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Are YouTubers the new rockstars?

U.S. teens are more interested in YouTube stars than the biggest names in television, film or music, Variety magazine has revealed.

Having asked 1,500 respondents about their thoughts on a variety of YouTube and more ‘traditional’ celebrities, the top 5 most popular were YouTube stars.

You can read about more about the results of the survey here

The key theme that flows throughout all the responses collected is the sense of relevance and ability to relate to their YouTube idols. In the age of the all seeing eye of social media, where people are closer than ever to celebrities, seeing them living unattainable lifestyles only serves to alienate this audience further.

The Variety magazine survey results were also echoed in UK, in study by Tesco mobile, that revealed 30 per cent of Britain’s 16-24 year olds are avid viewers of YouTube stars, and when asked, almost 40 per cent said they would rather be vloggers than a lawyers, politicians or even popstars.

markus spiske

Markus Spiske

Perhaps this is unsurprising given the continuing popularity amongst teens for scripted reality, both on screens and, to an extent, in their own lives. As one teen interviewee in the documentary ‘Crazy About One Direction’ put it: “When you go to a praying place, you feel like you’re connected to God. So when you go to Twitter, you feel like you’re connected to 1D.” With YouTube stars, this feeling is only heightened further.



Yet in watching a YouTube channel, what might be perceived as unfussy unadulterated access into the person’s intimate life is in fact carefully choreographed. With a bedroom background and minimal production, it feels like a genuine conversation obscuring more subtle sophistications. Should stars want to build on the quality of their channels, YouTube Spaces offer free studios, editing equipment, lectures and resources for those who have 5000 or more subscribers. This is an obvious investment for the company to make, with YouTube stars like Zoella hauling in nearly double the amount of subscribers as Ed Sheeran.

Just as more traditional celebrities were inspirational because their success was statistically evident, view counts and subscriber numbers act as comparable charts of success to weekly music and cinematic rankings. Yet the utility of YouTube celebrities is amplified for marketers because of the clarity of click through or product view counts as isolated markers.

YouTubers can then use their videos as a foot in the door for a wider career of book launches and make-up ranges after getting such good grounding. Vloggers such as Alfie Deyes, whose recent publication of The Pointless Book now tops the Amazon charts, states he would only accept a role in television should it give him sufficient agency. Although the alleged accessibility of such a career has the shiny appeal of an X Factor win, their stars are keen to contradict this, and keen that later roles they accept reflect their years of hard graft. As Marketing Magazine touches on, being able to watch a YouTuber’s career grow gives their channel organic grounding, where they also seem to be in complete charge of what they create.

The trust built through the steady stream of scheduled videos lends credibility to a product that an aloof celebrity endorsement couldn’t hope to emulate. With YouTube stars monitoring comments and requests, videos are often also created from a huge collaborative effort. Vloggers often make videos as direct response to requests. Asking viewers to do as little as hit the like button gives YouTube stars unprecedented feedback about any new tactics they might try out. For viewers, it can be seen as an investment in their own entertainment, and a form of supporting the star as a dedicated fan. Following a YouTube stars journey also means that content doesn’t date so quickly, with past videos only forming part of a story that millions are keen to buy into.

The down to earth, mutually beneficial nature of many of these channels epitomise the end of the top-down era in marketing.

Alfie and Zoella