Last week, Zoe Sugg (Zoella) received negative press, all kick-started by the price of her branded advent calendar. The controversy continued when people found tweets from her past wherein she expressed problematic and, in some instances, offensive views.
This week, Jack Maynard has been removed from the 'I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!' camp for the very same reason; and yet, personalities such as Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan who consistently express problematic opinions online continue to appear as TV regulars.
Why are online creators judged so differently?
Content creators have garnered success by making accessible videos that could be made by anyone and everyone since the mid-2000s. Communities grew out of a feeling of relatability and accessibility, and now the very thing that made them so successful is one of the biggest reasons for their negative attention. Those with followers in the millions are experiencing what it's like to have mainstream celebrity status, but without the protection of brands, corporations, publicists and other big teams surrounding them. It's easier to judge and express negative opinions to these ‘real life’ influencers who have been letting us into their homes and lives every day. And even more so for audiences who are still adjusting their success.
As an agency, it is important to have an ever-evolving process and partnerships with creators and agents. At Think Jam, any influencers we work with are thoroughly researched to ensure they are an appropriate fit for the campaign, and similarly, that the proposed activity would fit nicely into the content on their channel. In addition, it is important to research creator background, keep records of past experiences and include a ‘morals clause’ in influencer contracts for paid content creation.
Where is the line?
Zoella tweeted an apology and the YouTube community rallied round to support her, reminding us all that it's important to remember that we are all ever-evolving, imperfect human beings.
And isn't that why people started watching and enjoying YouTube creators in the first place?
The YouTube community is still very much alive, beautifully varied and here to stay. Platform changes, branded content and the wider YouTube culture are all hot topics, as demonstrated in Caspar Lee's latest video which highlights the importance of celebrating the successes the platform has been able to provide people with.
This platform will keep growing and evolving as fast as the creators do. It will always be an exciting wilderness for brands and agencies to tap into for new campaigns and projects, as the understanding around influencer marketing deepens and expands.
Amy Reed is social media and influencer executive at Think Jam.