At the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity earlier this year, YouTube released figures showing that a staggering 60 per cent of millennials credit a YouTube vlogger for changing their life or their view of the world. When you consider the reach of some of the biggest beauty vloggers in Australia - names like Lauren Curtis, with 3.5 million YouTube subscribers, or Chloe Morello, who clocks in at 1.9m - it's a fact that speaks volumes about both the transformative power of make-up and social media in all its iterations.
10 years ago, anyone would have laughed off the suggestion that girls recording how-to lipstick tutorials from their bedrooms could ever enjoy reach that extended beyond their (real life) social network, let alone outrun magazines in terms of popularity and attract lucrative ambassador roles with the likes of Estée Lauder and Clinique. And yet, here we are, in a world where social media success stories are the new celebrities (and as someone who has personally benefited from many a winged eyeliner tutorial, I can see why).
"It was all just a bit of fun to start with, I didn't have an agenda or any expectations," reflects Curtis, who now has a combined following of 7 million eagerly awaiting her next swipe of lip gloss. A photography student/beauty addict, Curtis combined her two passions to become Australia's biggest beauty vlogger. "It definitely happened organically - I had a few viral videos that really got the ball rolling and greatly increased the exposure to my channel," she says when asked of her strategy. "I don't think you can really build a social following just by having strategies in place."
Morello, who started her YouTube channel in 2012 while working in a Canberra crematorium and now reaches fans in all corners of the globe, was inspired by the British and American beauty vloggers she loved. "My audience loves it when I make fun of myself and put some personality in my content," she says. "Of course, any striking make-up look seems to resonate... as does any quirky content - such as the video I made about shaving my face and using sanitary pads under my eyes to correct eyeshadow fall out." From the outset, Morello made it her mission to follow "as many other beauty influencers as possible both in Australia and worldwide" to broaden her reach, in the hope that they would support her back.
For 21-year-old Mansutti, who uploaded her first video two years ago as a way of building her public speaking and make-up skills and watched it attract over 100,000 subscribers in the first six months, the key is authenticity. "The more you are your true self, the more people will find you interesting," she says. "People don't care about seeing the same influencer over and over - they love unique, fresh personalities to watch." Curtis agrees. "Figure out what you're best at and try to focus on that - if your travel photos outperform your food shots, concentrate on great quality travel content," she suggests. "The key is getting people's attention with what you do best, then once you have it you can diversify with content from other categories."
The power vlogging trio recently came together for a Max Connectors campaign shot by Steven Chee, along with other influencers in the Max Connectors crew including Paula Joye, Rachael Brook and Li-Chi Pan. The three manage their own social media accounts, with little to no outside help. Interestingly, both Mansutti and Morello cite their love of Twitter, which many regard as a dying platform. "I really enjoy using Twitter to interact with my subscribers," says Mansutti.
Fostering genuine communication with their following is something Morello, Mansutti and Curtis all invest in. "Some of them I feel like I know personally although we have never met," says Morello. "There's nothing better than seeing them in real life at a meet and greet or event and I can see how just doing what I love has brought a smile to their face and effected them positively in some way."
Following: 1.9m YouTube; 748k Instagram; 1.7m Facebook; 92k Twitter followers.
Most popular post: "My most successful YouTube video has been my 'Perfect Winged Eyeliner' tutorial, everyone loves a classic!"