Popular YouTubers field brand requests daily, but very few brands make the cut in this competitive influencer market. What can you do to seal a partnership with a YouTuber? Which products do they choose and which brands do they trust?
YouTubers value authenticity above all else. They want the brands they use to be a true reflection of their lifestyles. This authenticity benefits brands as well. When real people, in the real world, value your real brand then you have the potential to acquire a loyal customer base.
How do you approach a YouTuber and what do you emphasize about your product and plans?
1) You foster creative expression and value real experiences. Irfan Kahn, CEO of Blogmint, predicts an influencer marketing trend built around free expression. He writes on iamwire:
Experiencing the product and sharing personal stories around this would drive influencer marketing in 2016. Businesses will give additional creative freedom to influencers so that they can create personalized content for their followers instead of bland product / service reviews.
Most YouTubers speak to their audience as they would a friend. Outsiders might not understand all the nuances within the private conversation, but should trust that the YouTuber is reaching out to their demographic in a way that the demographic understands and values. Essentially, brands that encourage the influencer to take creative liberties with the product are likely to make a positive connection with the influencer.
2) Your pitch is as authentic as your product. Know your YouTuber. Watch their channel. Understand how your product adds value to the YouTuber's channel and how it will add value to their demographic's lives. And be prepared to send some swag. Nikkie Phillippi, a beauty guru from Santa Clarita prefers to work with brands she already uses, likes and knows well. According to her video, and Hubspot, when an unknown brand seeks her approval "she requests that the brand send her a product to try and then makes a determination about working with the brand. She says she turns down about 90% of the brand integration deals that make it to her inbox."
You might send your product to multiple YouTubers without positive results. You also might find yourself wading through a sea of potential YouTubers who would benefit from your product or brand. This is where influencer marketing platforms become important. Influencer marketplaces aren't manipulative or pushy. Placing your product or brand out there for influencers to freely choose and connect with makes for an authentic relationship going forward.
3) Your brand integrates with the channel's vision, now and in the long-term. Tyler Oakley, a YouTube personality with eight million subscribers and a strong multi-channel presence, chose a long-term partnership with Audible, where he integrates the service into his popular videos. The keyword here is long-term. Oakley explained during an interview with PBS's Frontline, that he and most members of the YouTube community spend years building their respective channels.
Each YouTuber earns their followers by maintaining a consistent philosophy and personality that has evolved organically alongside their channel's growth. Their followers are loyal and YouTubers are trusted. Over and over, in interview after interview, YouTubers explain that they must maintain their sincerity. Sincerity is what made them popular. They aren't fly by night and don't expect their brands to be either. As a brand, be prepared to become an organic part of the YouTuber's channel.
If nothing else, remember that YouTube is all about authenticity. Inauthentic product placement “could take away the one thing that makes YouTube stars so appealing,” Jeetendr Sehdev, celebrity brand strategist says. He sums it up like this:
If YouTube stars are swallowed by Hollywood, they are in danger of becoming less authentic versions of themselves, and teenagers will be able to pick up on that.
YouTubers like Oakley and Phillippi are acutely aware of their audience's predilections and most YouTubers prefer to work with brands that understand and respect their audiences and the channels they have created.