Since the first Youtube video (entitled “Me at the zoo“) was uploaded by platform co-founder Jawed Karim in 2005, YouTube has become one of the internet’s most powerful search engines (second only to Google) and the third-most-visited website in the world, according to statistics gathered by Search Engine Land. Today, the video sharing giant claims over 1.5 billion active users worldwide, and thousands of magnetic video content creators, called YouTubers or YouTube influencers, have risen to prominence in the wake of YouTube’s exponential growth.
As audiences continue abadoning television and other forms of traditional entertainment in favor of social media platforms and social interaction through apps, online channels, and networks, YouTube has attracted millions of engaged users who now watch over 4 billion videos each day and over 6 billion hours of videos each month. The platform’s top YouTubers have both capitalized on and served as an impetus for this growth, drawing large audiences by creating content that is both entertaining and authentic while fostering influential relationships with their followers.
Click here to see why teens prefer social media stars like YouTubers over traditional celebrities.
The massive reach of social media influencers and the unique relationship YouTubers have cultivated with followers make partnering with today’s top video content creators an effectively viable marketing channel for brands and advertisers looking to target millions of engaged consumers. Because the best YouTubers are able to organically integrate brand sponsored content (through product placements, unboxing videos, experiential videos, etc.) using some of the most popular YouTube video formats to create an authentic experience for subscribers, influencers marketing collaborations typically see far more engagement and higher ROIs than any other forms of advertising.
To learn how brands are partnering with today’s top YouTubers, see our article here.
The following YouTube stars are considered some of the most influential people on the planet, not just for their massive online followings, but for the relationships they have cultivated with millions of subscribers around the world. Many of these top YouTubers listed below are some of the richest YouTube content creators making millions of dollars each year through brand sponsorship deals, advertising, and more. For more information and an in-depth look at the world of YouTubers and YouTube influencers, check out our quick resource guide here.
Though Swedish gamer PewDiePie is best known for his “Let’s Play” videos (wherein he films himself playing and reacting to game elements), his appeal to audiences lies more in his delivery and humor than the specific gaming elements of his popular YouTube channel (which has 43 million subscribers and 11.5 billion video views). Recently, PewDiePie partnered with Disney-owned Maker Studios to create Revelmode, a gaming-centric MCN featuring a number of YouTuber’s top gamers.
Also known as Ryan Higa, NigaHiga features a number of different video series—”Movies in Minutes,” “Off the Pill,” “Dear Ryan,” and “How to Be”—which are all comedic in nature. Higa also uploads music content to his channel, which has over 16 million subscribers and 2.6 billion video views to date.
With nearly 15 million subscribers, Jenna Mourey (aka Jenna Marbles) has become one of the most well-known internet celebrities today. Beloved for her authenticity and sharp sense of humor, Jenna Marbles skyrocketed to fame after her video entitled “How To Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” went viral in 2010.
Founded by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, Smosh rose to prominence by covering popular video game theme songs and, later, by producing skits with over-the-top scenarios that often include slap-stick humor. Though Smosh’s original channel now enjoys over 22 million subscribers and 5 billion video views, Padilla and Hecox have expanded to create a second Smosh channel and Smosh Games, a channel devoted entirely to gaming content.
The most famous beauty and makeup channel on YouTube, Michelle Phan’s stunning makeup tutorials now reach over 8 million subscribers and have been viewed 1.2 billion times. Thanks in large part to her YouTube success, Phan was made makeup brand Lancôme’s official spokesman in 2010 and co-founded the beauty products subscription service, Ipsy, in 2012.
The channel of Indo-Canadian vlogger and comedian Lilly Singh, ||Superwoman|| has amassed over 8 million subscribers by creating skits that communicate hilarious insights into Indian culture, family life, and satirical treatments of everyday life. In 2015, Singh was ranked 8th on the Forbes list of world’s highest-paid YouTube stars, and her documentary “A Trip To Unicorn Island” was one of the first videos available on YouTube’s new subscription service, YouTube Red.