Sephora has announced the second class of its #SephoraSquad — an influencer initiative first unveiled last May whereby the prestige beauty retailer taps a diverse faction of beauty creators over the course of a year to create sponsored content and glean insights for future advertising and retail initiatives.
Sephora announced the 62 winners today — comprising both online beauty creators (across makeup, skin care, and hair care) and Sephora employees alike, hailing from the United States and Canada. In addition to working with different brand partners, winners will gain free products, networking opportunities, event invites, exposure on Sephora’s digital channels, and other tools and resources to help grow their careers.
The application process (predominantly conducted via Instagram) was open from March 9 to April 10, and semi-finalists were announced on April 20. Applicants were asked to cull testimonials from followers, and in selecting Squad members, Sephora said it was seeking “unique, unfiltered, sorry-not-sorry storytellers with a diverse range of followers, points of view, and interests.”
The #SephoraSquad program is operated in partnership with influencer marketing platform Fohr, which helped design the application tool, Sephora said. Judges included members of Sephora’s merchant and marketing teams, as well as participants in the first round of the #SephoraSquad. You can check out this year’s lineup — including both emerging and established names like Kiitan A., Beauty By Ish, Samuel Rayy, and Terrell Britten (pictured above) — right here.
Sephora stocks roughly 400 prestige beauty brands and operates 490 standalone locations in the Americas — as well as 660 locations inside JCPenney department stores.
Welcome to TikTok Millionaires, where—in partnership with influencer marketing business Fanbytes—we profile creators who have crossed the one million subscriber mark on TikTok. Each week, we’ll chat with a newly minted Millionaire about their life, their content, and their creative goals for the days to come.
In February 2019, Rob Huysinga went viral on TikTok.
And he had absolutely no idea what TikTok was.
At the time, he was a 24-year-old university student and entrepreneur who operated the ice cream brand he’d cofounded, Pan-n-Ice, out of a shopping mall kiosk in east London. The video that sent him viral captured Pan-n-Ice’s big draw: its theatrical method of making. Unlike the majority of scooperies, Huysinga’s company prepped ice cream “batter” to order using super-chilled metal plates, flashily mixed in any requested extras, and then scraped it all into tight rolls. The eye-catching finished product–a popular Thai street food appropriately called rolled ice cream–is an Instagrammable delicacy if there’s ever been one.
Instagram is exactly where Huysinga was pre-TikTok. He only knew he’d gone viral because his Instagram followers DM’d him about it. “A customer had just videoed me without me realising, put it on TikTok, and then it was blowing up,” he says. After browsing the app, “I thought I would just give it a go because it seemed super fun.”
He joined up in February 2019, posting videos of himself and his ice cream-making performances. Then, in March 2019, he went viral again–only this time, the experience wasn’t quite so positive.
Internet denizens dubbed him “sexy ice cream man” and “cringey” in turn, responding to a video where he held eye contact with the camera as he prepped Pan-n-Ice in a self-described “sexual and intense way.” The video was meant to be a joke, but it found its way off TikTok and onto Twitter, and that’s when things went sideways, he says.
Criticism softened when people realized some of Huysinga’s other videos chronicled his monthly visits to a children’s hospital, during which he handed out free Pan-n-Ices. But Huysinga is still working to build a personal brand that doesn’t revolve around being “sexy ice cream man.” In the last year, he’s sold his stake in Pan-n-Ice, launched a line of bath products, and begun working on a new venture he can’t yet tell us about. And on TikTok, his comedic, positivity-focused content has grown his account to 1.2 million followers and 18.2 million likes.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to hit one million followers? What do you have to say to your fans?
Rob Huysinga: I literally love every single one of them. They’re so loyal, and I just get frustrated that I can’t meet them all. I mean, how cool would that be, meeting 1.2 million beautiful fans all at once? What I do love, though, is when I can meet them. Often they’re super excited to meet me, but the truth is, I am just as excited to meet them!
Tubefilter: Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What did you do in the days before TikTok?
RH: My name is actually Rob Huysinga. (On TikTok, I go by the stage name @bubba_ice.) I am originally from a place called Henley, just outside London. The reason I initially got onto TikTok was because I would make ice cream videos on it. It turned out that the videos would get millions of views, so I just kept going! Before TikTok, I was running my ice cream brand, which I started back in 2015, alongside completing my business degree at the University of Bath.
Tubefilter: How did you first find out about TikTok? What made you decide to join and start posting videos?
RH: I woke up one day with over 100 DMs on Instagram saying I was going viral. A customer had just videoed me without me realising, put it on TikTok, and then it was blowing up. I didn’t even know what TikTok was at the time, but I thought I would just give it a go because it seemed super fun.
Tubefilter: When did you start collecting followers? Was there one specific video that went viral or hit the For You page and brought people in, or has your audience been growing steadily over time?
RH: It has been pretty steady over time, actually. I am currently on around 1.2 million, but I want to try hit 10 million, so I have a lot of work to do!
Tubefilter: What do you think draws creators and viewers to TikTok? What makes it a unique and engaging platform?
RH: I just love how weird you can be. The psychology of Instagram I find a little pretentious, whereas on TikTok, you can just let loose.
Tubefilter: Have you worked on any collaborations with other creators or any sponsored content with brands?
RH: Yes, I have recently got Fanbytes as an agent, and they are awesome and have gotten me some great work.
Tubefilter: Where does TikTok fit into your average day? How much time do you spend brainstorming/creating content? What else do you get up to?
RH: In all honesty, my main passion and focus is entrepreneurship and running businesses. I spend very little time brainstorming content; instead, it is just very natural and in the moment. For example, if I fumble a line, I won’t edit over it or cut it out. I will leave it in, as that, for me, is most authentic.
Tubefilter: Are there any TikTok creators who inspire you with their content?
RH: I don’t spend much time on the platform or follow many people. I was making ice creams and Katie Franklin appeared. She mentioned she was a TikToker, and since making an ice cream with her, I have been following her journey and I love what she stands for. She’s a super kind and conscientious person, and genuinely cares about her following.
Tubefilter: How have you structured your content post-virality? Did going viral impact the way you make TikToks or the way you look at content creation as a whole?
RH: Yes, the main video that made me go viral was a shame. I basically got completely misinterpreted. Basically, I made the ice cream in quite a sexual and intense way. But I was only messing around. It then blew up on Twitter, and within a few days I had friends across the world asking me what on earth I had been doing! Many people actually DM’d me saying I should kill myself…It was a huge lesson in knowing that anything I put out there, within a few days, has the potential to be viewed by 25 million people. I am therefore a little more careful with the content I post now.
Tubefilter: We also see that you launched a line of soaps and bath bombs! Tell us about that venture.
RH: Yes! Since I sold my shares in the previous brand I started, I have been stuck at home (like everyone). It is more just a fun side project. I am working really hard in the background on my new venture, which i am excited to share in the coming months.
Tubefilter: What’s next for you? Any plans looking to the future?
RH: Yes. So many 🙂 I just sold my shares at a brand I started when I was 20, so I am now looking forward and seeing what other opportunities there are out there. I am really excited about the future.
Morgan ‘Morgz’ Hudson, the U.K.-based YouTube phenom known for his family pranks, has new agency representation.
Eighteen-year-old Hudson, who has amassed 11 million subscribers and nabs roughly 50 million monthly views — also on the strength of his challenge videos and gaming commentary — has signed with A3 Artists Agency. On his channel, Hudson also frequently collaborates with his mother, Jill Hudson, who runs a YouTube venture of her own dubbed Morgz Mum. That channel, which features a similar brand of antics, counts 3.6 million subscribers of its own.
In addition to YouTube, Hudson has pursued a number of off-platform ventures, including a merch range and a U.K tour dubbed Morgz vs. Mum that also spawned a two-day festival, Morgzfest. Hosted in his native Sheffield, the event comprised family-friendly activities and theme park-like attractions.
Hudson has partnered with A3 Artists Agency just months after the company launched its first U.K. office. The company also onboarded two new execs to operate out of its London offices — its first headquarters outside of the U.S.
“With A3’s recent U.K. office opening, the team has been focused on expanding our digital footprint onto the global stage,” A3 CEO Robert Attermann said in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome Morgz to the A3 family and together continue to help build his brand, audience, and online presence.”
While plenty of celebrities have utilized social media during the pandemic to share a bit more than they normally do, actor John Krasinski‘s the one who’s created his own media property in the process. Some Good News launched on YouTube March 30, and the weekly-ish show became a fixture for millions during its run.
Krasinski recently surprised fans with an announcement that episode No. 8, aired May 18, would be the final one, for now. The later-revealed reason for his break, of course, is that the show has been purchased by ViacomCBS, with Krasinski staying on as executive producer (but not host).
As evidenced by the buy, Some Good News has held its own, even in its short existence–especially when compared to other comedy talk shows.
Utilizing data from Tubular Labs, AdAgecompared Some Good News to late-night programs, starting March 30 through May 20, and ranked them by views. Here’s the shakeout:
The Daily Show (235 million)
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (109 million)
The Late Late Show with James Corden (56.6 million)
Some Good News (55.8 million)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (36.9 million)
Late Night with Seth Meyers (5.1 million)
Even acknowledging that not every talk show emphasizes Facebook in the same way (hence why John Oliver isn’t included here), these are still broadcast shows with global reach mostly repurposing clips from television. All new episodes of talk shows are currently home-produced efforts, but the clips shared to shows’ social channels are almost entirely selections from past TV broadcasts. To put it simply: the library of video content these shows have at their disposal is far greater than what Krasinski had on hand. And to date, Krasinski’s show is a homemade endeavor only seen through the eyes of social media. (That will change once ViacomCBS takes over.)
During the timeframe in question, Krasinski’s uploaded just 15 videos to Facebook, less than one post per day. By comparison, The Daily Showaveraged nearly six per day (303 overall) and Stephen Colbert‘s averaged almost five (248 overall).
Compared to other news and politics videos on Facebook, Krasinski’s debut video would rank 31st in terms of views (from March 30-May 20). Categorizing it as an entertainment video instead, it would’ve been just outside the top 100 by views. Just looking at April, Krasinski would’ve barely been outside the top 50 U.S. News & Politics creators on Facebook, earning about the same number of views as Vox (over 27 million in the month).
We’ll see if Krasinski’s new media empire can sustain the same momentum once it becomes a bit more “legit,” but it’s already on strong footing thus far.
Krasinski’s top five Facebook videos since March 30, ranked by views:
Jeffree Star’s Killer Merch is powering the surprise relaunch of Tyler “Ninja” Blevins’ clothing brand, Team Ninja.
Killer Merch makes products for a range of digital and traditional celebrities, including YouTubers Shane Dawson and Cody Ko and actor/comedian Kevin Hart. You may recognize it (and its founder) from Dawson’s 2019 docuseries The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star, which in part chronicled Killer Merch’s production of his Conspiracy Collection.
The company is now “handling all aspects for the ‘Team Ninja’ online store, which includes all creative, production, and fulfillment,” Mark Bubb, Killer Merch’s co-owner, tells Tubefilter.
Blevins (who has 3.1 million followers on Mixer) originally debuted the Team Ninja brand and store back in September 2018. For around ten months, the shop sold an array of items emblazoned with “Ninja,” Blevins’ logo, and his signature katanas. Then, in June 2019, the Team Ninja website was quietly pulled down for restructuring.
As of today, the brand is back up and running with a fresh product lineup. Blevins worked with Killer Merch to design two collections: an official Fortnite capsule with two hoodies ($55 each) and a T-shirt ($30); and the Team Ninja Core Collection, with two hoodies ($50), two T-shirts ($30), and a windbreaker ($60). The core collection features redesigned imagery, such as Blevins’ logo wreathed in cherry blossoms, while the capsule stars Blevins’ Fortnite skin and his oft-used advice to fellow gamers: “Get good.”
“This is Tyler’s more fashion-forward apparel line that reflects his personal style,” Bubb says. He adds that more Team Ninja collections are in the works, and though “we can’t release too many details about the upcoming items at this time, we can say that the future items will be very sleek, completely custom streetwear.”
Star, who’s a friend of Blevins’, is the one who hooked him up with Killer Merch, Bubb says. “Killer Merch is always open to opportunities that inspire and excite us.”
Blevins kept the relaunch mum until today, when he alerted fans on Twitter (and titled his Mixer stream “LIVE NOW! DOPE MERCH <3). Shortly after it went live, he tweeted again to let fans know he’s grateful for their enthusiasm.
My community is incredible. I appreciate all of your support on this new launch! I’ve been so nervous and excited for it.
To mark the launch of the Ninja + Fortnite collection, Fortnite has temporarily brought back Blevins’ in-game skin. Players can acquire it–and themed accessories–in the game’s virtual store through May 24.
According to YouTube’s VP of creator products, Ariel Bardin, a substantial part of the platform’s efforts to make itself better for LGBTQ+ users involves seeking policymaking guidance from YouTubers in the LGBTQ+ community. To that end, in the latest Creator Insiderupload, Bardin sits down for a half-hour interview with transgender creator, author, and activist Jackson Bird, giving him a chance to “ask me the tough hard-hitting questions and call bullshit on me when needed.”
Bird, who has 73.3K subscribers and nets around 50K views per month, has been making educational and lifestyle content on YouTube since 2010, much of it about his experiences as a trans man.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to share my story and share my experiences and educate people on the platform,” he tells Bardin. “Back in the late 2000s, the earlier days of YouTube, it was kind of a game-changer for trans representation online, with us being able to share our stories on our own terms and get resources to one another. So that’s always been the side of things that’s really working.”
But there are also some things that aren’t working, Bird says. His chief concern is the number of harassing and outright hateful comments left on his and other LGBTQ+ creators’ videos, despite YouTube’s rigorous comment-hunting algorithms and policies against abuse. “I have to be thinking a lot about my own privacy and safety, but also trying to present a welcoming and friendly space for viewers of my channel,” he says. “When there are people who come in leaving hateful comments or trying to target me, that kind of thing can make it a lot harder to foster that friendly environment.”
Bardin points out that YouTube recently rolled out a new feature called ‘Held for review,’ which lets creators manually review either all comments, or comments flagged by YouTube’s systems as potentially abusive. Any comment held for review won’t be visible to the public until and unless it’s approved for posting by the creator of the video on which it was left.
He does acknowledge, though, that harassment is an ongoing problem. “Hateful comments apply to quite a few people, but I’m well aware that in the case of LGBTQ+ creators, it’s amplified,” he says.
Bardin adds that he’s working with a resource group of LGBTQ+ employees within YouTube that’s currently formulating a “playbook” of strategies for how the platform can improve on tackling things like harassing comments.
And they’re working on something else, too.
YouTube is considering letting creators self-limit the reach of their videos to lessen harassment
YouTube is “noodling” on the idea of developing a feature where creators could choose to limit the dissemination of their own videos, Bardin says. “It’s unintuitive, because usually I hear from creators, ‘Hey, you’re not promoting me enough,’ but it may be cases where you actually want to have certain videos, probably not all videos, go out to your community,” he explains.
With the potential feature, a creator might be able to restrict a video so it’s only visible to their subscribers, and is blocked from being recommended on Up Next panels or appearing on YouTube’s Trending tab.
Bird says he “has a hunch” that a lot of marginalized people sometimes wish they could keep their content from being seen by people outside their community. “Of course we want our channels to grow, of course we want our videos to be successful,” he says. “But at the same time, when I have had videos that are really successful, it can also be disheartening, because it brings extra attention, which brings extra hate.”
Overall, Bird says, the key to improving YouTube is improving its LGBTQ+ cultural competence, because when human moderators or machine learning systems don’t have context for LGBTQ+ content, it can result in things like unwarranted or seemingly targeteddemonetization.
Bird gives an example: A trans friend uploaded a YouTube video about going to pick up his testosterone prescription from the pharmacy. Taking doctor-recommended doses of T (or estrogen) is a common, completely benign part of medically transitioning–but because testosterone can also be used as a steroid, the video was flagged for supposedly containing content about injecting drugs, and was demonetized, Bird alleges.
“In my experience, there is no malintent behind” demonetizing LGBTQ+ videos, Bardin says. “Usually, it’s just like, we need to tune better on specific cases. Specifically, on LGBTQ, we constantly try to improve the systems to make sure we don’t have an issue where we’re triggering for LGBTQ content.”
Demonetization–particularly flip-flopping from monetized to the dreaded yellow icon–is part of life on YouTube, Bardin adds: “It’s just the nature of you as a creator choosing to join an open platform. There’s pros and cons.”
YouTube is developing a pre-upload video review service for creators
Soon, though, there’ll be a way for creators to have more ahead-of-time certainty about whether their videos will be monetized. ‘Unlisted Video Review,’ a feature first mentioned in a Creator Insider video from last month, is currently in pilot. It allows YouTubers to send videos in to the platform before uploading them, and “very senior raters” will review the videos to see if there are any policy violations, Bardin says. Creators will then be able to fix any violations prior to putting the video on their channel.
For now, he recommends that all creators upload their videos as Unlisted, and give YouTube’s systems an hour or two to shake out monetization before taking them public.
YouTube’s ongoing efforts to improve are spread across product improvements, policy improvements, and improvements in how it communicates with LGBTQ+ creators, Bardin says. As part of that, it’ll keep hearing from Bird and fellow LGBTQ+ YouTubers about what it can do better.
“I hope that you and others will be going out to the community and soliciting feedback and aggregating it up for us, and then holding us accountable,” he says. “We won’t always agree, but we’ll have a good dialogue, and then if it’s interesting, we can share out the rationale for why did or or didn’t do something.”
Lifestyle YouTube star and burgeoning musician Wengie — whose real name is Wendy Ayche, and who counts 14 million subscribers and nabs roughly 20 million monthly views — is hosting a first-of-its-kind virtual event on YouTube next week dubbed FutureCon.
FutureCon will combine the worlds of anime, cosplay, music, and gaming, according to Forbes, and will premiere on May 27 at 9 pm ET on Wengie’s second channel exclusively dedicated to her music ventures. FutureCon will feature musicians (hailing from genres like K-pop, EDM, and J-pop), and will also comprise discussions with mental health advocates, as well as an amateur cosplay content. Per Forbes, the event is being hosted during both Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.
For the mental health portion of the event, Ayche will be joined in conversation with fellow YouTube luminaries, including beauty vet Michelle Phan, singer-songwriter mxmtoon, vlogger Ryan Higa, and visual artist ZHC.
“I’m thrilled to host this event that has never been done before at a time when the world needs laughter and hope,” Ayche told Forbes. “For those who love dance music and A-pop as much as I do, we have some special performances planned that you’ve never seen before. More importantly, we will talk about a topic that is close to me, which is mental health.”
The event is being produced by Danny Lee, who manages Aycche at Asian Agents, and co-produced by Cory Riskin, an APA agent that reps anime gaming brand Senpai Squad, as well as several other DJs on the lineup, per Forbes. The event is being sponsored by YouTube Music, and will also comprise a fundraising component benefiting the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
On May 23, six top lifestyle and gaming YouTubers will throw down in a girls-versus-guys charity livestream benefiting children’s healthcare nonprofit SickKids Foundation.
AzzyLand (12.1 million subscribers, 230 million views per month), Infinite (15.2M, 100M), Preston (27M, 400M across five channels), Brennen Taylor (3.58M, 20M), Kiera Bridget (3.54M, 8M), and Brianna (3.31M, 60M) will broadcast for two hours, and aim to raise at least $30,000 for the organization. All funds gathered will go toward helping SickKids construct new medical facilities to replace outdated buildings at its hospital in Toronto, Ontario.
“I am so proud and excited to be able to use my passion to engage my community and support this exceptional institution,” event organizer AzzyLand (aka Azra Bajrami), who’s a lifestyle, gaming, and reaction content creator, said in a statement. “Growing up in Toronto, I know how important SickKids is to children in Canada and around the world, and I wanted to do something to give back to help families in need.”
She and fellow hosts–all joining in from their respective locations, because social distancing–will spend the stream competing head-to-head in video games from the popular Jackbox Party Pack franchise. They’ll also spin a wheel to answer live audience questions.
The stream will run from 12 p.m. PST to 2 p.m. PST on AzzyLand’s channel. It’s being produced in partnership with Extra Life, an organization that helps gamers set up fundraisers in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Through Extra Life, creators have raised more than $2 million for SickKids, and more than $70 million total for the network.
Divimove, the leading multi-channel network in Europe, is launching a new program to bolster female YouTubers in the Netherlands.
The company’s just-launched #FemaleDevelopment program will work with rising lifestyle vloggers seeking to take their careers to the next level. Over the course of 12 months, the creator class will partake in various courses in personal development, channel optimization, video strategy, format diversification, and brand collaborations.
“Our goal is to challenge the status quo and facilitate the career development of young emerging female talents,” Renee Snaak, head of talent partnerships at Divimove Netherlands, said in a statement. “Many of our partners are no longer just YouTube stars but are now releasing their own products, hosting shows, making TV appearances, and collaborating with leading advertisers.Participants in the Divimove program will get to benefit from these experiences.”
Divimove, which is owned by Luxembourg-based media conglomerate RTL Group, consolidated three of its European digital networks — Divimove, Nordics-aimed United Screens, and Dutch MCN RTL — under the Berlin-based Divimove banner last July. All told, Divimove comprises 1,500 creators across 25 countries who generate more than 3 billion monthly views.
In the wake of a seismic deal in the podcast industry that will see top host Joe Roganbring his show exclusively to Spotify for a reported $100 million, Apple — which will lose distribution of Rogan’s show come 2021 — is revamping its own podcast approach.
According to Bloomberg, Apple — an early distribution platform for podcasts that is also the largest hub for the medium stateside — is now seeking an executive to lead development of original audio series. The exec would report to Ben Crave, Apple’s head of podcasting. (This isn’t the first time that reports have surfaced indicating Apple intends to invest in original audio).
Additionally, Bloomberg reports that the hardware giant is looking to purchase shows that it would host exclusively. These acquisitions would fall into two categories — both interwoven with Apple’s nascent TV+ streaming service, per Bloomberg. They include: spin-offs of existing movies and series on Apple TV+, and original programming that could eventually be adapted into TV+ content.
On the Apple TV+ front, a recent report pegged the service’s subscriber count at 10 million in February — with a 50% retention rate in terms of active users. So affiliated podcasts could potentially help bolster the fledgling service. And in addition to readying originals, Bloomberg reports that Apple has asked some podcast producers to provide ad-free version of existing shows, suggesting that a audio subscription offering — either within or separate from TV+ — could be in the works.
Beyond the Rogan deal, Spotify has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in podcast acquisitions in recent months, including of Bill Simmons’ podcast-focused media company The Ringer, as well as podcast networks like Gimlet Media and Parcast.