Great results with creators
YouTube influencers are their own brands. A productive partnership demonstrates respect for the creator’s goals and process.
Respect differing priorities and stakeholders
Just as a company or organization has stakeholders and shareholders they are accountable to, so do YouTube creators. Hannah Hart, of the channel MyHarto, explicitly refers to her subscribers as her “Board of Directors,” and requests their input constantly on new work and on the direction of her content.
No creator will risk alienating the people who got them to where they are. In a very real sense, the communities that spring up around channels have grown into best friendships, surrogate families, and genuine, deep connections.
Viewers know their favorite creators: they obsess over creators' voices, interests, and passions. Top creators, who’ve built communities of thousands or millions of fans, are loved for their sincerity and authenticity: their unique voices. If they can work with brands that they use, love, or are excited about, why compromise their success to work for an organization they don’t connect with?
Many creators work with brands to fund their videos, but remember their focus is on their viewers--and rarely on their bottom line.
It is very typical for creators to turn down sponsorships that they don’t think will resonate with their audiences. Many creators will state they truly need to be a fan of a brand in order to promote it.
For an organization to partner with someone who doesn’t love what they make or do, goes against the entire point of working with YouTube creators in the first place. Somewhere, in the galaxy of tens of thousands of top-tier YouTube creators, there’s someone who is obsessively excited about your brand.
Social media discussions are like cocktail-party conversations: it’s not very polite to walk in and just start talking about yourself. Organizations and brands may find it challenging to join ongoing conversations without disrupting them.
Enlisting a YouTube creator is the equivalent of having a friend introduce you around. This is why it’s so important for brands to identify the right creator: someone whose existing conversations and social circles already align with a brand’s objectives.
Collaborations may not be right for every brand or every campaign. And brands or campaigns will not be right for every creator. But with the right research and legwork, and open communication, many, many brands and creators will find the perfect match.
The potential audience for branded content on YouTube is massive, but recognize that sometimes engagement is more critical than audience size. Working with the right creators can help brands engage with viewers, gauge purchase intent, make every view count, and target the most interested viewers.
The most important metrics to a YouTube creator may not track with a large organization’s business or marketing goals, but brands can learn a lot from where influencers focus, and in discussing with creators what numbers matter most to them, and why.
YouTube creators work fast and can produce a lot of content. Engaging creators can help a brand get up to speed in an always-on digital world where consumers expect you to provide them with a lot of content. Missed messaging opportunities can quickly sink a brand or channel on YouTube.
Marketing budgets are being stretched further to produce ever-greater quantities of content. YouTube influencers know where to focus on quality: for some it’s in the writing, for others it’s music or equipment or editing. Finding appropriate places to save money is something that creators excel at, and at which big brands are less experienced.
Creators don’t just excel at making videos; they excel at sharing stories, and understand that when they “upload” is when the real work begins. It’s important to support your work with a marketing or media plan.
It may make sense for brands to engage with creators in an experimental manner, beginning with multiple short-term collaborations, and scaling up or working more closely with creators as they become more comfortable in the space, and learn which creators truly resonate with their desired audience.
At that point, bring these creators into your process and strategic planning; they are experts, after all, and can provide powerful insights.
- Discuss levels of creative control. Is the brand willing to give up creative control?
- Make sure everyone's clear on rounds of review, timing, who needs to be involved and turnaround times for both parties.
Ownership & licensing rights
- Where will the content live and for how long?
- Do you anticipate a media component? What will that look like?
- Do you anticipate a social media component?
- What turnaround times will the brand be happy with?
- Work backwards from launch date to develop timelines.