After a year of working with creators to make great content, the team at YouTube Space Toronto is brimming with good stories—and some best practices to share. Mark Swierszcz, who leads the team, offers four of his favourite tips for creator collaboration success.
YouTube creators are the lifeblood of YouTube. Their creativity, passion, and engaged communities have helped make YouTube the cultural force it is today.
Creators authentically share the things they love with their fans—and now 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities. It’s no surprise, then, that more Canadian marketers are eager to partner with these influential YouTubers.
Over the past year at YouTube Space Toronto, we’ve had a front-row seat as creators teamed up with brands to do what they do best, from vegan film spoofs to DIY fashion challenges. Based on this crazy, fun, and educational year working with some of the most creative people in the world, I’ve compiled four tips for finding and collaborating with creators.
#1: Find the right partner
Once you have a list of potentials, do a deep dive into their content. Think about tone, sense of humour, and what their communities care about. The creators don’t have to look and sound like the perfect corporate spokesperson, but their general vibe should align with your brand’s style and approach.
Check if they’ve done collaborations with other brands. See how they incorporated the brand’s messaging into their storytelling. Did it feel natural? How did their fans respond to it?
Once you know who you want to work with, getting in touch is usually pretty easy. Most creators have their email addresses listed on the “about” page of their channel. Sometimes creators are represented through a multi-channel network. These networks can get you in touch with the creator and keep communication flowing throughout the process.
#2: Get creators involved early
When’s the right time to get creators involved? The earlier the better. Don’t wait until internal teams are set on what they want the campaign to be; try to get everyone synced up as early as the briefing stage.
Be very clear with the creators on what you’re looking to achieve with the video or campaign. Give them an overview of your brand and business goals. Creators are naturally just that—creative! And for a true creative partnership to gel, both sides need time to get on the same page and work through ideas.
#3: Set guidelines—and then let go of the reins
Like any good relationship, the best creator collaborations are built on trust. Creators amass fans based on their authentic voices, carefully crafted content, and relationships with their communities. Because of that, we often advise brands to let go of the reins a bit. Creators truly understand how to communicate with their fans, which is a major asset for brands looking not just for product placement, but for true engagement with YouTube’s attentive audiences.
Establish up front how you want your brand or product to be used and mentioned, set up several rounds of creative and legal review, and then give creative control to the YouTuber. Allow creators to really be themselves so they can make something their fans will love.
#4: Take care of the legal stuff
Great ads can make for great content—but they still need to be identified as ads. YouTube requires that any sponsored content, including creator collaborations, are disclosed with some form of call out in the video or description.
This ensures both that your message is clear and that no competing advertising is placed with your content.
A few more YouTube resources to you get started
The YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands is a great resource to help you think through your larger content strategies. YouTube Creator Academy is packed with tons of additional insights on working with creators.
We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring—and what your brand will create.
YouTube Space Toronto is a creative environment for creators to get hands-on production training, collaborate, and produce high-quality content. If your brand is interested in getting content produced at our space, team up with a YouTube creator who is qualified to “unlock the space.”