YouTube promotes the power of YOU, the individual, to create and upload videos to an audience that can potentially reach anyone with an internet connection. Created in 2005, YouTube has evolved into a major platform, attracting over 1 billion unique users per month, and has had significant audience growth with the rising popularity of “YouTubers.”
While there’s no official definition for a “YouTuber” and anyone who creates content on the platform could refer to themselves as such, the term is typically utilized when referring to a content creator attached to an internet personality, who interacts with his/her audience on a variety of levels. The content produced depends on the YouTuber, and can including a variety of subjects including comedy, personal anecdotes, rants, interviews, discussions, “how tos,” advice, narrative, “tag” videos, collaborations with other YouTubers, and often a combination of these. Within the past year alone, the popularity of Youtube has flourished, with individual YouTubers hitting subscribers in the hundred thousands and millions.
An example of someone considered a YouTuber is 28-year-old comedian/actress, Grace Helbig, known by her channel name, dailygrace (Daily Grace). Started in 2010, Daily Grace has produced over 700 videos to a growing audience of 2.1 million subscribers. She produces 5 videos per week, with a specific theme for each day including Tuesday’s “Commenting on Comments” and Friday’s “Sexy Friday.” There’s freedom in her structure, allowing audience interaction to directly provide the specific ideas and content in her videos.
*Daily Grace “Grace Facing”
*Daily Grace’s YouTube banner header
Because YouTubers like Daily Grace rely on an active audience, they extend their online personality across other websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. This is critical because it allows multiple ways for YouTubers to interact with their audience, which has the power to directly influence the channel’s content. After posing a question or asking what she should discuss in her video, on her social media account, she screen shots the direct comments, sometimes including the viewer’s username and photo, which allows them to be featured in the video.
She also draws attention to individual viewers with “New Viewser Alert,” in which she once again screenshots a viewer’s comment and welcomes them to the “Daily Grace Family” by making a cheesy joke or pun about their username and saying, “You’ve been hazed!”
While many YouTubers rely on genuine interactivity between viewers and themselves to produce content, like Daily Grace, there’s also a heightened sense of interactivity between viewer and content creator, even if it is not there. With a YouTuber, his/her internet personality is part of the content, and viewers often watch because they feel as if they actually know the YouTuber. Most YouTubers film videos in their bedroom, inviting their audience, the public, into their home. The viewers themselves often watch these videos on a computer or a laptop in their home or bedroom. The combination of the YouTuber’s filming space and the viewer’s viewing space, both private areas, can create a higher sense of interactivity and intimacy between strangers. YouTubers also often introduce and film videos with their parents, siblings, or friends, inviting real people from their personal lives in their video, heightening this sense of knowing and interaction between the viewer and YouTuber.
*Daily Grace filming a video with her Mom and brother, Tim
Also, YouTubers frequently interact with other YouTubers to produce new content, and for active and dedicated viewers, it can be like taking all of your favorite characters from different books, films, etc. and watching them interact and produce new content. On Mamrie Hart’s channel, (YouDeserveADrink) Grace and Mamrie have “Home Buddies” streams, in which they stream a film, talk, and drink alcohol during the film’s screening. The viewer is expected to stream the film while simultaneously watching/listening to Grace and Mamrie’s stream, providing a sense of interaction between the viewer, Grace, and Mamrie, watching the film together even though the viewer is not directly interacting with Grace and Mamrie.
*Daily Grace collaborating with Tyler Oakley (tyleroakley), Mamrie Hart (YouDeserveADrink), and Hannah Hart (MyHarto)
*Daily Grace and Mamrie during Home Buddies Streaming
Even though a viewer may feel like he/she knows Daily Grace or any other YouTuber, they interact with her through “Daily Grace,” the internet personality and online presence that extends across social media. YouTubers and their channels can also be thought of as a digital identity, which could either be an “extension” or “mask” of his/her personality as Stacey M. Koosel points out in her article, “Digital Identity: The Private and Public Paradox.” Regardless, viewers are keen to interact with YouTubers, either to shape the content or to have a real or perceived sense of interaction with the creator.
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All images taken from Google and Daily Grace’s videos.
Daily Grace’s YouTube channel <http://www.youtube.com/user/dailygrace>
Koosel, Stacey M. “Digital Identity: The Private and Public Paradox.” [CP]