Luke and Vinny Vaillancourt are a married, bi-national, same-sex couple who met online back in 2006 and hit it off right away. Now 10 years later, the two are married, living in New York and known across the world as V-Squared. Their LGBTQ lifestyle YouTube channel features vlogs (video blogs), insights into their relationship, life advice for whatever they might be going through at the time and fun challenges that are highly entertaining and addicting to watch.
We caught up with V-Squared as part of our “Influencer Spotlight Series” to get a peek into how they started their YouTube channel and how they keep their 100K+ subscribers coming back week after week.
360i: When and how did you decide to start your YouTube channel?
V-Squared: We started our channel January 1, 2014 and it began with a happy accident. Vinny posted our wedding photos on his Tumblr and overnight they went “mini viral”. Messages flooded in asking “Who are these two guys in the photos?” One of the messages suggested creating a video to put on YouTube. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and gained notice from more established LGBTQ YouTubers, which was a total shock for us! The support of our online LGBTQ community has continued our desire to share our story online almost three years later.
360i: How did vlogging as a long-distance couple when you first started dating affect the start of your YouTube career?
V-Squared: We were technically vlogging in 2006 before we even knew what it was! When we were long distance, we would constantly send each other videos to give a glimpse into our day-to-day, the life of what the other could be a part of. Although that content isn’t online, being in front of a camera was somehow always a part of our relationship. It is something personal and familiar, like talking to an old friend. We feel that this connection can be felt by our viewers as well, and has helped us tremendously in opening up our relationship to be shared with a wider audience. There are no gimmicks with our channel, what you see on your screens are exactly who we are in person.
360i: What criteria do you consider when evaluating brand partnerships?
V-Squared: As YouTubers, some of the brands that work with more “traditional media” can often underestimate our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of the YouTube platform. Content creators are the script writers, the lighting crew, editors, social media correspondents and more. For some brands, it is somewhat easy to forget that it is just the two of us. With that said, there are a lot of things that brands typically do not consider when working with YouTubers, simply because it is a new market for them to branch into. When working with brands, we look for professionalism and understanding. It can be difficult to explain your value and contribution to a company; there has to be a mutual understanding about expectations and deliverables, including the work that goes behind creating the product.
360i: It was a pleasure being able to collaborate with you and New Orleans Tourism (NOTMC). What aspects of that partnership stood out to you the most?
V-Squared: The partnership with the NOTMC was an ideal match because we love to travel and to document our experiences. New Orleans is rich in diversity, a theme that is deeply understood with our following. Moreover, the NOLA partnership was above and beyond any interaction we had previously with a travel and tourism company. It still today, remains the pinnacle of what is to be expected, from our point of view, when working together with a brand to create a successful project.
360i: You recently hit over 100K subscribers – congrats! What would you say is the biggest contributor to the growth of your huge fan base today?
V-Squared: Thank you! It has been a surreal moment to reach a milestone that has always been a goal for our channel. What contributes to our growth is the loyalty from our subscriber base. With a world that is constantly bombarding you with all sorts of marketing, word of mouth is by far the best seller. When a viewer hits the “subscribe button”, it is way more than a “like” or a “retweet” – they are onboard for the long haul. We try our best to be an authentic brand and channel and keep in mind that most of our subscribers connect with us on levels that even some of their personal friendships are not able to. We never want to disappoint them. We think this contributes to their overall “endorsement” and subscription, ultimately encouraging their willingness to cheer us on and to share our story to also inspire others.
360i: What kind of content do your fans react best to? What’s the secret to keeping them constantly engaged?
V-Squared: Our subscribers love to get insight into what makes us work as a relationship and as individuals. An authentic approach is always our take, but doing so in a tangible and digestive way. Most of our viewers use YouTube as a form of escapism, or voyeurism. We try to keep things light hearted and humorous but in a realistic way. Our subscribers keep coming back not only for that, but also for our integrity to put our most authentic selves online, which is not always the easiest thing to do! This approach builds trust and an honest relationship between creator and subscriber.
360i: Are there any influencers you look to for inspiration or just admire – whether it’s for the content they’ve created or for their careers?
V-Squared: One influencer that we really admire is YouTuber Wylie Phenix. His content is thought-provoking, original and something that cannot be seen anywhere else online. Wylie is somewhat of a pioneer on a platform that is often criticized for being unoriginal. He has become a personal friend of ours; he is truly inspirational both on and off camera. We feel he has an outstanding career in film ahead of him.