Hashtag: Influence. Are vloggers and bloggers part of your social strategy?
Here’s a challenge for you. Name for me the most subscribed YouTube channel on the internet? Did I hear you say TaylorSwiftVevo? Guess again. Maybe it’s Rihanna’s booty-shakin’ and hip-popping drawing in the viewers? Nope. It’s PewDiePie who takes out the number one spot with 38 million avid viewers signed up.
PewDie-who?! If you’re not in the 14-25 year old age bracket, nor an XBox enthusiast, you’d be forgiven for drawing a blank. But this 25-year-old gamer (real name, Felix) from Sweden made almost $10 million dollars last year, just by playing video games in his bedroom and posting them on YouTube.
Felix and his fellow social soldiers like beauty blogger, Zoella (8 million subscribers) or fitness fanatics TheLeanMachines (300, 000 subscribers) have social influence in spades. They build a legion of loyal followers, (PewDiePie fans are affectionately known as ‘Bros’), largely in the Millennial and Gen Z space, who hang off their every word, and importantly for marketers, pay very close attention to their product and service recommendations.
But while this might all sound a little nefarious, rest assured that commercial entry into a popular YouTuber’s channel is far from guaranteed. Vlogging and blogging success is symbiotic with integrity. YouTubers can build big audiences because they appeal to the natural human desire to seek out honesty. YouTubers invite their viewers into their homes, introduce them to their Grandmas, take them on holiday with them and vlog their pimples, meltdowns and messy kitchens. The vlogging and blogging community are therefore very mindful that any commercial partnership they enter into must be one that does not detract from the trust they’ve built with their colossal audiences.
What this means for brand marketers is that one of the core fundamentals of effective marketing remains true, and it’s one of the more admirable practices of what can typically be a dark art. To operate in this transparent digital world, you must create advocacy. You can’t just pay a YouTuber a princely sum to spruik your product if they don’t believe in it, because their audience won’t believe it either. Because true influence requires more than just a large audience, it requires genuine advocacy of your brand with a real sense of conviction.
So, create a great product, find social influencers who fit your target audience, and by nature of your product’s aforementioned magical-ness, see them blossom into genuine brand advocates, and then allow them the freedom to integrate your brand naturally and organically into their content. That’s the only way to take advantage of this new world of digital media, anything else and you’re just #piggybacking.