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August 11, 2015 / Stephanie Vermillion

How to Reach Gen Z through Online Video: A VidCon Recap

Oh. My. God. OHMIGOD. OHMIGAHHH {insert glass-cracking tweenage girl scream}.

That was me, at my finest, during those “tweenage” years, when my days were spent either worshipping the Spice Girls or writing the Hanson brothers to see if they’d escort me to my middle school dance. (Strange, I never heard back … thanks for losing my letters, USPS.)

Fast forward 15-some years, and that tweenage-girl scream reaction holds true, but not so much for the Baby Spices and JTs of the world.

Today, tweens go nuts over YouTubers. And I mean NUTS.

Vidcon 2015I attended VidCon a couple of weeks ago to investigate marketing opportunities for brands. Going into the conference, I understood (as most marketers do) that video is one of – if not the – best ways to reach people.

But until that week in Anaheim, I had no idea how much weight YouTubers actually pulled. Hence the screaming girls, who nearly fainted when YouTube legend Tyler Oakley and YouTube up-and-comer Lauren Elizabeth took the stage.

These YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and heck, even Periscope and Meerkat stars are without a doubt the best way to reach Gen Z. So today, still fresh off the VidCon frenzy, I have a few marketing takeaways for brands looking to develop quality, lasting relationships with today’s tweens and teens.

Find the perfect, niche personality.

It’s not enough to just have a YouTuber on your team. It needs to be the right YouTuber. And fortunately, it sounds like most of these stars will actually turn down any brands who don’t fit into their repertoire.

So how do you find the right one?

Well, I’m not trying to add more work to your plate, but in this case the leg work is a must: Watch their videos.

If you’re a pet brand, figure out which ones have pets they just LOVE. (H/t to Petco for a great partnership with Toby Turner and his dog Gryphon– a great example of how to work strategically with influencers).

If you develop beauty products, find those YouTube influencers in the makeup and beauty space. If you’re a granola brand, look for the healthy eating, vegan-loving YouTubers.

There’s a niche for just about everything, so dig in, find yours and make a lasting impact.

Use a consistent visual brand theme.

When I first encountered 16-year-old Amanda Steele, a lovely YouTube celeb with a knack for fashion, I quickly killed my data and jumped onto Instagram to get inspired by her styles.

In addition to her fun flair for fashion, one thing struck me over and over: Her photos look so … clean.

During her Q&A, she shared her secret:

She uses the same filter for every photo, and sticks to the same cool color scheme of blues and greys. If she takes a photo with a, say, orange backdrop, she foregoes posting that photo to Instagram because it misaligns with her brand.

The lesson? Find your brand filter and color scheme, and stick to it. While it’s fun to play around with filters, do that on your personal account. Staying consistent is a principal teaching in branding, and it’s one that’s helped Amanda Steele (better known as @MakeupbyMandy) build a base of 2.2 million followers.

Be true to yourself, er, your “brand’s self”

Echoed over and over again was this idea of “being true to yourself.” Now, at the time, the YouTube stars shared this advice with young, aspiring video creators (AKA, the avid screamers I came to know and love).

But the lesson goes for your brand, too.

Today’s tweens and teens are all about authenticity – that’s why they heart YouTubers who show their true colors. So, just like an up-and-coming influencer, as you’re developing branded video or live-streaming content, take a gut check.

Is this what your brand truly stands for? Is this the differentiator that keeps loyal customers coming back?

Know your brand’s niche, and don’t stray from it. If you’re authentically yourself (well, your “brand’s self”), the right audience will find you. If you’re creating content just to get clicks, views and maybe a few sales … the right audience will avoid you. At all costs.

While VidCon 2015 may be over, the online video obsession will only grow bigger, and the video-loving population wider. There’s no time like the present to evaluate your video options and adopt a strategy to reach your audience where they are – whether they’re screaming tweens or household decision makers.

This post originally appeared on Stephanie Vermillion’s blog, PR State of Mind.


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