How Open Should You Be with Fans?
This topic is one that doesn’t get the level of attention it probably deserves. How open should you be with your fans? Even for celebrities and brands that involve the use of yourself or other people on camera frequently, it can be more beneficial to have a curated image than to give your fans full access to your real personality. There are a multitude of reasons why that is the case and in this article we’ll explain a bit more about WHY.
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You should get to know your fans, like really, get to know them and care about them. But don’t go overboard with your personal life. Maybe it’s part of your brand to make stuff up about yourself or tell as much of your real life as possible, but the negative aspects of sharing yourself completely on the internet are truly terrifying. The internet, while truly a limitless and amazing platform of free, open information, has just as much potential to be used for bad. There are plenty of examples in the digital age where talking about your personal life or beliefs, if that’s not the main focus of your content, can be a bad idea.
As told by Polygon, Jon Jafari’s voice acting was cut from the game Yooka Laylee, a spiritual successor to the cult classic game for N64 Banjo Kazooie, for his perceived racist remarks in a Twitch Livestream. JonTron, a gaming-review focused satire show on YouTube hosted by Jafari, continues to operate, but the negative stigma attached to him will probably never go away. While we don’t condone racism in any form, it’s important to know what’s going on with other creators as you’ll be held to the same standards as your peers. Here’s the full debate from Destiny’s Youtube.
While JonTron seemed to know he was making some mistakes in the debate, he was egged on at multiple points by the streamer Destiny (Steven Bonnell II). Regardless of Destiny’s debate style, this video and the resulting negative PR storm that came from the original livestream airing on Twitch, can certainly damage a brand. That is not to say that you can’t take drama or attention and spin it into a positive, but all PR is not good PR in the digital age. Nevertheless, JonTron still has over 3 million subscribers on youtube and is still doing fairly well for himself. This example should be enough to get you thinking about the right way to communicate with your fans. The last thing you would want to do is alienate your fanbase before it starts.
For brand integration, think about how much of yourself SHOULD be in the brand. Now do everything you can to keep it to that level of engagement. Far too often, Twitter rants and Facebook posts lead to someone’s suspension from a company. Google even recently fired engineer James Damore for what has now been called “The Google Manifesto.” If your brand doesn’t involve twitter rants and drama, don’t engage in it. You have very little to gain here. Being controversial can be profitable, certainly, but it’s more about your ability to manage that controversy and capitalize on being in the spotlight.
So get to know your fans and let them get to know you, but always keep part of yourself back. To give a fairly obtuse example: Maybe it’s profitable for your brand to have viewers think you’re a Yankees fan. It doesn’t actually matter to your brand that much if you actually like baseball or not, but if someone thinks you’re faking it, you lose a bit of integrity in their eyes. What if you just like wearing the hat and appreciate the logo design? Being honest about that fact could help you seem more relatable to your fans. There’s probably a diehard fan out there that will be annoyed by your choice, whatever it may be, but it’s just a hat. They aren’t going to be as upset over your choice of hat or your favorite teams (or lack thereof) as they will be about more sensitive topics. We all have diverse beliefs and while viewing content, most people would like to appreciate their favorite brands without having to know the minutia of personal details about someone.
One person who has made it his hallmark to give his opinion on different issues is Philip Defranco. You can give your own opinion about whether this helps or hurts him, but at the end of the day, he behaves in a respectable manner whether you agree with him or not. You can still be successful while giving all of yourself to your fans, but what does that leave you with for you? Not much. And while it can be beneficial to be controversial, being controversial all of the time is probably pretty draining. Just ask Keemstar.
Author’s Note: While a lot of YouTubers are mentioned in this article, it is not intended as the main focus. They merely provide opportunities to quickly explain some concepts that are better outlined with an example.