We Chat To Tiffany Ferguson About The Responsibilities That Come From Being An Influencer
The 24-year-old content creator has a lot to say about influencers, social issues and politics.
Hey Tiffany, so pleased to speak with you today! If you could briefly introduce yourself to our readers, please?
Hi! I’m Tiffany Ferguson, a 24-year-old, full-time content creator on YouTube. My main series is called Internet Analysis — I discuss social issues, pop culture, and media. I’m also in the final semester of my senior year, soon to graduate with a BA in Media Studies.
With COVID keeping us locked up, how have you found the last few months? Has it been a creative time for you and your channel?
The first few months of quarantine were really difficult. I felt extremely anxious and it was hard to focus on college coursework, let alone try to make entertaining videos. I wouldn’t say I’ve felt particularly inspired, but sometimes it does help to have the distraction of a big video project.
Where did the inspiration for internet analysis come from, or rather, when did you become passionate about issues relating to the media?
My first Internet Analysis video was accidental - I analyzed the rise of Joana Ceddia’s channel and compared her success to Emma Chamberlain’s. After that video, I made a video about how Vine influenced our generation. Those videos did well and I finally felt like I found a solid direction for my channel. I figured, I watch so much YouTube, I might as well create an outlet to discuss it all. I really fell in love when I found the rabbit hole of video essays and leftist commentary on YouTube. Being a media studies major (since I transferred to my current college) has obviously informed my videos and deepened my knowledge of issues related to media.
Do you think as a YouTuber/content creator it’s important to be aware of issues present in the media?
Definitely! I think it’s important for content creators to be self-aware, especially regarding the responsibility of having a platform. Some creators want to be influencers when it comes to selling products, but suddenly don’t want to be an influence in terms of the impact of their actions. Whether you want it or not, having lot of followers or engagement makes you influential, to some extent.
Definitely. How long does it take you to create a video from concept to the moment you make it live?
Usually from the start of writing an outline to publishing, about 10 days. Typically though, I add ideas to my list and think them over for weeks or months, until I’m inspired to officially start the video. Sometimes I stumble upon new angles or information to include, when I’m listening to podcasts or passively consuming some other media. I find it helps the process feel more organic, rather than sitting down like… “ok now I have to write a video! Today!”
When I do start working on a video, I spend the first few days writing a rough outline, reading relevant articles, and watching related videos on YouTube, if there are any. I start writing the script and trying to figure out the organization of the video & my argument. It’s a similar process to writing an essay. Filming is my least favorite part because I get tired of hearing myself talk! (I usually film about 90 minutes of footage for a 30 minute video.) Editing a typical internet analysis takes 2-3 days, then I send the finished video to my caption assistant. Once the captions, time stamps, and thumbnail are ready, the video can go public.
That’s a lengthy process! How do you stay motivated?
Some ideas really inspire me and I feel compelled to get the video done as soon as possible. Then other times, I don’t feel motivated at all and honestly the only thing that makes me finish a video is a sponsorship deadline! I always have a ton of ideas but don’t have enough time to get more than 3 topics covered in a usual month.
Do you get much hate for being outspoken about your opinions? and does that ever dissuade/or even persuade you to make videos about certain topics?
I wouldn’t say I get much hate but covering any topics that are even vaguely controversial do invite a lot of interaction and a fair bit of disagreement. I will admit I’m very sensitive to criticism, so I take my feedback seriously. I try to ignore bad-faith comments, but I take comments that are (likely to be) good faith to heart. What’s most important to me in deciding which topics to cover is, am I going to do this topic justice? Am I the right person to cover this? If I do decide to do a certain video, how can I include relevant perspectives?
Do you find it difficult to stay true to yourself when making videos for a large audience?
Yes. As my channel grows, it’s so tempting to try to minimize potential disagreement or criticism by making my points more palatable to the general public. But that really just does myself and my audience a disservice. Recently I’ve been trying to figure out how I can stay true to myself… I want to listen to and be open to feedback, but I also want to be sure my arguments are really mine, rather than just saying what I think people want to hear.
I’m curious, what do you think about the term ‘snowflake’, and ‘social justice warrior’? are these ever used against you in a derogatory way and if so, does it bother you?
Hahaha I am amazed when people say snowflake or SJW unironically. I’ve definitely been called those, but it doesn’t bother me. I think “social justice warrior” is a cheesy term, but I do value social justice, obviously. It reminds me of how “woke” was originally (mostly) used as a positive descriptor, but quickly became a way to mock people who try too hard to appear aware or smart. "Let’s make fun of people for trying to speak sensitively or raise awareness of issues they find important!” It’s a strange phenomenon but pretty inevitable on the internet, considering how cynical most of us are.
Very true! Now, if you were president (which, you should be…) what would be the first thing you’d do?
Fun fact, I was president of my elementary school in 5th grade, and my middle school in 8th grade! (That’s why my twitter handle is still tiffanytheprez… lmao.) I think my first priority would be passing Medicare for All.
Haha, that’s amazing! Do you have any issues on your mind right now? (have you got any videos planned perhaps?)
I’m finishing up my two-part series on the Kibbe body types, which is all about body image, fashion, and related issues. Since I’ve been working on these videos for about two months now, I’m very much ready to move onto another topic! I’m always conflicted as to whether I should cover more “pop culture” topics or more niche, political issues.
Where do you see yourself in the future concerning your YouTube channel?
I will probably continue to post on YouTube in some form for a long time, but I hope to have other projects, too. Once I graduate, I want to start to make documentaries; essentially a more grown up version of Internet Analysis videos. I also want to either resume my podcast (Previously Gifted) or start a new one, that would be more scripted or potentially focus on featuring guests. Who knows!
Now for some less intense questions! — what one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Cherish time with your friends! Once high school is over, things will never be the same with your hometown friend group. (Since 2015, I’ve lived in various places across the country and have missed those friends dearly!)
And finally, what one question would you like to ask your future self?
Is COVID ever going to go away?? Did Trump do a full-blown fascist takeover of the country?
That’s brilliant. Thank you so much for your time Tiffany!
Head over to Tiffany’s channel for more insight and content related to the media.