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: “I like to keep updated about what’s happening in the world, but not out of obligation, to talk [about it with] someone else or for entertainment.” – Female, 25, MA

“Sexts, hugs, and rock ‘n roll.” That’s how BuzzFeed describes DigiTour, an 18-city bus tour bringing some of the most popular teens on social media to meet crowds of their screaming fans around the country this summer. Most of the digital celebrities involved don’t have traditional talent—but that doesn’t seem to matter. In 2014 the tour sold 120,000 tickets for 60 shows, and they are set to double that number this year. DigiTour could be the “clearest sign yet that the entertainment industry’s star-making apparatus is being turned upside down.” (A topic we explored in depth in our hot-off-the presses trend report.) (BuzzFeed)

As if that wasn’t evidence enough that young consumers are not like you…A recent poll on the American Dream revealed that Millennials’ views of success in America are not the same as older generations. Respondents under 30-year-olds were the most likely to say that having a job that paid well was crucial to attaining the American Dream (47%), and placed more importance on luxury items—travel and the latest technology—than other age groups (32%). (CNN Money)

Are you ready for some fireworks? Fourth of July spending is reportedly up, and 64.4% of consumers plan to celebrate the day. When we surveyed 13-32-year-olds about their plans, only 8% said they weren’t planning to celebrate. We also found that spending for Independence Day shows signs of increasing among Millennials and teens. In 2014 they estimated they would spend an average of $70.21—this year that number went up to $85.56. (MediaPost)

Watching and sharing video content is huge part of Millennials and teens’ online activity—and their mobile behavior. According to Ypulse’s February monthly survey, 50% of 13-32-year-olds say they watch videos on their phones once a day or more. So it makes sense that apps focused on viral video content are a growing category. Minute is a startup video app “for the ADD generation.” The platform finds the most viral parts of online video and turns them into short “Vine-like” clips. (TechCrunch)

Inclusion is becoming increasingly important to young consumers, and the Girl Scouts has made their stance on being an inclusive organization clear this week. The group returned a $100,000 donation after being told the money could not be used to support transgendered girls. To make up the funds, they set up an IndieGogo campaign on Monday, and launched a #ForEVERYGirl campaign to get the message out. The crowdfunding page has raised over $300,000 in three days. (Fast Company)

Want to know more about how young consumers will be spending for the holiday? Our 4th of July Infographic Snapshot has been opened to all our readers—you can click through to see a break down of the red, white, blue, and green in our coverage of what Millennials & teens are buying, and doing, for Independence Day this year. 83% of 14-32-year-olds say they are proud to be an American, and they’re planning to celebrate. Happy 4th everyone! 

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