Lessons on Influencer Marketing from an 8-Year-Old


Lauren Parker, Executive Vice President, FrazierHeiby

Ryan Kaji is eight years old and makes more money than you do.

He is the namesake of Ryan ToysReview, one of the most influential YouTube stars on the platform. My four-year-old twins are included in his more than 20 million subscribers and my family has contributed to the channel’s more than 30 billion total views. He reportedly raked in $22 million in 2018 from his videos and a line of toys and clothing at Wal-Mart.

The time spent watching these seemingly frivolous videos proved valuable once I began to watch through my marketing professional’s lens. As more and more of my clients are tapping outside influencers and launching their own personalities as brand stewards, much of the counsel I’ve offered could be summarized in a Ryan ToysReview case study. Here’s what I mean.

Let Personality Shine

If YouTube wasn’t around, this kid would have found another path to the big screen. He exudes unabashed childhood joy and comes across as unrehearsed and authentic. His parents play equally charismatic supporting roles, fully investing energy into wild and silly activities with their kid. As a marketer, make sure the spokesperson or influencer you choose to feature is willing and able to be comfortable on camera. And, give them the flexibility to be themselves without forcing them to recite corporate messaging verbatim.

Balance Variety with Familiarity

Ryan and his family release a new video every day. With a release schedule this aggressive, it’s important to find a balance between variety of content so the audience doesn’t get bored with some structure so viewers know what they can expect. Typically, Ryan ToysReview videos fall into one of the following categories: unboxing, a wildly popular YouTube trend among young kids; a silly science experience; cosplay with familiar children’s brands like Marvel or PAW Patrol; a field trip or special event like a birthday party or day at Disneyland.

Keep the Mistakes

Flub a word? Dump too much glue in the recipe for slime? Knock the Batman mask off daddy? Ryan ToysReview videos often keep unintended mishaps in the videos – and for good reason. Much like our appreciation for SNL characters “breaking” during a sketch, these unexpected moments add excitement, humor and authenticity. While there is still a time and place for slick, polished video content for brands, these more homegrown videos can be more emotionally compelling. 

Create a Universe

Anyone can point their smartphone and start filming. There are thousands of toy review channels on YouTube, and the same can be said of nearly any other niche interest group online. What Ryan ToysReview has accomplished masterfully is create a universe for its viewers. It’s constructed a look into the imagination of its star and invited others to play along with original characters and scenarios. This immersive point of view is what keeps people coming back and engaging time and time again. As marketers, it’s our job to work with clients to articulate the world view they wish to present and bring it to life on camera.

Looking ahead to 2020, research continues to show that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer acquisition method. By 2022, it’s predicted that videos will make up 82% of all online traffic. If you haven’t already, give video influencer marketing a second look – and let Ryan school you on the basics.

Lauren ParkerAbout the Author: Lauren Parker is Executive Vice President of FrazierHeiby, a marketing and communications firm based on Columbus, Ohio. Lauren has more than a decade of experience counseling clients through crisis and reputation management, brand positioning, social media engagement, employee relations and digital communications strategy. You can find her on Twitter at @ImLaurenParker or connect by email at lauren@FHcommunicate.com





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