The YouTube for Good panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2016. It featured Suli Breaks, Hannah Witton, Niki and Sammy Albon, and Beckie Brown.
The panel took place in Panel Room 3 and focussed on how creators can use their online influence to do good.
The panellists were first asked when they realised they had power on YouTube, and the general consensus was when their audiences began to affect them. For Hannah, she said that it was six months after starting her channel that she noticed that most of her audience was made up of young girls and young women.
She realised that, as someone comfortable talking about sex education, she could speak to them about that topic. For Beckie this happened when, through speaking about her trichotillomania, she found herself welcomed into a larger community.
The moderator then asked the creators how raising awareness for a cause themselves compared to working with a charity. Hannah shared that she found that, when working alone, she was unregulated and free to talk about her own personal experiences. However, she also discovered that it was effective to partner with organisations and charities: “They have so many more brains behind them”.
Niki and Sammy shared their experiences working with charities such as Stand Up to Cancer, and how mutually beneficial a partnership like this can be. Leading on from this, Beckie discussed the impact working with charities has on how creators engage with their audience. With a charity, they can receive support when tackling difficult issues with their audience and are able to signpost them to established organisations. However, she added that it can make the interaction less personal as a result.
The conversation moved on to how charities work with YouTubers. Many charities seem to want to but are unsure of how, with issues arising such as appearance fees, and balancing what the charity wants against what the creator wishes to make. Suli discussed how it can be difficult when “what the message or what the brand is about does not correlate with the content you create on the channel”. The panel discussed the importance of matching messages with their brand, in order to appeal to their audience and maximise engagement.
Accepting questions from the audience, the creators were asked about the ethics of YouTubers profiting from their efforts for charity. Hannah, Niki, and Sammy explained what creators do with adverts on their videos – most turn off adverts in charity-sponsored videos, through the charity’s request or their personal choice. They seek to balance how they can address these issues respectfully and in a way that will benefit people, rather than compromising their own morals. “You find a balance,” Suli said, “you do the good in time […] your actions snowball in time”, earning a round of applause from the audience.
At the end of the panel, the creators were asked for their advice on the subject. Overall, the panellists agreed that YouTube is a great platform for creating very personal bonds between the speaker and the audience. Hannah stated that it was important to “speak your truth” and to ask yourself: “What is it that you want to tell people and what do you want people to know?” Beckie also advised that “sometimes, we help people by being ourselves”.
Photos by Aria Mark.
Want more from Summer in the City 2016?
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