December 22, 2018 | Alumni
While earning a commerce degree at U of T, the Caleon twins built up a massive social media following
By Angela Gu
“In a way, YouTube is our business,” says Madeleine Caleon, who with her sister Samantha is working on their social media brand full time (photo courtesy of the Caleon sisters via Instagram)
They have nearly 265,000 subscribers on YouTube, 124,000 followers on Instagram, and a whopping 3.3 million fans on TikTok, a site for short-form mobile videos that was formerly known as musical.ly. Meet the Caleon Twins, Samantha and Madeleine.
The twins graduated from the University of Toronto last month with matching bachelor’s degrees in commerce, after years of taking the same courses together. They are now focusing on building their social media brand full time, hiring a manager to help.
The sisters say they have always wanted to be entrepreneurs. “In a way, YouTube is our business,” says Madeleine Caleon (BCom 2018 UTM), about their eponymous YouTube channel, Caleon Twins. Their content ranges from clips of the twins performing covers of pop songs and videos of them participating in trending challenges (such as the No Mirror Makeup Challenge) to vlogs about their lives.
They started their YouTube channel during their first year at U of T Mississauga, and hopped on the social music app musical.ly when it was taking off, dancing to popular songs with their carefully choreographed moves. Their YouTube audience grew with their TikTok/musical.ly fan base, and soon the hobby grew into a business, says Samantha Caleon (BCom 2018 UTM).
“It wasn’t always easy,” says Madeleine about growing their brand while meeting the high demands of their academic work.
Even with a manager, the twins say they are still very much in charge of content. They film for two or three days a week, shooting videos for themselves as well as for the YouTube channels to which they contribute. The rest of the week is spent on publishing that content and attending to the less glamorous, behind-the-scenes work that comes with running a business.
To help manage their time during university, the Caleon sisters took some online classes during their final year and crammed the rest of their required courses into just two days of the week so that they could travel to far-away events and YouTube conventions.
JUGGLING THE CLASSROOM WITH YOUTUBE CONVENTIONS
They say they were able to apply some of the marketing concepts they learned in the classroom to strategically increase their influence online. The most important? Authenticity.
“Being genuine, as cliché as it is, is the best way to market yourself to different people online,” says Madeleine.
They are thankful for the guidance of fellow YouTubers who have been down the same road, but they make sure not to conform to what their peers do on social media. And they have learned to be patient.
“It’s not a straight line, or an easy path to reach your goal,” says Samantha.
As for the future of their YouTube channel, Samantha and Madeleine are not worrying about losing relevance. They see vlogging as a way to remain relatable to their audience as they get older together.
They are also connecting in other ways. The twins already have a clothing line on StarSpender, the online shop that allows fans to purchase merchandise from TikTok stars. They plan to develop a separate business outside of their Caleon Twins brand in the future, maybe in fashion.
As their business continues to grow, says Madeleine, “we’re really just living in the moment and taking each day as it comes.”