How Matt Santoro Developed His Unique Brand on YouTube

/ Sep 28, 2014

Ear Biscuits Matthew Santoro

Being a professional YouTuber means becoming your own brand. In Matt Santoro’s case, that means regularly creating lists, clearly enunciating as he talks, and keeping his content (as well as his teeth) clean. He explained to Rhett & Link how his brand came into being on this week’s “Ear Biscuits.”

To begin with, Santoro has noticeably perfect teeth. It’s also clear that these have become a big part of his brand. Just look at his channel page on YouTube. You’ll see at least seven images of him smiling big before you have to scroll (which includes the thumbnails of his most recent uploads—his smile shows up in pretty much all of his earlier thumbnails, too). This is no coincidence. Santoro takes precautions, like drinking his coffee out of a straw and exclusively ordering white wine when dining out to keep his teeth stain-free.

As far as the lists go, you can read more about Santoro’s decision to make them his main thing here. He found that they got significantly more views than any other kind of video he was creating at the time, so he moved away from a schedule of alternating weekly uploads of a comedic skit video and a list video to only uploading the lists by popular demand.

In doing so, Santoro also found that he needed to rebrand his whole channel, removing the word “comedy” from his end card and labeling his videos as “educational,” instead. This, he admitted, actually hurt his subscribership, “because as soon as I did that, I started going from 25,000 new subscribers a day to averaging 6,000 to 8,000 a day…I think a lot of people look for more comedy videos than they do educational videos, but education is pretty big on YouTube now.”

As a creator of educational content, Santoro had to shift other aspects of his image to fit with the new angle. While his early content included some more adult themes (for example, he’d drop the occasional f-bomb), he now aims to create for a demographic that ranges between the ages of eight and 20. His second channel, in which he opens fan mail, shows Santoro reading lots of letters from eight-year-olds, and he’s regularly getting messages from parents on his Facebook page thanking him for the “clean content.”

“I have almost an obligation at this point,” Santoro described of putting out content specifically for his audience’s demographic, continuing to explain, “It’s a branding thing, really, is what it is.”

In addition to parents and children, Santoro’s gotten plenty of positive feedback from those who don’t speak English as their first language. Santoro started making a point of enunciating his sentences clearly after watching some of his earlier videos and finding that he sometimes wasn’t able to understand what he was saying. “I often do 20 takes on one sentence because I can’t get that ‘T’ out properly,” he said. This led to him getting messages from people whose first language isn’t English saying, “Your videos are teaching me how to speak English.” In turn, it’s actually teaching Santoro himself how to speak properly.

For more on how Santoro developed his brand on YouTube, tune into his interview with Rhett & Link on “Ear Biscuits.”

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