From launching IPOs to testing monetization strategies, social networks have taken many steps to prove they mean serious business. One of the latest actions came from YouTube, which introduced a multimedia advertising campaign to promote both the video service and some of its stars. Across billboards, in-person events, and of course web videos, YouTube has made a statement about what it can do in the business world.
For starters, let’s look at the people who were highlighted in YouTube’s promotions. The stars of the ad campaign include makeup artist and beauty adviser Michelle Phan, teenaged fashion and lifestyle guru Bethany Mota, and geeky baker Rosanna Pansino. These women are entrepreneurs who have developed fan bases more than a million people strong.
What do these three stars show us about the current state of YouTube for business? What can other brands take away from the success of the businesswomen and of YouTube’s ad campaign? Here’s what you need to know.
Entrepreneurs Are the Future
While many major brands use videos as a marketing tool, the success stories YouTube has chosen to highlight in its campaign have a grassroots feel. The early videos by Phan, Mota, and Pansino were mostly shot with simple cameras and no special editing skills. Many of the clips are still filmed in the stars’ homes. For instance, Bethany Mota has taken viewers on a tour of her room and walked them through each step of her morning routine.
As each of the three women built up their followings, they invested in better production quality but stayed true to their initial visions and their individual stories. Mota still has videos of her day-to-day life, they’re just made with better tools and more attention to detail.
The stars are entrepreneurs who took a good idea and ran with it as far as they could. Presenting three self-made success stories shows the type of company that makes YouTube unique. Many top business thinkers use social media as a tool, but this campaign shows that YouTube itself can be the business.
Personality Is Key
These individuals demonstrate that character can go a long way toward ensuring success for a smart business plan. The three women and their YouTube channels are all about personality. Pansino is sweet and nerdy, while Mota is high-energy and goofy. Phan is sincere and romantic. Each developed signature phrases or ideas for their series to further enforce their character traits.
There’s also an authenticity to YouTube as a platform for presenting the personalities driving these success stories. The format they use harkens back to the earliest days of video blogging, which had a confessional, almost diary-like approach. Although the audience of these clips can number in the millions, the stars create a sense of rapport and camaraderie by making their videos personal. Even their subjects, such as fashion and cosmetics, are very individual pursuits that tie in with intangible qualities of confidence and self-esteem. Phan and Mota cover similar topics, but the two women take very different approaches to the subjects.
A Knowledge Economy
One of the most interesting elements to each of these three YouTube stars is that they focus on sharing knowledge. Their channels often include product placements and they run ads before videos, but the focus is on educating their viewers. The stars share their creativity and their insights on the topics they’ve chosen as specialties, and that information is why people seek them out in the first place. The charm of the star may secure their return, but viewers are initially drawn in by the information they receive from these videos.
And the more unique those specialties are, the better your chances of hitting the jackpot. For instance, Pansino opted to combine her interests in both baking and video games, so she’s made her name showing her fans how to make cupcakes themed to Angry Birds or cake pops decorated like Super Mario Bros mushrooms. Phan used her interest in cosmetics to make celebrity looks more accessible, while encouraging women to experiment with makeup as a fun and empowering accessory. Finding a unique angle on any topic improves your brand’s chances of attracting a following.
The concept of trading in ideas and know-how also helps create appeal for the viewer. If any of the three stars had attempted to make sales pitches more prominent or less natural, then the audience probably would have been slower in building loyalty to the channel stars. Even in cases where the connections with another company are obvious, such as sponsored contests, the viewer still learns something from almost every video.
Once YouTube entrepreneurs establish personal bonds, that relationship with their audiences allows them to expand beyond purely educational or informational videos. Their fans will likely be excited about any new updates from a favorite star. Good bonds earn the entrepreneurs a chance to branch out into other, potentially more lucrative types of clips to supplement the strictly information-centric videos. For instance, Phan has started sharing dating tips and incorporating her own art into the channel’s latest videos, and those are just as popular as the tutorials.
What It Means For All Brands
YouTube has made a clear statement with this campaign about what it envisions business on its platform can be. The video network is emphasizing entrepreneurs with heart, creative people who are willing to embrace the changing landscape of what brand success can look like. Obviously, the goal of the videos is to show YouTube’s ability to create new brands and public entities, but the trends showcased in the promotions can apply to any forward-thinking business.
The focus on individuals turning YouTube into success shows how important it will be to have a relatable person to represent your operation. Whether it’s a local business or an enterprise corporation, YouTube is expecting more than just a faceless business spouting buzzwords. Personality, charm, and a unique perspective are important because those are needed to galvanize interest among a large audience. More viewers is a good thing for the businesses, the individuals, and for YouTube as a platform, so the company has just as much incentive to house many successful brands.
Your use of video should also go beyond simply promoting a product. Humor can turn a traditional ad into a viral hit, but long-running success with video requires establishing value for the viewers. Give them information, inspiration, or ideas. If you don’t have that knowledge in-house, then partner with a party that does. Phan is not only a success story for YouTube, but she also stars in ads for Dr. Pepper, and cans of soda are strategically placed in some of her videos about self-esteem and confidence. A company that understands the value of trading in knowledge and ideas will find a path to work those concepts into a video and social campaign.