With the explosion of social platforms and the shift away from traditional media, young people are now citing influence from non-traditional sources and celebrities. Many millennials now consider the people they follow online to have a much greater impact on their lives. The rise of the YouTube Star can be credited for this new wave of influencer
Why? Well besides having over a billion users and a billion daily views, a third of all internet users can be found on YouTube at any one time (YouTube, 2016). This popularity together with the YouTube creators taking the time to listen and interact with their fans, has created positive communities that look more like friendships than fanships
YouTube influencers, often called YouTube ‘celebrities’, are largely considered as trendsetters that hold the power to shape culture and brand perception (Nielsen, 2016). Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Considering YouTube was launched only 10 years ago. But that’s the reality of today’s fast paced digital world.
When it comes down to what defines a YouTube Influencer, typically a few things come to play. This includes holding a large subscriber base which ranges from 1 to 28+ million subscribers as well as a substantial viewership, a loyal audience base that comments and likes their content on a regular basis as well as the ability to build a community within their audience base.
A good example of a YouTuber that fits this description is lifestyle blogger Weylie from ilikeweylie. With a large subscriber base of over 1.5 million and a viewership of over 130 million, Weylie creates content that typically revolves around fashion, beauty and lifestyle which normally comes in the form of product review videos, vlogs which is short for ‘video blogs’, haul videos (usually a show and tell of goods purchases after a shopping spree), favourites/’best of’ videos, Q&A videos and heart to heart conversations with her subscribers. But what makes Weylie different is how she communicates to her loyal subscribers. Weylie calls all her subscribers her sisters and mentions her subscribers in her videos as well as taking the time to reply back to comments left on her videos.
Weylie has also collaborated with many brands over the period of time she has been active on YouTube. One of these being E.L.F Cosmetics where Weylie designed her own blush-contour Palette. Jennifer Stansbury co-founder and managing partner of the Benchmarking Company (a consumer beauty research firm), has highlighted that the success of this collaboration can be attributed to the fact that ‘beauty enthusiasts trust the unbiased opinion of women like them’.
Another good example is a Swedish born YouTube Influencer, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg aka Pewdiepie. Best known for his gaming videos or more commonly known as ‘let’s play’ segments (where a player films themselves playing a video game and on the corner of the video they separately film their reaction whilst playing the video game) and comedy skits, Felix is today’s leading YouTuber with the largest subscriber base and viewership across YouTube. But what makes Felix the reigning influencer of YouTube is the attention he pays to his fans. Felix spends a lot of time answering YouTube comments left on his videos, talking to them and forming a community of ‘bros’ which is similar to Weylie’s sisterhood. Felix has also collaborated with some big names such as Twitch which is a live streaming video platform as well as the infamous collaboration with Warner Bros for the Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor game.
Although we have been talking about some big brands collaborating with major YouTube Influencers, there are many ways the smaller guys can cash in on this influencer marketing strategy. One of these ways is through intermediaries such as FanByte and Mediakix. These intermediaries or more formally known as Influencer Marketing Strategy Agencies, link brands to social media influencers within your respective industry. Another way is to directly contact the YouTubers for collaboration opportunities. Although bigger YouTube Influencers are usually represented by talent management agencies such as Gleam Futures and uFluencer Group, directly contacting new and upcoming YouTubers skips the intermediaries is a way to get your brand exposed to a captive audience.