Friday, September 27, 2013

The Key to a Good YouTube Channel

It's no secret that I'm a YouTube junkie (see my "Favorite YouTube Channels" page). I'm subscribed to tons of different channels pertaining to a wide variety of topics: most are beauty-related, of course, but I'm also keen on good vlog channels, cooking channels and even gaming channels! I do spend a lot of free time browsing my sub box, so I feel like I know what a "good" channel consists of, and I believe the main ingredient is authenticity.

The best YouTubers are the ones that stay true to themselves and have distinct personalities. They have creative ideas and are unique in their tutorials, rants, how-tos etc. If I feel like I've seen the same content once before, there's no way I'm subscribing. I was talking to my friend Tania the other day, and she was like, "How many NuMe and Million Dollar Tan reviews have you seen?!" And I died of laughter because it's SO TRUE. I think a YouTuber that is aware of their place on the website should know their peers enough to realize what has/has not been done before. 

That said, a good YouTuber is aware of what works and what does not. Relatability is a huge factor! You can very clearly tell when a YouTuber hired extra personnel to help them create their content. Sometimes it pays off, but many times it doesn't. See Michelle Phan, for example. My opinion is that her over-produced videos work. She established herself as a talented YouTube lady very early on and she has a huge following, which gives her the right to hire sfx specialists and professional camera-people. Yet, she knows when to tone it down and make a simple but polished video. 

On the other hand, take a look at Strawburry17. Less than 500k subs and she has interns and hired editors. Problem is, her audience is not growing. The rigid structure she created for her channel is too strict; she uploads daily and has a different theme for each day of the week. Her channel lacks fluidity because she sometimes misses upload days (duh - she's only human), but it becomes really noticeable since her videos are all overproduced. But then, take a look at JoeyGraceffa... He's had the same amount of exposure, I'd argue, and recently hit 2 million subs. All he does is vlog! With a vlogging camera! His personality is what carries his channel. I wish Meghan (S17) would take note because she has a lot of potential.

The reason I'm writing this post is because I recently came across a channel called "I Love Makeup." and it kills me how unaware of the audience they are. This is a typical example of external companies realizing the power of YouTube, and it's also a great example of what not to do on YouTube. The channel advertises Bobbi Brown makeup products and is basically an attempt to make the brand more relatable, but ultimately fails. It just comes off as one big, ongoing TV commercial. Their series are so contrived that I actually cringe when I watch. 

They have a show called "Grace's Faces" where DailyGrace ambushes her friends' houses with a makeup artist and shows them how to put on makeup. They know they'll get the views, since Grace's 2 million+ subscribers will flock to new content she's part of, but to me it comes off as forced. Hannah Hart does not wear makeup, nor does she have an interest in it. Grace Helbig actively makes fun of beauty gurus on her channel. It doesn't mesh well for me. 

Perhaps the cringiest series on this channel is "Haute Wheels"... I had to refrain from gagging when I watched this one. First of all, "HAUTE" is pronounced "OAT" not "HOT", so the pun is lacking. Second of all, this series is like a MTV reality stint that is badly scripted, and just an overall joke. The concept is this: everyday girls get the chance to have their makeup done in the backseat of a car. Literally. That's it. They tried to give it a James Bond feel. They tried to make it badass. Seatbelts? Nope. Applying mascara in a moving vehicle? Great thing to teach the kids! What's the point? Proving that the makeup artist is sooo talented that she can apply it in a moving car? Sure - that's what I look for when I come to YouTube to find a makeup tutorial. (Can you detect my seething sarcasm?)

The point I'm trying to make is that a grade-A, made-for-television YouTube channel cannot appear out of thin air. It must be earned. YouTube thrives when the content is DIY in nature. High quality equipment and awesome editing skills are embraced, but only when executed creatively. Trying to mimic television won't work, and that's what makes YouTube special.

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