🕙 3 min read
My job takes me to some strange places on the internet. From trying to find videos of teens balancing sweets on their face, to tracking down believable looking shots of a Dad smelling laundry, it’s unsurprising I frequently find myself on the weird side of YouTube.
My job also takes me to plenty of events. This weekend I found myself at ‘Summer in the city; ‘The UK’S Online Video Festival’. Essentially, it’s the weird and magical side of YouTube but in real life, in the large factory like hangers of London’s Excel Centre.
I headed down to rep Vidsy, expecting to be attending another overly expensive corporate innovation gig. Instead, I was met with a wall of brightly coloured, awkward looking pore-teens, hyped up on digital heroin and on the hunt for ‘influencers’.
Created by YouTube, this event is a giant fan club for vloggers and gamers. There are talks, fairground rides and stalls selling viral icon jewellery. Whilst initially like….what the fuck is this? What is going on? I soon realized I’m just not in the know when it comes to YouTube culture at all. So, I explored.
Here are my 5 things I learned at Summer in The City 2017.
#1 I’m really old for YouTube
I would have said most vlog stars were around my age (because I’m self-centered 💁). I presumed that to be good you need a little money and a few years behind you. No No. These stars are young. Take for example beauty vlogger Eve Bennett. She is just 17. But don’t underestimate this. These guys are more successful brand managers than most I’ve come across in the professional world. Eve,17, manages her content schedule, her topic spread, edits and shoots her stories, designs overlays and creates an outreach fan program.
Ambitious, learn-by-doing young creatives are going to be in the workforce shaping organizations very very soon.
#2 LGBTQ and diversity matters
What struck me as soon as I walked in was the amount of rainbow flags everywhere. Badges on backpacks, t-shirts, and stickers. For teens and pre-teens, LGBTQ and diversity is important. The rules of boy/girl, gay/straight do not apply and this has bred a new generation of gender identity influencers. Some big names to shout out are Jake Edwards (21), Miles McKenna (21) and Looking for Lewys (17). Check them out to tap into the young LGBTQ agenda.
#3 They are legit pop stars
Walking around feeling confused and old, I turned a corner to see a merch stand. A full on, massive, metal crowd control surrounded, merch stand. You see these are gigs and festivals but at SITC they have racks upon racks on t-shirts, totes, and posters showing the successful bloggers faces and key phrases. This blew my mind a little.
#4 Sharing handles is the norm
My role was to sign up talented creators to our video network, this meant chatting to a lot of people. After 30 seconds of chatting to two young guys, one asked for Instagram handle (which is @lydsie btw you should follow me). Perplexed whether this 18-year-old was trying to chirps me I gave him my handle name. Later, I noticed teens would walk by each other, barely say ‘Hi’ and be exchanging Instagram and Snap handles. This is just the norm.
Hands up anyone who remembers trying to write down your long AF email so your new friend could MSN you before your mum turned the internet off 🙋
#5 They are multi-specialists
Whilst vloggers and bloggers started out specialized and focused, this next generation doesn’t feel obliged to stick to what they know. They flit from one topic to another, all fitting in under their curated brand, which is themselves. They cross platform from Insta, to YouTube to Snapchat and keep their audiences engaging at every step. The next generation of stars are masters of all platforms and challengers of all topics.
Part of me really wishes I was a little younger / has been a bit more forward thinking with new media. The life of an influencer looks pretty damn good. But, I can’t help wondering how these young lives will play out. If they do everything for likes and clicks, what will their psyche look like in 10 years? A little curious about this too? Let me know your thoughts.