Consumer Mindsets Tuesdays: Three YouTuber Mindsets

This post is about the mindsets of YouTubers.
A gallery of popular YouTubers

The “Ideas from Outside” conference Moskowitz and I spoke at opened with a panel discussion moderated by Sari Katz, Partner Manager of YouTube Canada. She assembled a panel of four very popular Canadian YouTubers. I needn’t mention them by name. One had a cooking show, two were long-time friends who created comedy programs, and the fourth was a director and producer who has his own show and creates videos for others, brands included.

They appeared similar on the outside: mid-to-late 20s, backgrounds in communications arts, especially film and video. They aim to build media brands and work with advertisers, and they are aggressively metrics-driven in their decision-making. You might think that they would be alike because we typically assume that people who share characteristics are alike. That’s the logic underlying almost all segmentation. But when we listened closely to them talk about their viewers, subscribers, ad clients, and how they went about building their businesses and brands … they were remarkably different … on the inside: There were three unique mindsets up there, We called them the Marketer, the Storytellers, and the Rugged Individualist.

YouTubers: Their Three Mindsets

The Marketer cared deeply about her viewers and wanted to know as much about them as possible. Her aim was to give them more of what they liked. The Rugged Individualist made videos he wanted to make. He couldn’t care less about the viewers. The Storytellers were friends since high school who enjoyed working with each other and making comedic videos for their audience. Each of these YouTubers is successful in their way, yet each one’s mind works differently. I mentioned this observation early in our session, which helped Howard and me quickly connect with the audience and introduce them to a core principle of Mind Genomics by doing so.

You might be thinking that those mindsets were just our musings, a little parlor game to entertain us while listening to the panel. We had the good fortune of hearing Simon Wells of Acacia 17 present later that afternoon. Simon is a psychologist and former hostage negotiator who is an expert in communications styles. He, too, remarked that each YouTuber used a unique communication style. He placed the styles in his framework, which he calls the communications cylinder, but they neatly mapped to ours: Instrumental (Marketer), Relationship-oriented (Story tellers), and Identity (Rugged Individualist). Simon’s comments further support the notion of multiple mindsets within a community that appears homogenous. (Simon, Howard, and me are now exploring collaborations on projects on peace, terrorism, and conflict resolution).

How Working with Mindset Knowledge Helps You

Now imagine that you are a brand told to work with a YouTuber to reach that elusive Millennial audience. What we learned is that you would get different recommendations for your YouTube strategy from each YouTuber. How you rate those recommendations will depend on how well you understand the mind of the YouTuber. If you think they are all similar, you will be confused by their conflicting advice. But if you can identify their mindset,  you will have a firm bead on who you are talking to, know where they are coming from, communicate in the best way with that person, find the best fit, and improve your chances for being successful working with a YouTuber. That, in a nutshell, is the idea behind the science of Mind Genomics.

Of course that is not how we do Mind Genomics, which is an experimental science with a rich research history (feel free to visit our library). We would design a study of YouTubers and then empirically discover their mindsets, what’s of interest to each mindset, and, through cognitive economics, understand the dollar values of interest within each mindset. From there we would derive the narrative unique to each mindset. But knowing the fundamental principle – that mindsets vary even when people appear nearly or exactly the same, contributes to thinking a bit more fully and productively about people, any topic, and effective marketing of any brand. I’ll be writing about those in future Consumer Mindset Tuesdays posts.

Author: stephenrappaport

I write and consult on achieving brand growth. My long-term advisory roles are with Sunstar, Inc., a global manufacturer of consumer products and Suretys, Inc. an insurtech. I was a Senior Fellow at Wharton’s SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management for 5 years and am the author of 3 books on digital marketing and measurement.

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