Branden Harvey

Branden Harvey

I tell stories and shoot photos for brands, dreamers, and world changers.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 30, 2015

Discussion

Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
Hi, I'm Branden! I use photography and writing to tell stories focused on hope, joy, and justice all over the United States and internationally. Over the last few years I've built an audience of nearly a quarter million followers across various platforms— most notably Snapchat and Instagram. I've been hired to tell uniquely positive stories for brands like Hilton, Chevrolet, UNICEF, smart car, Paramount, Clif Bar, PetSmart, and Lyft in places like Zimbabwe, Israel, Uganda, India, Hong Kong, The White House, Philippines, and Rwanda. During the Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States I was commissioned to cover the historic event. I also have goofy hair.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Branden! Glad you're here. I've been following your Snapchat stories for a while. What inspired you to share your life day-to-day? Who are your favorite Snapchat storytellers?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@rrhoover Hi Ryan! It's so fun to get to answer some questions on Product Hunt today. Thanks so much for having me. Oh, and thanks for following me on Snapchat. :) In the beginning, I think seeing Casey Neistat share his life on Snapchat definitely inspired me. I saw what he was doing and how he was doing and it really resonated with me. I started playing around with it and it resonated even more. Here's why I think it resonated: Instagram is a very curated experience. By the time I joined Snapchat I already had more than 75,000 followers on Instagram and that had begun to weigh on me. I shared only the most likeable moments of my life out of fear that I'd lose followers or end up with a low engagement rate. People don't want to see reality on Instagram. They want to see the best moments. Silly? Absolutely. Make sense? I think it does. (And I have lots of theories why.) But Snapchat is a platform built around intimacy and authenticity. It's a platform that works best for the off-moments, the bad hair days, the goofy antics. And when I started playing around on the platform I realized I'd neglected the goofy, care-free, non-curated side of me for a long time. And Snapchat gave me a platform to express myself in a fun, exciting, big, but also authentic way. I committed to making a new Snapchat every day almost a year ago, and though I've missed plenty of days here and there, it's become a part of my life in a really fun way. I really enjoy making one new story every day and sharing it with my amazing Snapchat audience. As far as favorite Snapchat storytellers go, I love: @mplatco @bradmontague (creator of Kid President) @everlane (one of the best brands on Snapchat) @dannyberk
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
"Snapchat is a platform built around intimacy and authenticity" Well said, @brandenharvey. Also 👍 to Everlane. They're one of the best brand Snapchat accounts I've seen.
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brandenharvey Hey Branden! Thanks for joining us! I wonder: As the internet gives the possibility of interacting with stories, stories don't have to be as one-direction as they have been when only print/TV was available. Sure, people will always enjoy to "just" listen to a story, but what do you think about interactive or transmedial stories? As best cases I would consider "World without oil" by @avantgame or "Zombie Alarm" which illustrated a Zombie Apocalypse Scenario in Amsterdam over all different channels - YouTube, Blogs, Reality, etc. Do you think people are going to enjoy this kind of storytelling and are you planning to try it out?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@dbleilevens This is a fantastic question, Dominik. I've actually never heard of "World Without Oil" or "Zombie Alarm" but now I'm really looking forward to checking them out. The most similar thing I can think of is this really fun project my friend Jay Swanson created. http://intothenanten.com/ It's a fantasy story told in real time through a blog and I believe it integrated email and social to add clues and details to the story. I think it's brilliant. I've definitely tried to create a multi-channel storytelling experience for my followers, but in a much more subtle way. Take my opportunity to cover the Pope's visit to the United States for example. http://www.brandenharvey.com/pop... I was hired to tell the story of Pope Francis' visit to the United States and have a conversation around how Good Is Winning in the world. I told the story on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter (and via a mini-doc produced by Elite Daily). Of course, plenty of my audience may have engaged on just one of these platforms, but for those that followed along with the entire journey across several platforms, they had a bigger understanding of everything that was happening. I like to think of Snapchat for the behind the scenes for my Instagram content and Twitter as the commentary for both. I've actually been getting hired more and more to create a cross-platform narrative for brands. A car company hired me to shoot photos for them to use in ads, but then we also integrated me sharing a handful of those photos on Instagram. In addition to Instagram, I also used Snapchat to share the ridiculous behind the scenes of my photoshoots. (This was super fun because I didn't obtain any permits for the shoot locations so there was a lot of 5am call times, "Is that a cop?!", and "Oh crap, are we supposed to be doing this?" moments that were exclusive to Snapchat viewers.) I'm definitely looking forward to experimenting with this more.
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brandenharvey thanks for sharing the story by Jay Swanson, I'll have a look at it soon! Sounds exciting! I see your approach and I love how you use the different channels for the right content. Furthermore I think there's a big difference between the event moderation storytelling and a fictional story which is told for entertainment purposes. I'm very curious about how the industry is going to use interactive channels to tell fiction, because I think there is so much potential but it's rarely covered. If you want to chat about my thoughts on this area, don't hesitate to contact me at Twitter! https://twitter.com/dbleilevens Best wishes for your journey, I'm going to follow it along!
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@dbleilevens Thanks so much Dominik!
Amanda Hill
Amanda Hill@amphotostudio · Photographer & Social Media Strategist
@brandenharvey What would you suggest for brands to do who are just starting out on Snapchat?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@amphotostudio One of my biggest suggestions would be to try to launch with a bang. On Instagram if you post a photo when you don't have any followers, that's fine. Once you get followers, people can scroll back and see that content you worked hard to create. On Snapchat, if you work hard to create great content and you don't have any (or very many) followers, that content is gone forever. A few ways to launch big: -Partner with influencers to bring people to your account -Do something worthy of press attention (Honestly, just having a Snapchat account is currently enough of a big deal right now to get some press. We're that early in the game.) -Give a huge push to your existing social/email // On top of that, focus on consistency. You want people to get in the habit of seeking out your stories, so try to create some regularity. Once per day Every week During every new episode of your show During every sports game During every industry event Etc I hope this is helpful!
Amanda Hill
Amanda Hill@amphotostudio · Photographer & Social Media Strategist
@brandenharvey @amphotostudio Thanks so much! I manage a brand that doesn't really exist anywhere but online through our blog content ATM. How do you find influencers in your target market?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@amphotostudio Aha. I gotcha. Influencers are very difficult to find right now just because of the nature of Snapchat. Consider working with an agency like https://naritiv.com/ or reaching out to me on email. You can also just look for news articles about Snapchat influencers to find a few of the big ones. It's definitely tricky.
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
This was so much fun. Huge thanks to everyone who asked questions and to everyone who tuned in. I really appreciate you. You can see some of my work at http://brandenharvey.com and I'd love it if you said hi on social. Twitter - http://twitter.com/brandenharvey Instagram - http://instagram.com/brandenharvey Snapchat - http://brandenharvey.com/snapchat Oh, and join my brand new newsletter if you want at http://brandenharvey.com/branden...
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@brandenharvey thanks so much for joining us. What is the most effective method you have found to promote your followings on social media? Which is your fave platform to use also?!
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@harrystebbings Hi Harry! As a professional photographer, Instagram was an incredible platform to organically share the work I do seamlessly and easily. My Instagram audience grew most quickly and from there I was able to promote my other platforms (Snapchat, Twitter, and my new email newsletter). I've also found that press (which is usually pretty random and sporadic) ends up driving a lot of attention to my social platforms. Lastly, other users mentioning me, posting photos of me, etc within each platform have been huge for growth. I love Instagram, but my current favorite platform is Snapchat. It feels like the wild wild west and I love the opportunity to truly innovate when I create on there.
Yoshi
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
@brandenharvey thank you for coming this time ! I'm Japanese Yoshi ! One thing I wanna ask you. Branden-san says "Lyft in places like Zimbabwe to Rwanda". And I live in local region in Japan. So do you think sharing business have possibility to succeed in the low population density or I think I want you to share your good experience what you took or gave?
Preet
Preet@preetnation · BlueLight, also enjoy QS and Parkour
@brandenharvey Hey Branden, what are your thoughts about groups like Humans of New York and Faces of Main Street that focus on telling stories about regular people? Any tips on how do to that better? At BlueLight, company I work for, we make the personal safety toolkit for smart devices. Since personal safety is so personal and contextual, we focus a lot on highlighting the powerful stories of our regular customers. Would love any thoughts you have on how to do things like this better.
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@preetnation Excellent question! (Difficult to answer though. Hah) I -love- Humans of New York. I really admire Brandon Stanton as a storyteller, humanitarian, and all around good guy. I'm not familiar of Faces of Main Street. You know, Brandon Stanton didn't make HONY successful because he's a great photographer, because he picks good people, or because he's good at remembering quotes. Brandon is successful because he has the guts to walk up to New Yorkers on the street, and he's skilled and gentle enough to get them to open up some of the deepest parts of themselves. That's taken years of practice, I'm sure. We connect with Brandon's stories because he pulls out something relatable from each of his subjects. That's all you need to do with storytelling for your brand. Meet them (online, IRL, however), get to know them as people, not as customers, and share something people will connect with. It doesn't have to have everything to do with your brand— it just needs to be mildly related. If people can connect on a personal level to the stories you share, they'll connect to your brand. I get hired to do this all the time for brands. I'll share the story of a prominent person in an organization. I won't promote the brand, just talk about the person. If people connect with that person, they'll connect with the brand. Some examples of storytelling I've done: http://www.brandenharvey.com/sto... I hope this is helpful!
Elizabeth Olmstead
Elizabeth Olmstead@elizabetholms · Filmmaker
@brandenharvey Branden, what is your favorite thing about @weld?
Elizabeth Olmstead
Elizabeth Olmstead@elizabetholms · Filmmaker
@Brandenharvey are you more scared of your wife or @celentile
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@brandenharvey thanks for being here! For a total snapchat newbie, what are your top tips for getting started?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@ems_hodge So excited for you to be jumping into Snapchat. Here are a few thoughts off the top of my head: 1) Have lots of fun. Experiment lots. When you're just starting out and you don't have an audience yet, you have a lot more freedom to try new things. Really live that up. 2) Try to connect with influencers, friends who have slightly larger followings, etc to help you grow. Don't be a tool about this though. Don't take advantage of people. Be real. Be a friend. 3) Live a life worth snapping about. I like that Snapchat encourages me to go out and do cool things. Sure, my job as a photography gives me the opportunity to travel lots and that's interesting... but I don't travel every day. A lot of days I just sit at my studio and edit photos and reply to emails. Snapchat kind of forces me to go out and do some fun stuff every day. 4) Focus on telling cohesive interesting stories. Think: Setting, Conflict, Climax, Resolution - no matter how short your story is 5) Know that growth will come if you're consistent. Create new stories consistently, make them interesting, and people will naturally come your way
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Branden! What five things have you found make a story blow up with interaction by fans?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@theo_dimarhos Great question! I'm going to assume you're talking about Snapchat, but please correct me if you meant something else. 1) Do something embarrassing in public. Hah. I find that the times I do goofy/ridiculous things in front of strangers, people freak out. I think that's a natural response. Awkwardness is powerful. Embrace it. (https://vid.me/2NQI) 2) Share something for free. I like to shoot photos of the beautiful places I travel to and offer them as "free phone backgrounds". I encourage my audience to screenshot and a huge percentage do. 3) Invite your audience to reply for the chance to be featured. People love being featured. I did that here: https://vid.me/7n6n 4) Share something personal and relatable. This can be goofy or serious. When I did a campaign with UNICEF (https://vid.me/UXIU) on Snapchat, I shared some of my own personal story and people really responded to it. 5) Just ask for it. Ask for a favor. If you've built a relationship with your audience, throw that right hook and ask for something. People will jump on the opportunity.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What's the biggest thing you changed your mind about in the last year?
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@jacqvon I LOVE this question. I changed my mind about A LOT this year. And I think that's really valuable. The people I admire most in the world aren't afraid to change their opinion. They're humble enough to let go of something they long believed. A few examples I can think of: -I went into this year with some preconceived notion on the Israel-Palestine conflict. And then I visited Israel and Palestine with the goal of having an open mind, meeting local people, and challenging what I believed. I came out of the trip totally changed. I didn't necessarily settle on a new set of beliefs, I just became much more okay with not having all the answers. I like to think that meeting people who challenge my preconceived notions is something that makes me a much better person. -I started this year thinking email newsletters were the stupidest thing. I didn't subscribe to ANY and I openly talked about how lame they were compared to social media (IG, Snapchat and Twitter especially for me). Fast forward to last week... I launched an email newsletter (focused on sharing hopeful, uplifting news stories from around the world) and I'm loving it. http://www.brandenharvey.com/bra... I'm glad I changed my mind on that. -I'm sure I have lots more. These are the first two things that popped up in my mind. Thanks for asking this!
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi! What mistakes do you see brands or causes make when they tell their story and how could they fix them? Thanks!
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@theo_dimarhos I see far too many brands and organizations positioning themselves as the hero of the story they're trying to tell, rather than the guide. The customer should be the hero and the brand should merely be a guide helping the hero to achieve their mission. Check out the (ridiculously long) book, The 7 Basic Plots http://amzn.to/22yLe3y and StoryBrand. https://storybrand.com/workshop/. They both go into a lot of detail in how storytelling can make your brand succeed or fail.
The Giving Keys
The Giving Keys@thegivingkeys
Hey Branden, I've been curious about how you plan out your content. More specifically, Instagram.. Are you creating a content calendar? If so, what are you using to create it?
Stephanie Martinez
Stephanie Martinez@stephmartinez · Social Media and Marketing
Actually, this came from me - logged me onto the wrong network.. Here I am! Same question :)
Branden Harvey
Branden Harvey@brandenharvey · Founder, Goodnewspaper
@stephmartinez @thegivingkeys Hi Steph! Great question. I used to use some sort of online platform built for this (I don't remember what it was called) but it sucked so I quit using it. This is what I do now. Instagram: -I have a separate calendar on Google Calendar (I look at it all day anyway, might as well) called Content -I schedule specific posts on there with reminders so I know where to post OR schedule an all day event for a loose idea like "Photo of road" when I know I'll be going on a roadtrip that day. -I oftentimes pre-write captions on keep them in a Notebook in Everlane. If I'm traveling - especially in developing countries - I often hand write captions while in the field and then type them up at night. -I keep photos I plan to share in the future in a folder called "To Post". Also VSCO sometimes. Snapchat: I have a MindNode file that's HUGE with every idea I've ever had for Snapchat. I pick ideas from there and plop them into Google Calendar just like Instagram. Twitter: I love using Buffer. That's all I ever use. Great question! Thanks for asking. I love the work you do with Giving Keys.
Stephanie Martinez
Stephanie Martinez@stephmartinez · Social Media and Marketing
@brandenharvey amazing. Yeah, I've actually incorporated a few ideas for a content cal, so I was curious of what others were doing to keep a visual perspective while storytelling. I will definitely check MindNode since we're looking to build out our brand on snapchat even more this year. and thanks sooo much! We appreciate you! Come hang with us real soon :)