Kelly Scott Madison

Digital Influencers



Discover the new faces of the digital red carpet

While Hollywood has always been synonymous with the stars, a new breed of celebrity has risen to power in a world far beyond California. Online influencers with massive audiences now live and thrive on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and blogs. They were once average social posters with big personalities who eventually amassed large and loyal online audiences through original content. Their ascensions caught the interest of brands, eventually leading to paid partnerships. While teaming up with online influencers is not a new concept, these potential ambassadors are now giving traditional celebrity spokespeople some tight competition for marketers’ money. Given the increasing focus toward valuing engagement over reach, this shift is happening with good reason. 

Before diving in, it’s important to note the origin of the social media influencer phenomenon: people love to share. For the millions of consumers born into the digital age, creating and sharing content is second nature. Zeroing in on Instagram for some perspective, more than 60 million photos are uploaded on Instagram every day, according to WeRSM. In other words, the blog recently stated that the height of photos uploaded to Instagram every 12 hours would reach Mount Everest (8,848 meters), and every six days would reach the outer edge of the earth’s atmosphere (100,000 meters). Clearly the amount of content shared online is mind-blowing and is only continuing to grow.Online influencers emerged alongside this explosion of content. These unique personalities have built large, loyal communities through original content and serve as relatable, trusted sources for consumers. They have become celebrities in their own right and proven that the biggest names in Hollywood are not necessarily the best fit for any given brand, nor always the most influential or valuable.

Forbes recently released its first-ever ranking of top-paid YouTube stars, basing data figures from Nielsen and IMDB, as well as from interviews with those connectedto the stars including agents, managers, lawyers and industry insiders. The top 13 stars have attracted millions of fans and a pretty penny from brands. Topics include baking and makeup tutorials, pranks, comedy acts, video game commentary,violin dancing, reaction videos and even live-action skits based on Pokémon games. The top YouTube earner of 2015, PewDiePie (whose real name is Felix Kjellberg), raked in $12 million. In July 2014, his “playing videogameswith your bros” channel collected more than 10 billion videoviews, surpassing RihannaVEVO and becoming the most viewed channel of all time. Also in 2015, PewDiePie was included on Time Magazine’s list of the 30 most influential people on the Internet. Although PewDiePie has partnered with brands such as Mountain Dew, he conducts very few promotions and works with few brands by choice. According to a 2014 survey by Variety, PewDiePie is not only more influential but also... 

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