***Disclaimer: these people are not real, but their general opinions are based off of real students***
Leslie: Hi everyone. First of all, welcome, and thank you for participating in this discussion. I’d like to start off by asking who all of your favorite YouTubers are.
Maggie: I enjoy watching John Fish. He is a student at Harvard who studies computer science and psychology. Many of his videos focus on becoming more productive and growing in our extracurriculars that will, hopefully, translate to future careers.
Leslie: That’s wonderful. Has a YouTuber, like John Fish, inspired you to try something that they have suggested in one of their videos?
Maggie: Yes, absolutely. One of his most popular videos titled “Reading a Book a Week is Changing My Life” inspired me to read everyday, and so far I’ve been reading for two months, nearly everyday.
Leslie: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. Anyone else have people that they watch regularly?
Hannah: One of my favorite YouTubers is David Dobrik.
Lizzy: I don’t really like David Dobrik, he seems to be just throwing his money around on stupid challenges and stuff like that.
Hannah: I mean it’s just for entertainment.
Leslie: Do you think that certain YouTubers that gain a large following and then become more affluent, are less relatable?
Maggie: Yeah, I think so. Like I used to enjoy watching Emma Chamberlain and Haley Pham, but they become increasingly irritating because they portrayed themselves as being these “relatable teen girls,” but in reality, they’re just going on vacations every week and buying really expensive clothes.
Leslie: How do they afford these expenses?
Lizzy: They get sponsorships, like from Hollister and Vogue.
Leslie: Do you like that these sponsorships give a sort of structure to their videos? Because their video is essentially one huge advertisement.
Lizzy: Yeah, I like how their video is more structured when they have a sponsor. Even though it’s more like a business, I feel like it’s more focused, rather than just random content.
Hannah: I think the sponsorships and advertisements are just annoying. I’d rather see YouTubers do crazy, stupid shit, then flash around their expensive cars and clothes.
Maggie: I don’t understand how these YouTubers are our age and have so much money. They’re no longer doing things that are fun to watch.
Leslie: And what kind of things do they do that you enjoy to watch?
Maggie: I guess like vlogging and just talking about their daily problems. But now they just go on and on about like what apartment they want to buy and what next thing should spend their money on. That’s why I stopped watching videos like that.
Leslie: Do you think YouTubers, like Emma Chamberlain, have abandoned their original audience for a more profitable target, age group?
Lizzy: I think so yeah. I mean, they’re their own brand and business, and the more people that they can influence, the more money they make.
Hannah: But I think there is a difference between a YouTuber like Emma Chamberlain and Jeffree Star. Emma gets sponsors and just makes vlogs about herself going to cool places, and that is her business. But Jeffree Star makes YouTube videos, but that isn’t the only thing that he has, he also has a cosmetics business.
Maggie: Yeah, I agree with Hannah. Their content isn’t as organic because they’re being forced to do a certain activity for a certain company, and they get paid to do it.
Lizzy: That’s what makes their videos more interesting though. I think that they have to become more creative with their videos to incorporate the sponsor into their video.
Hannah: But that’s not why we subscribed to them in the first place.
Maggie: Yeah, I just wanted to watch people like me do everyday things and I enjoyed watching people that were relatable.
Leslie: What audience do you think YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain are trying to target?
Hannah: I mean she use to not really have a target audience. She just recorded herself going to the gym and getting coffee, but I think now, her audience is geared towards middle schoolers who are easily influenced, and could even look up to Emma as a role model, because she’s doing cool things, like traveling to New York and Paris.
Lizzy: But that’s just part of their business. YouTube is now considered a real job by the YouTubers themselves, and even by their subscribers.
Maggie: Having these brand deals and traveling almost every weekend for a company seems excessive, especially for a teenager who literally has no other skills other than editing videos and social media smarts.
Leslie: Do you think that YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain and Haley Pham are declining in their influence or are they gaining more traction as more businesses get involved with their YouTube channel?
Hannah: They’re gaining more money and “stardom” as they get involved with larger brands, but I think they’ve lost a lot of their original viewers, and those who continue watching are probably just hoping that the content will get better.
Maggie: YouTubers are no longer considered “normal, relatable people” and no people see them as almost celebrities.
Lizzy: I see what you guys are saying, but that’s sort of just how YouTube works nowadays. People do everyday stuff, somehow get popular because of it, and then they go on to partner with companies to create and promote something even larger than themselves.
Hannah: I mean YouTubers can also refuse to accept these brand deals and sponsorships, and just not make YouTube as their only source of income.
Maggie: I think that YouTubers can still make fun videos, but also have lives outside of YouTube. Like Emma Chamberlain and Haley Pham have made YouTube their life, which obviously isn’t relatable to everyone. The YouTubers that are more respectable and enjoyable to watch are the ones that do things outside of YouTube and set realistic goals and have struggles that people can relate to.
Leslie: You guys have made some really great points here about the evolution of the YouTube community and the type of culture that is created among YouTubers. Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for today, thank you for sharing your opinions about YouTubers!