How These Twentysomething Triple Threat Sisters Connect with 3 Million Subscribers and Counting
At just 21-years-old, identical twins Veronica and Vanessa Merrell have built their own mini media empire, with a following of more than 3 million subscribers on YouTube.
Fans who flock to their channel every Tuesday watch the triple threats perform original songs and covers, star in scripted series and short comedy sketches they write and produce and participate in challenges ranging from trying out odd products to testing out popular makeup trends.
The Streamy and Shorty award winning creators attribute their success to three components: consistency, quality and authenticity. With their long-form projects, the Los Angeles-based women's goal is to make something with a high production value that wouldn’t be out of place on a platform such as Netflix or Hulu
They also dedicate a great deal of their time to connecting with fans via live streaming, offering advice and glimpses into their everyday lives, answering questions and even breaking down their songwriting process.
The Merrell Twins, who are college juniors, shared their insights with Entrepreneur about why you shouldn’t be driven by analytics and how to make content that resonates with people.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Vanessa: When we were in elementary school, maybe around fifth grade, we started watching YouTube videos. We had this passion to make homemade videos. Our dad is a video producer, editor, director and he was already doing that. So we asked him if we could get a camera ourselves.
We were making home videos and just posting them on Facebook, for our friends to see. Then one day our dad said, why don't I help you guys make a really fun sketch and we can post it to your YouTube channel. So we posted a video with our dad's help and started posting more videos with our dad's help and then slowly but surely started posting more consistently and then the YouTube channel formed. When we started our YouTube channel, it was in 2009. But we actually didn't start posting consistently until about 2013.
How much of your time do you spend on a video and what does that entail?
Veronica: Two to four days out of the week. It depends on what kind of video we're filming. Our dad actually helps us edit and produce our videos. He's always editing.
Vanessa: We also try to get ahead of videos so we're not stressing about what video to come up with each week. [When we] come up with ideas for sketches, it takes maybe two days to write a sketch. So that's two days of writing the sketch, maybe three days of filming it and then a day of editing.
Veronica: YouTube is definitely a 24-hour job. We're also trying to stay active and engaged with our audience and so that requires us to be active on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. We also do live streaming.
What's your content strategy?
Veronica: Ever since we started posting on our channel, we decided we would post every week. We've never missed a Tuesday in this five to six years we've been doing YouTube. That consistency has been so important to growing our channel. Also live streaming has been a huge part of growing our audience.
We've found that the most engaged audience is people who love to watch people live. Another organic way that we would build our audience is through collaborating with other YouTubers. We send our audience to them and they would send their audience to us. It makes the viewers happy because they love seeing two YouTubers that they love to watch together in a video.
Vanessa: Also higher quality production value. You can sit down and put a camera in front of you and talk and people will still watch. But we've also found that when it comes to our sketches, when we have higher better quality content , for example our "Where is my Romeo" series. It starts to compete with a network's higher production. Essentially that's what YouTube is going to lead into. We need to have higher, better quality content to produce that people will enjoy that is on the Netflix, Hulu level. Our strategy is always changing because YouTube's algorithm is always changing.
What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on the platform?
Veronica: Starting a channel can be really discouraging at first because you don't get the views and numbers that you want right away. But you just have to keep going, you have to just ignore the numbers -- stay off of SocialBlade. That is a dangerous place. If you're starting a YouTube channel solely for the money, it's not going to work out. Most YouTubers you ask start because it's a passion and they love entertaining people and the money comes later.
Vanessa: The most important thing is to be yourself. It sounds super cliche but when you are yourself and authentic and real, people relate to that. We are ourselves. We're students in college. We can connect to our audience on a very personal level. That's what people really enjoy. The purpose of YouTube is to find people you can connect with and enjoy watching.
What's a misconception many people have about YouTube?
Veronica: Vanessa and I moved out to California six years ago. We were trying to get into the acting business. As we were trying to get into it we also had a YouTube channel. We finally booked a role on Jane the Virgin, which was amazing for us. But that was after two years of working hard and going on auditions. But then other YouTubers started booking roles in TV shows and movies. Then this stigma kind of started building around YouTubers and how they are in traditional media. Some are kind of like divas or they're just not good actors or they are hard to work with because of their schedules. We're all so used to being our own managers in a sense and creating our own schedules, so [it can be] harder for us to adjust to a network or a production company and what they're asking. But we make it work.
Here are five videos that the Merrell Twins believe most represent their vision:
Merrell Twins Exposed series
"We improvise a lot in these videos and it's so much fun playing all the characters. Our viewers love all the different characters we play."
Internet Crush song
"This is one of our most popular music videos and it's become a sort of iconic favorite fan song."
Valentine's Day song
"This is our most popular music video. We think it's very relatable to everyone when it comes to Valentine's Day."
Where's My Romeo series
"We had so much fun making this romantic comedy series. Our fans love when we make sketch series like these."
The Punny Life series
"We are known for making puns in our videos so we have a series where we try to be very punny.”