How Brands Can Work with Niche Creators, as Told By Creators at Buffer Festival

Canada’s premier event spotlighting digital creators, Buffer Festival, wrapped up last week in Toronto. In keeping with its mission, the four-day festival festival showcases independent creators who embrace authentic storytelling and create high quality content.

Brands want safety, but they’re missing viewers.

If you follow the digital media industry, you’ve heard about a dramatic shift that’s happened over the past 18 months: demonization of ‘unsafe’ content categories. When social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook launched, they were eager to support a variety of creators and perspectives. However, in response to advertisers’ concerns about brand safety, social media sites have begun to prioritize family-friendly creators and traditional media content ahead of the diverse and, at times, controversial voices that have found a home on these platforms.

Buffer Fest addressed this issue head on through its Insight Series, a sidebar from the main festival where creators could speak freely to brands and agencies. Much of the discussion revolved around embracing creators whose content caters to niche audiences.

Edgy and niche creators can make viable branded content.

Several influencers demonstrated the power of unique voices to connect with these highly engaged online communities. For example, Stef Sanjati is a transgender YouTube creator who explained the diversity of her audience and her content. She spoke directly to brands about how to partner with a channel focused on LGBT issues. To gain the trust of her audience, brands need to show support all year long, not just during pride month.

Hannah Witton also shared her experiences as a lifestyle and sexual health influencer. She advocated her value as a trusted figure to young women who visit her channel to learn about their bodies and find a supportive community. Unlike traditional TV programs that offer broad content for a mass audience, creators like Hannah can provide more personalized recommendations to a specific audience niche.

And finally, intimacy expert and TV personality Shan Boodram shared her struggle to monetize the brand that she’s created. To highlight the challenges she has faced in attracting sponsors, Shan told a story about a technology hardware company that reached out to work with her, only to retract the offer after discovering that her brand was primarily centered around sexuality.

Embrace the voice of the creator and their audience will respond.

That said, Shan also offered several anecdotes about how brands have benefited from aligning with the brand she’s built. Those partnerships were successful when the brand accepted her content strategy and understood that her audience appreciates her brutal honesty when handling challenging subject matter. Brands that can harness a creator’s best elements end up doing the best rather than attempting to water down her content strategy to fit their sensibility.

All things considered, Buffer Festival’s message is powerful and consistent: whether you’re a viewer looking for good content or a brand hoping to reach an audience, search for authenticity and quality. Don’t be distracted by vanity metrics and glossy content. Looks for creators that build trust with their audience and engage a community to deliver a valuable partnership.

Once you find such influencers, make sure to support them! If that means becoming a donor on their Patreon account, tipping on Super Chat, or partnering with them to promote another brand it’s important to monetarily support the voices you believe in.


If you’d like to learn more about how Paladin Software can help you manage your creators and influencer marketing campaigns, contact us at [email protected].

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Why TwitchCon Isn’t Just Another VidCon

Conventions in the online video and social media space have a few things in common. Expensive parking is likely, food selection is limited, and crowds are inescapable. Going into these events, you tend to have a good understanding of what you’re dealing with before showing up. For me, my first time at TwitchCon was different.

It wasn’t just the convention. The entire platform and its community caught me completely off-guard. Fan-centric events, such as VidCon, Comic-Con, and TwitchCon, serve as a proverbial litmus test of the audience that each platform (or special interest) attracts.

The Fan Base Isn’t Tweens. It’s Adults.

The demographics of the Twitch community, particularly age, are unique. At VidCon, you expect to see hordes of screaming teens chasing the latest vlogger or singer, hoping to grab a selfie for Instagram.

TwitchCon couldn’t have been more different. The audience is much older.  Standing in line Friday morning, waiting for the masses to clear security, I noticed right away that fans were nearly all older millennials. Granted, a Friday in October is a school day, but never have I seen 30-year-olds line up to see a creator at VidCon, let alone attend the event in such large quantities.

I think this speaks to the content that Twitch streamers are producing and who their superfans are. Older millennials were able to catch the video gaming wave right from the start. They tend to prefer a console or PC-based game, compared to younger gamers who play mobile-based games. Twitch built its platform to serve the PC gamer and has successfully become the go-to platform for its superfan community.

Brand Integrations Reflect the Audience Contrast

The second thing that stood out to me was that the most integrated brand sponsors were more aggressive than those at YouTube-centric events. If VidCon seemed to be a giant commercial for candy companies this year, then TwitchCon has the same feel. For energy drinks.

It’s clear what’s powering the streaming world: it’s high-octane energy rations.  G-Fuel, 5-Hour Energy, and other similar products were all happy to demo why their product is the go-to. Needless to say, I found it hard to sleep after a day of ‘testing’ them for myself.

The point I want to share with you is this: It’s worth attending events like this to shape how you think about each platform and the community it serves.

Previously, I thought the Twitch and YouTube committees looked pretty similar (in fact, I would have thought Twitch would skew younger). Now I see the potential to tap into a more mature audience, which has a higher level of freedom (independent from parents) and disposable income.

An older audience comes with some advantages that YouTube may need a few more years to develop. Event marketing is a great example. We know 20-30 year olds are spending more money on experiences than other demographics.  Building a content strategy that targets this new business model seems easier on Twitch. I’d love to see a broadcaster partner with a major hotel brand to produce a live travel show.

Twitch Isn’t Just for Gamers

I also learned far more about the opportunities on the platform.  For instance, if you’re going to start a cooking channel, ask yourself, could it be a live show on Twitch?  There’s far less competition in the non-gaming verticals, and since Twitch aims to serve broader interest groups, they appear to favor other creators in promotional efforts (compared to gaming streamers).

A notable example of a broadcaster that takes advantage of Twitch creatively is the Bob Ross channel. The Twitch stream is managed by the company behind the iconic television show and merchandise empire (Bob Ross Inc.). It’s a great business case to look at when thinking about breathing new life into an older concept, while reaching a brand-new audience.

Other growing communities, outside of gaming, are cooking and lifestyle-focused channels and audiences. CannibalQueen (https://go.twitch.tv/videos/18108316) recently made the transition from a games-focused channel. Now her show is based around cooking while talking about movies and games. She even does movie nights with her fans.

TwitchCon is an important reminder of how versatile the online video and streaming platforms, and audiences, can be. The first-hand TwitchCon experience forced me to learn, and to ask questions that I already thought I had answered. Stay tuned. This film production major is thinking perhaps the world needs a live show focused on the digital media business!


Paladin’s technology helps media companies, multi-channel networks (MCNs), and influencer marketing agencies save time and scale their businesses with tools for talent discovery, creator relationship management, content protection, data insights, and social campaign management. Learn more about our platform. 

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