Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

Writer. Communications assistant. Coffee drinker.

What Marketers and Communicators Can Learn From YouTube Beauty Vloggers (Plus My Favorites)

What maintained my sanity during this crazy year of trying to be a mom, an assistant and a sportswriter?

YouTube makeup videos.

(You were expecting a planner, I know. Or some organizational app. Don’t worry, I’ve invested in such things for 2017.)

My Yearbook editor Alexis (who blogs herself) introduced me to the genre of YouTube makeup vloggers sometime in early March. Over the past few years, hundreds of channels have popped up devoted to makeup reviews and tutorials.

Recognizing the massive total views these videos were getting (some of the most popular can be viewed 3,000 times or more within the first 30 minutes of their publishing), makeup companies began sponsoring videos on channels or having vloggers guest curate their social media. Companies also began sending product advances to popular channels in the hopes that their product would earn some screen time.

Alexis introduced me to one of her favorites, RachhLoves, a Canadian YouTuber who has a trademark North-of-the-Border sense of humor combined with strong branding and graphics. (It’s no surprise that she has studied and worked in marketing.) I started watching her video archive on my daily commute, and she was my gateway to other popular YouTubers in the genre. After watching many, I settled on a core group that I watched non-stop while I was housebound during my maternity leave. (I’ve listed the group at the end of this post.)

Some women sit on the couch and binge watch a Netflix series while home with a newborn. I sat on my couch with my tiny son and watched hundreds of YouTube makeup videos. (The only break? There were two days where I watched the entirety of the 1992 Olympic figure skating competition on YouTube.)

At one point, I wondered why I had fallen down this rabbit hole. Thanks to dance, I’ve used makeup for over half my life. But when I wasn’t dancing, I would wear the most neutral and unnoticeable makeup possible. 

But RachhLoves and her fellow YouTube makeup vloggers were appealing not because of the makeup, but because the talking head style of their videos makes you feel like you are hanging out with a friend. The only other time in your life you sit there and watch others put on makeup? In your residence hall room in college, getting ready to head out for the evening. It can take a year and a day to get ready because you and your friends are having fun just chatting and experimenting with makeup, hair and outfits. Some of the time you don’t even end up going out because you’re having too much fun.

With their conversational and honest nature, YouTube makeup vloggers harken back to those times spent with friends, and I think that’s why their growth has exploded. I was stuck inside my apartment while my son was a newborn, and watching these videos made me feel like I was having some modicum of social interaction.

The genre reinforces so many best practices that social media managers and marketers have heard over the years:

Be conversational. – I have no desire to wear a smokey eye makeup look. But I’ve watched about 38 YouTube tutorials on it because the video’s creator was gabbing away during it.

Be honest.Jessica Braun, another one of my YouTube go-tos, is transparently blunt, and that’s what endeared me to her channel. She is open about when she has received something for free, but doesn’t mince words if it doesn’t work for her. Honesty isn’t limited to product reviews, either. Another much-watch blogger, CoffeeBreakwithDani, led off a recent video by noting that she was conflicted with posting in her trademark peppy style because she was getting divorced. She didn’t go into detail, maintaining her privacy, but she admitted the video might feel different because she was dealing with something so substantial.

Build relationships. – There are multiple layers of relationship building at play: both with viewers and with other video creators. Braun makes videos where she reads fan mail and features items that viewers have sent her. RachhLoves pairs up often with other YouTubers for collaboration videos. Both engage in the comment sections of their videos on a regular basis and are active on social media. They don’t “post-and-run,” and viewers feel a bond with them because of it.

Be consistent. – One of the most famous beauty vloggers, Tati Westbrook/GlamLifeGuru, posts a video every single weekday at 10am EST. You can just about set your clock to it. She’s done so for years, giving her what has to be one of the largest video libraries on YouTube. Tati is so committed that she posted daily videos even when she was on her recent honeymoon. If you want to succeed at social media or blogging, you have to do it consistently, which builds a level of anticipation.

If you’re a content creator or social media manager of any kind, I highly suggest starting 2017 by taking a dive into the genre and seeing what has caught the attention of so many people – women and men, old and young. They’ve influenced how I approach social media curation at work, as well as what I think about my own blogging.

 

Appendix: My can’t-miss YouTube beauty vloggers

RachhLoves

Tati Westbrook/GlamLifeGuru

Jessica Braun

ShaneeJudee

Dominique Sachse

Fly With Stella (she’s more of a flight attendant vlogger than beauty blogger, but she’s still great.)

CoffeeBreakWithDani

Hi Kim Pegula. Let’s talk. You can fix this.

Dear Kim –

Sometimes you need a girlfriend to pull you aside and say, “Psst, you have something in your teeth,” or, “Your shirt is inside out.” (Trust me, I’ve been there.)

Well, as a fellow Rochester-bred gal, I need to pull you aside and let you know there’s something wrong with that football team you bought.

You let go of your head coach, Rex Ryan, before the final week of the season, over an alleged disagreement over the status of quarterback Tyrod Taylor for the last week of the season. You, your husband, Terry, nor your general manager, Doug Whaley, wouldn’t talk after the act, sending the media-naive interim coach, Anthony Lynn, out to hold a press conference instead.  Sending the newbie out to address decisions he had no hand in making feels like sending the interim out on the coffee run on his very first morning: you’re just hoping not too many venti lattes get spilled on the poor kid’s brand new dress shirt. What were your thoughts afterward? Oh, good, the newbie survived the only press availability anyone of power in this organization is going to have the week we fired our head coach. Whew. Close one.

Then, after your team loses to the New York Jets (a rivalry loss should bug any upstate-raised gal immensely – they aren’t even in New York!) you and Terry, allowed the reason you might be in this hot mess to begin with, general manager Doug Whaley, hold as embarrassing of a press conference that there ever has been in the NFL. He isn’t involved in firing the head coach? He hasn’t even thought about it? He may have spoken to Lynn about the odd QB situation against the Jets? He may not have? To quote one meme I saw, “What is it that you say you do here, Doug Whaley?”

You spoke to WGR 550 Monday, and your husband spoke to the Associated Press, and that was it. You won’t talk further, and Whaley says that it will be his job in the off-season to represent the Bills to the media. But if he doesn’t make key decisions, and doesn’t seem to know the moving parts behind them, then why throw him to the media? You might be better off having a PR person step to the podium. They are at least trained to spin things positively.

The whole thing seems rather…um…how can I say this nicely…dysfunctional.

This is where you come in. Kim, you have come so far, and I don’t know if you understand how much of a role model you are to some women. Left as a child on a street corner in South Korea and adopted by a family in Rochester, you worked hard, had grand ideas, raised a family and helped your husband build an empire. You now are one of the only female owners in professional sports.

This is where you need to thrive. Despite great strides over the past few decades, women in business often have to work harder to prove themselves. That’s exactly what the organization you bought needs right now. Though Ralph Wilson was a legend, the last few years of his ownership of the Bills were largely absentee. Your ownership needs to make up for that lost time. You need to work harder than any other owner in the NFL right now to make Buffalo right again. Part of that will be fixing football operations, and that may mean cutting Whaley loose. Another part of it is using your background in communications and explaining what exactly is going on to the media, and in turn, the fans.

And that should be your motivation: the fans. You grew up amongst them, and you know that they are the most loyal fanbase for the least reasons in the NFL. They pack your stadium in the worst of weather, they line up to get a spot to tailgate in your parking lots 36 hours before kickoff, they wear their gear despite the team’s record and they stood by four straight years of horrible heartbreak. They do this all even though their region’s economy is crackling under their feet and their state government has abandoned them. The Bills are their outlet, their chance to escape all that has gone sour in every other place in their lives.

Kim, take the wheel. Take the wheel and speed the Bills out of that laughing stock spot. You have come so far personally, and now it’s time to take that tenaciousness and claw the Bills out of the bottom. You’re a survivor, a mother and a successful businesswomen. If anyone has the guts and grit to do this, it’s you.

You can do this.

Your friend in pop and lake effect,

Kat

 

Train Thoughts: Three Skating Programs You Must Watch

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about figure skating. (Since April, to be exact.) That’s a shame, because this has been a really wonderful season of figure skating so far.  So here are some trademark Train Thoughts (things I have written on my phone during my daily commuter rail commute) on my three favorite skating programs of the season so far.

Maia and Alex Shibutani – “That’s Life” short dance

One of the last nights my little sister was staying with me before she moved back to California, we were hanging out in the living room.

“Hey, I know you don’t like skating, but just watch this.” I said, pulling up the Shibutanis short dance from Skate America.

This program is set to a mashup of Frank Sinatra’s and Jay Z’s “That’s Life.” This year’s requirements have ice dancers performing blues, swing and hip-hop in their version of a short program, and I thought the Shibutanis had the best attempt at hitting the hip hop part of that equation.

My sister was drinking a beer when I started the video. Not a sip was taken, nor did she move, or say a word for the entire program. She’s really giving this a chance, I thought. My, things have changed since we were kids, when she just tolerated my endless skating watching.

Once the program ended, she turned to me. “That was the most f—- amazing skating anything I’ve ever seen.”

I almost wish there had been some way to save this program for an Olympic season (short dance requirements change by the season, so there is not.) No matter what skating fans think about it, this is something that would pull in the non-fan. Has it fully realized its potential yet? No, but no program or skater wants to be peaking in November. This program is on target for its best performance at Nationals, and is one of the reasons I keep trying to figure out exactly I could make it to Kansas City in January.

Mariah Bell – “East of Eden” long program

The other program that has me visiting every airlines’ website desperately trying to find ways to get to Kansas City for Nationals is Bell’s long program.

I had goosebumps watching a video of it from the early season U.S. International Classic. Despite costume issues and bobbles, it was a well composed long program that she had the talent to deliver beautifully.

Just a few weeks later, Bell performed it to near its full potential at Skate America in Hoffman Estates, Illinois (better known to college hockey fans as home of the Shillelagh Tournament, which is a tournament name I love to say over and over.) She won the long program and the overall silver medal for the effort.

She may double a toe loop on the end of a double Axel combo and the Salchow on a triple flip-half-loop-triple Salchow. Otherwise, it is some good, old-fashioned, captivating figure skating. In an era of no spirals, there are two solid, although brief, ones (one into the double Axel combo and one at the end) and no movements are thrown away. When a teacher, coach or choreographer implores a student to feel movement to their fingertips, this is what they mean. Is it the most artistic program ever? No. But none of this is filler movement, none of this represents a hummingbird fluttering around, and it never gets dull. Bell genuinely enjoys being on the ice, and this program showcases that.

On that note, I must digress. Longtime skating journalist Phil Hersh wrote this week about the “sad” state of U.S. skating, quipping, “Please don’t tell me that Rafael Arutunian will do a silk purse makeover on Mariah Bell.” I don’t believe anyone is saying that Bell’s coaching change (from the Kori Ade camp in Colorado Springs to the Arutunian camp in Southern California) is automatically going to elevate her past every other ladies skater in the U.S. But Hersh’s statement ignores the potential Bell has demonstrated in the past. She has always gone into Nationals with the goods that could have placed her in that bronze medal spot on the podium. All a coaching change needed to do for Bell is get her jumps more consistent and her confidence up. Bell is a contender, has been a contender, and will continue to be a contender, and shame on anyone who is just now realizing this and/or discounts the effort. 

 

Yuzuru Hanyu – “Let’s Go Crazy” short program

Prince’s untimely April death gave way to a few tribute programs this season, and this short program by the defending Olympic champion is my favorite. Technically, it has the difficulty to set it above the rest (opens with a quad loop, which Hanyu is the first to land, and the triple Axel comes out of an odd, but awesome, edge.) Artistically, it feels like going to a school dance and finding out that kid who seems like he would have no rhythm can actually break it down better than anyone. It starts off a little geeky, but by the ending slide across center ice that hits the song’s famous guitar riff, every girl is lining up to dance with him. (Gosh, I hope this comparison makes sense.) It’s as much fun as one can have in a short program these days, and I hope he finally hits it all at this weekend’s Grand Prix Final.

Eddie Penev is far from done.

After a unsuccessful bid for an Olympic team spot at this summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials, Eddie Penev could have hung up his grips and said farewell to the sport of gymnastics. But after mounting an impressive comeback from a devastating 2014 ACL injury, the 26 year old isn’t quite done.

Instead, the 2013 Nissen Emery Award (gymnastics’ version of the Heisman Trophy) winner is showing off difficult skills on Instagram, traveling to Germany to compete in professional competitions and traveling the East Coast with the final leg of the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions.

“My goal is the world championships next year in Montreal,” said Penev via email last week on his way back from competing for KTT Heilbronn in Germany’s Bundesliga for the second year. “It’s a great opportunity for me because it’s an ‘individual worlds,’ meaning there’s no team competition and so they will most likely send guys who have the best medal chances on their best events.”

With one of the most difficult floor exercises in the U.S., Penev has every right to have his eyes set on one of the Worlds spots for that apparatus. He also is an international contender on vault, making next fall’s Worlds setup ideal to continue his competitive career for. Watching the recent Olympics showed him he definitely has the goods.

“Looking at the results from the games I can see that I had great medal chances on floor in particular – even gold medal chances by the looks of it and the scores I’ve gotten over the years in international competitions,” said Penev.

Though he didn’t get a spot on the Olympic team,  Penev was proud of what he achieved. He finished second in floor exercise and seventh on vault at Trials. “Olympic Trials was an amazing experience that I will certainly remember and cherish for the rest of my life,” he wrote. “And although it didn’t end the way I would’ve hoped it would, I was thrilled and honored to be a part of it.

“We have so many talented athletes in our country and that’s a good problem to have and it unfortunately means that great gymnasts will have to be left off the team. I made tremendous improvements since my knee injury (largely due to my coaches) and I couldn’t be happier with what I did. I just didn’t fit the team they wanted to send.”

But in an individual Worlds year, he might be a perfect fit. He has represented his birth country of Bulgaria at the 2007, 2010 and 2011 World Championships, but not the U.S., and this could be the season that it finally happens. To achieve that goal, Penev will continue training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, where he moved after graduating from Stanford University. The OTC is in the midst of the a shakeup, with national team head coach Vitaly Marinitch and national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika leaving, but the facilities and resources available there still make it the place to be.

“Nothing will change with my current training situation,” wrote Penev. “I will remain at the Olympic Training Center despite Vitaly’s resignation. While I’m very sad that he’s leaving us, I have absolutely everything I want/need at the OTC for high-level athletics. As I get older it’s so crucial that I stay on top of my physical therapy, nutrition, recovery, etc. and that is all there at my disposal.”

Another reason to stick around in Colorado Springs doesn’t involve gymnastics. “I’m also pursuing a few potential job opportunities in urban development, so when I’m done with my gymnastics career I’ll hopefully have something else lined up,” said Penev, who has a degree in architectural design. “I’m hoping to get an internship or part time work in the city of Colorado Springs in the planning department that I can fit into my schedule. It’s ambitious but I’m used to balancing school and gymnastics and I’m ready for that kind of life again.”

But before he gets back to Colorado and preparing for 2017, he will join members of the Olympic team and national teams and perform in the last set of dates on the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions. “It’s another one of the those possibly once-in-a-lifetime things and its a great way to celebrate four years of dedication to the sport,” said Penev.

That includes a date at the Blue Cross Arena in Penev’s hometown of Rochester, NY on November 3rd. The last time Penev performed with the tour, he was a little kid performing as part of a segment of the show that features young local gymnasts at every stop. That segment is still a part of the show, but now Penev is now one of the champions those youngsters are aspiring to be.

The tour is a fitting close to one Olympiad and the start of the next portion of Penev’s journey, wherever it may lead him.

“It’s crazy to think how it’s all come full circle and now I have the opportunity to be one of the guys that kids look up to the way I did all those years ago,” said Penev.

The Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions hits Eddie’s and my hometown of Rochester, NY tonight, November 3rd, at the Blue Cross Arena. The tour finishes up in Boston, MA on November 13th with two shows at the TD Garden. Learn more at kelloggstour.com

You can read more of my gymnastics writing here.

Kat’s Coffee Blog: An ode to perfect diner iced coffee

Kat'sCoffee BlogWelcome to Kat’s Coffee Blog, an initiative to put my triumphant return to caffeinated coffee drinking to good use.

If you have ever lived near the corner of Washington St. and Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton, MA, you have heard the legend of Brighton Cafe iced coffee. Perfect fuel for a crowded Green Line ride to either BC or BU, it also is rumored to have hangover-curing qualities. (This is only rumor – I swear I have never tested it.)

Brighton Cafe iced coffee, at least back when I ordered it on the regular (2007-2009), came in two flavors: original and french vanilla. It was served in a large styrofoam cup, which I cringed at but dealt with by being super environmentally friendly the rest of the day.

It was your regular diner coffee, just iced, meaning it wasn’t exactly the most nuanced of flavors, but delivered the taste and caffeine jolt necessary. It never tasted like they had just taken leftover pots of hot coffee and cooled it – it was never bitter tasting, like what could happen when you do such a thing. What made it addictive was the just perfect amount of cream and sugar added. Because this was a diner, the cream was very fresh and the sugar was coarse instead of fine. This made the coffee just the perfect amount of sweet and bitter.

The two things I miss most about living in Brighton are Brighton Cafe coffee and it’s neighbor, Chang’s House, the friendliest Chinese food place in creation. While I have never found a replacement for Chang’s House (a place so kind that they would make me a special, non-menu soup when I suffered from laryngitis, which used to be every other month), I have finally found an equal to the Brighton Cafe iced coffee magic.

Firehouse Coffee Shop iced coffee

Firehouse Coffee Shop iced coffee

Salem, MA’s Nick’s Firehouse Coffee Shop is tucked away behind the old District Court building. My father-in-law first introduced the spot to me a decade ago, but I didn’t know of its iced coffee until 2015. The Firehouse has an amazing corned beef hash and very affordable lunch sandwiches, and it is a regular stop for lawyers, judges and court staff who work in the area.

One Saturday last year, I had to go into Boston early, and my regular Dunkin’ Donuts by the Salem train station was closed. I figured I’d grab some hot coffee from the Firehouse. I walked in, looked at their menu, and realized they had iced coffee. I tasted it and was immediately transported back to that corner of Washington St. and Commonwealth Ave. Finally, I had found a North Shore diner who cared just as much about their iced coffee as the Brighton Cafe.

I didn’t get a chance to try it again until this week. (Giving up caffeine for 10 months will do that for you.) It still is that perfect mixture of coffee flavor, cream and coarse sugar that will cure whatever ails you, be it a hangover or your four month old waking up five times during the night.

Review: Both Brighton Cafe and Firehouse get four cups out of five. ☕️☕️☕️☕️

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