10 Steps to Finding a YouTube “Weblebrity” to Pimp Your Product

Dear, Brands.

As a marketer and video creator, let me assure you that you don’t have to feel guilty about wanting a video creator to pimp your product. It will make them happy, and provide your brand an important entry to “consumer generated media.”

So why aren’t you doing this already?

  1. You’re scared it will backfire… Don’t worry- just be transparent and pick your partners based on their videos.
  2. It’s too small of an audience… True you can reach more people with a stupid banner ad, but your typical YouTube viewer is going to be a “buzz agent” for you. So look beyond total views. Quality over quantity.
  3. Your agency isn’t recommending it… Of course not. It’s a lot easier for them to buy banners and provide reports on click thru’s and awareness. They’re not set up for this. The best brands (Coke and Mentos) are leading this from within.
  4. You don’t know how to start… That’s what this post is for.

Here’s how to conduct a grassroots promotion with YouTube creators.

  1. nalts-copy.jpgIdentify a pool of creators. Select from the most subscribed, the most viewed (this week), the most viewed (this week) or any other rankings you trust. Recognize that these can be deceptive. Some of the individuals with high subscriptions are there because they started YouTube very early and their following has grown with the site. Others have “one-hit wonders” that yield a lot of subscriptions but they don’t do enough videos to be worth your time.
  2. Watch a few dozen of the creators to see if they meet your criteria. Are they accessible? Are they funny? Are they creating content where your brand could play a role? Do they have a lot of haters or controversial subjects? Ultimately if your brand is really cool, pick Nalts.
  3. Once you’ve identified a few potentials, create a YouTube account with your brand’s name. Then contact them via “send message,” and tell them you like their videos and be specific (mention a recent one). Send them free stuff with no strings attached. For example, send free product or branded merchandise.
  4. If they’re good to you (mentioning you favorably) then you’ve probably found a match. Watch the viewer comments on the videos to see how it’s received. Ask if they’re interested in an informal sponsorship. If they say yes, get on the phone with them.
  5. What will this look like? First, it will be totally transparent. They should acknowledge that you’re sponsoring them so they don’t look like “sell outs.” Second, you should never ask them to pimp your product or talk “on message.” Instead get them to weave your product into their videos — whether that’s wearing a Gap shirt or doing a funny video at Gap. This Mentos video is an example of how the product was part of a gag.
  6. The terms are up to you and your creators. Maybe you’re sending them $1-$5K for a well packaged video. Maybe you’re just sending them free product. Watch the feedback to see how people are reacting. Some YouTubers will be jealous and anti-corporate, so expect to see occasional slams. But dont’ be swayed by random data points. Look for a trend. Is it well received in the comments? Be sure your creator isn’t deleting negative comments, because you both need the learning. I committed to Mentos that I would not delete a single comment unless they asked me to or it was obscene.
  7. Keep in contact with these people. Don’t be a “fair weathered friend.” Drop them an occasional note letting them know you’re still watching and enjoying their work.
  8. Now for the tricky part. What do you do about other creators that express interest (but are talentless or have no audience)? That’s a case-by-case. Don’t ignore other creators that are interested, but let them know you’re still experimenting and learning and not ready to scale the program. Most of them will go away.
  9. Don’t forget there’s life beyond YouTube. If you create a nice viral video with your creator, seed it to other websites. Mentos, for example, bought space on Break.com where my “Sneaking Mentos into Movie Theater” was run as an advertisement. They also ran ZackScott’s Gremlins Mentos spoof.
  10. Measure the program like you would a public relations effort or “word of mouth” campaign. Look at it wholistically and not on a cost per impression model like online advertisers are using.

27 Replies to “10 Steps to Finding a YouTube “Weblebrity” to Pimp Your Product”

  1. “Ultimately if your brand is really cool, pick Nalts.”
    hahah I need to become a webleberty! but I need subscribers first.

    All these points were excellent, you should be a consultant for the industry and they should be paying you millions of dollars for this advice!

    It’s all true, I bought the Kellogg’s and mentos after Nalts did the videos and I told friends to buy it as well.

    Advertisers need to get in and this is the best way because people still trust individuals, not actors or corporation, but real people.

    I never look or click on banner ads, pop-ups are blocked, and if I know an ad is coming I’ll jump off the page fast.

    Even ads at the beginning of clips, I’ll kill the sound and look away and do something else.

    The more control I have to rewind the fewer commercials I’ll watch – it’s in my DNA now, I’ve trained myself to avoid all advertisement, even in radio.

    I’m also quick on the draw with the TV remote mute button.

    I have a built in commercial block, I know when they are over instinctively.

    The only time I click on an ad is if the funds go to help the individual I’m watching and I wish to support them.

    So advertisers have nothing left, but product placement in the shows or videos if they want to get at my grey matter and wallet.

    They have to go back to real people selling their products again.

    People who not only entertain, but give the perception that they can be trusted or are perceived as honest.

    The world is far too cynical for anything less.

  2. Look at all the free product placement I gave Funions in this video! And look at the positive spin I put on the product! Not only tasty, but with medicinal benefits too.


    I would just like to point out that I also like most Kettle Chips and those really fancy blue chips that they have at the health food store.

    Chip manufacturers and manufacturers of “special creams and lotions” look no further. I’m also open to porn sponsor-chips.. I mean ships.

  3. good, well thought out article.

    Got me thinking, I wonder what sporting equipment I could plug…. with a large USA audience, theres gotta be a market for Ab toners or something on fight-vids lol

  4. Have you tried to pronounce the word “weblebrity”? You’re liable to sprain your lips — not a pretty sight. And if you’re chewing coffee grounds at the time (I’ve seen your eating habits on YouTube, Nalts), then your entire mouth might need traction. I prefer the term “e-lebrity” — but who am I to question the almighty Nalts?

  5. Davideo- Woodblock is lying. She didn’t study Roman Numerals in highschool like us.

    Freddy- those were real grinds on your version. The YouTube ones were ground Oreos. That shows where my heart is. 🙂

  6. It has taken 8 years for people to understand how to buy and make great online media campaigns. It will take at least the same amount of time to get this right. For my 2.5 cents it’s a combo of the metrics used for internet advertising, PR, and product placement.

  7. Yes, congrats from me too. Has the extra exposure made this blog #8 in all of WordPress tonight?! Not sure how to interpret the homepage, but that’s amazing.

  8. Brilliant and informative post and yes I agree individuals make the best recommendations rather than ads – AppleMac for instance gets my attention only because my favourite comedy duo Mitchell & Webb (Uk comedians) are promoting it – Thanks and an enjoyable read.

  9. There is a website making this process WAY easier for everyone : BRANDFAME.COM (www.brandfame.com)

    It’s an product placement agency for online video. “Weblebrity” post their upcoming videos, brands post their products, and they find themselves making deals easily!

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