Brands and YouTube Creators: Collaborate to Win

May 2015

YouTube beauty vlogger Gabriella Lindley, Jonathan Poole, founder of the creator talent agency Red Hare Digital, and Liz Earle's Global Head of Digital Victor Gibson worked together to develop a collaboration that enabled the beauty brand to successfully access and engage a younger audience of fans. Careful planning, an emphasis on audience interaction and a relationship based on trust and longevity underpinned the initiative, which saw one video achieve over 15,000 comments.

According to Liz Earle's Victor Gibson, a digital content strategy is an absolute essential today. "For any beauty brand, content is a critical strategic lever," he explains. "It's really important nowadays to have content that's entertaining, educational and informative, but also that it's delivered on the right platforms and through the right creatives."

When the brand set out to reach younger consumers, using YouTube made perfect sense. Victor and his team formed a relationship with talent agency Red Hare Digital, vlogger Gabriella Lindley and other influencers. Gabriella was an appealing fit for the brand because she not only had a large subscriber base, but her channel's metrics demonstrated high levels of audience engagement, too.

"Working with Gabriella was about reaching out to a new audience and a new generation," he says. "So it was important for us to go to their platform of preference and become a part of their conversation in a way that was authentic."

In order to maintain this realism, the Liz Earle team recognised the importance of letting Gabriella take charge of the content as much as possible. "We wanted to build a long-term relationship so it wasn't just about product placement but brand immersion," Victor says. "We had no editorial control — we really let go of the reins. For a brand, that's quite challenging in some ways, but once you see the result, it's much more authentic. For example, one of our collaborators did a DIY facial without any guidance from us. We looked at that internally and said, 'I don't think we could have produced a video as good as that.'"

For creators, the need to uphold authenticity is every bit as essential as for brands. "It's very important to work with brands that you genuinely love," Gabriella affirms, "because you can definitely tell if somebody doesn't like a brand or know much about it."

This drive to forge mutually beneficial relationships is central to Jonathan's work. "I think brands are getting much better at working with creators, and creators are getting much better at understanding brands' needs," he says. His tip for creating great collaborative content? "Be very clear on the brief as early as possible. Go into what you're trying to achieve and engage the creator to talk to you about how to facilitate that. That level of engagement gets you better content and enables you to be confident in what they're going to deliver."

As a genuine fan, Gabriella continues to frequently include Liz Earle products in videos, which contributes to the brand's organic reach. "Long-term relationships enable you to build much better conversation with your creators," Jonathan observes. This kind of ongoing affinity is what marks a collaboration as a true success.

Building a brand in an age of hyper-targeted messaging