Popping into my corner shop for a necessary chocolate bar, I felt the need to scour the magazine rack for a cheap publication to satisfy my need for celebrity gossip. With well-known figures shining out of every glossy cover, it seemed unlikely that I would come across a lesser known figure, a young adolescent girl with fortunes made purely via the medium of video. But gracing the cover of Company magazine was Zoella, a 24 year old beauty and lifestyle blogger with over 4 million subscribers on YouTube. Armed with a backdrop of a modest bedroom and a camera, Zoella has a global audience hanging on her every word.
Created in 2005, YouTube is a video sharing platform that allows anyone to upload videos on any subject of their choice, from large corporations to individuals such as you and me. YouTube has often been given a reputation for showcasing oddities such as piano-playing cat videos, but it has also started viral campaigns that have captured the awareness of millions. In addition to this, it has also created business opportunities for young adults, helped existing businesses thrive and has in effect made teenage girls mimic the role of a PR professional, who shun or praise products through videos entitled ‘monthly favourites’ and ‘products I regret buying’.
Of course, the opinions of a single individual won’t change the complete perception of a company, but it will certainly influence it, especially now YouTube videos are so polished. YouTube videos no longer fall under the misnomer of amateur (we can all recall uploading a badly filmed, inaudible and pixelated concert on our mobile phones.). A good DSLR, editing software and a considered approach to aspects such as lighting, sound and content will reel in viewers. Zoe Sugg (i.e Zoella), also creates content collaborations with her network of close YouTube friends to further one another’s popularity. Zoella’s close friend, YouTuber Tanya Burr, has even released her own make-up line as a by-product of her online success, which is soon to be in our high-street stores. It just goes to show how captivating and lucrative the medium of video can be, which leads me on to how businesses can take note from these savvy teens.
Businesses should explore the capabilities of video to aid cross-media campaigns. This will help increase the awareness of a business and help it remain current. YouTubers already have cross-media down to an art, referencing other social media platforms within their videos to expand their following and link the public to different platforms. We can already see businesses beginning to jump on this bandwagon. For example, Alpro, who create plant—based alternatives to milk, now has its own YouTube channel entitled ‘AlproTV’. AlproTV synonymises recipe inspirations and advertising, and incorporates clickable links within the videos which direct the viewer to their website. This interactive element of online video content is what I believe increases brand awareness, more so than traditional methods such as television advertising. Reputations can also be upheld or broken via YouTube, as this platform allows the user to leave and view feedback and distribute videos to other platforms.
I feel videos, aside from their cross-media capabilities, are making information more digestible and easy to follow. With her quirky personality, I don’t think I’m the only one who’d rather purchase a lipstick based on Zoella’s review than go into a store and stand flummoxed in the make-up aisle. Oh, and I can even click through to the website which sells the products Zoe promotes directly from the video, reducing the time spent deciding which kind of red lipstick it is I wanted …’Hazard’ or ‘Nuclear’?