BuzzFeed announced its hire of Web video pioneer Ze Frank today. For a media organization touted as the master of Facebook and Twitter clicks, the question is, what took so long? YouTube is a vast ocean of talent untapped by marketers, ad agencies, news organizations, non-profits, political campaigns - really, anyone interested in conquering the Web video landscape. Here are five stand-out personalities.
By the nature of their business, top YouTubers are the Web's all-around players. They're excellent at spotting trends, as it behooves them to address said trends onscreen. Many started out writing, shooting, and editing their own videos. They've successfully built their own brands, negotiating advertising and promotional deals. They're excellent community managers, constantly fielding comments, criticisms, and incorporating feedback into their work. Every successful YouTuber is an analytics whiz, monitoring audience engagement across various platforms.
While many YouTubers enjoy the freedom the video-sharing platform gives them, their areas of expertise put them in a unique position to help organizations in need of an online push. Here are 5 Top YouTubers that would be a big get for any company.
VidStatsX YouTube Ranking: 1
Subscribers: 5.8 million
Video Views: 1.98 billion
YouTube’s first millionaire (April 2011), Johnson invented the viral video commentary format with his show, entitled =3, copied by Comedy Central’s Tosh.0. Besides =3 on his main channel, Johnson does the popular Your Favorite Martian channel, featuring mostly original songs with animated music videos; he's set to release an album this year. Johnson has appeared in local theater productions in Los Angeles and has nurtured other YouTube talent like Meekakitty and The Will of DC. RWJ is signed with Makers Studios.
VidStatsX YouTube Ranking: 2
Subscribers: 5.6 million
Video Views: 1.3 billion
The reigning YouTuber until last year when he was dethroned by Johnson, Higa has enjoyed a few small roles on TV. He started a Web-based reality show and toured the country with his YTF. A vlogger, sketch comedy artist and occasional musician, Higa is part of “You Offend Me, You Offend My Family” (YOMYOMF), one of the Google-funded premium content channels. Like Johnson, Higa has been responsible for building other top YouTubers' careers, including KevJumba.
VidStatsX YouTube Ranking: 5
Subscribers: 4.1 million
Video Views: 740 million
The first woman to break into YouTube’s Top 10, the comedic Marbles is a relative newcomer to YouTube. In only two years, the growth of her popularity is unparalleled, and she has been credited with singlehandedly reinvigorating the vlog, a YouTube form that many thought was on its way out. While most of the top-performing women on YouTube produce content for women in the beauty and style sections, Marbles appeals to both men and women. Unlike Higa and Johnson, though, her videos are not for kids.
VidStatsX YouTube Ranking: 20
Subscribers: 2.2 million
Video Views: 966 million
DeFranco started vlogging because of Ze Frank, he told his audience at last year’s VidCon, so it's fitting he is on this list. The pupil has overcome the master in terms of profit and audience, with DeFranco creating multiple wildly successful YouTube shows and tapping YouTube talent like Tobuscus and new media entrepreneur Sarah Penna. DeFranco’s latest venture, SourceFed, is the first clear success of the Google-funded YouTube premium content. Called the “Jon Stewart of YouTube,” he delivered covereage of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions that was the most-viewed on YouTube’s Election Hub. He also hosted this year’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. DeFranco is part of the Revision3 studio and makes six figures a month, though he recently said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session that he pays himself $100,000 a year, investing the rest into his business.
VidStatsX YouTube Ranking: 702
Video Views: 28 million
Representing the LGBT crowd, vlogger Oakley is more influential in the YouTube space than his subscriber numbers suggest. For example, last year he created a viral sensation by tweeting Miles Jai’s video “Like Mah Status.” Besides YouTube, Oakley is also influential on Twitter and Tumblr. He was this year’s Taco Bell Twitter correspondent at the Video Music Awards.