The rise and rise of YouTube influencers

Have you heard of Zoella? Or Pewdiepie? If the answer is “no” then you are out of touch with an important trend in the social media world: the rise of YouTube influencers, who are reaching audiences of up to 32 million each.

But fear not.

I have enlisted the help of an expert to give you a crash course in youtubers: my daughter Elodie. Like many teenagers, she spends what seems to me like hours a week watching Zoella and the gang. And I was curious to find out when and where she did this and why. I’ll sum up at the end with some implications for brands.

Guest post by Elodie Taylor, age 13

Who are the Youtubers?

Whether you are aware of it or not, youtubers are gradually taking over the media watched by teenagers. The leading ones have millions of subscribers, with the most successful having an amazing 32 million! Youtubers have what seems at first sight a simple job: film 4-8 minutes of video of themselves once a week. Their videos take different forms, such as Q&A’s, “hauling” (showing off shopping they’ve bought), make-up tips, funny stunts and “vlogs” (video diaries). Here are a few youtubers to get you started.

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First, we have the British crew:

Zoella* (6.4 million subscribers): fashion, beauty, lifestyle

Alfie Deyes* (3.3 million): “The pointless blog” (enough said)

Dan (4.1 million): the awkward journey of his life

Marcus Butler (3.1 million): silly stunts

* Zoella and Alfie are a youtuber power couple called Zalfie

Then, the US gang:

Pewdiepie (31.9 million = The most subscribers in the whole of youtube): anarchic video game commentary

Jenna Marbles (14.2 million): funny insights into what makes girls and guys tick

Tylar Oakley (5.7 million): challenges, travel, day in the life

Why watch them?

First, when you’re feeling down and want to be cheered up the youtubers are always there. Unlike with a TV show that you have to wait for, or record, Zoella is on when I want. Second, you can get tutorial and tips on doing make-up or dressing up, you can get help, a bit like asking for advice from an older sister. Third, if you are into a youtuber, you can find out more about them and their life.

When/where to watch them?

You can watch them at home after dinner to relax (after all your homework is done of course!). But the best thing is you can watch them on the train, at the bus stop, in the car… anywhere as long as you have youtube.

Thanks Elodie. Back to dad for some implications for brands.

1. Online audience reach

At its simplest, youtubers are a new communication channel, especially useful if you are trying to target teens or young adults. The Zalfie power couple combined have a subsriber base equal to the veiwership of the X-Factor’s first Saturday night show.

2. Influence

These youtubers have a degree of influence over their audience, and so represent an opportunity for the right brands to work with them. This can be as simple as giving product samples in the hope someone like Zoella uses you in a make-up demo. The Matteson’s Fridge Raiders brand went a step further by developing a gaming helmet with automatic Fridge Raider feeding, in partnership with gaming youtuber The Syndicate Project. The “unboxing” of the helmet got more than 3 million youtube views, and helps add credibility to the brand as a snack for gamers. Matteson’s has followed up with a new gaming helmet design project called F.R.H.A.N.K. (Fridge Raiders Hunger Automated Nutritional Kit).

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3. Insight 

Watching YouTube influencers can be a (sometimes depressing) way of getting free insight into a teen audience, understanding the sort of humour they laught it, and the sort of products they like to use.

In conclusion, youtubers are part of the morphing media landscape, opening up a potentially interesting new communication channel for brands.