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: "A benefit of unplugging is getting a more personal view of the world back. (Social media tends to distort your perception to bend to what others are thinking/feeling/saying/doing.)” —Female, 25, MN

Liam Matthews, a teenager from New Zealand, has grown his Instagram following from under 150,000 to over 1.5 million in the course of a year by combining celebrity glamour shots with DIY cross-dressing. His profile documents his attempts to mimic the looks of young female celebrities using fabric scraps, an array of wigs, and strategically placed ramen noodles. Sticking to side-by-side comparison images and a focus on the most popular young celebrities, Matthews has struck a format that makes imitation the sincerest form of humor. (Uproxx)

Every brand seem to want their own hashtag catchphrase, but authenticity and sheer common sense are being compromised by some in pursuit of the viral tag. Over the course of 12 hours, one writer noticed 39 distinct hashtags, including #unseenacne for Neutrogena which was deemed “#FreakingGross” by one Twitter user and a #sorrynotsorry copycat from Equinox coined #preapologize. While the latter has seen 1.2 million impressions (many from the company and its employees), some have been so confused by the wording that they had to ask Equinox directly what it was supposed to mean. (WSJ)

Good thing OKCupid users aren’t raising much alarm over recent experiments conducted on them, because the company is unapologetic. The three experiments that faked matchmaking results and manipulated conversations were detailed in full on OKCupid’s trends blog under the title "We Experiment on Human Beings!" Internet skeptical Millennials are used to their data being used behind-the-scenes, and may not have as much issue with OKCupid as other tests made public (like those from Facebook) because “experimentation in dating is part of the process” to improve matches. (NYT

Transparency communication is the new buzzword at Johnson & Johnson who has started a movement to win over Millennial moms. The first ad in the planned 40-plus series announces that they will remove controversial ingredients from their products and reminds viewers that J&J employees are parents themselves, having them write 1,000 promises to reflect the company's dedication to change. Future video series will serve to debunk myths, educate new parents, and connect them through social media forums. (AdAge)

A Disney princess clothing collection from BlackMilk, featuring Snow White bomber jackets, mermaid leggings, and Hakuna Matata skater skirts, is selling out. Mind you, this collection is made for adult females. We took a look at what happens when the princesses grow up, and discovered that Millennials are eager to co-opt Disney imagery and update it to fit with their current lifestyles. Though some don't appreciate their favorite animations being slapped onto skintight clothing, the bold and graphic prints clearly appeal to some and would probably make for some unique rave gear. (Jezebel)

Quote of the Day: “In the future, I'd like to pay off my student loans and not starve or get evicted. A stable job would be nice.” –Male, 26, PA

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