Twenty years ago, if you wanted to create a video you would have expected high production costs. You’d probably need an entire crew and you’d certainly need a bit more time on your hands. Then it’s who you know, your connections, distribution, etc.
All of which has been alleviated by the progression of technology and the coming of YouTube.
YouTube receives more than 1 billion unique visitors each month — that’s a seventh of the world’s population. And a lot of brands are already realising the potential in online video by increasing their spend.
Boasting voluminous, loyal audiences, YouTube stars are the new film stars of modern time. Earning huge sums of money and reaching global audiences they have become a commodity for brands, who are finding the benefits in partnering with the stars.
Tara Hunt who is a principal at Truly Social Inc. said there’s a lot more to YouTube than just viral videos — which tends to be what springs to mind. The power of YouTube really comes from creators, and these are everyday people who often start out filming in their bedrooms and go on to have hundreds of thousands of loyal subscribers and fans: "Every YouTube star has a different tribe that’s serving them — who adore them," said Hunt, speaking at the C2 conference in Montréal.
Sharing the stage with three millennial YouTube stars, the panel discussion focused on the power of YouTube creators.
Rachel Cooper who is an ex-marketer, mother and popular vlogger, runs the YouTube channel Rachhloves. Over recent time she has partnered with many large brands such as the likes of Tresemme, Cover Girl and Unilever.
"For me I started doing it purely for fun and being able to engage with people who had similar interests with me," said the mum of two. "I did this before making money was a possibility." Rachel said never thought she could quit her job and make a living through YouTube. She saw it as a platform and then saw some of the successes earlier YouTube stars were having and the work they were doing in the space.
Also discussed on stage was the perception that people see YouTube creators as lone wolves, who sit in their bedroom making videos on their own.
"I started in my bedroom, propping the camera on a pillow," she said. "I want to continue to put videos up every week, so I brought on my husband. [He] works full time with me, and we brought on a student editor."
Jocelyn Mercer, co-president and executive producer at YouTube channel CJ Creative, said that a lot of people have this idea that YouTubers are alone in their bedroom and sometimes that can be the case: "That’s how most start," she said. "But typically it’s a business and when you start to grow you start to grow a team and have people involved so you can do it for a living," she added.
Canadian YouTube star PL Cloutier said that when starting out you have to see it as a marathon, not a sprint; few people will watch your videos at first, but you can’t stop making them. "Keep on making videos," he said. "What makes you different? Make it about a specific thing about yourself. If you can find something unique and make your videos about that then that’s a start."
The panel also discussed how a lot of people see YouTube as just a stepping stone when in actual fact it’s more than that. "We don’t know what’s coming around the bend," said Jocelyn. "Facebook is changing - other platforms are monetising. It’s important to know where the audiences are. I think right now YouTube is the ‘now game,’ but it’s not the end game."
Rachel said that she believes YouTube is the end game and she’s not looking to get into television or any other role: "I think YouTube is the end game," she said. "We all have brands and those brands are going to manifest themselves in different ways."
YouTube is king of content distribution and offers brands a lot of opportunities to reach audiences in great volume. And YouTube is just one platform. Facebook video and Vine are both on the rise — are video creators the future of new media?