Top YouTube Influencers: A Quick Resource Guide 2015 (Part 1)

Top YouTube Influencers Resource Guide

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The Top YouTube Influencers: Everything You Need To Know

There are now 1000's of YouTube channels vying for the attention of YouTube's 1 billion active users. As the world's most powerful brands shift from traditional advertising models to online video marketing strategies, top YouTube influencers (called "YouTubers") are being courted by influencer marketing agencies, MCNs, TV broadcast networks, and mega tech companies like Yahoo, all seeking to leverage the relationships between influencers and their followers.

To help marketers identify the best ways to find and work with the industry's most magnetic YouTubers, we've assembled the best resources from around the internet into one comprehensive guide.


Why Brands Are Marketing With Top YouTube Influencers

Advertising is changing. Dwindling TV viewership means 30-second television spots no longer reach the audiences or the demographics they once did, and even display and banner ad marketing, at one point the cure-all for many online advertisers, has now been rendered largely ineffective by ad-blocking software. Consumers are spending more time on social media platforms than ever before.

Related Post: How To Advertise On YouTube [Infographic]

As audiences look increasingly more to these social media channels for entertainment, advice, discovery, and learning, top YouTube influencers are well-positioned to reach millions of engaged followers with brand-sponsored content and leverage the relationships they have with fans to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

For more information on why brands are marketing with YouTube Influencers, see the following articles:

How Companies Collaborate With Top YouTube Influencers

There are several effective ways brands can work with top YouTube influencers. One of the most common ways that brands work with top YouTube influencers is by sponsoring video content wherein the YouTuber skillfully integrates the company's name, products, or services into their video. This type of brand-sponsored content may appear as a product placement, though creating a video around the product—best exemplified in unboxing videos (where a YouTuber tries out a new product), gaming walkthroughs & Let's Plays (wherein a YouTuber plays a new game), and makeup tutorials—is an effective way for brands to introduce a new product and leverage the influence a social media star has on their audience.

Related Post: How Brands Reach Audiences With YouTube Product Placements

Today, YouTubers' popularity easily eclipses and/or rivals that of many top mainstream celebrities, and companies are discovering how collaborations with YouTube influencers can generate an impactful surge in brand awareness and sales.

For more information on how companies are collaborating with top YouTubers, see the following:

The 20 Top YouTube Influencers List

YouTuber influencers exist in multiple genres, from gaming to fashion to lifestyle comedy shows. Some of the top YouTuber channels include:

  1. PewDiePie
  2. Smosh
  3. Jenna Marbles
  4. Nigahiga
  5. Vanoss Gaming
  6. The Fine Bros
  7. Ray William Johnson
  8. KSI
  9. Vsauce
  10. Bethany Mota
  11. Captain Sparklez
  12. Zoella
  13. Rooster Teeth
  14. Prank vs. Prank
  15. Markiplier
  16. Michelle Phan
  17. RocketJump
  18. Good Mythical Morning
  19. Tyler Oakley
  20. Toby Games

For more information about YouTube's most engaging stars, see the following:

The Best YouTube Influencer Resources From Around The Internet

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming the marketing method of choice for today's top brands, but finding useful articles and other resources on top YouTube influencers can still be a challenge for marketers. To help companies get started or learn more about maximizing their influencer strategies, we’ve curated the most relevant, shared, and referenced sources, articles, search strategies, and links from today's most trusted publications. By reviewing the following resources, marketers can gain an understanding of who's who in the world of top digital influencers and how brands collaborate with these top YouTube influencers to spearhead their digital marketing campaigns:

1. Advertising Age  - "YouTube Stars You May Not Know–But Should"

Top YouTube Influencers JacksGap Lilly Singh Jenna Marbles

What It's About: Ad Age identifies five YouTube influencers who marketers need to keep on their radar, including: Jackson and Finnegan Harries (JackGap), Lilly Singh (IISuperwomanII), Jenna Mourey (Jenna Marbles), Ingrid Nilsen (MissGlamorazzi), and Tyler Oakley. Each YouTube influencer is biographied and assessed via the following categories:

  • Who - quick-fire biographies, including the city each influencer is based in
  • By The Numbers - total channel subscribers and video views to date
  • Core Audience - which demographic their content primarily targets
  • Edge - distinguishing, defining characteristics
  • Fame Factor - high profile features, associations, appointments
  • Mainstream Media That Should Sign Him/Her - recommendations for suitable broadcast media alignments
  • Brand Potential - exactly how brands can make the most of these top YouTube influencers, replete with several examples
  • Watch These Videos To Understand - curated examples of these Top YouTube Influencers' best video content.

This article is likely the best single thing you can read en route to understanding how successful brands partner with YouTubers to leverage their targeted audiences towards building a powerful integrated marketing strategy for sponsored, branded content that's well-received by millions of viewers.

2. Adweek - "How Brands and YouTube Stars Are Hooking Up To Reach Millions of Millennials"

What It's About: Adweek profiles 5 mainstream brands - Toyota, Lionsgate, Proactiv, Macy's, and Nissan - and the top YouTube influencers they collaborated with in this case study article. The piece goes on to describe the industry trend of over 150 brands that have shifted from simply posting their company's TV commercial on YouTube to full-blown collaborations with the video platform's best digital influencers. In regards to how influencer marketing fits into a comprehensive integrated marketing strategy, YouTube's director of content commercialization states "creators on YouTube are increasingly crossing over into mainstream pop culture - most brands are looking at these collaborations as part of a larger campaign or media program."

3. Business Insider - "The Richest YouTube Stars"


Top YouTube Influencers PewDiePie BluCollection

Images via BluCollection & DisneyCollectorBR YouTube content

What It's About: With almost 11.5 million views on this article alone, Business Insider (in conjunction with YouTube analytics company SocialBlade) lists 20 of YouTube's highest grossing digital influencers. Stats included for each YouTuber include: estimated yearly income, total subscribers, total views, channel history, and sample YouTube video link. At the time of publication, PewDiePie, BluCollection, and DisneyCollectorBR ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively.

4. Business Insider - "Top 20 Most Popular YouTube Stars"

What It's About: Unlike Business Insider's "Richest YouTube Stars" article, this piece puts money aside and presents 20 of the most popular (and independent) YouTubers based on total all-time views. By this valuation, Smosh replaces BluCollection as No. 2 in the top 3.

5. BuzzFeed"How Many Of These Top YouTubers Did You Watch?"

BuzzFeed Top YouTube Influencers

What It's About: This BuzzFeed post is not a data-driven article or case study-like resource; however, it is extremely helpful if you need a quick visual checklist of the top YouTuber influencers. Listical-style article includes 50 names and profile pics.

7. Celebrity Net Worth - "The 25 Highest Earning YouTube Stars"

What It's About: Although the article title states 25, "Celebrity Net Worth" actually counts down 41 of the top YouTube influencers' estimated annual earnings and total view counts.

8. Columbia College - "2013 YouTube Study"

What It's About: Perhaps the most comprehensive, single source reference of top YouTube influencer and channel info, this 175-page Columbia College study is packed with raw data, statistics, and detailed analysis that's representative of collegiate level research. The study is broken into 6 sections, and includes about 60 pages in text and over 100 pages in charts. Contents include:

  1. Overview of YouTube's Most Popular Content
  2. Programming and Format Choices of The Top 100 Independent YouTube Channels
  3. Intros, Credits, Pacing of The Top 100 Independent YouTube Channels
  4. Analysis of Video Engagement of The Top 100 Independent YouTube Channels
  5. Analysis of Web Presence of The Top 100 Independent YouTube Channels - at the end of the chapter, the study links directly to each of the top YouTube influencers' appropriate Twitter account.
  6. Charts - 115 charts that analyze a seemingly wide and exhaustive range of topics ranging from percentage of viewers who liked a video (videos where people where asked to like vs. videos where people weren't asked to like) to social media stats to average number of words in video description.
9. Fast Company - "Inside YouTube's Fame Factory"

What It's About: Fast Company's 4,000-word article details everything one needs to know about VidCon, self-described as "the world's premier gathering of people who make online videos." If you are a newcomer to the YouTube influencer scene or need a ground level understanding of the buzz and hype surrounding top YouTube influencers, this article is a must read, and comes complete with nifty video banner of VidCon-ers standing in line waiting for their favorite YouTubers.

10. Gamespot - "These 17 YouTube Stars Probably Make Millions Playing Video Games"

What It's About: Representing one of the hottest and most influential niches, the video gaming mega-site Gamespot profiles 17 top YouTube influencers in the tech, gaming, and gadgetry category.

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