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…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “Political correctness is voicing your beliefs but not at the expense of other's identities.”—Female, 15, NY

Young consumers are putting their trust in YouTube. The video platform may feel be “feeling the pressure” from Facebook and Snapchat, but 36% of 18-35-year-olds in the U.K. say they would trust a product review on YouTube over any other media, according to a study from MCN BuzzMyVideos. About 31% trust a magazine review, and only 18% say they trust TV, signifying that for brands putting ad dollars into online video is a smart move, especially since Millennials are spending more time watching videos weekly than they did two years ago, and over half are watching more than six hours per week. (StreamDaily)

For “shacked-up” Millennials, food is a factor in the relationship. A new study from housewares company Moshells revealed that for 18-30-year-old co-habitating men, the biggest “hardship” is having to share food with their partner, and Millennials look for “healthy food in the fridge” when scoping out a romantic interests’ home. The biggest lifestyle change for co-habitating young consumers is spending less time online. That change may be even more disorienting for Millennial men: according to 2014 Nielsen data, Millennial men spend two hours more per week watching videos online than Millennial women, and are spending one more hour weekly listening to online music. (Vocativ

Marriott has created an Innovation Lab Hotel to test concepts designed with Millennial and teen travelers in mind. Throughout their stay at the feedback-focused property, hotel guests can provide thoughts on features like digital check-in with instant-review technology, which allows them to give a thumbs up or thumbs down at every step. Concepts currently being featured at the hotel—like studio workout classes taught by local instructors and permanent spaces for local restaurants and businesses—were inspired by past feedback from Marriott visitors that showed young travelers desire unique, local, and social experiences. (Fast Company

The student has become the teacher in the workplace. Companies are increasingly using “reverse mentoring” to tap into their Millennial employees, and teach older generations tech skills like using social media and crowd sourcing. Target has recently partnered with Techstars—a group that teams up tech startups with large corporations—to teach their leaders how startup employees work in a fast-paced environment, and “scrappily to get things done.” Experts have also indicated the practice helps diminish the negative stereotypes that can plague Millennial employees within their companies. (Ypulse also recommends and facilitates co-mentoring, which gives all generations a chance to learn something.) (Fortune

YouTubers are “creating a new breed of shows” for their generation. Inspired by traditional TV programming and the show Top Gear, a group of British YouTubers are “rethinking some of traditional TV’s big genres” by creating content that “holds up a mirror to their youthful online audiences.” Cooking channel SortedFood (1.6 million subscribers) celebrates the different recipes that can correspond to one dish, and football channel Copa90 (1.2 million subscribers) wants to focus on “fan culture rather than chasing match rights.” The channels continually follow their audiences on social media to ensure followers have a “developmental role.” (The Guardian)

Quote of the Day: “I like Netflix because it helps to pass the time, especially when I'm doing something boring such as folding clothes.”

—Female, 16, IL

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies