In conjunction with of Malaysia Day, YouTube Malaysia showcased the stories and perspectives of Motoaki Hara from the channel Aki from Japan, Jade, Yerim, and Dasol from the channel Blimey, Adam Potter from the channel MotoMatsalleh, and Changmin Lee from the channel Teh Tarik Oppa. These creators shared how they came to find their content niche in all things Malaysian and what moves them about our people and culture.
Aki, who was living his dream job as a teacher in Japan, found himself wondering if there was more out there for him beyond the four walls of his classroom. Packing his bags, and eager to explore the world outside Japan, Aki’s travels took him to Southeast Asia, which he instantly took a liking for – the friendly people and the more laidback lifestyle he saw here was a refreshing change to the life he was accustomed to. Between the different countries he visited, it was in Malaysia which the former educator found his ideal home – offering the appeal of having a large English speaking population, and a lifestyle which matched what he was looking for.
“I started my YouTube channel to have more opportunities to practice speaking, to learn and to teach English for a Japanese audience – but I noticed that when I posted a video on Malaysia, I started seeing many Malaysians visiting my channel – much more than my Japanese viewers, for sure. This encouraged me to do more content that would interest this segment of my audience,” explained Aki.
Aki, who gained much of his local popularity from his cultural commentary videos, said “I do get nervous doing content which touches on culture and religion, because what if I’m giving out the wrong information, or what if I accidentally say or do something offensive? I am fortunate that my viewers have been nothing but encouraging. Their feedback and comments have been my biggest motivation to continue doing videos, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Jade, Yerim, and Dasol – three friends who knew each other from university – formed the channel Blmey out of their mutual interest in media, broadcast, and journalism. Even as early as 2010, at least in South Korea, they saw more and more people turning online for entertainment and platforms like YouTube were becoming the “new TV”. This made YouTube a natural choice for them to explore content creation.
With more than 500,000 subscribers, Blimey’s followers, who are known as Blimers, enjoy seeing their content around their cultural learning and exchanges between Malaysians and South Koreans.
In line with the accounts of the other creators, Jade on behalf of Blimey shared that their sampling and review of a Maggi cup noodle was what invited a surge of views from Malaysians who were very interested to hear what they had to say about it. And seeing that their Malaysian viewers were very supportive and engaged, Blimey saw the opportunity to do more content around Malaysia.
“We feel honored to receive comments like – ‘your content should be aired in TV stations.’ That gives us an indication of which content resonates with our audience – and by paying attention to those types of feedback, we plan to make more quality content like that,” said Jade.
“YouTube has been a great way for us to connect with our audience – the bond that we’ve formed with them and the trust that they have upon us is strong. We appreciate this very much. It is also great that you can do this without needing any special certifications or the need to involve any big broadcasting stations – it’s just you and your audience.” she added.
Bringing in a unique angle to the lineup of creators was Adam, a motorcycle enthusiast based in mainland Penang who has built himself a steady following of serious enthusiasts just like him. Adam’s travels and lifestyle content are set against the backdrop of Malaysia, covering in-depth bike and gear reviews, and test rides among others.
“Malaysia is the perfect place for motorcycle enthusiasts – 365 days out of the year, for a good part of the day, you are bound to experience good weather. No heavy snow, or any other elements of the weather to get in the way. Also, there is a large chunk of the population who loves motorcycling over here, giving me an opportunity to share my passion with them.”
In the session, Adam shares how his passion for motorcycles started long before he put himself on social media and shared how In the US where he comes from, motorcycles are seen more as a hobby whereas here, motorcycles are an essential form of transportation.
Speaking of his content creation journey, Adam said, “Growth on YouTube can be tough to hack sometimes – on occasions, your content hits gold, but other times, not so much. But that’s the beauty of YouTube – the algorithm has the power to connect you with an audience which finds your content useful, entertaining, and valuable. If you are able to deliver valuable information or really great entertainment, YouTube rewards that. It has this exponential potential to show your content to a wide audience whom you are not yet already connected to.”
Changmin, another South Korean creator from the channel Teh Tarik Oppa, only got started on his YouTube journey as recently as May of last year – but even then, he has made great strides in growing his following which now hovers at 25,900 subscribers. Close to 95% of his viewers are from Malaysia as they enjoy watching him speak in Malay and enjoy his Korean language lessons done in Bahasa.
Changmin shared that he enjoys the sense of community which comes with having his channel. Doing most of his content in Bahasa has enabled him to build a deeper connection with his viewers – they appreciate the novelty and the effort that goes into him learning and speaking the language.
Changmin first came to Malaysia as an exchange student and that short stint made such an impression on him that he continued doing more Malaysian-centred content to preserve memories of his life in Malaysia. But that’s not all, Changmin majors in Bahasa and has taken on a Malaysian name: Asyraf.
“I may not already have a fancy car or lots of money from starting my YouTube channel, but there has been one important change to my life – I gained so many Malaysian friends through YouTube. My dream is to live in Malaysia with my future wife and kids, and to make it into Malaysian TV. My name is Teh Tarik Oppa because I think teh tarik is one of the most perfect drinks out there – maybe teh tarik could be a way how I could do collaborations with Malaysian brands,” volunteered Changmin eagerly.
Generasi YouTube is a YouTube Malaysia initiative to showcase talented, up-and-coming creators handpicked based on the mark they are making on the platform. Previous creator showcases have highlighted local geek culture, the Malaysian fashionista community, millennial vloggers and stereotype-breaking female YouTubers.
For the latest on these creators’ work, head on over to their channels: Aki from Japan, Blimey, MotoMatsalleh and Teh Tarik Oppa.