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How YouTubers Monetize A Shift in Social Dynamics: And Why You Should Too

Photo of Karol Severin
by Karol Severin

YouTubers have become some of the biggest reach content creators out there. The likes of Marcus Butler, Zoella and Pewdiepie are living proof that it is completely possible today for a single YouTuber to supersede the reach of large traditional content creators and their programmes for a fraction of the budget.

But reach isn’t the only thing that stands out. Perhaps even more important is that audiences can relate to and connect with YouTubers at an unprecedented level. ‘Bedroom content’ has a clear USP over what traditional companies call ‘professional/high quality’ content: authenticity. While traditional celebrities are connecting with audiences through their ‘made up/scripted’ personas, YouTubers have the upper hand in convincing audiences that they are in fact watching the real them. No make up. No scripts. Just an authentic informal chat with millions of subscribers. Today at Mobile World Congress, Marcus Butler explained how YouTubers talk to their cameras as if they were talking to an individual person. Instead of broadcasting to their audiences, they are talking with them. This leads to an increased degree of trust, and therefore power to influence.

But many traditional media companies are still trying to wrap their heads around how it is possible that a ‘non-professional’, without a full crew, facilities or high grade equipment can often easily outcompete entertainment experiences that have multimillion dollar budgets.

The answer is quite simple. The traditional ‘professional content’ business model was created in the times, where social presence of consumers was shaped face to face or over the phone. This also meant that it was comparably more authentic. Back then authenticity in social presence was the norm for people around the world – nothing to write home about.

But then came the social media boom. A significant share of our tangible social presence was replaced by the virtual one. From filters to selective picture cropping, it became much easier for consumers to take control and portray themselves as who they want to be, instead of an authentic image of who they really are (or what others see them as). Just like traditional celebrities have PR personas, consumers started to create their own online personas. The net result is that a significant portion of our social presence today is less authentic than it used to be prior to the existence of social media. So authenticity became increasingly scarce. The more scarce it became, the larger the opportunity grew to build a content USP around it. The ‘cool image’ game is now accessible to most. And consumers engage in it everyday themselves. Thus it became the norm of today’s social presence.

No wonder that the cool of traditional celebrities lost some of its appeal in the eyes of teenagers. (The Top five most popular celebrities as seen by US teenagers are YouTubers) What teenagers on social media do not do every day however, is having the confidence to be real and authentic with what they put out there. So they increasingly look up to those who do – YouTubers.

Traditional content companies must come to terms with the fact that emotional qualifiers of ‘quality content’ in the eyes of consumers have changed. If traditional media companies fail to reinvent the appeal of their talent, they risk overspending on content with diminishing appeal and loosing yet more of teenagers’ viewing time to YouTubers and other social influencers.

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