Influencer marketing lessons from a 6-year-old YouTube star

A little boy is making millions from his weekly YouTube videos reviewing toys and games. What can brand managers and PR pros learn from this enterprising young star?

Influencer marketing is a huge, young phenomenon—in more ways than one.

Many were gobsmacked to learn that a 6-year-old kid named Ryan has made Forbes’ list by reviewing toys in YouTube videos. His video channel, “Ryan ToysReview,” features the young star opening toys and giving enthusiastic commentary, prompted by his off-screen parents.

The Washington Post wrote:

Since he was three years old, Ryan’s parents have been capturing videos of him opening toys, playing with them and “reviewing” them for videos posted on their YouTube channel, “Ryan ToysReview.”

Ryan’s last name, and his place of residence are a closely guarded secret, and not without reason.

Ryan has become a multi-millionaire, according to Forbes magazine’s just-out list of highest paid YouTube entrepreneurs. He was ranked number eight, having brought in $11 million in revenue between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, before management fees and taxes, of course. He tied with the comedy channel Smosh, created by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox.

Brand managers are doing backflips to get their products featured on Ryan’s popular channel, where videos receive upward of 8 million views and a successful video can significantly drive retail.

The Verge profiled Ryan a year ago, writing:

The toy industry is paying close attention to stars like Ryan. “If a product gets ten million, twenty millions views, and you see that Ryan loves it, or other kids love it, it has a huge impact at retail,” says Jim Silver, CEO of the review site Toys, Tots, Pets, and More. “He’s really the youngest success that we’ve seen. Most of the time the kids were in the six plus range, just because of the vocabulary and the maturity to do a review.”

Ryan’s videos fall under a popular YouTube format called “unboxing,” in which consumer goods are taken out of their wrappings and reviewed.

The Washington Post continued:

“Unboxing” refers to one of today’s oddest and most lucrative genres on YouTube. The videos are exactly what they sound like: footage of people opening packages of newly purchased items, the latest Apple devices, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, as The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan explained.

Each time someone clicks on one of Ryan’s videos, his family makes money. There are ads and links to ads all over the place.

Here are three lessons for brand managers and PR pros looking to emulate Ryan’s meteoric rise:

1. Influencers must have an authentic fit for their product.

Ryan has created one of the most watched channels on YouTube because he has an authentic voice to talk about his sponsored product: toys. If he were to be approached by a company selling cars or pushing shaving products, he would have no authoritative voice.

2. Influencers should speak directly to their audience.

Ryan’s audience feels that they know him and consider him a friend.

The Washington Post wrote:

My 5-year-old EATS THIS STUFF UP!” one mother, Lindsay Weiss, wrote in a blog post titled “Ryan’s Toy Review may be the death of me.”

“It is literally the only thing he watches on YouTube and the other day I caught him talking back to Ryan telling him he had missed an important feature in the new game ‘Don’t Wake Daddy.'”

“Honey, you know Ryan can’t hear you, right?” Weiss said she told her son.

“He doesn’t need to hear me, Mama,” her son responded, Weiss wrote. “He just KNOWS.”

3. A successful influencer has more content than just hawking products.

When looking for an influencer, marketers should find channels that do more to create a bond with their viewers than just identify great consumer goods. The power of influencers lies in their relationship with their audience, and content that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch should be part of the channel’s content mix.

The Washington Post reported that in many of Ryan’s videos he does things other than opening new toys, such as getting a haircut and attending birthday parties.

The Verge argued that this kind of video channel is, in reality, a new genre altogether:

[…] while Ryan’s channel is part of a broader trend, it has achieved a scale unlike anything that came before it. Less than two years old, Ryan ToysReview already has 5.5 million subscribers, more than the two channels that inspired it combined. Produced by his mother, Ryan’s channel has perfected the art of this strange new genre, a mash-up of personal vlog and “unboxing” video, a blend of innocent childhood antics and relentless, often overwhelming consumerism.

What do you take away from this 6-year-old YouTube sensation, PR Daily readers?

(Image via)

COMMENT

Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.