Joshua and Savannah Alexander are not your typical “influencers.” The Los Angeles-based couple got started in the influencer realm in 2017 on a whim. The two creatives, Josh a videographer and pianist from Michigan and Savannah, a professional dancer from Oregon, first started creating online content as a fun side project that they could do as a couple.
In just a few months time, their channel, Josh&Sav, quickly took off and grew from hundreds to thousands of followers. Today, with more than 300,000 followers and 30 million views, the couple is determined to use the influence they unknowingly stepped into to bring positive and encouraging content to viewers.
So what exactly makes someone an “influencer’? A social media influencer is someone who creates online content through social media channels and has a large online following. By virtue of their credibility in a certain industry, their reputation, reach and likability, they are able to persuade their online followers to a certain action, aka “influence” them. This could be anything from supporting a cause, to following the latest dance trend, to purchasing a certain fashion or skincare brand.
Social media influencers talk. Consumers listen. Then, marketers start paying attention.
Social media influencers talk. Consumers listen.
As social media continues to become more integrated into our daily lives, the impact influencers have is hard to ignore. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 70 percent of teens trust influencers more than celebrities. Also, nearly 90 percent of women use social media for advice on what to purchase. At the beginning of 2020, the social media influencer industry was expected to be valued at $10 billion.
Cognizant of the impact they can have, the Alexanders are dedicated to creating content that is real, vulnerable and fun. The couple is clear about avoiding the traps of falling into “influencer fame” and negative stereotypes. With these two, what you see is what you get. Darling got to chat with Josh and Savannah about their journey in online content creation and how they hope to use it to make an impact.
How did you guys get started in the world of social media content creation?
Savannah: We started with Youtube. I had the idea to make a channel, but I knew nothing about Youtube. I didn’t know you could have a channel and share your life. The idea first came up after I saw a wedding video on Youtube.
When I saw it, I was like, “This is the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever seen!”
I really thought they had to be celebrities, but then, I realized they were just normal, everyday people who had a YouTube channel. So I went to Josh with the idea and told him I wanted to start a Youtube channel. He said he was up for it, but that if we were going to do this, we would have to commit to it. We knew we had to give it 100 percent.
If we were going to do this, then we would have to commit to it. We knew we had to give it 100 percent.
When we started, all I had was a camera. We went out and bought a ring light and that was it. We sat down and filmed our first video. We had no idea what we were doing. Our first video is titled, “We’re Adopting,” which was basically an 8-minute build up to our big reveal that we had adopted a fish.
Josh: When we first started our channel, we were just doing what everyone else was doing. We followed a lot of influencer couples, and a lot of them just did pranks. A lot of channels at the time did that. So we said, “Let’s just do that.”
We weren’t trying to get big. From the very beginning, it was just really following the trends and doing what everyone else was doing.
How has your brand evolved since you started?
J: As the channel started to grow (and it grew fast), we started to realize that people were really interested in our lives and what we did outside of Youtube. We took that information, went back to the drawing board and changed the trajectory of our channel. We decided to make it more about our day-to-day lives and what we believe in.
We were never doing stuff that was insane or against our morals, but our followers didn’t know who we actually were. We said, “Let’s not do any more pranks. Let’s just be real instead.”
So we did that. We started to talk about our faith more. We began sharing about our day-to-day lives more. During that time, we saw who our real subscribers were, which has helped us find our actual audience.
How would you describe a typical work day of an online influencer?
J: The quarantine has definitely shifted our schedule a little, but it hasn’t affected us much because we were already working from home. A typical day for us, is waking up and coming up with a video idea that we want to shoot that day.
In the morning, if we don’t have a video in mind already, it can sometimes take hours for us to come up with an idea. We will usually eat , work out and go about our day until we come up with something. Sometimes, we don’t start shooting until 2:00 p.m. It really just depends on the day.
As far as how long it takes to shoot, it can be as quick as an hour or as long as all day if we are doing a skit or a challenge. Skits tend to take much longer. Then, I usually edit it the next day and it goes live. The majority of the time we shoot, edit and post all in the same day. We also post a lot on Instagram to get traffic to our Youtube channel.
If you could write a mission statement, how would you describe your work?
J: Our main goal is to inspire others with positivity and love. We do a lot of “couple things” and just show our love through that. We hope to inspire and push other couples to do the same in their daily lives.
We are trying to inspire others with positivity and love.
We actually don’t consider ourselves to be social media influencers mainly because of the stereotype that comes with it and what people think of them. Some “influencers” are known for acting like no one can touch them, like they are above people. They flaunt their money. We never want to be that. Our main focus is to inspire and shed light through love.
How do you hope to impact your audience, followers and fans?
S: We don’t want anyone watching us to think we’re “famous” or above them. Recently, one of our subscribers told us she thinks it’s awesome how down-to-earth we are and that we don’t act like we are better than anyone. This meant a lot to us because our passion is to connect to people.
We love to talk to our supporters. If they want prayer or advice, then we always try to encourage them in any way we can.
J: Our hope is to shed a light through love. We are creating videos with the purpose of being inspirational and putting a light on the viewers’ faces. We want to inspire couples but not just couples, everyone.
We are creating videos with the purpose of being inspirational and putting a light on the viewers’ faces.
We want to inspire people going through any tough times they may be facing. Right now, during this global pandemic and quarantine, we want to be an escape for people having a hard time. We’ve had a lot of people tell us that we have been a positive light in the midst of all of this.
For someone interested in building an online platform as influencers, how can they generate income? Do you guys do other work outside of Youtube?
J: I genuinely don’t know the equation. For us, all it took was being ourselves, and we found our audience by doing that. If you are genuinely yourself, then people gravitate toward you. That’s half the work.
If you are genuinely yourself, then people gravitate toward you.
Then, you have to put in the work. There’s a hustle that goes into building an online platform. You have to study other Youtube channels. You have to take time to learn about editing and content management. You have to be consistent with posting content. You have to be consistent in every area if you want to see success.
Outside of Youtube, I do video editing and video work. I also play keys for various artists. However, right now, we are focused on Youtube, and we are blessed to have that be our main source of income through sponsors and branded content.
S: I think one important thing for people who are interested in becoming influencers to know is that you are not going to start out making money. Creating an online platform has to start from a place of love. You can’t just be doing it with the intention of wanting to make money off of it. When we started we weren’t making any money at all. We were just doing it as a side thing. After a lot of work and dedication, Youtube has become our main source of income.
Creating an online platform has to start from a place of love.
Right now, we both have other sources of income. I am a professional dancer, and I teach dance. I’ve done dance tours, gotten to travel a lot and been in music videos and TV shows. I am signed to an agency, and I still go to auditions.
What message are you trying to send about marriage and relationships?
J: One comment that we always see on our channel is that we are always having fun. We hear people say that we are always laughing, smiling and being silly. Something we really want to share—marriage is fun. Marriage should be like dating your best friend. In our videos, we show that just by being ourselves on camera.
S: I think another thing too is that we don’t want to show that we are a perfect couple. On our channel, we have shared some really vulnerable things. We have shared a lot of things we have been through and healed from.
It is important for us to share these stories because we want to help people who might be going through it. We want to say, “Hey, we have been through this, and we got through it and came out stronger. So will you.” We want to be real—that’s our focus.
We want to be real—that’s our focus.
How do you maintain healthy relationship boundaries when your career requires portions of your life to be in front of the camera?
J: When we started our channel, we were turning on the camera and acting. We weren’t being our actual selves, but once we went back to the drawing board and started being natural, we really started working. We decided to just turn on the camera and be ourselves.
Eventually, because our channel is so much of our lives, we needed to separate our Youtube work life and our life off camera. Our work life and personal life are definitely one because we do share our life in vlogs almost every day. From day one, our relationship has always been first before anything work related.
S: We also make sure we don’t work too much. We work a lot and are always trying to think of the next video idea. It’s not like a 9-to-5 job where you go to work and once you’re done, you don’t think about it anymore.
It helps keep our relationship healthy when we turn off the camera and stop working. We get to just hang out with no cameras. We make date nights a priority.
It helps keep our relationship healthy when we cut off the camera and stop working.
If you could give your younger selves advice before you began your social media careers, what would you say?
J: I would tell our younger selves to just be ourselves. I’d also say not to be fake or to try to be something we weren’t just to give people a show. I truly believe if we started with that mindset, our channel would have grown faster.
How can you use your passions to make an impact in society?
S: Our hope is that we will be busy doing a lot of different projects. Whether touring, acting or growing our Youtube channel more, we want to use our creative gifts to make meaningful content.
We want to use our creative gifts to make meaningful content.
J: We want to eventually start touring and meeting supporters. We love meeting people. It’s a dream of ours to one day go on tour and have meet & greets.
We want to continue to use our platform to do bigger and better things. I feel like Youtube is never going anywhere. Once we branch off into other business ventures, our Youtube may slow down, but we love making content and don’t have any plans of stopping.
What influencers do you follow online? Why is it important for leaders in social media to use their platforms for good?
Images via FR Weddings