I stood there in the middle of the enormous hall of the World Trade Center surrounded by people born during the year 1998 to 2006 (more or less). The lights began to dim which made everyone shriek in anticipation. I tried my best to move out of the way from all the stampeding kids that were trying to get to the stage as close as they could. I could hear the bouncers yell, “Wala pong tatakbo!” I don’t think they paid much attention to them though.
They were screaming their lungs out. Some were in tears while they held their phones up in the air, recording the scenes on stage: Gab Valenciano with his famous dance moves, AJ Rafael singing his original compositions, Mikey Bustos in his SuperPinoyBoy costume, Lloyd Cadena blurting out his comedic antiques, Tanner Patrick flashing his boy-next-door smile while strumming his guitar.
It was the 2016 YouTube Fanfest, an event organized by Google last May 27 where they gathered YouTubers from all corners of the globe, brought them to Manila for a week to meet and interact in real life with their fans.
What exactly is a YouTuber?
YouTubers are online personalities that create different kinds of videos which they then upload on their YouTube channel. They are also known as content creators. These videos vary from song covers, dance videos, make-up tutorial videos, video blogs or V-logs, etc.
A lot of these YouTubers have amassed more than a million subscribers on their YouTube channel. Most of which are very loyal to their channel as they eagerly anticipate each update or upload. Because of this loyalty, their videos can receive an average of a million views organically. No paid media needed.
YouTube Fanfest began last 2014 in Singapore. But how did it end up on the shores of the Philippines?
Simple: TRENDING TOPIC.
Local fans of these YouTubers decided to tweet #BringYouTuberstoManila incessantly until it became a trending topic on Twitter.
It was a success.
Because last 2015, Filipino fans finally got to meet some of their favorite YouTubers during the first ever YouTube Fanfest in the Philippines.
YouTube Fanfest 2016
The line-up for this year included a mix of different kinds of YouTubers. From artists, to vloggers, to make-up gurus.
These international YouTubers got to meet up-and-coming local YouTubers for workshops and creative sessions and held meet and greets for their fans who have been watching them religiously on their YouTube channel.
All these YouTubers both local and international bring with them a very loyal fan base that support and trust these online sensations.
YouTubers are Gen Zs BFFs
“Is anyone here born during the year 2006?” The host asked. A couple of hands in the middle of the crowd shot up.
“Who here is 15-16 years old?” The host asked again. Almost everyone’s hands were up in the air.
According to Variety.Com, online stars have been growing in popularity among teenagers. The likes of KSI and NigaHiga have become more influential with Gen Zs than that of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
When asked why they love these YouTubers? It’s because they don’t feel like they are celebrities. To these Gen Zs, theses YouTubers they watch and follow daily are their friends.
Connor Franta, this year’s biggest star in the YouTube Fanfest, creates vlogs about his daily life and experiences, most of which are very personal that his audience can relate to and presented in a very entertaining and artistic manner.
These YouTubers create content that are not only entertaining but they also create authentic materials and are able to show their authentic selves.It’s that authenticity and ability to be approachable that have become the key to the huge success and influence of these Youtubers. Now, it is their voice and opinion that matters to this online generation.
A New Era of Celebrities
Seeing each YouTuber go on stage during YouTube Fanfest was like getting a glimpse to the future of Philippine entertainment.
In fact, in other parts of the world, YouTubers have become huge celebrities that they have already transcended the realm of YouTube. The likes of Michelle Pham and Zoella, make-up gurus on YouTube, have created their own line of make-up in collaboration with big brands like MAC Cosmetics and L’Oreal. Tyler Oakley, because of his successful YouTube channel, he’s become one of the most influential faces of the LGBT community through his books, his tour, and his guest appearances on live television. YouTube artists like Boyce Avenue and Tyler Ward started as cover artists posting on YouTube and now have gone on to selling records and concert tickets.
It should not come as a shock to see one day these local YouTubers here in the Philippines would also be experiencing that same success and having a bigger sphere of influence.