As many of us are aware, the differences between larger and smaller creators are quite drastic when it comes to the dynamic between the creators and their audiences.
Luckily for us, Emily and Ruby are here with an important video to talk about that and all the intricacies involved.
Emily Eaton and Ruby May Cee sit down on Emily’s channel to talk about the often-overlooked topic of overfamiliarity in the YouTube community. After spending the weekend at Summer in the City, and hearing it talked about a little on the Creator – Viewer Relationship panel (and at the pub afterwards), they decided to have their say on the topic and how it affects the small YouTuber community.
“The thing about being a smaller creator is that we’re much more accessible,“ Emily starts by saying.
“With a bigger creator, there is a fan and creator relationship […] but if you’re a smaller creator, you don’t have that – you kind of have a small community in which you’re friends with a lot of people. But the thing is, you don’t know everyone who watches your videos and not everyone knows you, and there can be quite a lot of weird blurred lines within that in terms of boundaries,” she continues.
She’s right – it can be quite a touchy topic because nobody, least of all a small creator, wants to alienate their audience. But at the same time, there’s a gap in the information being shared. Whether it’s simply a by-product of the platform or the creator’s choice to not share their every waking moment, there are things the viewers don’t know, and there’s precious little way for the viewers to share their own experiences in a more personal manner.
Some of these boundaries are more defined than others – everyone knows not to stalk the creators they watch (or, at least, the majority of people do) – but how do you create a boundary for where friendship begins? Ruby puts it very well when she says: “People feel like they know you and they feel like they have a right to be friends with you.”
While Ruby doesn’t share a huge amount of her life on her channel, Emily says that’s basically the vibe of hers: “I am friends with everyone watching because it is a very small audience.” She adds, however, that “there are occasions when it is weird where someone has kind of assumed friendship with you because they do know you a lot better than you know them”.
It has to be stressed that this doesn’t mean friendship is impossible, just that it “has to be organic”. A few Twitter interactions and commenting on every video doesn’t make a friendship. There has to be an equal-sided conversation, or someone may hold a different view of whether or not it really is a friendship.
While larger creators face this issue on a much bigger scale, with fans following them on social media (and following magazines that report on them!) as well as seeing them at meet-and-greets, this also creates a far more obvious divide between themselves and their audience than with small creators. As Ruby observes, “There’s kind of that established thing of like, […] they know they’re a viewer”.
There are a lot of intricacies around this topic, but a lot of it can be tied up with Emily’s closing statement: “It’s not a problem that you want to be friends with someone. I think friendship is amazing and that’s definitely something to encourage. It’s just about working out how we can define these boundaries so that it’s not an awkward experience for anyone.”