YouTube South Africa
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The Bigger YouTube South Africa Conversation we’re not Having

Can You Make Money From YouTube in South Africa?

YouTube’s interest for South African creators has been reignited in the last few years. With the rise of “social media influencers” as a marketing medium around the world, and the rise of YouTube personalities like Casey Neistat or PewDiePie becoming cultural icons for the hard working guy on the street.

It would make sense that any savvy South African would want to attempt the same. In recent weeks, this conversation of “Making money on YouTube” has become more and more prevalent on social media, with quite a few larger names and up-and-coming creators throwing their thoughts in the ring!

Samantha Wright talks about developing her business around YouTube and social channels in her latest story: “4 Ways to make money from your YouTube Channel“, so does Carla Harris, aka: Social Bard on her video: “Doing YouTube Full time while being a South African YouTuber, possible?“, who speaks about the specifics of making money on YouTube in great detail!

I’m bringing up these topics to give you some context on recent engagement between two large South African Creators, and some aspects this industry that it seems so many of us forget. It all started with a difference of opinion on using YouTube for a living.

Renaldo Gouws vs Sibu Mpanza:

This entire conversation has become a little complicated over the past week (*I wish I made a daily YouTube talk show*), There isn’t room for opinions here, so, to be true to everyone involved, I’m going to throw out the facts and let you lovely people decide.

3 April 2017: Renaldo Gouws, a Cape Town based, South African YouTuber published a video with the title: “Being a South African YouTuber“.

In the video, Gouws talks about his opinions on the South African YouTube community, and how it troubles him that so many are leaving their day-to-day employment or schooling (this is important) to pursue YouTube full time.

Gouws’s video then makes a point about “Being a South African YouTuber, pretty much sucks”. He goes on to talk about the lack of support and communication he and other YouTubers have received from Google and YouTube South Africa, and how little is being done to build the talent pool in South Africa.

The second part of the video focuses on his concern, that a large amount of small YouTube channels claiming that they are earning a living just from their channels, saying also that: “They are talking absolute bullshit”.

The remainder of the video Gouws mentions how some YouTuber’s views to subscriber ratio not fully lining up, hinting at fake followings or fake views from some South African YouTubers, further, he mentions the facade that some “social media celebrities” portray to work with/get sponsored by big brands.

But check out the video here, no need to read my quick synopsis:

4 April, 7:45AM, after the above Video was published: Sibu Mpanza, a Cape Town based, South African YouTuber, Tweeted the following thread, which Gouws eventually engaged with.

In the Twitter Thread, Mpanza engages with his followers around the video that he has recently commented on (Up until this point there has still been no link or mention of the video specifically)

This kind of Twitter conversation went on until late on 4 April and devolved into an all out and very public Twitter battle between Sibu and Renaldo. The engagement included a number or professionally insulting jabs.

The argument reached another level when Gouws tweeted to Takealot South Africa and Jameson South Africa, two brands that Mpanza has publicly claimed to be a representative of, about the quality of Brand Ambassador the brands are using. Both brands’ responded denouncing Mpanza’s association to them.

Gouws eventually published a follow up YouTube video about the entire Twitter War, and to attempt to clarify the initial intention of his original video that caused the social uproar. That video was published on 4 April 2017: “Dear Sibu Mpanza…. I reached out to both Renaldo Gouws and Sibu Mpanza for comment, to date Mpanza has not responded with comment.

5 April 2017: By the following morning Twitter was trending under the banner of: #WeStandWithSibu, a hashtag started the day before. The conversation was commented on by Citizen Connect writer: : “The story behind: #WeStandWithSibu“. The story covers most of what I’ve mentioned here, but goes into more details around what got everyone so angry, people claiming that Gouws was costing Mpanza his livelihood. Here’s an extract from that story:

Twitter was ablaze and started the hashtag #WeStandWithSibu, claiming that Renaldo was attacking Sibu’s livelihood and speaking from privilege because of his race. Everyone jumped on this train, but Gouws refused to engage with the hype, saying that his video was not aimed at Sibu, but since Sibu decided to come for him, he did a little digging and found that he had lied about being an ambassador.

When Jameson was asked about the whole situation, Jameson tweeted that Sibu was in fact not the brand ambassador, he was only used for a specific campaign, just as Takealot did, and both brands distanced themselves. At this sudden revelation, Twitter began to question Sibu, asking if he ever really was the ambassador and that they wanted the receipts in the form of the contracts that he had signed, but dololo answer.

Since the “truth” about whether or not Sibu was the brand ambassador was questionable, there was a small number of people who decided to take to Twitter and come for everyone that may have misinterpreted the entire situation.

From this conversation, being a part of the active YouTube and Twitter communities myself, the groups and forums called for a community response on Twitter, feeling it our responsibility to engage in the conversation to provide the facts in the conversation rather than let it burn the industry down as a whole.

Which brings me to the point of this entire saga.

We Have A Responsibility:

Time for my own point of view. The saga between Renaldo Gouws and Sibu Mpanza, wasn’t good for anyone. I have a lot of opinions about the meat of the conversation and I don’t always agree with what either Gouws or Mpanza say on YouTube or any other social platform, what I have come to realise is that it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is the community of Creators in South Africa and the brands that trust and work with them.

When something like the above public spat happens so widely, and two influencers go at each other around such prickly topics, there is bound to be some hurt, for what ever their reasoning though, it casts a poorer light on the community as a whole. (A simple strongly worded email my have had a better outcome)

Yes, I think there are positive lessons here: brands and agencies should investigate their Brand Ambassadors and representatives better, instead of giving the job to “the new intern”, Creators need to provide better numbers and information to those brands and agencies to create better relationships that will survive any kind of human error (and those errors will happen, I mean, we’re human!).

What happens more times than not, is that “Influencers”, and I use that term lightly, forget that they not only speak for themselves and their brand, but the community as a whole. When large or popular personalities crap on a brand, fight with a user, argue with a fellow Creator publicly, it should make brands pause about where their ad money goes, who represents them. Most brands don’t mind (that’s totally cool, that can work if it’s your style), some do, and that next brand you pitch to could think twice about giving you their latest product/service/whatever for review in favour of a small Facebook Advert.

As Creators, we, big and small, top 1000 or top 10, need to remember that what happens to one, may effect all of us. The Gouws/Mpanza conversation is just an example of the reality we live in where the entire YouTube South Africa community felt chills running down their arm, and took it upon themselves to engage in a conversation to save the face of all creators.

I feel that a situation like this could have been easily avoided before, if at all, going public. But now that it has I ask us all to remind ourselves, that we have a responsibility to ourselves, our brands and our communities when engaging in public conversations or creating content.

We have the responsibility.

Though, guys, this is my opinion, I’d love to know what you think about the current Gouws/Mpanza Conversation and what you think about the role and responsibility of Creators in South Africa. Let me know in the comments, or Tweet us! 

See you later, have fun and kick ass!

What do you think?

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Written by Brett Magill


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