August is the month when YouTubers across the world get together at two major video conventions. At the beginning of the month the massive Vidcon in the USA draws around 20,000 people eager to find out more about video and to meet their idols, and this is quickly followed up by Summer in the City (SITC) - the largest YouTube convention in the UK.
While at SITC last weekend, it quickly became clear that there is increasing emphasis being put on how YouTubers can work with brands. How they can and should work with brands, the problems they face when they do, and how this affects the YouTubers’ viewers.
These are our three top tips for YouTubers we gleaned on working with brands.
- Be true to you and your brand
As a YouTuber, you need to retain creative control of the content on your channel. A brand deal has to be a good fit with the YouTuber’s content, otherwise the audience will see through it and label the YouTuber a sell-out. The videos you create should always be created to suit your audience, but most importantly you should work for those brands that really excite you so that you truly enjoy working together.
Brands must learn to give up creative control to YouTubers in order to deliver the most authentic results. When there is too much emphasis on landing key messages for a brand it can come across as somewhat contrived which has ultimately has no value for either party. A brand shouldn’t give a YouTuber a script, just key points they wish to cover.
Equally, YouTubers need to communicate effectively with brands to let them know what they have to offer and be savvy about their approach to journalists when selling in their own stories. At SITC, YouTube Communications Manager, Thea O’Hear talked a lot about the do’s and don’t of contacting journalists and teaching YouTubers how to build their brand through effective PR and media management.
- Be transparent
Being transparent and honest with your audience is key and many viewers have quickly realised that some YouTubers treat YouTube as their full time job, and are ok with with the odd branded video as long as it’s upfront and of value to them.
This week the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) released new guidelines for vloggers who work with brands to make sure viewers know when they’re being advertised to. When a the question was raised during #YouTubeHonestyHour panel at SITC, about whether or not YouTubers are seen as sell-outs for taking sponsored deals, it was clear that if the audience knows what to expect from their favourite YouTuber and they’re upfront about it, the viewers really appreciate it.
It’s not only the viewers who appreciate it, many of the panelists at SITC agreed that they prefer having the CAP guidelines. Although it can get confusing for viewers when they see some YouTubers following the guidelines and others not. And typically, you’ll find that American YouTubers who dominate the platform, don’t have the same guidelines as British YouTubers do.
- Be connected on and offline
Fandom is at all all time high with YouTube viewers and this was evident both at VidCon and SITC. At VidCon they had to restrict access for guests at hotels to maintain control during a YouTuber meet and greet, while at SITC there were queues of people lined up to say hello to their favourite video creator. It’s staggering! Opportunities to meet your favourite YouTuber, or indeed celebrity are incredibly rewarding for your viewers and critical to building your brand further.
It also goes beyond just meet and greets with top YouTubers, it’s a chance for them to meet their online friends too. As a YouTuber myself, it was lovely to meet fellow #Battenveda vloggers Sonja, who spotted me across a room at a panel session, as well as Laura-Christelle, who was volunteer at the event and joined me to make a vlog together.
Finally, both VidCon and SITC presented an important reminder for any brand and YouTuber doing a deal. It’s not just about the numbers, how far a post will reach or if it will ‘go viral’, it’s about providing something of value and something that YouTuber or audience might not have access to ordinarily.