Do you consistently listen to the same podcast every week because you like the hosts?
Do you check your YouTube subscription box daily in hopes of seeing a new video pop up from your favorite YouTuber?
Is there an influencer you follow on every social media platform?
Chances are if you have a smart device and an internet connection, you may consistently support content from the same people, and develop a kind of admiration for them over time.
Content creators are everywhere on the internet, each with their own communities and audiences personal to them. Technically, I’m a content creator as is every other author on Medium. You might consistently read works from the same handful of writers.
Admiring public figures isn’t new. Although content creators have come to be a form of “fame” in more recent years unlike the more conventional methods of television or film, they are no exception to this admiration.
Oftentimes, we can follow these people and their life for so long that they start to feel like they are another person in our life or even a friend.
I happened to be one of the many people around the world mourning the absence of Jenna Marbles from her popular YouTube channel. I watched her videos religiously for over a decade.
But why is that? Why is a total stranger, that I otherwise never would have met if it wasn’t for technology feel like someone who is a friend? Well, let’s talk about it.
You Put Each Other in Your Schedules
Many content creators run on a tight schedule. Depending on the type of content they produce, it’s essential to block off time in their weekly schedule to prep and upload their work for their audience.
If it’s someone making YouTube videos, they will take time to plan their next video, film it, edit it, and upload it. With Medium, on the other hand, writers will take the time to research a topic, write multiple drafts, edit their writing, and finally publish it or send it in for approval.
This is the indirect way that content creators are making time for you. While they (hopefully) have a passion for the content they create, it is for the audience’s enjoyment at the end of the day. The long hours of writing, producing, editing is all done to make the audience’s experience as excellent as possible.
These creators make time for you as you do for them, anything mutual over a long period of time is bound to make you feel some kind of connection. Especially considering you know behind the scenes the media you’re consuming was made by other people.
They’re Completely Vulnerable
Regardless of where and what a content creator is making, a necessity to build an audience is you need to be vulnerable. Putting yourself and/or your work out publicly to the world is intimidating.
You are putting yourself out on a silver platter for strangers to criticize you as they see fit and that takes thick skin. While being friends with someone may not be as high stakes or messy, you still need to be vulnerable to build stronger friendships.
While it depends on personal preference, some content creators openly share and talk about their lives and personal experiences with their audience to come off as being more relatable and down-to-earth. I know a lot of my writing includes my personal experiences to give it its own spin.
They Often Show Their Appreciation For Their Audience
Unlike other forms of media such as film and television, online content creators can break down the fourth wall by openly interacting with their audience.
These engagements can be something small like game streamers talking back to a message in a Twitch chatbox to YouTubers making videos opening packages fans sent to their P.O. box.
When it comes to interactions, most television and movies are untouchable to the audience outside of merely being spectators. You can write emails and letters into the networks that make the content you like, but you rarely get any kind of response back.
On the other hand, content creators thrive off of audience engagement to generate more content. Medium subscribers can ask their favorite writers to write about a certain topic. YouTubers can answer questions from their viewers. Podcast hosts can invite guests on the show requested by listeners. What’s even better is this is only a small fraction of the possibilities.
It’s no surprise you can feel as if you’re building a “friendship” with a content creator you closely follow online. The relationship they can potentially build with their audience shares many similar elements a traditional friendship has.
The intentions behind most content creators are not as cut-and-dry as making content and sharing it with an audience. Rather, I’ve seen many writers, YouTubers, and other people with platforms that built their audience for the sole purpose of building their own community. They want to make something bigger than themself.
What many creators are doing online is one of the greatest highlights of social media and the internet. Content creators (especially ones that have a specific niche) bring together people of similar interests to discuss, collaborate, and build upon new ideas together.
Content creators are building small cities around us online as we speak, and it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for their grit and persistence holding us all together.