Whether you watch YouTube purely for work or if you’re the kind of person who will sit and spent hours watching people applying make-up, undertake pranks or train pets, you cannot fail to notice that YouTube is an massive platform – and big business. The teenagers who years ago created videos using cheap cameras and mobile phones and are now making millions of pounds, gracing the cover of magazines and attending events as the main celebrities in a micro culture bubble that is expanding well into traditional media such as TV, print and radio. An IBTimes report estimates that YouTube vlogger ‘Zoella’ is earning at least £50,000 per month with 10m subscribers, just one example of a successful British creator. But what is particularly interesting is the loyalty towards the creators of these videos. This is something that brands have harnessed and YouTubers make their money from advertising for brands alongside things like Google AdSense. For the businesses using these stars as a platform, this can be highly expensive but also lucrative. Even if your strategy is not around influencers or social media, what can you learn about customer loyalty from the people leading in the online space? Be honest The Advertising Standards Agency insisted that sponsored posts had to be marked as such either with #Spon or ‘ad’ in the title in August 2015. This was a huge change to YouTube. Prior to that many creators had been running sponsored adverts but they were in the habit of making this clear within the drop down box of the video. You can imagine the fear, from a loyalty perspective, that using the word ad or sponsored would be unattractive to any potential viewers- that people would simply not view (ultimately bringing down the statistics aof the channel) – or they would ‘see behind the curtain’ and be put off. However, this played out differently- the channel became more open and there were discussions behind how creators make money. To their fans this has both made all the difference, and at the same time, no difference. There is an acceptance and it seems that most fans and viewers are happy to accept the payoff between some paid advertising and some organic content. Key learning; if you want to engender loyalty – be honest. If that means that the deal someone is signing up for is for one year– be clear about it. If you want them to recommend you, say why– that it helps grow your business. Just as in marketing it is good practice to allow people unsubscribe at any time, when it comes to loyalty be honest. Nothing comes for free – and people know this. Be personal A look back into the history of YouTube shows a lot of embarrassing videos. Whilst the slick camera work and audio of today is the quality that people demand now, five years ago the people who were early adopters of the technology and already creating videos had a lot less in terms of the audience size, expectations and tech quality. The benefit of this growing period was that people felt more connected to the creator. If you think of the video maker as a brand, they started out like 1 small local shop. With a smaller audience they were giving a personalized experience to every single subscriber. From replying to messages and tweets, to meeting people face-to-face at events- it was the kind of experience that marketers dream of–understanding each customer as an individual. It paid off.Many of the people who still watch these videos say and are proud of the fact that they have been there ‘from the start.’ People who watch the videos often consider themselves part of the ‘fandom’- making like-minded groups on social networks and acting as unpaid advocates of the creators. This loyalty cannot be purchased. Key learning; the key learning is to try and acquire that personal touch. This is where the real relationships born and this is where people become loyal advocates. You want to try and gain that sense of community. Like and subscribe It is almost a cliché that at the beginning or the end of each YouTube video the creator will implore you to like and subscribe. Not only is this great for their business as increased subscribers will equate to more money from brands, but it’s also simply a way of increasing advocacy– the original word-of-mouth strategy. For any business, this is a reiteration of a lesson to be learned when it comes to loyalty– ask for it! When it comes to customer loyalty and can not be scared of putting yourself out there and saying ‘I need a favour – please share this with someone like-minded.’ Key learning; Ask for advocacy – don’t just wait for it happen. Loyalty never sleeps A great loyalty scheme is something well worth launching and is something that you will be able to track from beginning to end in terms of return on investment. However when it comes to being a YouTuber, it’s not just about the deals with the brand and making a few videos now and again. There is no real downtime for a create on this platform. Video blogs show them heading to bed at around 2 AM after a long session on social media speaking to the people who watch their videos. There are their own conferences as well. Events like summer in the city which started as small gatherings now attract hundreds of thousands of people, last year hosted in the Excel arena in London. If you’ve ever think that you are busy, it would make your skin crawl to look at the schedule of a successful YouTube star. Key learning; customer loyalty never sleeps. Just as their viewers are their customers and prospects -when it comes to your own business, there is no rest. Social media, blogging, staying connected, answering questions, asking for referrals, attending events, these are all things that need to happen day in day out 365 days a year. These are just a few takeaway is from some of the most successful business people working in our country at present. Whilst the micro culture and a fun nature of what they do me for you, do you not be forward this is big business and the loyalty they are achieving from their fans and scribers is absolutely eye-popping– With millions of people watching videos each week, sometimes daily. When it comes to your own customer loyalty take some hints from the workload, the ideas and the common sense they’ve shown within their position. 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