The Teen Choice Awards is an annual awards show which honors the year’s stars, voted by teen viewers, in a wide array of categories including television, movies, music, and fashion. While the Teen Choice Awards originated as a way to recognize celebrities and artists from traditional media, the rising popularity of social media platforms and digital stars has led to a gradual shift in the program’s focus. In 2016, the dominance of Viners, Snapchatters, and today’s most popular YouTubers served to illustrate the prominent place digital influencers now hold in pop culture, especially among teenage audiences.
Some of the most popular YouTubers nominated for the Web Categories at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards included:
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As the list above shows, social media stars were well-represented at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards. Just five years ago, the Teen Choice Awards did not have a separate “Digital” category as they do now, and only a handful of YouTube stars were nominated under the “Miscellaneous” category.
We won our first ever #TeenChoice awards last night with #ChoiceWebstarComedy and #ChoiceWebstarFemale. I’m currently in Italy and therefore couldn’t attend but it was so surreal to wake up to this humbling news. I didn’t get to make a speech on stage but this is what I would have said: I’ll start by saying that I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of this amazing moment in time when people are making real changes in the world by using the internet. I’m beyond proud to be a part of #TeamInternet and if you still have doubts about our validity, please exit 2001. We are not just numbers and views, we are creators who own businesses and are here to stay. Huge thank you to my parents who let me do all the things they never had the privilege of doing and supporting me even though my choices were often terrifying. Sending so much love and admiration to my friends @colleen @glozell @bethanynoelm @notryanhiga @smosh @mylifeaseva @janoskians @thegabbieshow and @jennxpenn because I’m honoured as eff to be in a category with such inspirational names. We all work so hard and I’m just so proud to be associated with you. Thank you to my team who deals with my 5am emails and ridiculous ideas. I appreciate you accepting that you have no weekends. Lastly, thank you to my family #TeamSuper who has reminded me time and time again that picking up a camera six years ago was the best decision I’ve ever made. I couldn’t be here without you and I don’t for a second take that for granted. And to be honest, awards are fun but the best thing we do together is spread positivity and change the world for the better. I can’t wait to continue doing that with you. You make me proud X ❤️?? #ThankYou
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This year, “Web” stood as its own diverse category, and numerous digital influencers were eligible to take home a Teen Choice Awards surfboard trophy. Major social media platforms were given their own individual categories (e.g. “Choice YouTuber,” “Choice Viner”) and some of the world’s biggest stars, like Lilly Singh and Eva Gutowski, even picked up multiple nominations across different platform-specific categories.
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Think with Google recently published a study showing that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers relate to YouTube stars more than traditional celebrities, and 60% of all YouTube viewers would purchase a product or service based on a YouTuber’s recommendations over the advice of a TV or movie star’s.
As more digital stars reach celebrity status, teenagers are becoming increasingly enamored with online personalities (especially compared to mainstream actors, musicians, athletes, and models). The Teen Choice Awards has already adapted to the trend of the rising social media stars, and brands marketing to young social media audiences should follow suit by partnering with top social media stars for brand sponsored content and influencer marketing initiatives.