Need a celebrity spokesperson? Bypass Hollywood and turn your browser to YouTube. Recently, established brands have been on a wave of hiring YouTube video stars. You've likely heard of them.
For one, Hot Pockets has hired videogame lover Toby "Tobuscus" Turner. And SpikeTV has hired iJustine. YouTube "weblebrities" have begun muscling out the Kim Kardashians of the world for celebrity endorsements.
Keep reading for the 10 reasons why your brand should also consider hiring YouTube video stars.
1. Talent and a media buy in one. Great content that's perfectly targeted at an engaged audience—check. Millions of impressions—check. You can hire a top YouTube talent with millions of followers for the budget of George Clooney's hair products.
And even though many YouTube celebs are now commanding serious dough, you're getting their creative savvy and access to the large audience they've worked so hard to build.
2. True touchpoints. YouTube creators are like the NASCAR drivers of the Internet. They have a real, dedicated, and fiercely loyal fan base that actually follows their endorsements.
Fans have a deeper connection to that YouTube video star than they do with Justin Bieber. The YouTube star's word is that of a trusted "friend" vs. that of a millionaire pop star who is out of reach and out of touch.
3. Social media savvy. YouTube stars know how to work the Web. Beyond YouTube, they will broadcast your brand to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and all of the other social networks you never have time for. Simply put, they know how to promote on those channels.
4. Authenticity. YouTube stars are just like us! They're not real celebrities with mansions and fancy cars who always look perfect. At least not yet.
5. Extended relationship. If the video goes well, you can continue to work with the YouTube star, which you wouldn't be able to do without aggravating meetings and negotiations in the case of a Hollywood celebrity.
6. Quick and easy access. You can generally get in touch with most YouTube stars. They'll usually respond to you personally and tell you pretty quickly whether they're interested. Though the more popular stars now have agents, the process is still typically pain free.
Want a big celebrity instead? Be prepared to dedicate a few months to work your way through several layers of agents, managers, and lawyers who think you should be happy they called you back at all.
7. The new paradigm. Q Score vs. virality. Who cares about a Q Score when you can get a million video views?
8. Mutual need. Just as you need them, YouTube stars need you. And not merely for the money. Their currency is content, and if you can develop a unique, creative way to promote your brand via a video, you're helping them build their audience and expand their personal brand as well.
9. Creativity. Try getting a major celebrity to stand in a shower and record 24 hours of video (Old Spice) or make an infomercial (Hot Pockets). YouTubers know that to make an impact online you've got to push the creative envelope.
10. Targeting. You can reach some of the more challenging TV demographics, and hundreds (maybe thousands) of YouTube personalities have really broad appeal, to boot. From fitness to firearms to food, some YouTube personality (with an audience) is likely already passionate about your brand.
Now that you're thoroughly convinced you should hire your next brand spokesperson from among YouTube stars, how do you select the right personality?
In this sense, selecting a YouTube star is no different from selecting a movie, TV, or pop star. He or she has to appeal to your demographic and align with your brand personality.
The Internet never forgets. And YouTube stars are a little different in that they're more off the cuff and candid, and they will speak far more freely than TV stars with ironclad network contracts. So, you'll need to do your research to ensure the YouTube weblebrity hasn't posted any profane or raunchy videos or said anything in the past that contradicts your brand or alienates your audience.
And don't let the numbers fool you. Just because someone has the most followers doesn't mean he or she has engaged followers. Review comments and interaction with the star's followers. See how YouTube fans react to the star's thoughts and opinions. Researching the YouTube talent is critical to know how influential the weblebrity really is.
Do everything you can to make sure the talent is excited about the brand and not just looking for the paycheck. That can be tough to assess. But being able to tap into the passion of a true fan can make good content into great content. The YouTube star's fans will see it and appreciate the authenticity, and you just might get an extra post, tweet, or video to support that content you're so excited about.
Finally, don't confuse a viral video for a true talent. Double Rainbow guy wasn't a content producer showcasing his creativity via an inventive video. He got a zillion views because he was a nut who really liked rainbows and happened to have the camera on. A true YouTube talent can typically produce, write, direct, film, and edit all on his or her own and has built a huge audience doing it.
The talent will have a playlist full of videos that you can watch to get a true gauge of his or her creative sensibilities. Find a star who is a good match for your brand, and you're in business.