Study: YouTube Stars More Popular, Influential Among Teens Than Mainstream Celebs

By Amanda Walgrove August 6th, 2014

Move over, JLaw. The teens have spoken, and they prefer Smosh.

A recent survey from Variety found that YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebrities among U.S. teens—and those teens are more likely to make purchases based on what YouTube stars say.

Celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev asked 1,500 respondents a range of questions about their feelings towards 20 top celebrities—10 mainstream and 10 YouTube-grown. The result? The top five personalities that teens are most enamored with and influenced by are YouTube stars, including Smosh, TheFineBros, PewDiePie (with the most subscribers of any YouTube channel—a whopping 29.4 million), KSI, and Ryan Higa.

America’s silver screen sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence is all the way down at number 7, with Katy Perry hovering at number 9 and Leonardo DiCaprio a sunken ship at number 20. (Yes, that was a Titanic pun.)

The survey also found that YouTube stars “scored significantly higher than traditional celebrities across a range of characteristics considered to have the highest correlation to influencing purchases among teens.”

Why? It’s no secret.

YouTube stars wrote the playbook for online audience building and engagement. They each have a strong personal brand, offer their audiences consistent content, and remain conversational with active social media presences. They grew their channels subscriber by subscriber, drawing viewers in with intimate stories about their personal lives and playful content that makes them seem approachable and trustworthy.

So if one of these YouTube stars makes a video in which they talk about a product they like, they have over a million viewers ready and willing to listen, share, and buy. It’s never been more evident that brands should connect with YouTube stars to reach that key teen demographic.

For example, Subway recently teamed up with YouTube’s Cimorelli sisters (armed with over 2.7 million subscribers) for their Summer with Cimorelli web series. The first two episodes have already earned more than 1.4 million views on YouTube.

Smosh stars Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla channeled their love for video games last year and created their own short to promote the new Assassin’s Creed III game. Their video currently has over 53 million YouTube views—no doubt bolstered by their 18-million-plus subscribers. Hecox told Adweek that if the content is good, the audience “could [not] really care less if it’s sponsored or not.”

Time for brands to jump into the YouTube game and let these shining personalities do what they do best: engage huge audiences.

Not well versed in YouTube stardom? You can use a program like FanBridge that connects your brand with the right YouTube star. Or you can just start watching their videos. Chances are, your audience is already doing the same.


Image via Variety

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