YouTubers – A License to Print Money?

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I am in no way suggesting that these YouTubers don’t work for the money they earn and that their life is in anyway easy. I’m also not saying that I don’t like this culture, I watch a lot of YouTubers myself. But agencies such as Gleam have hit the jackpot with the likes of Tanya Burr, Zoella and PointlessBlog.

If you watch these YT’ers videos from events such as Playlist Live and Vidcon, you’ll see the impact they have on peoples lives. Hundreds of (mostly) teenagers queue up to say a quick hello and grab a photo with their idols. They can relate to these YT’ers who may have suffered from anxiety, have body image problems or simply like make-up. They may watch their videos as an escape from their own lives, or just because they’re a bit nosy like me. It’s great that these people are role models for millions of people around the world, that they can use their videos as escapism, or just for tips on how to create the perfect cat eye.

These YT’ers are HUGELY influential, they have huge audiences of potential consumers who take in everything the say. Queue the brands who pay them to say nice things about their products. I have no issue with this really, I don’t blame them but this is where I feel it crosses a line of some description. I’d like to think I’m pretty savvy about PR, I run this blog and have just finished my degree in Marketing. I can usually easily identify when Zoella is being sponsored by a brand, this means that I’m not bothered what she is saying. It might be true that she loves a Simple moisturiser, but I know she is being paid and disregard the message. I’m not saying that YT’ers lie and say they like a product simply because a brand is paying them, but they may act as though they love it more than they do. I think this is misleading for those viewers who aren’t aware this even takes place, I’m unsure as to whether my 14 year old sister would know her favourite YT’ers are paid to rave about products. It worries me than 13 year old are hanging off every word of their favourite YT’ers and if they say they love something, they’ll annoy their parents until they own it.

This brings me on to YT’ers as brands. Tanya Burr released her lipgloss and nail polish line earlier in  the year, and is launching more in the future. Great, she was an MUA so its credible, right? I saw a 14 year old girl spend ALL of her birthday money so she could buy every shade. It’s her own choice, I know that, but they build a relationship and trust these YT’ers and companies are banking on this. I bought a couple of items from the line, and honestly? They weren’t great. I saw SO many bloggers raving about them and I wanted to shake them. I think a lot of people are blinkered, they see the branding and ignore the product.

Both Zoella and PointlessBlog are releasing books over the next couple of months. There are people out there who spend their whole life trying to get published and fail to do so, even if they are AMAZING. I’m not saying they should turn down the opportunity by any means, go for it. When celebrities write a book, it’s usually seen as ‘oh trying to make more money’, but with Zoella and PointlessBlog people aren’t thinking like that. It has their name on it, they will buy it. I can’t imagine how many children’s Christmas lists they’ll be on this year.

I’m not saying that YouTubers are bad, but companies see their ‘brand’ as a license to print money. Whilst it amazes me, it worries me that it’s practically brainwashing one of the most vulnerable demographics in society. I know this happens in other aspects of life, not just YouTube, but it’s new and another way to target consumers. If you strip it all back, are they  just being used to advertise and make people rich?

BETHXFOOTER

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56 comments

  1. Hi Beth! This post definitely echoes my own thoughts on what young people are being influenced by these days! I had a similar post up yesterday which was about my niece who is all of 9, and knows about all these brands and you-tubers! I completely agree with what you said, and although at first I thought it could be a cultural difference of sorts I no longer think thats the case! Its not just you tube but a lot of media these days is shifting people’s priorities to more superficial and insubstantial thins and turning them more vain I feel! Great Job with the post!

    Divya | TheConscienceFund

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  2. This is a really great post. Its far too easy to hate on these YTrs but it isn’t really about them. Who wouldn’t take the opportunity if it were offered. But as this world of blogging gets more influential and brands recognise that and portion high levels of their advertising budget to it, there has to be regulation to ensure their often young audience are aware of whats going on. The same applies to celebrity advertising. Thanks for highlighting this.

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    • Exactly! Anyone in their position would take the book deals, holidays and the opportunity to have their own make-up line. I totally agree that there should be regulation on this! I’m not sure there ever will be though, which is scary! x

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  3. Such a well written post with some very valid points! The thing about the books bothered me a little too. The fact is that they will have been approached to write the books because the publishing companies know that they’re going to make so much money from a book written by Zoella or PointlessBlog. It is unfair when you think about all of the hard working authors out there who struggle to get their work published or don’t make a lot of money from selling their books (I feel quite strongly about this as my mum is one of those people). But I guess that’s the way life goes! I don’t hold a grudge against them for it – if I was in their position I’d be snapping up opportunities as they came too and as you said, it’s not like they don’t work hard or have to deal with consequences of it all (e.g. all of the hundreds of screaming ‘fans’). xo

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    • Thank you Megan 🙂

      Yeah, publishing companies and Gleam will have just seen pound signs! and I don’t blame them for accepting the opportunity – it’s huge! Agree with you 100% – they do have to deal with 10000000’s of screaming teens! X

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  4. Such a great post and I couldn’t agree more!! I have a big problem with the vlogging/blogging world and the use of it to make a product sell out. The Anastasia Countour Kit is a great example, everytime a vlogger announced that it was out again, it was gone within hours… and honestly it’s a crap product that didn’t have enough colors, and they let us all buy it and then released the new colors.

    Sure this new world is fantastic for helping people with self esteem issues, but it’s getting out of hand now. Teaching poor young girls that having 5k of making laying around going back is normal, and wearing a full coverage concealer under your eyes because a Youtuber does it is how makeup is supposed to be done.

    I’ve even re-thought my own blog because of things like this, it’s not about real people helping other real people understand makeup, and what to buy. It’s a sales tool now and everyone is falling for it!

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    • I agree, when there is a hype around a product in the blogging/vlogging world it’s huge regardless of whether the product is amazing or not.
      Yeah, it started as make-up tutorials and shopping hauls, and now teens are believing everything they say and YT’ers have become their idols. They’re definitely just used to make people a lot of money!

      Thank you for your comment xxx

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  5. Definitely some really great points you’ve made here. I feel like so many people are unaware when a product is being advertised, I definitely don’t think I would of noticed, or even cared at that age if something was sponsored. I also totally agree with you on the products made by YouTubers. They have very free rein in what they can do these days and I won’t be surprised to soon see them in television programmes. It’s crazy how much time and place can play a part in how successful you become, especially with YouTube. It’s definitely true that they work hard for their money and fame, although it is a very unconventional job that is hard to get your head around sometimes. x

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  6. SO true literally, sometimes I have to bite my tongue and figure how to phrase things but it really does get to me, they definitely do work hard but sometimes it really does feel like brainwashing xxx

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  7. It’s definitely a consumerism society whether we like it or not. The only difference between companies paying for air time on tv and YouTubers promoting a product is that it’s hugely cost effective, probably gets more viewers seeing as people actually click on the video and watch it themselves as compared to an advert on tv where we quickly change the channel and like you said, it’s relatable material therefore it’s applicable to girls everywhere. As for parents caving in to their kids’ whims and desires…that’s bad on them don’t you think? 🙂

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  8. A very interesting post. I think you are right in that it is OK for the older generation of followers to decipher between sponsored and non-sponsored posts, but it is difficult for younger followers. They will take everything at face value and may be ‘swayed’ into buying things they don’t need. I also think that it is ok for YTbers to want to be involved in such projects, good on them I say, I suppose the problem is educating others to be able to make up their own minds about products shown to them? x

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    • I agree 100% – young followers don’t have the knowledge, but I think companies rely on that in order to boost sales. I don’t blame the YT’ers either – they’re presented with amazing opportunities I’m sure most people in their position would take. I do think young followers need to be education in this – it’s becoming a huge part of our lives – and another channel of advertising.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

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  9. If I see see several of the bigger youtubers reviewing the same product within a short amount of time its an immediate red flag that the product is sponsored.

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  10. Glad that you’ve made this point – to be honest Tanya Burr and Jim Chapman’s association with Mulberry has annoyed me quite a bit. Mulberry is a brand none of their viewers will be able to afford – and whilst I know I wouldn’t turn down a project with Mulberry, it does make you wonder where there priorities lie really. I fully agree about the make up line! The fact that she released glosses as well shows her target audience – as a 20 year old viewer of hers I know I’d rather have a lipstick or something rather than a childish gloss. I think Zoella and Alfie etc are being a bit more select with theirs and I really enjoy that Zoe has actually written a book (opposed to Alfie’s pretty much copied version of Wreck This Journal). I don’t know – I know that a lot of these opportunities I would also take but I think when you have that much influence you need to use it wisely!

    xx

    http://www.erinjaine.blogspot.com

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    • I agree with you on the wreck this journal comment as that’s exactly what I thought too when I saw the announcement, I’ll probably still buy it though because of the added extras that come with the app. I think its a really fun book and I have a wreck this journal too so would be fun to compare! xx

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    • I agree 100000% Erin! I think Zoe and Alfie are much more selective, which is great & good on them for getting themselves book deals. BUT I still think young consumers/viewers aren’t educated enough and are pretty vulnerable to their messages.

      The Mulberry thing with Tanya and Jim – WHY? I don’t understand why they worked with them?????
      I liked Mulberry, saw them as a huuuuge premium brand, but now I’m not so sure – do Tanya and Jim really suit their brand image? or are they just looking to boost sales because they have a lot of fans? Who like you said can’t afford their products anyway?!??!?!

      Thank you for your comment 😀 x

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  11. I think it’s great that they are bringing out books! I for one will probably buy both of them. Zoe said in a blog post/video that it’s always been a dream of hers to write a book so she’s taken the opportunity and snapped it up, the same as anyone would. They did get lucky in starting out when Youtube was quite new but they have still worked to get their following and to where they are now. It motivates me a little bit more to work harder when I see how far people have come just from doing something they love. I don’t really mind if they get sponsored to say they like products tbh, I usually take in a range of reviews before purchasing.

    This is a really good blogpost and will spark a lot of discussion! Well done you for coming out and saying your opinion. xxx

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    • I don’t blame her for take the opportunities, I’d do the same. I just think that they are being used to make money. It makes the world go around I suppose – but it just scares me the influence they have on young teens. I’m don’t mind they doing sponsored posts and like you usually look at lots of reviews, but a lot of young teens won’t & will believe youtubers, they are their idols. Just worrying I suppose!

      Thank you for your lovely comments 🙂 and for adding to the discussion, I love finding out other peoples opinions 🙂 xxxx

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  12. I loved this. Really well written and insightful post. I completely agree with the bit about book details, it’s not as if they don’t deserve it… its just other people spends years and years trying desperately to get published without any luck and it’s almost like it’s handed on a plate to them. It’s worrying how much influence they have on very young viewers and sometimes I don’t think they really realise that to the scale that it is.
    Helena / helenaterry.blogspot.co.uk

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  13. I understand where your coming from, but if you was offered a book deal, would you turn it down? Probably not. Tanya Burr has always wanted to have a make up line and while you don’t like her lip glosses, personally they are some of the best ones I have tried whether they have her name on it or not! Being successful on YouTube could happen to anyone and YouTubers are a lot more accessible than celebrities are these days so I completely understand why they are being offered book deals – I know I would buy them!

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    • I’m not saying I wouldn’t accept the book deal. I’d jump at the chance and don’t blame them for accepting the deal.

      I personally didn’t like Tanya’s products – but know that there were a lot of reviews that said they liked them regardless. Of course there were people who genuinely liked them, but like with anything branded – if people like the brand they’ll sometimes force themselves to like the product.

      Yeah, it can happen to anyone, I don’t think it’s as easy for people now as the market is pretty saturated, with the number of smaller you tubers. – They are hugely influential (I did my dissertation on the influence of beauty blogs, its easily transferable to vlogs) I understand why they are getting offered book deals – but my point was that companies are seeing pound signs where they are concerned and are willing to put their name to things purely to make money. With no regard for how uneducated the young audience are about sponsored posts etc.

      Thanks for your comment X

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  14. Totally agree with all your comments Beth, I enjoy YouTube but it is not about the love of makeup anymore but more about money and product promotion, I now find I don’t trust the reviews of a lot of the big beauty girls because nearly all their videos are sponsored,gone are the days they went to boots and got a few lipsticks.The gleamies do seem to be the worse lot of the bunch.It is also the case now for vloggers ,a lot of them use freebies and sponsored stuff in their videos,call me cynical but if someone offers you a big sack of cash you are going to say you love that product even if you don’t.This is were their integrity comes into play. If they were honest about it then fine but they are misleading 13 year old girls a lot of the time. Also most of the big beauty girls have lifestyles that most of us can only dream of,not many of us can afford mulberry bags trips to L.A and so on ,so how relatable are they to their target audience.

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  15. I don’t really watch youtubers, I much prefer reading, so maybe I can’t really comment on this…
    I get what you mean about brands seeing them as a way to just advertise, and that yes, a lot of their watchers are younger and maybe more vulnerable. My sister is 15 and loves watching them and maybe gets influenced as to what to buy make up wise by them. Thing is though, isn’t it just the same as bloggers? Isn’t that the same as complaining about bloggers making money from reviewing products? I don’t think we can just group a few very successful youtubers on their own in this. Advertising and marketing in general is scary to me, including on blogs and youtube channels, and tv advertising. My personal worst though has to be magazines! I prefer reading blogs ‘cos they’re more honest and real 🙂 xo

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    • To an extent it can be the same as bloggers. But through YouTube videos I think stronger connections between YTer and viewer are made. Seeing the person on screen practically chatting TO YOU in a lot more effective that reading the words through a blog.

      I also think vlogging is on a bigger scale to blogging, Zoella has over 5 million subscribers, people who watch every video – There are huge blogs, but you only have to look at her blog followers (and other bloggers) to see that big bloggers don’t usually reach 5 million followers.

      Blogs are honest a real, to an extent but so are YouTube videos, and if young teens find it easier to relate to people through watching their YT videos (which personally I think they do) surely thats a scarier thought than them reading some blogs? I do think blogs are influential, I did my dissertation on it earlier this year, but I really believe that these big YouTubers are scarily influential, and that is shown by the amount of money they earn AND the number of brands that fall over themselves to work with them.

      Thanks for your comment!

      xx

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  16. This was a great post! Totally agree with you on the book front. People work their whole lives to get published and these people just get given a book deal like that. I feel bad for whoever will inevitably be actually writing the books and get no credit.

    xx

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  17. Another great post Beth. It did annoy me a little bit that Zoella got handed a book deal on a plate when there are hundreds of brilliant writers out there that have worked so much harder and probably deserve it a bit more. Again with the Tanya Burr make up line, I didn’t buy a thing because I would rather spend my money on brands that have been around a long time and are very credible. I love youtube and obviously make video’s myself but I just believe these people were simply in the right place at the right time! x

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  18. Authenticity is a massive signpost I wanna stay at, if I stray from that I want someone to tell me. A lot of bloggers use affiliate marketting though to gain back links and some money on their site! Blogging is an expensive hobby, It labours me to actually write about Beauty products, because it’s expensive and cliquey.
    Lifestyle and travel is so much of an authentic genre. One I’m gonna divulge into more often.
    I don’t actually like zoella or Tanya burr at all, I find their style of YouTube very, “high rising tone” and frankly piss annoying, this is out there, I’ve wrote it on a comment but that’s my opinion. Now GossMakeUp and pixiwoo sisters are authentic because they talk about the colour and not the feeling it gives, makeup has become to omuch of a lifestyle now instead of an art, and it’s why I find myself searching more on the drag end and special effects and performance side of YT than fake reviews by a sponsor.
    Call me bitter, but I’m more inclined to listen to someone making something with the product than just getting wet over the amount of promo code percentage they are gonna receive.

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    • I agree! I tend to switch off if I know they are being paid!!
      Blogging is only as expensive as you make it, I truly believe they, I blog about beauty but I don’t go out and spend £50 on new products so I have something to blog about. If I can’t review a product I write about something else. I’m getting bored with writing reviews, I want to write about things that people care about! X

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  19. This is such a great piece Beth! I totally agree with you on the fact that it missleads the younger generation and I know all too well how easy it is to get sucked into a product just because someone you like is raving about it. It’s an effective form of promotion to say the least but I for sure think it’s wrong! Love that you actually wrote this and are in a way telling people to realise the truth (which I 100% agree with)! x

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  20. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE I can’t beleive how similar our opinions are. Firstly, there are people who work all their lives, trying to get a makeup line, a book published or whatever and these youtubers get it straight to them. Zoe’s so sponsored nowadays, it’s stupid as she raves about products she actually slagged off in other videos!

    Keep in touch, I’d love to talk to you more. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders.

    Beauty Soup || UK Beauty Blog

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  21. Very interesting read! I personally have nothing against sponsored content and love the Youtube boom – I know that the girls I watch (I can’t speak for every big Youtuber of course) only make sponsored videos about products they do genuinely like, so it’s not like they are lying, and most of their videos aren’t sponsored so it’s a good balance. Whereas with magazines I completely disregard all opinions on makeup as it’s so clear they ‘LOVE’ every new release just because they’ve been wined and dined by the PR people! Youtubers are more relatable, so their opinions matter more to me.

    I completely agree about the influence on young teenagers though. I feel lucky I started watching Youtube videos at an age where I could make my own choices and not be blinded by fandom surrounding the really popular girls. It does scare me a bit that young girls will queue for hours just to see someone for 5 minutes, or CRY if someone retweets/follows them :/ but I think pop culture is always going to be like that and always has been, it’s just now that social media is a part of every child’s daily routine there are so many more platforms for this unhealthy obsession to take place!

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    • Thanks for your comment Kat 🙂 I think some of the huge you tubers are wined and dined just as much as magazines these days, sadly.

      I had someone threaten to stab me on Twitter because I don’t agree with what certain you tubers say – the whole fandom thing scares me. They’re like cults! I agree about it always being there, but I think it’s scary that social media is now a HUGE part of everyones lives, and lets be honest a 10 year old on Twitter is going to discover things they probably shouldn’t. X

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  22. I agree with everyone else here, great post! I’m quite a newbie in terms of this community/industry, but I’ve noticed with start to watch a few of the youtuber’s regularly and reading a few big blogs, that I can see through the words, alost to the point of it feeling staged. It’s a shame, because most of them come across super nice and friendly, and everyone I’ve talked to so far has been lovely. But it’s so easy to find yourself buying into the product placement, trying out the product and realising it’s maybe not that great. I really enjoy reading the posts and watching the videos that have the more diplomatic viewpoint, and look at the pros and cons of a product. To me, the honesty is the most important thing, and this get’s a little lost with everyone trying to be super positive, so the brands are potentially on their side. Then this leads to, like others have said, influencing younger people in the wrong direction. I’m basically reiterating a load of points, but I think your post is an important one, and I hope the younger audience come across it in order to become a bit ore savvy. I might right a post about the advertising industry (where I work) and how that affects things from the other angle, it’s so interesting/scary to see how brands operate.

    Anyway, sorry for the waffle, you’ve inspired me with this post 🙂 thank you!! xx

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  23. I agree with this, 100%! Yes it can be quite a controversial topic to discuss, but it’s interesting to see everyone”s point of view on the matter. I’m not against Vloggers and Bloggers creating their own line of clothing or make-up and making their name a brand, its more the fact that it can sometimes appear as just another way to lure in viewers and followers. Plus everyone knows the avid fans will definitely buy every product in the collection so it’s autonomously a money making scheme! The brand is the only thing people care about when it comes to this, not the product itself and how good that is. I’m not going to go out and spend £5+ on one of their nail polishes or lip glosses etc. because I know people who have and the formula is poor! Its sad that people only care about the name nowadays as it makes the beauty industry go down hill slightly, in my eyes.

    http://www.scampinchips.co.uk/

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    • Yeah, I would take the opportunities if I was in there shoes, just ind it scary the influence on younger children. They’re likely to buy into a whole line on products purely because their favourite YTer is on it. X

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  24. This is a really well written post, really makes you thing. The increase in the amount of sponsored videos is becoming crazy.. nothing wrong with sponsored videos but I feel they should only give their honest opinions if they don’t like a product don’t false advertise and put it in videos for empty cash. Completely agree about the books – there are so many struggling talented authors who won’t get recognised or drowned out by “celebrities” such as them.. people will buy their books purely for the fact their written by youtubers and not the content.. pity. Not hating on youtubers.. but this post is really thought provoking! And I LOVE the title.

    Hannah x

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  25. The whole youtube culture thing is something that is making me feel uneasy more and more these days. I can’t understand why somebody who is 20 odd, who has their own job, boyfriend, fiance, husband, house, and a family of their own would want to do a back to school video when they left school years ago. What do they know about what current school kids like and want? The stuff that companies tell them that’s what. I love youtube and youtubers but there becomes a point where it’s obvious some people are no longer talking about and featuring things they want to and like, but things they are getting paid to and a lot of people watching them will have no idea.
    Great post!

    http://www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

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