Learning from Others: Whitney of Naptural85

March 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

[I did some analysis on Whitney’s recent business decision so this is an in-depth discussion about her new ad series for Carol’s Daughter.  Feel free to use the headers to skip around or read through for the full review.]

Meet Whitney

Whitney is the producer and star of a natural hair channel on YouTube called Naptural85.  She is who I consider to be the Queen B of Natural Hair Vlogging.  She’s been on Youtube since before the natural hair movement truly jumped off.  In the natural hair world I consider her to be your favorite vlogger’s favorite vlogger.  She is an originator.  She is known and liked for keeping things simple and for providing useful information in an easy to digest way.  What I like most about Whitney is that she has made it to the top by making her audience her #1 priority.

A Break from the Norm

One of the interesting things about Whitney’s channel is that over the years she has rarely done any advertising.  Whereas some vloggers have leveraged their visibility to transition into hosting, appearances and endorsements, Whitney always remained under the radar. Until last week…

Less than a week ago on March 14th, 2014 to the chagrin of some of her subbies, Whitney made the decision to post three self produced commercials about Carol’s Daughter, paid for by Carol’s Daughter, on her Naptural85 youtube channel.  

Here is the three part commercial series Whitney produced:

When I heard the news that Whitney made the decision to post ads to her channel I was elated for her.  I think as women we have a tendency to underestimate our worth and I think for some reason especially within the African-American community there is a certain level of dogma around advertising and sponsored content.  When one of “us” succeeds and starts getting that hand over fist money, traditionally “we” also tend to abandon that person and then they get adopted by other groups…when they continue to thrive and cater to their “new” audience then words like “sellout” get tossed around.

I’m not here for that.  It’s high time that in our community we stop treating businesses like hobbies and we start getting paid the dollars we deserve so that money can start trickling back into our community.  So I was really happy to see Whitney will no longer be leaving money on the table.

I’m not sure if she previously was worried about tainting the authenticity of her brand, which I can understand, but all I know is that I’m of the opinion that this year is going to be her million dollar year.  I believe she can do it and I hope she does.

Why Now?

Because Whitney opted not to do sponsored content on her channel for such a long period of time, I was really curious about why the change of heart.  I didn’t end up having to wait long for an answer because she answered that exact question in a vlog video on her DearNaptural85 channel. Here is what she said:

“I don’t do this; I’ve been on YouTube for five years and I’ve done one sponsored video on my ah hair channel and that was for..um to advertise a movie back in the day, remember Snow White and the Huntsman? I love that video. Um so I was nervous to do it of course, but um I don’t know I just don’t want to stand in my way anymore I just wanted to do it. Would I do more sponsored videos? Yes, I would um especially now, you know I’m not in that mind-frame where it’s like all or nothing kinda thing anymore. Before I was really limiting myself on my channel and I was like you know, putting myself in a box and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m not putting myself in any type of boxes. You’re going to see a lot more from me this year and going forward so I hope you guys understand that and I hope that you guys can appreciate and respect the fact that I respect you guys enough to be upfront and be transparent with everything I do.”

To watch her response in full click the picture below. Her response starts at the 14:20 minute mark.

Naptural85 Vlog

The Numbers Don’t Lie

As a marketer by profession I was really curious about what the audience response to Whitney’s business decision would be.  I ran some numbers to find out how the videos and the news was received.

Here are statistics that I pulled up for Whitney’s Carol’s Daughter ads on March 19th.

  • 13,939 people liked Whitney’s Carol’s Daughter ads
  •  208 people disliked Whitney’s Carol’s Daughter ads
  • & 142,921 viewed Whitney’s ads and didn’t leave a comment
Naptural85 stats

Figure I.

Whitney gained 475 new subscribers the same day she posted the Carol’s Daughter ads.  That’s not to say some people didn’t unsubscribe, but that is to say that more people joined her channel then left on the day she posted the ads. So much so that she ended up with 475 new subbies. (View Figure II. below)

Note: She posted the Carol’s Daughter videos on March 15th.


Figure II.

What We’re People Saying

When I do research I always like to pull quantitative and qualitative data.  Therefore, in addition to looking at the numbers Whitney earned for her Carol’s Daughter videos I also took an in-depth look at the comments.

I focused my analysis on the comments left for video #1 because that was the most viewed ad in her three part series.

Out of the 631 comments on her first commercial only 18 of the comments were negative.  That means 97% of those who commented had positive feedback.

Major Gripe:  Of those who complained their main point of contention was over the ingredient purity of Carol’s Daughter products.

Naptural85 Viewer Comment

Final Outcome

Based on my analysis Whitney’s decision to start accepting sponsor proposals did not hurt her brand.  The majority of her subscribers support and respect her decision and expressed said support via words of encouragement in the comments on her Youtube channel and across social media.

Learnings and Observations

  • [Build Trust First]  I think Whitney’s decision to decline sponsor dollars for so long served her well.  She showed us (her audience) that she wasn’t in it for the money, she made helping viewers her number one priority and the effect of her holding out on advertising for so long is that she solidified the trust of her audience.  I think many of us know Whitney isn’t going to be frivolous with the partnerships and sponsors that she takes on.  We all trust her judgement because she’s taken the time to prove to us she can be trusted.  The lesson in this for me is that as a vlogger you have to protect the relationship you have with your audience.  Whitney never exploited the trust of her audience or allowed her audience to be bombarded by advertisers and I believe as long as she works with brands that can can be helpful or beneficial to her viewers she’ll be able to keep the trust of her community and increase her earnings.
  • [Prevention is better than Cure] As I read through the comments for Whitney’s Carol’s Daughter ads I noticed there was confusion from viewers about the definition of an ad.  I think next time Whitney might need to add a disclaimer to her about section detailing that the video is not an endorsement or a review.  People don’t really read the about section, but if you do add a disclaimer you can then point commentors such as the one below to that section.  Naptural85

Whitney is definitely media mogul on the rise.  I’ve learned a lot just by watching her and I’m excited to see where this journey will take her and her family.

Please leave your thoughts on the information shared in the comments below 🙂


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