Ten years ago, the terms “YouTuber” or “social media influencer” didn’t seem to exist. If you told someone your career was uploading weekly videos to the world wide web, or that posting a photo of yourself would earn you thousands of dollars, it would seem almost impossible to believe, wouldn’t it? Fast-forward to 2018—now, there are thousands upon thousands of people who call social media their full-time job, some of these people achieving fame and fortune for their content. How did the internet create so many possibilities for these individuals? Why are so many of these social media enthusiasts becoming idolized by viewers they’ve never met? And how likely is it that your videos can become the next viral hit?
The majority of these content creators are found from posting videos on the popular website known as “YouTube” (where virtually anyone, anywhere can publish a video of almost anything). YouTube was founded in the year of 2005 but didn’t become the worldwide phenomenon we know of today until late 2006 when it was purchased by multi-billion-dollar company, Google. The type of content published on YouTube varies. Some popular YouTubers who started at zero subscribers and earned their way up to being in the top percentile are as follows: Shane Dawson, a comedian on YouTube who posts conspiracy theories, vlogs, and sketches began his YouTube career in 2006 and currently sits at 15,000,000 subscribers; Tana Mongeau, a twenty-year-old female who posts videos telling stories of her life, started posting videos only three years ago and is now at over 3,000,000 subscribers; and newcomer 17-year-old Emma Chamberlain who has only been posting videos for one year, is set to pass 4,000,000 subscribers by the end of the summer. Other notable YouTube celebrities include Rosanna Pansino, who earned over 10,000,000 subscribers posting cooking videos; Zoella, who earned over 12,000,000 subscribers by creating beauty and fashion videos; and the most subscribed to person on all of YouTube, PewDiePie, who has a whopping 64,000,0000 subscribers and over 18,000,000,000 views on his channel by posting gaming videos.
How did they do it? How tangible is it for your channel or Instagram page to hit these astronomical numbers? A lot of the time, these social media stars have one thing in common—luck. Luck isn’t the only factor, though, as hard work, motivation, and determination also have a key to play in creating your social media success story. Each of these internet celebrities kept goals and achieved them by doing simple things creating a weekly posting schedule (and sticking to it), opening other accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay relevant on each platform, and most importantly, being consistent in the content you create. For example—an Instagram star who is in the fitness industry is not likely to create content about video games, and vice versa. Developing a niche and expanding on it is the best way to find devoted and dedicated viewers for your content. Some social media influencers appear to grow big numbers overnight, whereas others may take years of developing their skills and content to see their audience expand.
The last and final question is, why are these people earning so many viewers daily and what sets them apart from mainstream celebrities? Social media stars—like previously mentioned—start from zero subscribers, start from zero followers, and start at zero views. They are regular people who were able to make something out of their zany, sarcastic, funny, and likeable personalities. Musicians and actors may have all these traits too, but one main reason why so many people are developing a fondness to a social media star over a mainstream celebrity, is that of the personal connection you can feel with the person. Social media stars make videos for their viewers about their lives, especially by filming vlogs—some YouTubers even make their videos feel like a one-on-one chat with their viewers. A social media star is more likely to reply to comments, like “tweets” on Twitter, or follow their fans on Instagram. There’s some sort of indescribable bond between stars on social media and their viewers—perhaps because the viewer is what makes it all possible for the social media influencer. After all, without the viewers, there would be no platform for social media stars to post on, would there be?
Whether you are a creator yourself, are on the bandwagon and support social media stars, or still don’t really understand the concept, one thing can be said—social media stars are on the rise, and it seems like there’s no stopping the demand for them anytime soon.