At VidFest UK 2017, the London Small YouTubers group presented a panel on the struggles of being part of the YouTube fandom while creating your own videos.
The moderator was Kim Bradford, the Social Media Manager for London Small YouTubers. She came on stage and introduced the other panellists – vlogger Aaron R Hale, fashion and beauty creator Cassie Samji, and The RH Experience’s Luke Spillane.
— LondonSmallYouTubers (@LondonSmallYT) May 26, 2017
The first question the group were asked was whether being a fan had made them want to make videos of their own. Aaron said he had started his channel due to being influenced by comedians and vloggers on YouTube, while Luke ended up getting jobs related to Doctor Who due to his love for the show.
This was followed by a question on whether it was hard to express yourself as a fan while you’re also trying to be seen as more professional, to which Cassie replied that she believed it was more important for smaller creators to be fans as they will have become aware of how much work goes into being a YouTuber. Aaron expressed his belief that it can be a tough tightrope, as introducing yourself as a fan can lead to not being taken seriously, while introducing yourself as a creator can make it seem like you are angling for promotion. Luke followed on by stating that it was important for larger creators to not lump all of their viewers in together.
Next up was a question on whether any of the panel had met someone they were a fan of, and how the meeting went. Cassie stated that in her experience there is an initial fangirl moment, but she soon realises they are a real person it would be possible to develop a rapport with. The rest of the panel agreed, with Luke and Aaron sharing their stories about meeting Peter Capaldi and Daniel J. Layton as examples of when this has happened to them. Kim remembered a time she had met a creator at the age of 14 and had trouble keeping calm, compared to five years later when the experience went more smoothly. She continued by saying she preferred to talk to creatives about the interesting things they do rather than just stating her fandom or general awareness of the person.
This was followed by a request for any tips for fans meeting their favourite creators. Aaron and Cassie urged these fans to keep in mind that their faves are just people, with Cassie elaborating by saying to remember that these creators do want to interact with fans, and that even a single positive comment could touch their heart. Kim continued by saying that people should try and have something to talk about that makes them unique, rather than saying things the creator will have already heard multiple times that day.
The next question concerned whether being a fan influences how the panellists viewed potential fans of their content. Cassie stated that she doesn’t think of her viewers as her “fans” or “followers”, and that she had created her channel with the intention of making friends – in her view, they are just people she is interacting with. Aaron agreed, giving an example of two Australian people he had received messages from who he largely considered friends. Luke said that he always interacted with new fans, as he believes it keeps them coming back and interested. Kim agreed with this view wholeheartedly, admitting she likes all tweets from her viewers as she remembers how it felt when creators she was a fan of did the same to her.
It was then time for closing remarks, with Luke beginning by stating, “If you are a fan of something, shout it from the rooftops”, noting how he got his current job at BBC Worldwide Digital Studios by making personal videos about his interest in Doctor Who. Cassie and Aaron echoed this belief, with Cassie saying that people should be able to be more comfortable acknowledging themselves as fans, and Aaron simply stating: “At the end of the day, liking something is something positive.”