What does it mean for brands?
When it comes to branding, the vloggers (or video bloggers) are moving in. With thousands of young, homespun YouTube celebrities garnering massive online audiences, it’s not a trend to be ignored. Under the sheer weight of their influence, marketers are looking at every angle of opportunity they present.
For content marketing, that opportunity is key.
So banish the image of bored teens in their bedrooms creating pointless amateur videos with parents’ cameras. They may have started out that way, but with the viewing figures some of them are now commanding, it looks like the true power of the vlogger is here.
In fact a study completed in the summer of 2014 by Variety Magazine showed that US teenagers are now more influenced by popular YouTube vloggers than they are by mainstream celebrities.
Not surprising then, that the big brands are increasingly using them to promote their products. It’s a necessary tactic to capture a younger audience who have moved away from traditional print media and network TV, and towards all kinds of social media channels instead.
Health and beauty businesses in particular are using vloggers as brand ambassadors and product endorsers. No wonder — a glance at YouTube reveals a surprisingly small percentage of beauty videos coming from the leading beauty houses, with most posted by independent content creators sharing make-up tips and tutorials from their own front rooms. A recent study on the sector by YouTube advertising specialists Pixability revealed that beauty brands control only 3% of YouTube’s 14.9 billion beauty views.
Who are these vloggers?
Some of the best known YouTubers internationally include UK-based Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, who currently has over 6 million followers on her YouTube channel, and a reported average of 2 million viewers per clip. Given how this compares to the readership statistics for UK national daily newspapers (very favourably), she has real influence. To prove it, when her debut novel was published in December last, Girl Online became the fastest-selling book on record, beating J.K. Rowling with over 78k sales in its first week.
She has recently teamed up with several fashion retailers, including Boohoo and New Look, showcasing the latest items from their collections to her fan base online. On a more regular, hum drum day she can be seen walking the beach.
Zoella’s live-in boyfriend and fellow YouTuber Alfie Deyes runs his own channel with the beguiling title of Pointless Blog.
US-based Michelle Phan, who has over 7 million subscribers and has uploaded over 300 videos, has done promotional work with Lancome and Diet Dr. Pepper. Since March last year her “Matte About You” video has clocked up over 2 million views. California girl Bethany Mota has more than 8 million subscribers and, at 19, rakes in more than $40k a month just by shopping and sharing the love with her fans. Nice!
What’s happening with vlogs in Ireland?
In Ireland, while the figures are smaller, rising stars include Sinead Cady who runs The Make Up Chair channel. With over 500k followers she has become a brand ambassador for the Irish company Blank Canvas Cosmetics.
Dubliner Melanie Murphy has up to one million YouTube views per month. While she has also done shows on mainstream Irish TV, her YouTube ratings far outrank any audience she’ll capture on these.
Why do organisations partner with vloggers?
For brand exposure, growth in web traffic and increased sales, one little vlogger can do a lot. The social buzz they create can go a long way towards improving engagement across social channels and take a brand to the next level in a chosen demographic or region.
It’s not just happening in the retail sector
But it’s not just the retail sector that is teaming up with the vlogger crew. All kinds of brands are increasingly offering promotions, gifts and competitions for vlogger audiences.
Some are taking it to a more innovative level, such as Turkish Airlines whose recent #Fortunetraveller campaign kicked off in October 2014. The airline sent 10 of YouTube’s biggest stars around the world in a widely publicised branded content deal. UK Professional stuntman and Parkour legend Damien Walters was one of them (500k+ followers), as was Devin Supertramp (he does a mean ‘Talking Dogs‘ video!) from the US (he has over 2.5m subscribers).
Starting out in Istanbul, from there each invitee was given a ticket to a ‘surprise’ Turkish airline destination, recording their experiences in two videos, one showcasing Istanbul and the other in the secret destination. Videos were housed on both the YouTube celebrity and the Turkish Airlines channels. The campaign brought huge exposure to the brand amongst a young demographic across a diverse geographical range.
Brands of all sizes can benefit
You don’t have to be a large company to benefit from partnering with a vlogger — choosing someone with a smaller, niche following who is a close fit with your brand can result in as good a return on your investment as other forms of paid promotion.
If you’re considering approaching a vlogger as an influencer for your brand, there are a few key elements you’ll want to research, depending on your objectives.
Are they and/or their followers geographically located in the country or region where you want to build your profile (or sales)? Watch their videos to see how they approach brand endorsement and if they’ll include clear website and product details on the screen. How engaged are they with their audience? Read through the comments and feedback they’re getting on YouTube after posting new videos, and on their other social media channels.
Make sure that any deal you make includes social media posts across the vlogger’s other channels.
Don’t forget to capitalise on that investment by further promotion of your influencer campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, whether paid or organic.
And remember, like in any marketing activity, building long-term relationships work best, so make sure you partner with someone you’re comfortable working with, you have confidence in, and most importantly, that you like their style.
Transparency is important in vlogging
Recent controversy around vlogger promotions in the UK has resulted in the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) monitoring how product placement and endorsement is being dealt with, and advocating for increased transparency in the way things are done. Ultimately, most fans are happy to trust a vlogger’s input, as long as he or she is upfront about whether there is a promotional element to a video or post.
If you’re a marketer who wants to access the under 30’s demographic, think about how you might partner with the right vlogger for your brand.
If you would like to discuss who or what might work for you, get in touch.