First Fridays: Tyler McFadden, Co-CEO of Collab

Q+A with an entrepreneur building a new studio model

For this month’s edition of First Fridays, we connected with Tyler McFadden of Collab, a full-service digital content studio and video creator development company representing 300+ of the top talent across Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Read on for his thoughts on why this breed of talent is resonating so strongly with youth and how to build on audience in the digital age.

Please tell us a bit about Collab and its mission.

Back in 2007, YouTube’s Partner Program made it possible for young people to turn their home-grown creativity into a worldwide entertainment career. Along with that amazing innovation came predatory MCN contracts, low ad rates, and a lack of support for many of the most talented creators. My brothers and I had been full-time video creators since 2006), so we knew exactly what kind of support creators needed to go from amateur to professional and how difficult the process can be.

In 2012, we started Collab to make the lives of independent video creators easier and to help them succeed. To serve the needs of this new type of entertainer, we're building a new type of studio. At its core, our studio is about supporting video creators, innovating on their behalf, and joining forces with them to create content that entertains people around the world.

What one word or phrase would you use to describe the company?

ADWIB is an acronym that stands for Always Do What Is Best for our partners. This is one of our core values. We never put short term company gains ahead of what is best for our partners in the long term.

Who is your typical client, and how do they learn about you?

Our clients are both video creators and brands. We have a lot of positive word of mouth within the Vine and YouTube communities, so many times creators are referred by their friends. We also built Rankzoo, a leading analytics platform for social video creators. We identify rising talent on Rankzoo and reach out to bring them into our network. Our brand clients also use it, and they often find out about Collab either through Rankzoo or through one of our creators.

What’s the one thing you want to hear most from a client?

That we work "smart." The tight relationships we have internally and with our talent helps us move at a much faster pace than usual creative agencies. We love when clients are surprised by our efficiency and want to make a long-term social strategy investment in our talent.

What sets your company apart from its competitors?

Collab has been the network to focus on working with mobile video creators, especially Viners. Our mobile focus has allowed us to design tools and programs specifically for mobile video creators. This gives us a different value proposition than other creator networks. We also are selective about which talent we bring into our network and take a hands-on approach to creator development.

Why do you think content creators are resonating so strongly with young audiences?

Young audiences have a strong connection with social media creators because they get to follow all aspects of their lives on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, etc. Social video creators speak directly to their audience, so they're viewed more as friends that you would want to hang out with rather than untouchable celebrities. Hollywood stars don't seem as real as digital celebrities since they're only seen on TV and in movies.

Can you please share a case study of a successful partnership between your talent and a brand?

Party superstore Crafts n Favors recently rebranded and reached out to Collab to drive traffic to their new web properties. Collab pitched the idea of throwing two Father’s Day surprise parties in light of the upcoming holiday. Using only the company’s party supplies, two popular YouTube families planned and filmed their parties, capturing the entire process. Ultimately, they saw a 15% boost in sales after the videos were released!

Another recent win was our work with Dictionary.com on a campaign to promote a series of new social media words they were adding to the dictionary. We partnered seven of our influencers to create videos capturing the humor and essence of those words, and Dictionary.com received four times more engagement than usual!

What’s next for Collab?

We're building our Rankzoo product to help brands execute data-driven influencer marketing campaigns across multiple social platforms. We're also ramping up original content production. Next year, Collab will be producing a full slate of shows and branded content series featuring digital celebrities for both linear TV and digital platforms.