Influencer Marketing Social Media

How Brands Can Leverage Internet Celebrities for Social Video

June 2, 2014

Internet celebrities have been around since the early years of the web – but more recently, online video stars are emerging en masse thanks to the rise of new social video services (like Vine and Instagram Video) and a push from more-established platforms to elevate individual content creators (see: YouTube’s new ad campaign).

How big is this trend? New York Magazine recently ran a feature story called “The Weird Wide World of the Internet Celebrity,” which profiles 19 influencers with followings that rival those of traditional pop culture celebrities. Beyond media attention, brands are also tapping into this savvy group of content creators to reach huge audiences across varying platforms.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Administration recently teamed up with YouTube stars Rhett and Link for an anti-texting and driving campaign. Rhett and Link’s NHTSA video has over 2.8 million views to date, and even appeared on YouTube’s list of top ten ads this past April.

The success of the NHTSA campaign underscores why brand and content creator partnerships are working. Internet celebrities are building large audiences on these platforms because they know how to make content that people want to watch. Thus, it follows that the videos they create in partnership with brands stand a better chance of being viewed and shared.

The YouTube content creators featured in the platform’s new ad campaign are now partnering with relevant brands to continue to grow their fan bases and authority in their respective verticals. Similarly, Vine and Instagram Video stars are increasingly creating spots for brands.

Influential internet celebrities give brands a unique opportunity to grow brand-loyalty with a highly-engaged audience. Connecting with these stars in relevant and brand-appropriate ways can give brands access to enormous fan bases on emerging platforms where they have yet to build a strong following.

Here are some examples of recent success stories, and what marketers can learn from them:

H&R Block “Billion Back Records” (YouTube) – This past tax season, 360i partnered with H&R Block to launch “Billion Back Records,” a social media record label comprised of ten top YouTube sensations who were commissioned to create original music videos celebrating tax refunds. Artists ranged from country star Julia Sheer, to indie duo Pomplamoose and pop idol Joey Graceffa. The effort generated more than 60 million impressions during a critical timeframe for the brand’s business.

Coca-Cola Freestyle’s Vine Magic (Vine) – 360i teamed up with Coca-Cola Freestyle to help bring the futuristic soda fountain to life via social video. We connected the brand with “Vine magician” Zach King to promote Coca-Cola Freestyle through a series of entertaining and clever six-second videos. King, known for his use of special effects in the medium, helped create the Vines with an aim of capturing the fun, choice and possibility of Coca-Cola Freestyle. The program helped grow the brand’s Vine community from zero to 14,000 in a matter of weeks.

Oxygen Network’s Watercolor Tattoo (Vine) – To support Oxygen’s “Best Ink 3,” 360i partnered with Vine superstar Meagan Cignoli to produce and share a Vine inspired by one episode’s aquatic theme. The resulting fan response demonstrated how valuable influencer-generated content can be for a brand.
Given the growing popularity of these new internet celebrities and their wide-range of successful branded partnerships to date, marketers should seek opportunities to work with established content creators to help bring their stories to life in authentic and exciting ways.

Jason Powell, Emily Garvey, and Justin Rivera contributed to this post.

Cover photo via Zimbio