Ongoing demonization issues across YouTube continue to impact creators’ revenues, so it’s a good thing influencer marketing campaigns are increasing year-over-year. Influencer marketing on Instagram alone, for instance, is forecasted to be a $2.4 billion industry by 2019. And while Tubefilter often writes about these kinds of statistics and the industry’s massive growth, most of those articles don’t contain a perspective from those influencers in the industry executing the actual deals.
With that in mind, I’m speaking to a number of creators about the experiences they’ve had with brands and advertisers. This time around, it’s Dulce Candy.
The Mexico-born and Southern California-raised YouTube star is a longstanding staple of the YouTube community (having first started her channel way back in 2008) and an Armed Forces Veteran. And in addition to having over 2.5 million subscribers across 2 channels on YouTube, Dulce Candy has developed a large following on other platforms and boasts over 1.1 million on Instagram. Not afraid to shy away from hard issues, Dulce was one of the most politically active creators during the 2016 election and even spoke onstage during the Democratic National Convention.
Here’s her take on brand deals and how online video has evolved in the past decade.
Tubefilter: Since starting your channel in 2008, how many brand campaigns have you done across YouTube and other social media?
Dulce Candy: Approximately 250 campaigns across YouTube and other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and my website.
TF: What and when was your first campaign?
DC: My very first ever campaign was with a hair tools company that gifted one of their hot tools and paid $500 way back in 2008. The first mainstream campaign was in 2009 when I was invited to New York by Seventeen Magazine to star in their Beauty Smarties series that was featured in their print magazine and website.
TF: How did you feel about getting approached by a brand at the time?
DC: At the time, I was relieved and incredibly grateful. I had no disposable income in the bank, so having a company offer me $500 and an expensive hair tool that I could not afford at the time felt like a blessing and that gave me motivation to continue producing content.
TF: From your first campaign until now, how have FTC disclosures changed how you approach an integration and your creative process?
DC: The creative process has not changed drastically. I have only ever worked with brands that I authentically use and am excited to tell my friends about. I see being sponsored by globally respected companies that I’ve been a consumer of for years as a privilege rather than a burden. In the last decade, brands and creators have evolved the creative approvals process to ensure all paid partnership disclosures are clearly stated in the video, and brand approvals are now always required prior to upload. Fortunately, my audience has always been supportive and I believe that is because of the authenticity I’ve continually presented in all of my content.
TF: What other changes have you noticed the most in the branded content space on YouTube since 2008?
DC: The branded content buyers have become much more educated around YouTube and social content’s intricacies. It’s now a matter of finding the sweet spot in order to satisfy my own artistic integrity, while satisfying the brand’s objectives, and most importantly maintaining interest and support from a growing and trusting audience.
Now, there are also more rounds of approvals, starting prior to production with concept approvals, followed by one round of approval before any photo, video, or written content goes live to the public. I am producing more and more branded content in studios with a crew as opposed to self-producing.
TF: Having recently joined Kin Community’s Multi-Channel Network, how has your relationship with Multi-Channel Network’s changed throughout the years?
DC: I’ve worked closely under the guidance and leadership of Addition to partner with MCNs as a tool to help expand my opportunities and have been able to shift away from being dependent on MCNs as my main source of revenue. Addition has been able to strategically diversify revenue streams for my business based on my unique passions over the years as I have developed as a creator and my audience has evolved.
TF: What are your pet peeves when it comes to integrations? What immediately turns you off from working with a brand?
DC: When brands are close-minded to creative ideas and prefer to force a script as opposed to letting the key messages and required talking points be interpreted in my own style the viewers have come to expect.
TF: What opportunities are brands not exploring on YouTube? Where should they be paying more attention?
DC: Some of my most proud campaigns on YouTube are from partnerships that offer mutual exposure by not relying solely on my audience. For example, it creates great synergy and makes my content capable of reaching the largest audience possible when brands are willing to promote my content across their established platforms online, print, TV, and in-store. Last year I had the amazing opportunity to be featured in a TV commercial as an extension of a YouTube and social media campaign.
Additionally, brands should be exploring YouTube as a way to drive foot traffic by tapping artists in order to create products to be sold in physical retailers. I’d also love to see “Brought to You By” series which empower creators to focus on higher quality content they love producing while reaching a larger audience for that brand.
TF: As brand integrations on YouTube have become common place, how do you try to make yours stand out from others on the platform?
DC: I always strive to produce content that leaves my audience with something tangible they can take away. Whether it be a positive outlook, life lesson, beauty tip, or meaningful advice, I am interested in sharing knowledge and experiences that empowers viewers to make this world a better and more productive place for future generations.
TF: Recently, you have pivoted away from being a beauty creator to adopting more of a holistic lifestyle approach to your content. Have you noticed any changes in the brands approaching you for partnership or the asks behind the integrations?
DC: Yes! Fortunately, beauty brands continue to be amazing partners that support me in bridging the gap between beauty tips on the outside and becoming a more empowered and self-accepting person on the inside.
One of my favorite campaigns this year was with Skintimate. It was a mutually successful partnership because they presented the required talking points, provided product, and they not only allowed, but also empowered me to be creative in the style, format, and presentation of the video content itself. By staying true to my personal creative vision, the video was able to successfully engage my audience.
Traditional non-profit brands have been incredibly responsive to the evolution of my content, too, since I began to expand expand beyond beauty tutorials and product reviews. I recently had the privilege to work with the American Sexual Health Association in another mutually beneficial campaign. It was a win for both the brand and myself because of how it utilized the already established female empowerment series format I created on my channel earlier this year called Café Con Dulce.
TF: When compared to other revenue streams such as ad revenue and merchandise, what percentage of your overall revenue comes from brand deals?
DC: Up until 2013 my income streams were solely dependent on YouTube AdSense and brand integrations. Fast forward to 2017 where AdSense and branded partnerships are two of seven diversified revenue streams also inclusive of content licensing, product design, publishing, event appearances, and public speaking.
TF: What is your one piece of advice for brands and agencies? What should they be doing?
DC: Listen to the content creators and remember why the brands came to the artist for their expertise initially. Ideally brands should share all requirements, guidelines and objectives upfront while allowing the creator to interpret the content in their own stylistic presentation. The audiences will connect most to the content that comes from the heart of the creator.
Dulce Candy is represented by Addition Management, Anita Sharma at Sharma Law, and is in the KIN network.
After overseeing the talent and talent integration departments at Machinima, Chris Landa most recently served as the Sr. Director of Content & Partnerships at YouNow, where he worked with top talent and brands to maximize their presence on the platform. With a wide range of expertise around brand integrations and original content featuring creators, Chris recently launched Transparent Influence, a company focused on accountability and transparency in Influencer Marketing.