The rise of the career advice vlogger

Getting messages out there in an increasingly crowded and noisey media landscape can’t be easy. Especially when your target audience swings between hyperactivity and utter indifference as often as teenagers tend to do.

I am not a branding or communication specialist but if I were, I would imagine that a key message in Branding 101 is “inhabit the space in which your target audience communicates.” It is perhaps no surprise then that a trend seems to be growing among stakeholders who are keen to promote career ideals to young people in starting to utilise the art of vlogging to spread their message.

Vlogging, in internet terms, isn’t new and has lead to a whole new breed of celebrity whose ability to speak directly and frequently with their loyal audiences has meant that brands have been quick to piggy back their products into the medium. Mostly though, vloggers have regular themes (fashion, gaming, travel, challenges) which they return to through their “daily life” stories. The trick that industry organisations such as Tomorrow’s Engineers or government backed bodies such as YOUR LIFE are now trying to achieve is to make the “career journey” the main theme of the vlogs and each channel.

Tomorrow’s Engineers have taken the route of hiring two young people in the early stages of their own STEM career journey and asking them to document their progress. The newest to the process seems like Nayeeb who is in his 3rd year at UCL (rule 1 of vlogging; look at the lens and stop checking out your hair on the viewfinder) while Lily, seems to have more of a blogging background having been running a lifestyle blog and (relatively) small scale twitter for a few years.

The YOUR LIFE team have taken a different approach. Rather than focus on more unknown internet personalities and attempt to build them up, they have appointed a number of vloggers who already have growing followings. The Mandeville Sisters with a feed of lifestyle, fashion and movie events (Youtube followers: about 51,000, Twitter followers: about 6,400), Victorious Sponge – ‘wacky’ comedy (Youtube followers: about 73,000, Twitter followers: about 3,200) and Ashens – retro games, retro toys and…sweets? (Youtube followers: about 920,000, Twitter followers: about 73,000) have all been enlisted to make videos that spread the STEM message. Hiring slightly more established internet bloggers was perhaps more of an option for YOUR LIFE though as their 2014-15 funding alone was £600,000 but, ultimately, what matters here is the impact these communication channels have.

In the world of vlogging, shares, likes and view counts are king. For both organisations mentioned, getting high numbers of these will be the first challenge (at the time of writing Lily’s intro video has only 250 views in 20 days). Those involved with YOUR LIFE are still tiny compared to the behemoths of the medium, the ubiquitous Zoella is now at over 9 million Youtube subscribers and 3.7 million Twitter followers and there are plenty of others whose follower counts blow the YOUR LIFE teams out of the water. Even then if the views do start stacking up, the actual impact on young people’s (particularly girls) subject and career decisions will be a much tougher consequence to measure. It will be interesting to see the success of this new model in reaching a hard to reach audience with a CEIAG message.

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