Creating and maintaining a successful social media brand comes with its own special set of perks as well as its own challenges. YouTube tech reviewer Tim Schofield (“Your Tech Simplified“) visited the CU Denver Business School to share insight on building an online brand with integrity.
Tim shared tips for getting started and making money in social media as well as some ethical challenges he’s faced – like taking advantage of freebies, maintaining honesty and transparency in reviews, and taking his level of influence seriously.
Building an Enduring Online Brand
Tim has been a full-time YouTube Partner for over 6 years and currently has over 380,000 subscribers and over 100 million total video views. He shared advice for students looking to get started building an online media presence. The first step is to find where there is a hole in a market – a gap in knowledge, or a need that isn’t being addressed. Then, do your research.
“I highly recommend really knowing who your target audience is – particularly what websites they visit and what forums they follow – this was the absolute best place for me to start,” Tim said.
Making money in the Social Space
The number one question Tim gets asked is, “How can I actually make money on social media?” Tim said he’s made his YouTube channel lucrative through several avenues: YouTube AdSense ads; affiliate links (like through Amazon), and sponsors – which he said can pose some serious ethical dilemmas.
“I tell sponsors that no matter how much money you pay, it will not sway my review in any way,” Tim said. “I have actually had some sponsors ask specifically for a favorable review. I’ve had to respond and simply say ‘no – not an option’. That would compromise the integrity of my channel and be completely unacceptable.”
Tim shared that this mindset has built trust, honesty, and credibility with his viewers, which then translates into a valuable long-term benefit for his business.
“When you create that trust with your viewers, they’re going to keep coming back because they know your opinion isn’t being bought.”
Relationships and Establishing Trust with Viewers
Tim shared that one of the advantages of YouTube over traditional media outlets is the opportunity for real personal connections (and hence accountability) it provides.
“This offers the chance to build real trust with my audience. The personal connection goes both ways – I have a responsibility to provide honest recommendations, respectful responses, and genuinely personal interactions.”
For Tim, his popularity and success have been strongly tied to his credibility – something he has had to earn.
“Ethics play a key role in the social space – If you are an influencer, I believe you have a moral code to uphold.”
If you missed it, you can view the entire recorded event here.
Ethics in the Social Space with Tim Schofield was hosted by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative (DFEI) at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, a grant aimed at strengthening ethics education for business students and extending ethical behavior beyond campus and into the community. The DFEI at the CU Denver Business School seeks to strengthen the teaching of principle-based ethics, promotes the practical application of ethics-based principles in the curriculum, provides student opportunities to practice ethical leadership and ethical decision-making, and engages the business community. Learn more here.