Alfie Deyes and Marcus Butler, two of the world’s most popular professional YouTubers arrived in Singapore for Digital Matters conference at 5am in the morning, only to be welcomed by over 300 fans at Changi Airport. It was a moment that stunned the down to earth stars who named it one of the most surreal moments of their life.
Deyes, who goes by the name of Pointless Blog and Butler are best friends who have amassed over 4 million subscribers on their main YouTube channels apiece which mostly consist of humorous, feel-good videos which are effortlessly relatable, a key point where their popularity lies.
It being the first time the pair had visited Singapore, it was an eye-opening experience for the boys who then realised the magnitude of their global impact.
“You see your numbers online-million, 2 million, 15 million views…but you don’t visualise that and once you think this is only 300 people times that by thousands and thousands (of people who watch your videos)…” says Butler, trailing off.
And indeed, Branded’s Superfan Friday segment of their Digital Matters event featuring the two YouTubers was a terrific success which fulfilled many a fan’s wishes while demonstrating to the professionals the true power of a fan.
Almost every other second of the fanmeet was chock-full of adolescent screams, ones that I remember only too well myself. However after four hours of listening to them gasping and crying and screaming, I had had more than enough. Despite this, the two YouTubers nevertheless had nothing but praise for all their fans around the world.
“I think you have to remember that some of these people today, like some of the girls earlier –people say its weird, that these viewers shouldn’t be screaming and shouting when they see you but some of these people have been watching me for five years and I’ve flown the other side of the world-I’d be excited if I was watching someone for five years…” exclaimed Deyes, ever-protective of his fans.
And yes, masses of screaming fans over a couple of blokes who film silly videos may sound ridiculous to the more traditional of us (myself included), but Deyes and Butler may have some inside info that will change your mind.
Butler admit spending up to 10-12 hours per day editing and creating videos as well as attending to many of the other parts of the process which are totally forgotten about due to the rapidness of content that they both offer on YouTube.
“It’s just the amount of hard work behind the scenes and meeting that we do and talks like this educating lots of people and stuff, it’s all not seen. You just watch a video and think “Oh they just messed about the whole day I can do that” but there’s so much stuff behind the scenes that people don’t see”explains Deyes.
When asked if there was a specific set of skills that YouTubers needed, Deyes maintained that although there really wasn’t, it does take a certain kind of person to become successful as a YouTuber.
“I think YouTubers are people who have been able to turn it into their full-time job; (and are) unbelievably driven and passionate and it looks like-and we are to some extent-just making silly little videos at home…but there’s six years of work behind it…when everyone was revising in college, I was making YouTube videos instead.”
And it is clear to see that these boys certainly do have a passion for what they do, leading me to realise where the worth of YouTube videos truly lie-in their authenticity.
Deyes maintains a positive message throughout his videos, something which he hopes will help to counteract the negative effects of internet trolls and bullying that have come about in recent years.
“I get so many comments about depression and self harm and stuff like that and I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I try to make my videos as positive and as inspiring and uplifting as possible. The aim of the videos…to take 15 minutes of someone’s day and make it positive or make them forget about what went on in their life for that 15 minutes then that’s worthwhile.”
Butler further emphasises the power of YouTube, shedding a light on the true power of the platform as not just a space for cute cat videos, but one that has the potential to create a social movement, as it has done many times albeit unnoticed. (Think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge)
“The generation we’ve grown up in are becoming so open minded about sexuality, race, political speech because of YouTube… it’s a new form of the future; it’s come in and it’s not going anywhere, it’s come to stay.”
The digital world is changing at a rapid rate; faster than one can even notice. In a blink of an eye, it has become the YouTube celebrities who are the real influencers, having a much more lasting impact on the younger generations than any Hollywood celebrity would, all from behind a small computer screen somewhere in their house. And if that’s not a reason to sit up and take notice, I don’t know what is.