If you’ve read “Influence Now,” our free guide to influencer marketing, then you’ll know that you can use Tubular Creator Profiles to find the YouTube influencers who are the best fit for a particular campaign. You can also use Tubular Leaderboards to quickly identify and even contact the top 10 influencers in 86 popular categories. But, how did these YouTube influencers become so influential? Well, you know, it wasn’t easy.
Grace Helbig: What A Charming Idiot
For example, Grace Helbig began in 2008 by creating DailyGrace, a daily comedic vlog, for MyDamnChannel.com. Seven years later, she’s the host and creator of her own YouTube channel, Grace Helbig, which has more than 115.6 million views and almost 2.5 million subscribers.
Helbig is also host and creator of The Grace Helbig Show, a comedy/talk show on the E! television network, and Not Too Deep With Grace Helbig, an audio/video podcast. She co-produced and starred in the feature film, Camp Takota. And she’s the author of Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up, a New York Times best-seller.
Helbig uses four key strategies to win friends and influence people:
1. Be Authentic And Embrace Quirkiness
In Helbig’s seven years on YouTube, she has been known primarily for her funny, honest, and authentic vlogs. In these direct-address videos, shot primarily in bedrooms, cars, hotel rooms, or wherever Helbig might find herself, she shares a little bit of everything with her audience.
Helbig’s token style is unrehearsed, goofy, and relatable. She’ll stumble on her words, make weird faces, mutter obscenities, make endless puns, and mock her own silliness — her channel banner describes her as “a charming idiot.” She makes audiences feel like they’re hanging out with their fun, awkward older sister rather than watching an internet celebrity.
2. Upload Consistently To Keep Viewers Watching
Since 2008, Helbig has uploaded more than 1,000 videos, averaging three to five videos every week for seven years. While her video style makes her feel like a friend, Helbig’s commitment to uploading on a regular basis makes her a friend fans can count on. The regular stream of video content gives fans a reason to keep coming back.
As a result, more than 60 percent of her viewership comes from subscribers who eagerly watch each new video.
3. Foster An Active Fan Community With Interaction
Whether Helbig’s replying to fan comments on YouTube or other social media platforms, or creating “Q&A” videos in which she directly acknowledges and responds to questions from her fans, she has always fostered her community by directly engaging with it.
Helbig’s commitment to community building has driven incredible fan engagement on and off YouTube. On average, her videos generate 54 likes per thousand views and 3.7 comments for every thousand views, both of which are several times greater than other top YouTubers. In addition, she has amassed nearly a million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
4. Take A Risk, Try New Things, And Trust Your Fans To Follow
All the groundwork that Helbig laid to develop a strong and loyal fanbase has empowered her to try new things. In 2014, after six years of creating videos for MyDamnChannel.com, she decided to take a big, unprecedented risk. She left DailyGrace, which had 2-million subscribers, to launch her own, independent channel on YouTube.
Helbig uploaded a teaser to her new channel on January 6, 2014, and before posting a full vlog, she’d already attracted 275,000 subscribers. Thanks to the help of her fans, as well as other YouTube creators who helped drive people to her channel, 1.6 million people, or 70 percent of her existing fan base, had subscribed to the new channel within two months of her channel’s launch.
Slo Mo Guys: Take On The World In Slow Motion!
The Slow Mo Guys provide another example of how hard it is to become a YouTube influencer. It took five years and multiple burns/scars for Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy to grow their channel to more than 556.2 million views and over 5.4 million subscribers. Mixing science and comedy with their powerful high-frame rate cameras, they’ve shown everything from slow motion airbags to mousetraps.
The Slow Mo Guys is just one project for the duo, with Free busy as an employee of Rooster Teeth, a U.S. production studio, and Gruchy as a Lance Corporal in the British Army. How have they built such a huge following with such constraints on their time, while living on different continents?
Here are four key strategies that drove The Slow Mo Guys to their current level of success:
1. Consistently Deliver The Goods
The Slow Mo Guys are unusual YouTube creators in that their content strategy has remained mainly unchanged from the first video. This consistency means you know exactly what you’ll get when you subscribe. The Slow Mo Guys deliver nothing other than slow-motion videos!
Although their uploads are much less frequent than those of other YouTubers with a similar size following, this consistency has served them well every time they upload a new video. The evergreen nature of their content means that when they upload a video, their back catalog receives a bump in views as people get hooked into watching more.
2. Tell The Full Story
Beautiful high-frame rate, slow-motion footage is included in every video, and it usually makes up around 30 to 60 seconds of videos that are on average 3.7 minutes long. However, their engaging personalities mean that the story of how they get the high-speed footage itself is also hugely compelling.
The stress, persistence and sometimes physical pain that for Free and Gruchy (usually Gruchy) go through to make the videos are just as big of an attraction as the stunning slow-motion visuals.
3. Create Shareable Content
With 5.3 percent of their views coming from external websites and embedded players, this is content that people like to share and discuss.
Their first video to go viral was “Giant Six Foot Water Balloon.” The video was funny and scientific but also inherently technical by the nature of the high-speed footage. This meant that the video was shared on a wide range of blogs and websites, from howstuffworks.com to Gizmodo and BuzzFeed, and it drove a large amount of traffic from social media sites such as Facebook and Reddit.
4. Respond To Audience Demand
Unsurprisingly, living in different countries has a huge impact on the number of videos that Free and Gruchy can create together. To combat this, they often block shoot videos to ensure they have enough content to upload on the channel during the months they are apart. However, they are active in the conversation and engaged with their audience, sometimes letting them guide the editorial.
Featuring content that their superfans love as well as videos that appeal to a wide range of audiences has helped spread the word and cultivate a loyal following.
It’s also worth noting that Helbig has shot commercials for Marriott and St. Ives, while The Slow Mo Guys have demonstrated “cold spray” for GE and celebrated the release of EA’s “Battlefield 4″ game. So, it appears that a wide variety of brands have started to harness the power of YouTube influencers.