YouTubers Killing the Thought Leadership Game

Barbara Zandvliet

Casey Neistat, YouTube personality

Master marketers know thought leadership is principal when it comes to attracting new business, yet many marketers still fail to realize its impact on sales. What gives?

Incredible thought leaders are more than just content mills. They’re relatable; they’re on the pulse of the market; and most importantly, they have a fresh perspective that brings new life to their industry.

Lately, we’ve noticed that fresh perspective is thriving on YouTube. Not only are YouTubers killing their content game, but they have become so valuable brands are vying for their influence to grow their own consumer base.

Read on to see what you can learn from YouTube’s biggest influencers.

Be Relatable

Is your brand’s tone empathic, funny, or sarcastic? It should be. Maybe not all at one time, but if you can find some humanizing aspect of your business to share with people you have a better chance of them valuing your insights and opinions. According to the American Marketing Association, establishing an emotional connection, like empathy, leads to positive interactions and long lasting consumer relationships.

Filmmaker and YouTuber Casey Neistat has more than 9 million subscribers and nearly 2 million Twitter followers. His daily(ish) vlogs capture a range of topics from travel and lifestyle to current events, filmmaking and technology, but one thing that remains constant is his ability to influence his followers. When his UPS guy needed help saving his sister from debilitating kidney disease and diabetes, the plug Neistat gave on his channel helped raise $150,000–$250,000 more than the GoFundMe campaign goal.

Why does Neistat have such influence? It’s simple. People like and admire him. He is very open about who he is: a self-taught guy who quit school, had a kid at 16 and left home. Motivated by his dream to make movies, he taught himself how to be a filmmaker. He has a visual style that’s been consistent since his worked debuted on HBO in 2008. Now he’s a sought-after influencer and produces creative short films for likes of Nike, Samsung and Mercedes-Benz.

His is a story that people not only relate to, but can be inspired by. Just look at his ad for Samsung, titled “Do What You Can’t”; it’s garnered more than 8 million views to date.

Turn It Up a Niche

So many brands try to cover everything, instead of focusing on the core niche that they can position themselves as an expert around. No one cares about your special recipe. Find your niche, and then go even more niche.

– Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute

You know that saying jack of all trades, master of none? Niche marketing is all about standing out and the best way to make yourself memorable is to offer something no one else can.

Take it from fitness entrepreneur and YouTuber Cassey Ho, who has more than 4 million subscribers. Ho has built a business empire from her Blogilates channel. Her weekly vlogs feature her own creative fusion of pilates and pop music workouts including “Want U Back Arms Challenge” and “Call Me Maybe Mighty Squat Challenge Workout.” She’s become so influential that her YouTube channel has spawned an e-commerce business featuring Popflex, a line of fitness clothing and accessories designed by Ho.

Make It Accessible

OK, so this last tip isn’t a shout-out to any one YouTuber in particular. It’s more of an observation about how succinct and accessible YouTube content generally is. Just take a look at its trending page–most of the videos featured there are under 10 minutes long and they have millions of views.

Don’t get us wrong, longform content definitely has its place on the internet. That’s why you’ll find vloggers routinely plugging their websites, podcasts, apps and other social feeds with exclusive info specific to that medium. But that’s just it–YouTubers make themselves accessible everywhere. Beauty vloggers like Estée Lalonde, Tanya Burr and Zoella feature in-depth content on their respective websites. Burr has microsite dedicated exclusively to her cosmetic line. Lalonde sends out a monthly newsletter and started a podcast last year. All of them post regularly on Twitter and Instagram.

So take note, the best way to express your brand and establish your expertise is through your content. Use it gratuitously to demonstrate your expertise and solve your consumers’ problems. Find some common ground with your audience, then position your brand with a unique angle. Deliver insights anywhere your consumers are and with valuable content your consumers need; you’ll start to see your consumer base grow.

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