Who is this Bibi your daughter is talking about all the time? Do they really exist? Many girls are eagerly waiting for YouTuber Bianca Heinicke aka Bibi from BibisBeautyPalace to upload a new episode of “Instagram determines my day” on YouTube. Such a video reaches millions of views within a few days. Bibi’s fans eagerly help decide what Bibi should do next. How is it that YouTuber Bibi reaches and inspires such a high number of young people?
With currently 5,141,532 subscribers, 25-year-old Bibi Heinicke is considered one of Germany’s most successful YouTubers (as of 08.06.2018). She has been active on YouTube since the end of 2012 and started with “BibisBeautyPalace” as a cosmetics and fashion guide. In the meantime, her channel developed into a kind of lifestyle channel with very different, everyday topics. Bibi explains the latest trends in make-up and hair tutorials, gives tips on typical adolescent problems around love and friendship and lets the young viewers look into her alleged private life in so-called vlogs (video diary). She is seen fooling around with her boyfriend – also a YouTuber – while shopping and on vacation. Bibi even announces the news of her pregnancy to the public in a specially made special video on YouTube.
Bibi appears to be authentic, always in a good mood and full of life. She speaks to her subscribers as if they were good friends or family members. Familiar-looking salutations like “Hello, everybody” and farewell phrases like “I love you” give the impression that there is closeness and familiarity between Bibi and her fans. This makes a special impression on the many female fans between the ages of 10-18, who see her as a kind of big sister. The particularly loyal followers refer to themselves as “Bibinator”. There is even a self-test on the Internet that can be used to find out whether one’s own knowledge of Bibi is sufficient to be assigned to the circle of “Bibinators”.
The good-humored Bibi and the friendly interaction with her audience are intentional. There is a marketing concept behind it and a lot of money is flowing. Being a YouTube star Bibi is Bianca Heinicke’s profession and she earns money through advertising. It’s called influencer marketing. This business model has evolved through social networks such as YouTube or Instagram. The YouTube star’s great influence on adolescents is used to mention, rate or promote products from paid collaborations (such as cosmetics companies) through targeted placement in videos, often without advertising labels. When influencers like Bibi are active not only on a channel like YouTube, but equally on Instagram, Snapchat, etc., even more people are reached with this veiled advertising. This is also part of the marketing concept. Just like Bibi’s pregnancy. The theme dominates the content of all their channels. There will probably be many more occasions in the future to share life’s most intimate moments with your fan community, and at the same time open up completely new business and marketing areas.
Interactions with viewers are a popular advertising strategy. With sentences like “Write your opinion in the comments,” followers are encouraged to interact. This way, the influencer’s post becomes more popular and the more money she can earn. Children should learn that advertising is not always clearly recognizable. Make your child aware of these hidden ads so they can classify what’s behind many YouTuber videos. Only in this way can they learn to deal with video formats of this kind in a reflective and media-competent manner.
Engage in conversation with your child and show interest in their YouTube star. Ask why your child thinks Bibi or other YouTubers are great and watch their videos together. Take this as an opportunity to address other things as well: What values are conveyed in the videos of BibisBeautyPalace? Often the focus is on consumption and a careless use of money.
The portrayal of stereotypical gender roles can also be a problem in YT videos. Allegedly typical behaviors of girls and boys are shown.
You can find out more about the fascination of YouTube stars among children and young people here here.