What up world? I know — it’s been a while and the world hasn’t stopped turning in my absence, but to put it simply, this boy’s been busy.
One major item that flooded my headspace was the 60 Days in Paradise contest, which sought to award one Canadian $50,000 ($30,000 pay for documenting a $20,000 trip). Though I didn’t place in the Top 10 and advance, it was a great wake-up call to get my head out of the clouds and return to taking care of house and all the opportunities I already have around me.
But losing in a contest with such an attractive prize, especially when you’ve convinced yourself that you must stand a good chance with a killer music video, heartwarming bio; and plenty of interaction about the contest while the judges made their decision — it can take a toll. Once upon a time, I’d sulk it out. I still remember to this day what it felt like to get 8th in the 8th Annual Ontario Spelling Bee finals, tripped up on a word as simple as “perusal” (which I swear was pronounced by a man with a heavy Southern twang, making it sound like “puh-rooz-e-ul”). Or when I flunked my driver’s test in 2003, getting me so down that I wouldn’t try again until my 30th birthday.
This is a different me, though.
I live a semi-charmed life, winning more than I lose with luck, knowledge, stringent work ethic and the strength of the friends I’ve made over time. It’s no secret that my life’s forever different because of the time I’ve invested in social media, and it’s largely due to an attitude where I won’t accept defeat. You can be sour grapes about a loss, seeing what happened and thinking on how the world’s unfair with everything stacked against you… or you can learn from your experience, taking that knowledge to do better the next time an opportunity arises.
This is my attempt to take the better path.
Deconstructing the Island Connoisseur
So looking at 60 Days in Paradise’s Top 10 finalists, what makes a good Island Connoisseur? Looking at the site, the key criteria were the following:
- SOMEONE WHO LOVES THE WATER…
- SOMEONE WHO LIVES FOR ADVENTURE, ABOVE THE LAND AND UNDER…
- …BUT ALSO LIKES TO CHILL…
- SOMEONE WHO LOVES TO CAPTURE, WRITE ABOUT, SHARE, AND EAT GOOD FOOD…
- SOMEONE WHO’S SOCIAL, BOTH ONLINE AND OFFLINE…
Obviously, that’s wide net. Where were the judges really looking for? The best presentation? The strongest metrics with social media views and site hits? Someone proving their willingness to do anything to get the gig?
To get a better understanding of what I needed to do better the next time something like this came along, I did a little analysis.
Numbers Can Lie
Over-reliance on metrics can be your downfall. If we look at the numbers for the Top 10 across the major social media channels (with my own inserted for comparison), they look like this:
|Contestant||Facebook Fans||Twitter Followers||YouTube Subscribers||Instagram Followers|
1 Used my Facebook profile’s figure of 1600+ friends rather than my Facebook page’s figure of 320+ for the competition. No shame.
2 Maxwel’s bio must be invisible, if it even exists. I’m convinced he just posted a link to his homepage — he is a scuba instructor, after all!
3 In his video, Christopher links to his Facebook profile with 1,684 friends.
4 Links to a Facebook profile with an indeterminate amount of friends.
What’s immediately clear is this:
- Pretty much everyone specializes in one social media channel. Even when you have heavy hitters like Nadine Sykora with her 160K YouTube subscribers or Shannon Boodram, Cailin O’Neil and Christopher Evans with their stats in the tens of thousands, there’s a strong leaning toward expertise in one channel above the others, with following on the other channels stemming from that. LESSON: Find one avenue that you use best and focus on it. Trying to be everywhere and do everything isn’t to your advantage.
- I’m a small fish in a massive sea. Looking at these numbers, I can’t even kid myself. I’ve come a long way in my social media journey so far, but nowhere near the point where my followers on one given channel could fill the Rogers Centre, Air Canada Centre and BMO Field to capacity combined.
If I didn’t realize it before, it’s damn sure sunk in now — stagnating is not an option, and if I want to open the door to better opportunities, I need to shell out the kind of content that’ll appeal to larger audiences — Toronto is not the sum total of everything that’s out there!
- IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS. While true that there’re some scary numbers in here, you have finalists who don’t have any figures over 1,000 for any channel, which only yields one conclusion — the decision wasn’t just about the numbers.
Quantifiable data can only tell you so much. You need to read between the lines for the qualitative data to understand the solutions that satisfy both sides of the equation — in this case, the 60 Days in Paradise contestants putting compelling applications together on one side, and convincing Tobago’s Division of Tourism & Transportation and their Canadian PR liaison of the best pick for an Island Connoisseur on the other.
Reading Between the Tweets
If numbers don’t tell the entire story, I needed to look at the videos and bios (where possible) to get a better idea of what it was that really made these 10 stand apart. This is what I found (again, compared to myself as a control):
|Casey Palmer||Toronto, ON||
|Kristi Keller||Calgary, AB||
|Maxwell Moulson||Mississauga, ON||
|Shannon Boodram||Pickering, ON||
||“The TV Host”|
|Maxwel Hohn||Kelowna, BC||
||“The Scuba Instructor”|
|Cailin O’Neil||Halifax, NS||
|Nadine Sykora||Vancouver, BC||
|Christopher Evans||London, ON||
|Elaine Atkins||Toronto, ON||
|Megan Shier||Toronto, ON||
|Gariele Braaksma||Victoria, BC||
1 These are nicknames I came up with per finalist that I felt best captured either their approach to the competition, one of the key reasons why I thought they made the Top 10, or simply something distinguishing them from the rest of the pack.
Starting to understand the stories behind the numbers, while not the case for all the finalists, you could definitely see that there were those who seemed pre-destined for an opportunity like this, and while I’m an adventurous, energetic guy who loves talking to people I might not have been the perfect fit they were looking for. My blog focuses on happenings around Toronto. While not camera-shy, my YouTube’s nothing to write home about. With more time, I could’ve cleaned the sound in my video submission a little more. While my head’s full of “coulda, shoulda, wouldas”, it quickly became clear that there’s an entire breed of content creator out there who lives for travel — not just travelling for vacation’s sake!
If you’re entering a competition at this scale, it’s best to know the lay of the land. Justin’s been egging me on for ages to get more knowledgeable about video and all it has to offer in Toronto’s community, and he’s totally right. Before this contest, I’d never even heard of Nadine Sykora — now, I’m shocked that I hadn’t! This contest has been a reminder that your world is only as small as you allow it to be, and our growth is only limited to the scale of our imagination and efforts.
This contest reminded me that I need to dream bigger.
Onward and Upward
This isn’t a post to whine over how I didn’t make the Top 10 and how I should’ve got in — there’s already plenty of salt on Twitter about the contest from the contestants who didn’t make it:
For me, I’m looking at who got chosen to figure out what I can learn from the experience. With social media as my side hustle, I’d be a fool to think I’m the best there is at what I do when plenty of others are out there putting more time, effort and dedication to their craft than I do every single day.
But I’m not a quitter. I don’t get bitter. I was obviously disappointed at first, but the best reaction to news like this isn’t to sulk, but to show the judging panel what they’re missing out on, and find a future opportunity that may be exactly what you were looking for all along.
So in the end, I thank the 60 Days in Paradise selection committee. This might not have been the conclusion I was looking for, but it gave me the kick I needed to get back to doing what I should be doing —
PUTTING THE BEST DAMN CONTENT TOGETHER THAT I POSSIBLY CAN.
Until the next post,