Q&A With Tyler Oakley: The YouTube Star Whose Fans Raised $500K For His Birthday

Meet Tyler Oakley. His “YouTube family” (subscribers) grew by over 3 million last year and today stands at 4,324,655—a following that rivals top entertainers on the platform. His vlog posts are deceptively simple, filmed in the same colorfully decorated room, spotlight on, and Oakley ready to share whatever is on his mind. But watch him tell one story and it’s clear that he has tapped into Millennial tastes with his personal storytelling style. Always charged with intense positive energy, Tyler reveals intimate details, and can talk non-stop without missing a beat. He claims to be fluent in five languages: “English, emoji, sexting, sarcasm, and sass” and has gossiped with President Obama himself. While his best friends include the elite of Millennial YouTube entertainment, the magic in Tyler’s videos lies in his ability to make every viewer feel like they too are his best friend.
 
Wanting to use his influence as a high-profile LGBT vlogger for something more, Tyler began a birthday fundraising campaign last year benefitting a charity close to his heart: The Trevor Project. This year, the campaign reached its goal of raising $150,000 in just six days. By the end of the full 50 days of fundraising, Tyler’s online “family” had raised over half a million dollars—$525,679 to be exact— for LGBTQ youth. We got the chance to speak with Tyler about his monumental rise on YouTube, the success of his birthday campaign, and how views on the LGBT movement are changing within the next generation.

Ypulse: Tell us about how you got started on YouTube.

Tyler Oakley: It was back in 2007 and I was a college student at Michigan State University. All of my high school friends went off to different colleges, so I wanted to find a new way to keep in touch with them. I had Facebook, but I also wanted…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “My dream car has always been a Chevy Silverado. After I have paid off all of my debt including student loans I will save to pay cash for the truck I want. I have a 3 1/2 year plan to pay off my debt and if I then take the money I am paying towards my debts and keep saving I should be able to buy my truck 1 year after that.” –Female, 22, OR

The mall doesn’t hold the same place in American culture it did twenty years ago, but it may still play a role in teen shopping tastes. A Teen Vogue survey reports that teen girls still like shopping in malls, with 65% of 16-26-year-old females saying they will do the majority of their holiday shopping in store. The top reasons they preferred mall shopping to online were seeing products in person, hanging out with friends, and bonding with their moms. (Awww.) 61% say they create their own wishlists by walking through the mall as well. (Chain Store Age)

Start hoarding bourbon. In 2015, the smooth spirit will be more expensive, thanks in large part to its popularity with Millennial consumers. Domestic bourbon sales have increased 36% in five years, and some distilleries are rationing their bottles for the first time since Prohibition. How’s that for the power of the craft cocktail trend? Bacon, that perennially trendy meat, will also continue rise in price. (Deal News)

McDonald’s sales continue to fall, and their problems attracting young consumers have been well documented this year. The number of 19-21-year-olds visiting the chain every month has dropped by 13% since 2011. “Desperate to change its image,” the brand’s latest turnaround plan (is this plan E?) includes self-service kiosks, a trimmed down menu, and a search for a “big idea” that will appeal to young consumers’ interest in social good. (Business Insider)

What did Millennials read online this year? A lot of BuzzFeed. Digiday’s look at 2014 in Millennial media consumption found that 39 million 18-34-year-olds visited BuzzFeed at least once, but traditional publications online are also attracting these younger readers. Over 20 million visited The New York Times, and almost 8 million visited The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, some “self-proclaimed” Millennial sites like Ozy and Vocativ reportedly “actually attract an older crowd.” (Digiday)

A generation delaying getting married and having children is creating interesting cultural shifts, and some hilariously awkward family moments. When one twenty-something found herself as the only single sibling and was deemed too old to be on her parent’s holiday card, she began to make her own tongue-in-cheek cards “celebrating” her solo, childless status. These hilarious missives, featuring booze and uncomfortable scenes, have gone viral, and she has become a holiday hero of the unmarried. (Mashable)

Have some lingering questions about Millennials that you need answered for an upcoming meeting? That’s what Ypulse is here for. Silver and Gold subscribers have access to Ypulse's trend and Millennial experts for quick, personalized feedback on any topic. After each insights article, subscribers can submit questions and requests directly to our experts and receive instant responses. (Ypulse)

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