As thousands of YouTubers meet in Cologne for Videodays, we found out how to become one. Berlin's YouTube Space director Mounira Latrache explains how she launches stars - and stops online bullying.
Some 15,000 YouTube fans are expected to attend the Videodays event in Cologne this weekend, the largest YouTube community event in Europe. Among the participants are newcomers on the scene, some of whom have learned the tricks of the trade at the YouTube Space in Berlin.
Mounira Latrache (pictured above) heads up the training program, which just opened last year. She told DW how important it is to support YouTubers' own ideas.
DW: YouTube Spaces are available in nine cities, including Tokyo, New York, Sao Paulo, Toronto and Mumbai. What exactly is a YouTube Space?
Mounira Latrache: A YouTube Space is a launch pad for new YouTubers and a place for them to learn new things. We offer workshops on how to easily and cheaply produce videos, and on how to be successful on YouTube. We show them how to develop a strategy for their channel and help them with video production.
You can book studio sets in the space and film in the room. Production specialists help the participants with lighting and camera settings. The YouTube Space is also a place where YouTubers can meet and network.
Do you teach the YouTubers what content can be successful?
That's exactly what we try not to do. Instead, we help the YouTubers implement their own ideas. In the past few years, we've come to realize that this is the secret to success. Young people often have the better ideas and know what works and what their own community - their fans and friends - want. Each channel has a different audience and needs to be treated differently.
A lot of YouTube vocabulary is borrowed from English. Do many of the ideas come from the US? Or do special things also come from the German YouTube scene?
The nice thing is that there's a unique community in every country, which is very country-specific. And Germany already has a very unique community. Here, for example, everyone is well networked. That's not the case in every country. YouTubers in Germany have well-established connections with each other, and they do lots of community activities together, like tours with the "gang." [Eds.: YouTubers that film videos together and link to each other's channels]. But of course there are also trends that come from other countries and influence Germany.
Are there also trends that start in Germany?
Yes, like LeFloid with his news format. He's influenced quite a lot of new channels that have tried out similar formats, because he has a whole new way of talking about news. At the beginning, people said it wouldn't work because it didn't have a journalistic foundation. But he reaches a particular target group.
His idea is, I'm going to tell you what bothers me and then I want to talk with you about it and you tell me what you don't like. It's a format that many have copied. He refers to the comments that are left and includes them in his next video, so the inspiration goes two ways.
When you teach young people about YouTube, do you feel a sense of responsibility? They won't all get thumbs-ups or positive comments.
That's true. The community is very honest and that can be really hard sometimes. We talk a lot about that with the YouTubers. It's a difficult thing to learn, but they have to go through it. We've also been involved in an anti-bullying campaign for years, and teach people to be respectful and that online bullying is not OK.
Of course, you can erase comments from your own channel. But we see that YouTubers are often open about that. They often leave them there and the community responds with support. Fans will respond to hate comments with things like, "What do you think you're doing here?" It supports our campaign when we all say it's not OK. Then the people get shy about posting those things and this dynamic proves that something can be done against bullying.
We also work together with schools. We do workshops and train the kids on media competence. Parents and teachers should speak openly about dealing with bullying and what it means to say offensive things online. That's important, so that the students develop sensitivity for the scope a public insult can take. I think talking openly about this issue is the most important thing.