Forbes: Bethany Mota, Maria Sharapova On How To Build A Brand When There Are No Blueprints
Bethany Mota didn’t set out to be a YouTube star. There was no such thing when she was 13 years old, sitting in her California bedroom, making videos about her favorite fashion and beauty finds and posting them to the internet as ‘Macbarbie07′.
Seven years later, at 20, Mota’s YouTube channel boasts over 10 million subscribers. She’s one of the most sought-after ‘influencers’ for brands looking to reach young women. She’s parlayed partnerships with Forever 21 and JC Penney into her own line with mall store Aeropostale. And she has a book coming out in March.
“What I do, there’s not really a blueprint for it,” Mota told an audience of young entrepreneurs at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit in Boston on Tuesday afternoon. “I kind of just have to wing it and trust myself.”
She and fellow marketing mastermind Maria Sharapova spoke of brand-building in the social media age, when your audience expects authenticity — as well as fresh content on every platform, from Snapchat to Twitter.
Tennis champion Sharapova was reluctant to share too much of her life online as she built and grew Sugarpova, her premium line of gummy candies.
“So much of my life was already on a public level,” she said, adding that her fans have watched her compete on TV for years. Her policy: not to over-post, and to be thoughtful about scheduling to avoid, say, promoting two partnerships too close together.
For Mota, social media feedback helped when she set out to design her Aeropostale line. She’d post 30 second YouTube videos, updating her many fans on her progress.
“I brought my audience along on this journey,” she said. “It’s something we created together. If you can make the consumer or the audience part of it, you can’t not support that. There’s this emotional connection attached to it.”
Despite her success, Mota knows her brand is predicated on relatability. If she loses her girl-next-door accessibility, she sacrifices her following. While her videos may have a higher production value than they did when she was a young teen, she still films many of them in her bedroom. She announced her upcoming book, a memoir and self-help guide, on her YouTube channel.
Sharapova also has a book coming soon: her autobiography will be on shelves in 2017. She’ll also be back on the tennis tournament circuit in April, having seen her two-year doping ban reduced to 15 months.
Sugarpova keeps her busy when she isn’t training; the company just started selling chocolate in addition to prettily-presented gummies, and truffles will be launched in the next few months.
She told the audience of entrepreneurs that she’s struggled to feel comfortable calling the shots in a business setting, where she’s mostly surrounded by men, and where she’s often the youngest person in the room at age 29.
“When you’re the one that’s actually paying a bill, when you’re saying yes or no, that’s challenging,” Sharapova said. “But isn’t that the position that we want?”