy song and a hook that says to, “read the caption”
I see a lot of people complaining about them.
But we keep doing them… hoping to catch a wave.
I don’t know what trend 2024 will hold but…
After posting 297 Reels this year, my best content were NOT the trends.
In this email I want you to walk away with:
- Understanding what my “best” reels were and why
- How I rank “the best”
- The top 5 rankings
- The outliers
- The patterns
- Bust a few (Instagram) myths and what actually seems to be true
- Going Viral made me $0
- Posting times
- Trendy posts get more reach but…
- A 6-part framework to create content that is
- Unique and increases engagement
- Addictive and keeps people coming back for more
1. My ‘Best’ Content
a) First you should understand my process of absorbing all this content and how I rank ‘The Best’ content
I use my insights on Instagram over the past year and take the top 10 videos by each category:
- Reach (reach is the number of unique accounts the video reached compared to views which is how many times a video was played)
There is some overlap, meaning one content could be in the top 10 for 2 of these categories.
This left me with 26 top reels.
Once these metrics are in an excel sheet, I create a new column called “Ratio”
The way I see it:
If Reel A gets 10,000 reach and 200 likes (a ratio of 2% likes to reach)
And Reel B gets 1,000 reach and 100 likes (a ratio of 10% likes to reach)
I consider Reel B to have done better.
It’s kind of reasonable to assume if Reel B reached 10,000 unique accounts, it would have continued to get the same amount of likes, thus reaching 1,000 likes.
Who really knows, but I think this data is highly worth considering when reviewing your content.
Finally, every Reel gets a ranking of placement.
The highest ratio of ‘likes to reach’ is ranked 1 all the way to the worst ratio at a rank of 26.
Then I filter by ratio of ‘shares to reach’ and rank those 1-26
I do this for saves and comments as well.
Then I tally up the rankings to get a total score.
The Reel with the LOWEST score is technically my BEST piece of content.
It would be silly to simply ignore my reels that got the HIGHEST REACH and THE MOST LIKES just because their ratio was lower.
So I take all this into consideration.
Here are the top 5 ranks with a few notable outliers.
b) The top 5 Rankings
A few notes:
- You can click the screenshot if you want to watch the Reel
- The screenshot is the first second of the Reel which is worth noting because that is what first draws people’s attention and hooks them in.
#1: Fuck Niching Down
Caption Hook: “70% of your content can include:”
Note: Educational content with a unique perspective which I visually drew out on my tablet. I also drew out the current way most coaches teach niching down. Pinned to profile
#2: 36 hours with no service
Caption Hook: EVERYONE is WRONG and YOU are RIGHT!
Note: This is over 90 seconds. It is kind of but not really a story. More of my experience and world views on being so attached to work and filming content.
#3: CTAs are dead!
Caption Hook: The CTA is ☠️ !!!!
Note: This is unique take on an industry standard of always finishing a post with a Call to Action. I used specific call out of how you typical get clients so you would pair your current understanding of the world with my new perspective.
#4: Inner dialogue (2): I’m being tested
Caption Hook: Inner Dialogue: I’m being tested
Note: A shared my experience about working more. I mixed in random stray thoughts. All the inner dialogues have done very well.
#5: Goodbye Colorado
Caption Hook: Grateful for these 5 magical years.
Note: Mostly just me, face to camera, reading from my journal. It’s 2.5 minutes long! And this has highest amount of replays (by ratio) by far. The comments were off the charts (to be expected).
c. A few outliers
#16: Baseball at 33
Caption Hook: If you’re out of college, I would love to know if you’re still playing sports competitively and if so, why?
Note: A unique, and very “spiritual” perspective on why I continue to play baseball at 33. The b-roll is really great and tells a wonderful story. Flynn Skidmore probably maybe reposted and that never hurts? Caption: If you’re out of college, I would love to know if you’re still playing sports competitively and if so, why?
#20. Inner dialogue (1) at my favorite brewery.
Caption Hook: Inner dialogue at my favorite brewery.
Note: Just a genuine human experience. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It told a story. I remember this bringing in a lot of followers.
d. The Patterns
- No Trends Made the top 5!
The most obvious thing to notice is that none of these are the “6 second bangers” that currently fill your IG feed.
There were actually only a total of 8 “6 second bangers” (out of the 49 I posted) that did make it into my top 26. So either I suck at them or getting them to perform well is like playing the lottery.
I really don’t think any of these Reels are worth sharing in this email because soon enough, these will be out of style too.
What I find interesting in the above 7 reels I shared is that they are all over 1 minute long and two of them are over 90 seconds.
- Unique perspectives
Every single one of these Reels is my unique perspective on a topic. Meaning you have not heard that exact topic spoke about in that way before.
I won’t break down every single one… but it’s worth taking a look at #1 and #2 which are two very different pieces of content and understand WHY they are ranked 1 & 2 respectively.
#1 is an educational piece of content where I begin by speaking directly to the camera and then teach a framework by drawing it out on my reMARKable tablet. #2 is basically a recorded voice over of a journal entry about my time without cell service and how I come to terms with “needing” to be constantly working with a bunch of B-Roll placed over it.
”Fuck Niching Down” is very clearly a unique perspective. It takes, arguably the most common business advice and pushes back on it. Niching Down such common advice that a lot of coaches don’t really understand or why they offer it anymore. It’s simply an industry standard.
It’s like when Natalie says she has a headache and I say, “Have you drank any water?”
The great part is. A lot of people hate niching down because they feel stuck and are looking for a reason to not do it, but nobody has paved a new path. And the current opposing advicee of, “don’t niche down” isn’t a path and isn’t helpful.
People crave direction.
It comes in at #1 because for the small amount of reach (~600), it has gotten a high amount of saves, comments, and DMs (DMs cannot be tracked, but I know I’ve gotten a lot). People really love this new perspective AND it gives them a new path to follow.
Pro Tip: I pinned this to my profile because it’s one of my signature methodologies I teach in my core offer. Because of that it continually trickles in with comments and DMs from people who love this perspective. Also, when you can help someone visualize an idea (like I did by drawing out my framework) it is much more digestible and easier to remember. And we like being remembered.
Now let’s take a look at #2 “36 hours with no service” which is drastically different in the visuals and topic (and let’s give it up to my editor who crushed this edit).
However, what remains the same is the unique perspective. Watch the video and you will understand that I take a unique viewpoint on what we label as good vs bad.
- Audience Affirmations
Every single one of these Reels includes language that allows my audience to feel seen, heard, and understood.
In Educational Reels like, “Fuck Niching Down” and “CTAs are Dead” I outright say the things I want you to identify with.
Like breaking down “the wrong way to niche down” which is likely how you’ve learned to niche down by other marketing or business coaches. or when I say, “I’m willing to bet your first clients came from people you personally knew for 6 months or more.”
The goal here is to get so specific with my messaging that my audience is sitting there involuntarily nodding their head in agreement or even thinking, “Yup, true. Been there.”
I also do this in my Connection Reels, but it shows up a little differently.
I get really specific with my experience. Both internally (my emotions) And externally (what is causing the emotions)
In “36 hours with no service” I start off right away about being anxious (internal emotion) without cell service and that I’m totally not addicted to social media 😏 (external cause).
In “Inner Dialogue #2” I jump right into talking about how I’m launching my new offer (external cause) and I’m feeling like I should be doing more work which is making me anxious (internal emotion)
In both these instances I give you an opportunity to feel less alone. Come on… you haven’t felt addicted to social media? Freaking out because you’re dropping a deuce and didn’t bring your phone? (I think this is a guy thing) What about feeling like you’re not doing enough in your business? Especially in the midst of a lunch.
The incredible part? I don’t have to teach a single thing in these Reels.
We (me and my audience) are building a deeper connection in every single post regardless if I’m actually educating in it.
If there was one thing I could teach my younger self to improve my content, it would be how to do this.
- There’s a mix of content
In my top 26 Reels: 🌱 11 were Connection (stories and internal dialogues type posts) 🌱 7 were Educational 🌱 6 were Belief Breakers (this is a very specific type of content I teach to break my followers beliefs. “No More CTAs” is an example of a belief breaker) 🌱 1 was Social Proof 🌱 1 was a Podcast clip
I believe posting ALL TYPES of content are what allows you to build connection and authority with your audience and ultimately get them to buy. In the new year we are going in depth on the 5 pieces of content you need to have and how to create them inside my messaging membership, Growth.
2. Busting a few (Instagram) myths and what actually seems to be true
Before teaching you how YOU can begin creating mouth watering content, it’s worth noting some myths so you can release some ideas that may be holding you back.
- Virality isn’t necessary to make money. If it wasn’t obvious from these rankings… I did not go viral in 2023. I did make over $100,000 You don’t need to go viral to have a successful business.
- Stories made money The most comments and engagement comes when I tell stories and it’s not even close. If the goal is building connections with your audience, posting “How-To” videos didn’t accomplish this.
- Posting times matter? I didn’t want to admit this, but it looks like when I posted in the morning (especially at 10am) my content would get WAY LESS reach. After 1pm, the Reels seemed to get more reach (remember this does not always equate to more likes). It would be to coincidental that I just posted better Reels in the afternoon since I batch all my content the week before.
- “6 Second Bangers” do get more reach but… Oftentimes I would get 2,000 views on one of these reels, but only like 30 likes. That’s not a good ratio. The goal with these Reels is to simply improve the hook and make it more relatable. As I state, it’s your messaging, not the algorithm. But to what cost are you chasing likes vs saying what you truly want to say?
- Most replays weren’t the “6 second banger” reels… lol. The big reason for doing the 6 second reel strategy is that it would loop while people are reading the caption or text on screen. As the video loops, the algorithm thinks people are enjoying it because they are rewatching it, and then it will show it to more people. Funny enough, those reels were some of my lowest replays. Even the ones that did the best didn’t get a lot of replays. It was the connection content, like “Goodbye Colorado” that got almost DOUBLE the replays (and that was over 2 minutes long).
- Yes I have an editor, but only 6 of his edits made the top 26. I love my editor, he’s fucking incredible and we make a lot of fun content I wouldn’t spend time on making otherwise. But NOT having “professional” looking reels isn’t your problem. It’s your messaging.
I wouldn’t get sucked into trends and feeling like you HAVE make content a certain way.
What I would focus on is learning how to infuse genuine human connection and YOUR unique perspectives into your content. It’s how we (humans) have been doing life for thousands of years.
In a place where trends come and go, human psychology and the deep desire for love, safety and belonging hasn’t changed at all.
3. The 6 part framework to create content that sets you apart once and for all
I want to teach you exactly how to come up with unique perspectives and audience affirmations so you stand out while building deep, meaningful connections with your audience.
When you do this people crave more of your content and engage.
Please note: This is not a quick fix solution. This is a framework that you practice daily and develop mastery over so that having unique perspectives is just who you are.
Step 1: Identities
Identify your top 3 identities. This is what you are.
You can be a father, a CEO, an engineer, a dog lover, hard working….
Mine would be: Artist (Creative), Athlete, Spiritual Leader
There are no rules here. You can even make up a word if it suites you.
Yes, you could have more than 3, but I challenge you to choose 3.
It is well spoke about by content creators and artists that restriction breeds creativity.
Note: Identities will change. They should change as you change.
Step 2: Your Passions
Make a list of how these identities show up.
It can be 1 word to a list of 100 words. You can come back and add or subtract to this at any time.
This is how your identities show up in the world.
It’s the stuff you LOVE.
It’s your beliefs about the world
It’s the stuff you bond with your best friends about.
It’s the stuff you can’t shut up about.
It’s the stuff you would do for free.
It’s the stuff you would do if someone handed you 10 million dollars.
Here are mine. (this is not an exhausted list)
Creative: Storytelling, writing, sketch videos, collaborating/coaching, photographer Athlete: Ultra runner, baseball, tennis, golf, lifting, always moving, has a dog that can run 20+ miles, doing hard things, pushing my mind Spiritual Leader: Belief in manifestation, language and thoughts, a love for going deep with people, meditation, breathwork, journaling
Step 3: The Problem You Solve
Every business on earth exists because it solves a problem (it’s why you started coaching!).
When your ideal client suffers from a problem, I want their very next thought to be you.
Instead of trying to be known for solving MANY problems for ONE SPECIFIC PERSON (the typical way people teach niching down)…
It’s far easier to get known for SOLVING ONE SPECIFIC PROBLEM for anyone. It doesn’t really matter if someone is white/black, rich/poor, male/female, etc. (more on this in a second). If they suffer from that problem, you can help!
The problem you solve is your niche.
What problem do you solve?
Step 4: Your Zone of Genius
People can get known for solving the same problem, but HOW they solve that problem is part of their uniqueness.
The problem many coaches can solve is entrepreneurs who are stuck below $5k months.
Possible zone of geniuses could be Facebook ads, writing a book, starting a podcast, building community, content creation… the list goes on.
You solve a problem based on your specific experience and expertise.
What is your unique way of solving the problem?
(Hint: It is likely one of your identities or passions. If not, it should be. Otherwise you’ll get bored and burn out)
Before going any further. You need to understand the purpose of your content
While the graphic above shows a 70:30 split between the problem you solve and your identities, you must know, there actually is no separation.
Your identities should be infused in every single piece of content.
This is where your unique perspectives come form and how you begin to stand out.
There may also be someone who helps entrepreneurs grow past $5k months with their podcast, BUT that person does not also play baseball, is training for a 100 mile ultra marathon, has a Vizsla puppy, journaled and did breathwork this morning and has a photography background.
So your content ecosystem looks like this:
70% of the time you are talking about your zone of genius. Whether that be teaching, sharing a framework, breaking a belief, sharing a story, social proof, or talking about your offer. The examples, the metaphors, the specifics, you use in the content all come from your identity and passions.
Like when I break the belief that content can be fun and successful by using the Savanah Banana’s baseball team as my counter example.
Because I am an athlete who loves (and still plays) baseball.
30% of the time you can make content about all the other stuff in your life.
💡 This is why it doesn’t really matter if you try to identify a “niche” in the traditional sense.
I don’t have to TRY to attract someone with the same demographics and psychographics as me (or some made up Ideal Client Avatar (ICA)), I just show up as fun creative, athletic, spiritual Matt and those are the types of people who follow, engage and buy from me.
Step 5: Crafting Content with Unique Perspectives
Now we get to the intersection of the two triangles in the graphic above—Your content.
☝️ Because YOU love what you do (solving this one problem for your clients in your unique way), it should always top of mind
✌️ and because you are your identities and it’s how you see the world
This becomes the lens in which you make content.
You want to spend 20% of your time consuming from a researchers perspective and 80% of your time in silence distilling your ideas and unique perspectives.
Consumption is a beautiful thing when you LET IT BE because everything can be content but not every has to be content.
There’s nothing new in human experience… Each generation thinks it invented debauchery or suffering or rebellion, but man’s every impulse and appetite from the disgusting to the sublime is on display right here all around you. So, before you dismiss something as boring or irrelevant, remember, if you truly want to understand the present or yourself, you must begin in the past. You see, history is not simply the study of the past. It is an explanation of the present. — Paul Hunham in “The Holdover”
Is there anything truly new to teach outside of learning how to use a new tech?
Habits are far from new. Yet James Clear wrote a book about Habits in 2018 and has sold over 15 million copies to date.
What will truly set you apart is understand what has already been done and say it better, in your way.
All the great leaders that you judge yourself against that leads to imposter syndrome… they are just copy cats who took an old idea and made it their own.
Those great leaders haven’t lived your life and thus, this topic has never been shared from your perspective before.
Your work is not to simply regurgitate what everyone else said, but to absorb it, reflect on it, relate it to something else you’ve absorbed, reflect on how these pieces connect to you and your experience and pour it back out to the world in a new a fresh way.
Your consumption is always research.
Books, podcasts, a baseball game, a new course, a tweet, a reel…
Whether it’s about your work or not, it can be used to offer new perspectives to prove your point in a way nobody has before.
See how I just used the quote from a movie I watched with my family the day after Christmas to support my point?
How many other people would use this quote in the context of teaching messaging and content creation?
THIS. TAKES. TIME.
AND it’s the thing that will set you apart, not just in your content, but in your coaching and everywhere else in life.
This isn’t about waking up on Thursday and saying, “Oh shit I didn’t post anything this week, I gotta get something up.”
That is what is ruining your brand.
It’s why people don’t engage or come back for more.
I’d prefer if you got nothing up and instead created space in your schedule to create something meaningful.
Don’t confuse this needing to be perfect or prolific.
The graphic above doesn’t feel perfect to me.
Step 5 above was me explaining the graphic because I didn’t know how to show everything I wanted to say in the graphic.
I post it anyway.
In maybe a few weeks… maybe a few months, I can iterate the graphic and make it better.
In fact, this is how I used to show it:
Quite frankly it’s too much for a graphic and needed simplification.
But I never could have improved this graphic if I didn’t start with this iteration first (actually this is like iteration 12)
The Work: Anything can be content, but not everything has to be content.
Surround yourself with other’s who share your identitis and inspire.
As you consume (research) you should document the things that make you think, grab your attention or stick out to you.
A quote you love. A concept from a coach. An idea that’s sparked while reading a fiction book or something someone said on a podcast.
You never remember a good idea, so make note of it right away (I use Notion to keep track of EVERYTHING).
Then every week you take a an hour out of a day to look through these ideas, quotes, screen shots, and content and find crossovers and connections. Jot down some notes.
During another part of the week, you spend a few hours writing.
And you write about them through the lens of YOU.
Meaning, I sit down and think about what the ideas I captured in notion and what they mean to me as an artist, athlete and spiritual leader.
Like, what’s my take on, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?”
Writing allows you to digest thoughts and begin to conform a new unique cohesive idea.
If you don’t do this. You’re just in an endless cycle of everyone else’s thoughts and ideas and what good is that?
We don’t need more Alex Hormozi’s and Andrew Huberman’s. We need YOU!
All of the 7 pieces of content listed above were NOT original ideas, just unique perspectives inspired by mentors, courses, quotes, books, and probably a million other things.
Take a look at numbers 2, 5 and 16. These are all concepts I learned from my therapist throughout months of working with him.
I took what I learned, implemented it in my life, it changed my life, so I shared my unique perspective on it as an artist/athlete/spiritual leader.
(and remember… he learned these concepts from his mentor and teachers)
Let’s also look at how my identities show up:
The entire message of these videos showcase my spiritual leadership identity to my audience.
2 and 5 showcase my athletic identity with lots of trail running clips.
16 is all about baseball (athletic identity)
And all 3 reels I chose to use a voice-over over a ton of pretty b-roll footage that I looved capturing. This showcases my artistic identity.
Step 6: Infusing Audience Affirmations
Lots of my clients struggle here. Remember, this is a practice.
For example, I had a client who is a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
The purpose of NLP is to help change someone’s thoughts and behaviors to help them achieve a desired outcome.
I asked them, “Okay, changing their thoughts or achieving a goal is the solution, but what is the problem?”
Humans are wired to solve problems.
And every business exists because it solves a problem.
The answer, “They have created stories about who they are which stops them from achieving their goals.”
Great. Pretty simple. The problem is they are not achieving their goals.
This is where most people stop with their marketing.
What I would like to offer you is to go a few more steps deeper and more specific to allow your ideal client to truly feel seen and heard.
Because we all have created stories that are holding us back.
We all have goals we’re not achieving.
But the stories I’ve created about who I am and what I’m capable of and the goals I want to achieve are different than yours.
General statements don’t make us feel seen.
Imagine confiding in your friend about breaking up with your girlfriend of 6 years and they say, “yeah break ups suck.”
That’s not very comforting. We all already know breakups suck.
But if they said, “You know I dated my ex for 7 years. It is really tough because we spent almost all of our 20s together. We became adults together. We imagined our future together. How many kids we’d have, what our dream house looks like, the family vacations would take and all of that. It’s so hard to not only lose you best friend of 6 years, but to lose that future you dreamt up.”
Wouldn’t you feel a little lighter knowing you friend totally gets what you’re going through?
Would you feel less alone in this world?
This is what we crave as humans.
I don’t want the NLP coach making content that says, “Are you creating stories based on events in the past?” or “Are your current identities stopping you from reaching your goals?”
Instead I want to know
What are the stories?
What are the events?
What are the identities?
When my client tells me, “When I grew up my aunt would come visit me. I loved my aunt. She was so gorgeous and was like a celebrity to me. But when she came over, my mom would tell me to be quiet and not interrupt. This recurring event taught me to be a Wallflower. Not just at home, but at work, in networking events, even out with friends. Even though I wanted to speak up, I couldn’t. In every situation I would sit and listen to everyone else. This lead to being a secretary all my life and never progressing in the corporate world. This lead to feeling like all my friends were always enjoying themselves more than me. I grew sick of being the Wallflower and so I made a change.”
This is what people miss in their content.
This is why people don’t come back for more and don’t engage.
But this is why all 26 of my best pieces of content include.
This is ONE small story that you could pull a thousand more specifics out of that you could include in future pieces of content. Unlocking more details of your experiences gives you endless content ideas and endless ways to allow your audience to truly feel seen.
If you want to practice this (audience affirmations), before posting your content ask yourself, “If I wanted ChatGPT to draw a photo of this, what would I need to tell it?
❌ Don’t say “I was upset”
✅ Say, “I was crying under my covers”
❌ Don’t say, “I had a few drinks”
✅ Say, “I had 3 margaritas”
❌ Don’t say, “I dreamt of being famous”
✅ Say, “I dreamt of playing a solo set with my guitar in front of a sold out crowd at Radio City”
Once you learn to effortlessly weave Audience Affirmations into your Unique Perspectives, your content doesn’t miss.
People crave more of your content.
They engage with it.
They get excited when they see your face on their stories because they want to hear what you have to say.
Then they buy.
Relax and take the pressure off.
Your not after creating something entirely new.
You are after creating something unique.
Uniqueness comes from YOUR interpretations of existing ideas.
When something is unique, it’s fresh.
And fresh feels new.
Cheers to an amazing 2023!