The Storytelling Project Mane Yousuf | Photo courtesy of Mane Yousuf July 4, 2023 Mane Yousuf YouTube star is a joy bomber Stephen Hunt Mane Yousuf has become a YouTube star. In his videos, the 27-year-old sings and interacts with ordinary people on the streets of Calgary and, thanks to support from YouTube, other cities around the world, as his subscriber base nudges towards one million. If Borat became a superstar for his comedy bombing of self-important politicians, Yousuf has become something else: a serial spreader of joy and happiness. “I would say I interact with people in my videos and try to bring out positive reactions and make their days,” he says, in an email reply to a question. “By performing a viral song, or quizzing them on trendy lyrics, I give them a chance to win some money. “Essentially,” he adds, “I make videos online and I make music!” A whole generation of young people are turning towards social media as a career opportunity, whether as influencer, artist or pundit — life coaching, recipe-sharing or exercising. If Netflix and other streaming services unleashed hundreds of new ways of telling stories on television, YouTube has created a whole new genre of entertainment, the kind where the star interacts with their fans and it all feels for viewers as if someone is telling a story just for them. Deep Dive into Social Media Yousuf, who was born in Ontario and moved to Calgary in 2012, says he originally “dipped his toe” into social media in 2015 before taking a deep dive into it in 2019. “It started with a friend telling me that he believed I would be famous for something one day,” he says. “And me going home that day and watching YouTube videos. “I get my ideas through inspiration by being on the Internet,” he adds, “or by being in deep thought on a run or while meditating.” What makes Yousuf’s videos — which are shot by his friends Tyler and Ali — so compelling is that he’s fun. His videos remind the rest of us that no matter what the price a barrel of oil is fetching on any given day, sometimes the only response is to sing a song. And it turned out that Calgary and the joy bomber were a match made in YouTube heaven. “I have to say, Calgarians have by far some of the best reactions in the world,” Yousuf says. “I have filmed videos all over the world, and I really enjoy making them in my hometown. This also allows me to spend a lot of time there without having to travel to shoot.” Yousuf says his subscriber base is spread out around the planet. “Most of my audience is from the USA and Canada,” he says.” I also have a large audience in the UK, Germany and Brazil! I love interacting with them and they have always been very respectful.” #YouTubeBlackVoices In 2022, YouTube named Yousuf one of its “YouTubeBlackVoices,” which includes funding to help grow your channel, along with courses on how to elevate content and production values and turn ideas like the one Yousuf had into reality. What advice would Yousuf offer to any nascent YouTuber? “There are a ton of things to do and prepare for, but I would say the most important step is to actually go and start a channel,” he says. “So many people think they need to have the perfect camera or equipment or crew to start a channel. Where in reality, it’s all about making content, being consistent, and improving on every video you post.” Since launching his channel, Yousuf has twice delayed university — once to study biological sciences and another time to study international business — but as his social media reach grows, it turns out he’s living them rather than studying them. He has plans in place to build his brand and spread it out to possibly include acting, script writing and expanding to include guests — and fans. He’s already started to expand into other forms of social media and is learning that each form has its own unique set of demands. “I personally enjoy staying creative by trying out new mediums and platforms. I recently started my TikTok and short form content, and that requires a different way of thinking in comparison to my longer videos,” he says. “I also make music, which allows me to tell stories, and also tends to be very therapeutic for me. “Essentially, you need to continue to sharpen your creativity by trying new things once you feel like things are becoming too dull.” It turns out that a city built on its energy industry has a new kind of energy in Mane Yousuf. “I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I first moved to Calgary in 2012,” Yousuf says. “However, I would say it’s a lot more friendlier than Ontario. “I love the people in Calgary,” he says, “and I am proud to live in that city. It played a vital role in my career and I am looking forward to the growth of our city!” About the Storytelling Project The Storytelling Project raises awareness about Calgarians who, by living creative lives, are making Calgary a better city, effecting positive change and enriching others’ lives. Have a story to share? Email us at email@example.com.