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Vlogging, YouTubers and Influencer Marketing: all you need to know

Since YouTube was created in 2005, vlogging (video-blogging), has formed an important part of the appeal of YouTube to children and young people. Now with the influence of vloggers, or as they are more commonly known YouTubers, at an all-time high, should parents be worried about the influence they might have on their children?

What is a vlogger?

  • A vlogger is a video blogger. Vloggers who predominantly upload their videos to YouTube are known as YouTubers.
  • They normally upload videos of themselves and/or their friends to video hosting websites, such as YouTube or Vimeo and what they do in their videos can vary from comedy skits and make-up tutorials to thoughtful monologues on current affairs and personal issues.
  • The most YouTubers can get millions of subscribers, and the most popular can earn up to £10 million per year in advertising revenue and endorsement fees. 

The Modern Vlogger

Vlogging has come a long way since the start of YouTube, with YouTubers now using thousands of pounds worth of cameras, drones and top-of-the-range microphones as opposed to the low-quality camera phones that ignited the vlogging craze. With this higher production value comes even larger audiences.

KSI, the London born do-it-all YouTuber, currently has 18 million subscribers on YouTube, 4.35 million followers on Twitter and 5.3 million followers on Instagram. As you would expect this sort of audience size has resulted in YouTubers, like KSI, having a huge influence over children and young people.

‘Vloggers have an even more powerful hold over children and young people than traditional celebrities’

What’s more, Vloggers have an even more powerful hold over children and young people than traditional celebrities. This greater influence is manufactured by YouTubers in the way they present their videos and the content in them; whether it be with a heart-to-heart monologue about personal struggles filmed in their bedrooms or a day-in-a-life style vlog. Such frankness and openness, with regard their personal lives, creates a sense of intimacy for young people with their favourite YouTuber. This means that they trust in them far more than they would any other celebrity. It might be hoped that this gives YouTubers greater reason to act responsibly. However, it also makes it even more important for parents to take an active interest in what their children are watching.

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Influencer Marketing

The unique relationship that YouTubers have with their viewers has also given birth to a new form of advertising called ‘Influencer Marketing’. This involves YouTubers, who can be paid vast sums by companies, seamlessly integrating a company’s products and services into their videos. It can also involve YouTubers marketing their own merchandise, events and services. The power of this form of marketing is phenomenal, with US influencer marketing company, Tomson, indicating that businesses can expect on average to recoup $6.50 for every $1 spent.

Influencers and YouTubers acting in this way is of course all fair and good. However, how easy it is for YouTubers’ target audiences, especially children and young people, to discern what forms a Youtuber’s genuine opinion on a product from what they are being paid to promote is unclear. Especially as the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) advises creators that they only need to use the very explicit “#ad” in their video titles when they have ceded total control of content to, and have received payment from, a brand. Therefore, it is important for parents to talk with their children so that they are aware of how and why their favourite YouTubers might be enticing them to buy certain products and services.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

  • Have a discussion with your child about which YouTubers they watch, why they enjoy watching them and how they think Youtubers make money.
  • Talk to your child about how products and services their favourite YouTubers market are not always promoted because the YouTuber genuinely loves them, but often because a brand is paying the YouTuber to do so.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to your credit card details or that these details are not saved onto a device that they use.
  • If your child does want to buy a product or service inspired by their favourite YouTuber, talk to them about it and make sure they are certain they really want it.
  • Allowing a child to buy an age-appropriate product or service with their own pocket-money and allowing them to form an opinion on it in their own time, can help a child learn about the value of money and give them a sense of independence.
For more information and articles take a look at Parent Zone's vlogging hub.

We have lots more resources and information, just like this, for Digital Schools Members and the parents they work with. Find out more here