The manager behind YouTube sensation the Sidemen, Jordan Schwarzenberger, tells EN how they have secured 15m subscribers and 34bn views. “Leveraging talent is 100% key to marketing” he says.
If you haven’t heard of The Sidemen, it’s likely any teenagers in your life will know the group of seven guys that have become an internet sensation by taking on challenges, goofing around and generally making each other laugh. Their main channel (they have several) has more than 15m subscribers and their content has racked up 34bn views (according to Wikipedia). So how much of their success is down to marketing?
“What is marketing? It’s creating demand for products amongst mass audiences and for us, that’s the bulk of what we do, whether it’s the products we are creating or the brands we are launching or the rollout of those brands. Or it’s for Sidemen Sundays, creating a whole teaser campaign on socials; everything on social is marketing,” explains Jordan Schwarzenberger, who, aged just 24, is the manager of The Sidemen.
The Sideman brand has been stretched to produce other businesses, such as their fried chicken offering Sides and premium vodka XIX. Surprisingly for someone whose bread and butter is online content and the sharing of it, Jordan still thinks there is a place for offline marketing too. To promote these spin off brands, they have used the marketing mediums of billboards, bus advertisements and taking over the digital screens at places where their target audience hangs out – like Boxpark in Wembley.
“I’m a massive fan of offline. Don’t get me wrong, online is great but nothing beats the credibility factor you sense when you see your brand on the bus or on the tube or big billboards or posters. There is something about the physical that makes it seem so tangible and feel real and it makes it feel big,” said Jordan.
He goes on to explain that one of the reasons the Sidemen are such a success is that they aren’t doing what everyone else is doing. Whilst everyone else is wondering how they can utilise digital marketing because so many people are glued to their smartphones, they like to do the unexpected – like pop up on more traditional marketing channels.
The Sidemen all had their individual channels with decent follower numbers in the millions before they got together so their success has really been built over a decade. As a group, they’ve been around for three years. Apart from bringing their audiences together, how have they grown their audience so quickly?
“They are 100% real and authentic, there is absolutely no pretense in what they do. They’re exactly the same in their videos as they are when they’re chilling and they’re out. Because of that, it means it’s very easy for them to feel comfortable because they are just being themselves,” said Jordan.
To some degree, the content they produce is their marketing – people are attracted to their personalities and their ideas. How they decide on what to do is another reason for their success according to Jordan. Ideas are voted on between the seven of them, they go with the majority and they make decisions quickly. And Jordan thinks it’s the originality of their ideas that sets them apart.
“From a marketing perspective, it’s about new, bigger ideas, pushing boundaries, working with great talent, just breaking out from what’s expected in the space and constantly trying to innovate and stay ahead. That sense of leading the way really propels them to want to continue innovating and pushing boundaries every single day,” said Jordan.
A bigger challenge is establishing marketing goals and evaluating them. Although there are just seven guys on screen, there is a much bigger team behind the scenes made up of designers, editors, social media managers and many more. The Sidemen use a marketing agency called Be A Bear who look after the paid advertising across the various offshoot brands, email management and the performance tracking of that.
When it comes to great marketing he sees, Jordan is quick to identify leisure wear clothing brand Kith as his go to for inspiration, both for the art direction and the styling, but also for their unusual choices of models, which have included Giancarlo Esposito (from Breaking Bad), Adrien Brody and Steve Buscemi. It’s a return to a running theme in terms of the success of the Sidemen – thinking differently, surprising people, being unconventional.
“It’s things that make you sit up and think ‘okay that’s great, I wasn’t expecting that’. That’s the stuff that makes me personally really excited,’ said Jordan.
“And then there is leveraging talent, which is 100% the key to marketing these days. Having faces that people recognise is so important for social media – that’s what drives the numbers.”
Jordan Schwarzenberger is represented by Expert Impact Speakers, who use 100% of their profits to support charities and social enterprises. To enquire about him or the Sidemen to appear at your event, please contact email@example.com.