Last night, at the the freshly minted Big Frame offices, YouTuber Kain Carter (HotDamnIRock) held a live streaming Q&A session for more than 30 of his fans. Surrounded by a mix of young and old, vloggers and non-vloggers, Carter took any and all questions regardless of their raunchiness, which there was much of.
Crammed together in a studio room, a fan asked Carter how someone becomes a YouTube celebrity, and much to the YouTuber’s credit, where a joke could have easily landed, Carter instead took a much more honest approach. “Just be yourself, be yourself, be yourself,” Carter explained to the gathered audience.
Being yourself, no matter how cliched or tired the ideal would seem to some, was the anchoring theme of the night. Under the scrutiny of dozens of cameras pointed in his face, Carter wasn’t putting on a show. It was the exact opposite actually: a totally honest, humble guy hanging out with his fans.
It was hard not to be charmed by Carter in that moment; here was someone who claimed to be all about his fans actually going to the trouble of flying from Baltimore to California just to meet followers face to face. Carter’s openness put into perspective just how important it is for YouTubers to maintain that personal connection originally built through daily vlogging.
It’s been said a thousand times and will be said a thousand times more, but YouTubers aren’t movie stars. And that’s what people love, this idea that you could grab a beer or play “Minecraft” with these vloggers and it would be like seeing an old friend. So why aren’t more YouTubers grabbing beers and playing games?
It seems, with YouTube’s top talent at least, that a barrier has been put in place putting space between their fans and themselves. Of course, watching Smosh being swarmed at VidCon last year reaffirmed that those barriers, physical in this case, are sometimes a good idea.
However, YouTube careers have been built on this idea of a personal connection between fans and vloggers. That connection shouldn’t end as soon as recording stops; it should reach beyond just cons and into more personal-feeling affairs like Carter’s Q&A at Big Frame.
Fan meetups and Q&A sessions benefit the YouTuber as well. In the case of the Carter event last night, nearly every fan in attendance was tweeting, posting and vlogging about it. These are fans with a devotion so fervent that it will spread to their followers and so on. The occasional tweet or Facebook post isn’t cutting it in the lightning-paced world of YouTube anymore.
YouTubers needs to stick together as a community, one that supports not only each other and their networks but also the fans who supported them and elevated them to digital stardom. So, let’s take a lesson from Carter and put the personal touch back into YouTube.
For more about Big Frame and other YouTube networks, check out: