VidCon 2017: The Creator and the Community

June 1, 2017

Location: Anaheim Convention Centre, CA

Insights by: Sami Westwood, Publicity & Partnerships Director

On the final day of VidCon and with the Industry focused panels all done, we attended some community and creator panels.

Having worked on the book to screen adaptations for the likes of The Twilight Saga, Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, My Cousin Rachel, Far From The Madding Crowd (to name but a few), our interest was piqued by the BookTube panel.

The discussion began around how tight-knit the BookTube community is and how BookTube creators feel there is a slight disconnect between the main YouTube community and the BookTube community, despite the similarities in types of content. They’d love to see creators from the book community included in more of the wider YouTube discussions and for YouTube creators generally to talk more about the books they are reading.

All of the panel (which consisted of Ariel Bisset, Christine Riccio, Jesse The Reader, Sasha Alsberg and mynameismarines) started their channels so they could talk about the books they love, as they had few people to talk about books with. All of the creators talked about how they include other aspects of their life within their channels – TV, movies, crafting, ‘book life’ (e.g. how do you protect the books you are carrying around) – as well as the books they are reading.

The main takeaway was just how passionate both the content creators and the community attending the panel were about not only books but also the book community.

We also had the opportunity today to see the advice given to creators about moving into monetizing their content via brand partnerships. Brand affinity and leading the content to make it work for both the brand and the creators’ audience were key themes that mirrored the industry/brand panels of the preceding two days. Another theme, being nervous about navigating these partnerships and all there is to consider, was also palpable.

Key takeaways from the presentation (from Google acquired Famebit):

On why creators should work with brands:

  • Monetisation and free product, experiences, services.
  • Trendsetting and audience benefits – pushing new products and services can help the creator become a trendsetter (the audience are looking to be led) and opportunities to offer their audience benefits (discounts, giveaways).
  • Brand development – successful collaborations can lead to more long-term relationships that can move onto product input, product lines and more.

On what brands are looking for:

  • Brand fit – does the creators content reflect the brand; why are you, the creator, a good fit?
  • Passion and authenticity – this goes a long way. Genuine passion and previous mentions of a product are a good starting point.
  • Ideation and quality – content quality needs to be high. Also advised creators to remember a lot of brands are used to being serviced content with high production values. Leverage your audience power and creative skills to produce great content.
  • Niche and expertise – it’s not all about the numbers. Brands will look at the engagement, likes and sentiment of comments. If you have a niche audience or a certain area of expertise this can be of more value than numbers.

On types of content to offer:

  • Shout outs and mentions – 20 seconds at the start and or end of the video. No need to relate to the video but it still needs to be in line with the channel vertical (e.g. ‘video sponsored by’
  • Creative Integrations – longer than a shout out (generally over a minute) and needs to integrate solidly into the video it’s being included in.
  • Dedicated video – makes up the majority of brand partnerships. Advised that these can perform a little lower than general content, so the brand should be forewarned, just in case. As these are complete pieces of content these have higher fees, as they take more time, require more storytelling and management. Reminder to creators that they can create content for the brand channels as well as / instead of their own.

A guide for creators to pitch to brands:

  • Do homework – what’s the brand message, aesthetic, audience on social.
  • Lead with the creative and not yourself.
  • Be results driven – brands will want to see a return on investment. Demonstrate how you can help them reach their desired audience (e.g. share your channel demographics), outline coverage you can give them.
  • Show professionalism – pay attention to detail, be attentive to deadlines, communicate openly and be responsive and make your pitches specific to the brand.

Things to factor into pricing:

  • Brand’s budget – if they have one there is no use going wildly over it. Discuss what you can create within that.
  • Cost Per View – can be based on your last 14 -30 days of uploads. Remove any anomalies from your calculations.
  • Content and Subs – most charge $100-$300 dollars per 10K subscribers.
  • What you need – you know the costs you will incur to create the video you’ve pitched, what you need to pay your bills and how much you want to work with that brand.

And on contracts:

  • Simply there to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Make sure it covers when and how you are going to get paid and including payment if content is made and not used.
  • Rounds of edits – industry standard is two, but flexibility was advocated along with an understanding that brands will have layers of approvals, including legal.
  • Moral clauses – advised not to worry about these. They are normal. However, ensure these do not inhibit authenticity – e.g. need to be able, to be honest about pros and cons of a product to retain integrity.
  • Ownership rights – make sure it is clear who owns the content, taking into account who you are working with (e.g. are you working through a multi-channel network) and any image, music and footage rights (especially relevant when brands are taking content for placement elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to ask brands where they will be using the content).

Creators need to ensure they stay true to their niche and are transparent about their partnerships. If they are selecting the right brands to work with, they will be (and should be) proud of them. Creators also need to ensure they are making all the necessary discloses in line with the law of the countries they are publishing in.

Following on from Famebit, representatives from a range of brands and agencies spoke to a room of creators about their experiences working with creators and passed on their advice. The room was told it’s never too soon to approach brands they would like to work with. Content and authenticity can trump numbers – especially when discussing long-term partnerships.

Some brands will be looking for something long term, some will be looking for a one off. It really depends on the business model. One-offs, however, can lead to longer relationships if the partnerships work well.

Communication is key. Don’t just run off, create content and post. This can be damaging to a relationship and put brand reps in a really tricky spot. A brand will have objectives to fulfil and guidelines to work within. Communicate with your brand partner and work together. When you are having these initial conversations, if you cannot agree on direction, content etc., if there is friction from the start, drop the partnership. It may be hard to walk away from the opportunity but it likely isn’t right for either party.

Hints and tips for creators on how to not mess up your brand deal:

  • Communication – make sure this is ongoing. Keep within the guidelines given and the approved treatments. If anything moves/needs to move (concept, timing) tell the brand and discuss. Don’t just move away from the discussed agenda with no communication. This is a big no-no.
  • If you have an agent or producer, do loop them in. It can be easier for brands to have any difficult conversations (e.g. around contracts) with them.
  • Agree on everything up front, working with the brand to ensure that there are clear deliverables and timings outlined. Stick to the terms you have agreed. Know that by the same token, if the brand makes demands outside of this, know you can push back.
  • When pitching know more than just your numbers. What can a brand expect from you in terms of content, working relationship, audience, point of difference from other creators/influencers

Remember contracts are useful to protect BOTH sides of the relationship. They are to ensure the brand gets what they need, yes, but also that the creator is protected and not open to being manipulated.

With thanks to the following panellists for their insight:

Sasha Alsberg (Abookutopia), Christine Riccio (PolandbananasBooks), mynameismarines, Ariel Bissett, Jesse The Reader, Agnes Kozera (Co-Founder – Famebit), Thomas De Napoli (Sr. Director, Content & Platform Strategy – Viacom), Victor Lee (Senior Vice President Digital Marketing – Hasbro), Ricky Ray Butler (Global CCO – Branded Entertainment Network), Michael Perry (Director of Strategic Partnerships – DJI), Julie Walsh (COO – Complexly)

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