Meet Melissa Maker, the woman behind the Clean My Space YouTube channel, and Beth Le Manach, the woman at the helm of YouTube’s Entertaining with Beth. Millions of people view these clever cleaning and cooking queens online, making them some of today’s top social media influencers and YouTube stars.
There is one obvious thing that Melissa Maker and Beth Le Manach have in common. Yes, they are both lovely, smiley brunettes with massive followings who have made big business out of awesome content produced for social media. But the obvious thing when it comes to their millions of followers is faith. They are trusted. It’s what makes both of these women ‘likeable’ on YouTube and on the many other social platforms where they appear. Maker’s cleaning channel has 316,000 subscribers and over 31 million views; more than 220 thousand people subscribe to Le Manach’s cooking show, which has has gained over 12 million lifetime views. That’s seriously impressive in anyone’s books. So the question is, what can we learn from these two powerhouses?
Both women are YouTube creators, but also have businesses that inspire their social content. Maker and her husband have a cleaning business in Toronto called Clean My Space, and Le Manach is vice president of Kin Community, an online community that brings together the world’s best lifestyle creators across social platforms.
“My husband and I thought it would be a great way to build our business,” explains Maker. “As it turns out, the videos took on a life of their own, and sure, we got new clients, but the demand for ‘how to’ cleaning content was enormous, and we just kept putting new and better content out there.”
When Le Manach launched Entertaining with Beth three years ago, she attracted 50,000 subscribers in the first year and the number has doubled every year since. “The popularity of on-demand video is here to stay,” she says.
Something else that Maker and Le Manach have in common is that their social content is based on issues that are a part of everyone’s life, so they have fans all over the world.
As both women’s followers continue to grow, the question is “how do they do it?”
“Growth has to do with being everywhere where your followers are – I have YouTube because the following is so massive, but I also have Facebook and Instagram. Some of my followers might not be on YouTube, but they are watching on Facebook, or clicking through from my Instagram. You need to stay on top of it all,” says Le Manach, also explaining that you have to use the right vernacular for each platform to create rapport with an audience. “When you start working on YouTube, you realize that they are your peers – these people feel like they’re your friend — more so than traditional media stars.”
Maker couldn’t agree more. “When a YouTuber says ‘this is my favorite brand’ it means so much more than coming from a paid spokesperson. You are connecting with them by recommending something. It’s like a friendship between you and your followers – you have to be honest, and they need to trust you.”
After these ‘friendships’ are formed, then it’s all about selling the story — the products and services that the YouTubers are promoting.
“For me, it’s more of a soft sell, because my followers are like: ‘Where did you get that little trivet in the background? Or they want the certain pan that a recipe is cooked in,” says Le Manach. “I sell a lifestyle. My followers want to make a dish that I’ve made, which then makes them want that exact gratin pan because that’s what I cooked it in, and it worked, and they impressed their friends. That’s how the path to purchase plays out. It’s how women work too – they want the whole look.”
This modern method of selling certainly questions the strength of traditional advertising. “If I was a marketer and spending $50,000 spraying my message everywhere and hoping it hit, or spending $50,000 on a targeted message, I would go with the targeted message because I know there’s not going to be a lot of waste involved,” says Le Manach. “New media is also so measurable – you can see exactly how many people saw your message, and if they were engaged, commented or shared your message.”
Maker agrees, “The audience belonging to an influencer is engaged; they actually want to see what I’m talking about. Direct mail gets tossed, commercials get skipped or ignored, and usually the ROI is a few percent. Social media is a good buy compared to traditional advertising. I think that is going to shift dramatically within the next 18-24 months as social media platforms and the force influencers yield become even more pervasive. Facebook just hit 1 billion users logging in over a 24-hour period. It’s only going up from there.”
The longevity of social media adds to its value, says Le Manach.
“Digital media lives on forever if the influencer doesn’t take that piece of content down,” she says. “Even if a campaign has finished, those recipes are going to resurface, so the initial money that the brand spent will continue to live on in the long tail of that content. And it will be shared. So even though they are buying in to a certain amount of views that they know they are going to get on my channel, when people share it and post it on their social media or send it to a girlfriend, suddenly that message travels.”
This intense level of connection with strangers online also means that YouTubers have to be careful they present themselves online. It’s just as easy to lose followers as it is to gain them.
“YouTube is a vocal platform and not all the natives are friendly,” says Le Manach. “Which is why you have to find your niche, and the group of people who respond to what you’re doing. It’s so important to be authentic and be who you really are.”
Le Manach has such loyalty from her followers because she is the guinea pig trying things out first, eliminating the risk and forming a trust. “I am the one who is going to go ahead and try 16 recipes, and I am going to come up with my own definitive recipe because I have been there and done that. I’ll share the pitfalls and make sure my audience does it right!”
Maker also takes the plunge on behalf of her followers. “When a product is reviewed or demonstrated in the flesh in a YouTube video, you can see its pros and cons and experience them by proxy. If the content creator is trustworthy and honest, they’ll tell you both the good and the bad,” she explains. “Ultimately, you use them as a surrogate tester and base your purchase decision on their recommendation. The social influencer’s voice is a real force in consumer purchase decisions.”
Keeping their audiences engaged is another challenge that all social media creators face. “Engagement is the glue that holds the channel together,” explains Le Manach. “It used to be that people really valued views, and although I do think it’s important, a view without engagement is like an empty view. So if something has 100,000 views on it and only two comments, it just goes to show you that people are not very engaged. If there are a lot of comments and shares and likes, it means that people are very engaged.”
As both women as social media influencers, say an engaged audience is an alert audience. More importantly, an alert audience can be easily influenced and that is where brands can benefit from the presence of women like Maker and Le Manach.
“On a show I did for IHA’s consumer website, TheInspiredHome.com, we did a giveaway on holiday entertaining essentials to gain email addresses,” Le Manach says. “At one point, it had about 11,000 views on the video, and we got 4,000 entries off those 11,000 views. That’s almost half of the people watching doing what I told them to do! I said, go to this website, put in your address, and enter, and they did it because I told them to, and they respected what I had to say.”
Le Manach is sure to mention that although social media is a powerful force, it’s also a fragile one that needs to be respected by the influencer and associated brands. “This is why a lot of social media influencers will not want to do something that is not good for their community,” she explains. It’s the trust and loyalty game again.
“A brand might say – please, hock this product, but if it doesn’t feel right or authentic for that community, then the creator will say no. The worse thing you can do is to upset a community. By doing that, you’ll lose the magic of being able to engage because they won’t trust you anymore,” she says.
Maker’s followers certainly trust her. “My audience knows that even when I do sponsored work, I’ve put the product through several of my own rigorous tests before sharing it with them,” she says. “That helps create loyalty — they know they can ask me questions, I’ll answer as best I can and they know I am only sharing the really good stuff with them.”
So how should brands go about utilizing the power of YouTube creators? Le Manach and Maker know from years of experience that collaborations can be extremely fruitful for both the brands and the influencer.
“Brands today are so fortunate to exist in a world where their evangelizers have the ability to spread the good word to their own audiences, it’s like a marketing multiplier effect,” Maker says. “The influencer should be well-educated on the product so that they can provide the most accurate answers and information to their own audience and be offered the opportunity to collaborate creatively with the brand. Social media influencers have been known to draw incredible crowds to events, and the fans are super engaged. Brands just need to find that special influencer and find out what she’s excited about doing with their product. Then they need to place their trust (and a budget) in her knowledge of her audience, and just watch the magic she can create!”
Both women have had great experiences at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where they could not only get involved at the Show by presenting themselves and their business, but also afterwards by sharing their experience with their followers, effectively promoting particular brands and innovations that they discovered and loved.
“I look forward to the IH+HS each year like I look forward to the holidays!” says Maker. “My audience waits with baited breath each year for me to post my ‘favorites’ video from that year’s Show. It also helps me determine the content I am going to create for the year and learn about new brands that I may want to work with.”
“I just love the IH+HS in Chicago,” says Le Manach. “I get so excited – my eyes are everywhere! When I see new product – it also start to get the creative juices flowing. Consumers need new products in their lives because it brings the recipes I offer them to life. A trade show like that is where I get so many of my ideas of how to present new ideas.”
The rise of YouTube stars is a movement gaining momentum and it may soon create a social tsunami. Both Le Manach and Maker are riding the wave already, and from their perspective, it’s definitely getting gathering speed and power. “It will be a watershed moment when it all catches up and everyone dives in,” says Le Manach. “It’s coming soon and I’m so happy to be a part of it!”
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