A popular sitcom had a joke about a 10-year-old boy who didn’t have a cell phone because his parents were scared he would become a YouTube star. That’s obviously not a problem in the Lee household (that has produced two of them). We sat with Theodora Lee, a local YouTube sensation who has 144 000 subscribers, to find out what brands could learn from a YouTuber. And given that that the top local YouTube talent can achieve more with a simple webcam than most brands can achieve with a full production crew and a ton of media budget, we’d suggest there is a lot to learn.
What do you do and who is your audience?
I make weekly videos about life that aim to give advice to teenagers on topics we find awkward to talk about. I cover all things coming-of-age; from getting your period to getting bullied, depression and losing your virginity. My audience is 98% female between the ages of 18 – 25. But I think a lot of the ’18-year-olds’ are younger than they say they are; they’ve just made their profiles that age. WHO KNOWS.
What are your thoughts on what makes what you do successful for your audience?
Initially, I made ‘any old videos’ that I thought were funny. But when I ran out of ideas, I realised that I needed to find a passion that’s unique to who I am. When I started making advice videos, my audience who were looking for that type of thing found me. And, as a result, they’ve become very loyal. I think the content on YouTube needs to say something that nobody else does. It can be tricky, but try to celebrate your differences rather than fitting into a ‘type’ of YouTuber.
What gave you the competitive edge over other vloggers?
Having a YouTube star, Caspar Lee, for a brother did open doors. An important part of succeeding on this platform is networking. I also had a bit of an advantage by being one of the firsts in the country, as I started to gain momentum with my videos while people were still catching on to the idea.
I have considered being the first on another video-sharing platform to have that same advantage. As one of the first people, you can become the big name associated with it, which can be pretty awesome.
Once I eventually chose to speak about a passion that’s unique to who I am, I was able to stand out from the crowd. Now that almost everyone is a YouTuber, what has worked well for me is taking popular topics and finding my own interesting take on them. Sometimes it also just boiled down to pure luck.
There might be a chicken-egg situation here, which came first, your blog or vlog?
I started blogging initially. I blogged my way through Uni – I had a theatre blog and a general blog about my life. When I started making videos, they had to be different to the content on my blog because that was aimed at my Uni friends. For YouTube, I knew the audience was younger than my blog readers. So I adapted my approach. After my YouTube channel was underway, I started a new blog – the one I have today, which feeds off my YouTube channel.
What could brands do better?
I think brands can make an effort to be more ‘human’. People aren’t all that interested in robots. Maybe there needs to be sensitivity about your brand that the consumer can relate to. Or if it’s simply in the community management, where replies are less generic and have more authentic personality.
Brands should invest more in conveying how they are different from their competitors – not by saying it, but by showing it.
Call to actions should be less about sales and more about forming a relationship with the brand. If a brand were to create a desire to interact with their fans on a daily basis, they would find gold. I think if a brand focuses on getting the interaction right, the sales will follow.
Brands tend to take a one-size-fits-all approach to social media and promoting content. What approach do you take to the platforms you use to promote your content?
My personal approach is: Twitter is witty, Facebook is witty with space for depth, Instagram is deep, blog is personal, and Google+ is informative. They must all be different as people are on those platforms for different reasons.
I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes I might use Instagram if the video is appropriate and relates to an image in some way. I am the least active on Google+’s actual stream. I like that it is integrated with YouTube. When I comment on a video, someone could potentially click through and see my YouTube content, which was automatically uploaded to my Google+ profile.
Who are your top 5 YouTubers you would recommend brands to follow?
Each of these YouTubers have a unique style that keeps on evolving. Their playlists are relevant and their videos are likely to live on!