Dear Fellow Bloggers-
I can’t believe, that I have reached the FINAL end of this social media project! When I began this class, I can honestly say, that I was neither ‘tech saavy,’ nor was I a ‘digital native,’ as my relatives often assume, because I can skillfully ‘cut and paste’ word documents (etc). Even when Twitter first started to gain attention, I brushed it off, because I thought it was just a really fancy version of Face book updates. However, since my project, I have found Twitter to be an incredible social tool for both personal and professional use. It has actually become one of my current favorite social media applications. However, it is time to move to my final conclusions of the lengthy project on the You Tube industry and its ‘beauty gurus.’
Part I: Why You Tube? Beauty Guru Personalities
Since starting this project, I have concluded, that the You Tube gurus, as well as users, can be classified within different groups. These specific groups are divided by their motivations to start a channel, as well as, their continual maintenance and interaction with the rest of the community. As I have already gone through most of the history of the actual social platform of YouTube, I can skip most of the general descriptions (read about it here). From its amateur, video-sharing status, YouTube has always been a unique medium, as well as forum for social connectivity with various individuals. As we have been blogging for the entire semester, it was interesting to explore a different side of this social activity. As video has become utilized more predominantly (viral videos, tutorials etc.), it has been interesting to analyze and research the global effects of its Internet power. However, in particular, the ‘beauty gurus,’ within the community have held particular resonance within YouTube, as they have managed to reach out to the ‘commercial aspects’ of the community- sponsorship deals, editorials, life style lines and brands. For my conference project, I began by analyzing different ‘beauty gurus,’ in order to understand their ‘internet personas’ and why they are so fascinating to watch. Through my research, I have discovered that, the authenticity, relatable ‘voice,’ field expertise, as well as a personal motivation to create content, dictates a ‘gurus’ creative impulses to create videos about fashion and beauty tutorials. Even more, with all of the You Tube gurus, these users have amassed over a million subscribers (at least for the well-known You Tubers). Thus, the relatable quality of these ‘gurus’ draws in their audience, as well as other companies, who wish to gain or replicate this same type of notoriety.
Part II: Passion
For the majority of the ‘beauty gurus,’ this is their main reason, for starting a YouTube channel, or even fashion blog. With the more established, professional bloggers, such as Ingrid Nilsen and Zoe Sugg, they both started their channels (and blogs), as a way to engage and confront their own issues with shyness, as well as an overall lack of self-confidence. With Ingrid, she started her channel during her last years at college. As she explains in many of her videos and interviews, she found You Tube, because many of her friends had told her, that she gave helpful lifestyle, beauty, and fashion advice. According to one of her videos, “Facts About Me,” she also admitted, that she always admired the You Tube Beauty Community, but was far too timid to contribute content. Thus, with personal tragedies within her family, she admits, that this is one of the reasons, that she decided to start one. For Zoe Sugg, she sought out You Tube after her college examinations; she did not know what to do with her life. Like Ingrid, she also battled with several insecurity issues. However, after chatting with another You Tuber and blogger online, named Louise, she was able to gain more notoriety through her primary blog, Zoella, and join the YouTube community. Although both girls present different content, they represent millions of other users, who possess this same ideal. Amongst all of their videos on product reviews, monthly favorites, video blogs, they have definitely undergone a ‘personality transformation’ through out the course of their ‘You Tube careers.’ Through my project, I have connected with other You Tube and beauty bloggers, who started their websites, because of users, like Zoella and Ingrid. Although these You Tubers fall into the ‘danger zone’ of attempting to replicate, or ‘copy cat’ these popular users, it also encourages them to utilize and establish their own creative impulses, in order to develop their own personal social (and real) identities. Moreover, for established You Tubers, they maintain an unobtrusive persona, in order to avoid annoying their audience, as ‘real’ marketers often are apt to do. Therefore, the ‘authentic’ image,’ of which these users perpetuate, defines the original, trustful, ‘amateur’ status of the You Tube and beauty community.
Part III: Expertise/Professional Careers
For these ‘new gurus,’ of whom, I have been corresponding with, the goal of a ‘You Tube professional’ seems to be the driving force for starting a channel. Although both RebekkaVictoria and BexRenshaw (my interviewees) clearly stated in their interviews, that THEY DID NOT start their channels, in order to pursue a professional, profitable career, this is one of the top thoughts, which go through the majority of these gurus’ heads. At a certain point in a successful You Tubers success (or even ‘fame’), they can monetize their own videos, receive sponsorship/advertising deals with companies, as well as reach out to a broader audience outside of their channels. In addition, under newer laws, which have been passed regarding online marketing, You Tuber beauty bloggers are obligated to inform their audiences, which products are sponsored and/or purchased by the individual online users. Thus, this helps the beauty gurus to retain their ‘authentic image.’ With You Tubers, such as, Michelle Phan and Bethany Mota, this is where they often clash between their ‘professional’ and ‘authentic’ personas. Although with Bethany's success, she has been able to remain the same, cheerful teenager with a national clothing line, as well as over six million subscribers on YouTube, she has been able to establish a personal brand, which reflects her true personality. However, with MichellePhan, the professional quality of her videos makes her personality appear completely unreal and unattainable. As one commenter wrote on her recent video, “How can you be so perfect?” Although companies rely on these ‘gurus’ for guidance and ‘trend setting’ advice, it is imperative, that the ‘gurus’ retain their originality, in order to maintain their subscribers. The divide and transition between ‘passion’ and ‘profession’ is difficult to navigate. However, because of their wide appeal, other companies, such as BareMinerals makeup brand, have started imitating this ‘vlog’ style, in order to perpetuate this image of ‘authenticity’ to their targeted audience members. As Zoella mentions in a BBC television interview, “I mean its great that YouTubers have this much influence over people, so you will be approached by companies, but I always just think, if I would never actually use that company, or even if I don’t like something about the company, I try to stay, as true to what I like and what I believe in, because at the end of the day, these people trust my opinion […].” Thus, although these users may appear completely ‘commercial’ and ‘unattainable,’ there are some, such as Zoella, who maintain their ‘trustful’ and ‘authentic image’ for their viewers. Therefore, unlike the pristine MichellePhan, or even the Fowler Sisters, who have drifted into a more ‘mainstream’ direction, these other YouTubers, are actually contributing to the global, commercial market with their own personal expertise, and have their audiences' tastes, budgets, and mindsets factored into their ‘social identities and personas.’
Part IV: Connectivity
I do not know if you could clearly designate an exact reason for why gurus, or even You Tubers create videos. Since its early days, You Tube has always established itself, as a platform for sharing creative and informative content. However, since Google’s acquirement of the company, it has become quite commercial, as it has become one of the top video sharing companies within its own platform, as well as with other social media websites. In particular, beauty bloggers have been especially affected by this transition. Whilst watching their videos, one might assume, that they are incredibly inane, as they are talking about ‘What’s in my Bag?’ or ‘My (insert month here) Favorites, but they are no different than the myriad of other tutorials, that are on the website. More over, as a social platform, YouTube has far exceeded other social media sites, in terms of its success in social connectivity. Not only does the site provide a platform for YouTubers to express their thoughts and creativity, but it also allows their audience to connect with other like-minded YouTubers. With YouTube, other creators can establish connections and collaborate with other users within the community. As well, this sense of connectivity leads to the eventual creation of larger conventions, such as, PlayList Live, VidCon, ITATube, YouTube Space, and YouGeneration, which celebrate this distinct and eccentric community. On a professional level, other companies and brand-management/talent agencies, such as BIGFRAMECO, who work exclusively with YouTube and its community members, are able to help and develop these various channels on a global and professional scale. In addition, because they are a YouTube affiliated company, they are able to understand the intricacies behind the various YouTube users’ ‘niche markets’ better than any other ‘conventional’ talent agency. Although, we have studied and researched many of these different online communities, YouTube remains one of the most intriguing, due to its vast, yet close-knit community. Therefore, from its earliest beginnings, YouTube has succeeded in creating an enigmatic, personalized, creative, and professional outlet, which has far exceeded the standard expectations of any current or past social media application through out these past few years.