Getting to Know the Billboard 2015 Social Media Stars
From Vine comedians and YouTube personalities to singers and actors, Billboard has picked 32 of the top social media stars on the Internet today. And we want to know which one is your favorite. But here's a primer to familiarize yourself with each of the contestants below.
Zoella, born Zoe Sugg, is a YouTuber and author who focuses on fashion and beauty. Her debut novel, Girl Online, had the highest first week sales for a first-time author in the United Kingdom. She has 9.2M YouTube subscribers and 3.78M Twitter followers.
Tanya Burr is a fashion and beauty vlogger. Burr uses her skills as a makeup artist on her YouTube beauty channel. She released her own cosmetic line, Tanya Burr Cosmetics. She has 3.2M YouTube subscribers and 1.59M Twitter followers.
Samantha Maria is a fashion and beauty Youtuber who goes by the handle Beauty Crush. Maria also created a London based fashion label with partner, Jason Davis. Beauty Crush has 1.65M YouTube subscribers and 138K Twitter followers.
Bethany Mota is a vlogger who features style, DIY, tutorial and haul-based videos. She has her own fashion line in collaboration with Aéropostale. She has also worked with JCPenney and Forever 21. She released a single, "Need You Right Now," in 2014, guest judged Project Runway and was a contestant on season 19 of 'Dancing with the Stars.' Mota has 9.4M YouTube subscribers and 2.6M Twitter followers.
With a YouTube following of over 8 million, Michelle Phan has become one of the leading voices in beauty and fashion on social media. In addition to the impact she has made on the digital world, Phan is also an author and a businesswoman.
Eva Gutowski (better known by fans as MyLifeAsEva) isn’t your average college student. She also happens to be a famous YouTuber with over 4 million subscribers. Gutowski’s videos cover everything from beauty and fashion to comedy and advice. Gutowski is also the face of Kohl’s Wallflower Jeans and a co-host of Vevo’s original series DIYourSelfie.
From cooking tips and beauty advice to testing Pinterest beauty hacks, YouTuber Nikki Phillippi’s 900K+ subscribers are always along for the ride. Phillippi was also the co-founder of “Just Like That,” a collaboration channel with other YouTubers featuring even more advice and DIY fun five days a week.
Aspyn Ovard is a lifestyle and beauty vlogger with over 2 million followers on YouTube. In addition to her personal YouTube channel, Ovard also has a separate channel with her fiance where they vlog about their daily lives as a couple.
The Fine Bros.:
The Fine Bros. are YouTube pioneers who never stopped remaining relevant. From the Kids React and Teens react series to the YouTube sitcom MyMusic, they continually rack up views and influence other YouTubers.
Ever since "How To Trick People Into Thinking You're Good Looking" debuted, Jenna Marbles has been everywhere: SirusXM, Epic Rap Battles of History, MTV's 'Ridiculousness' … she even has a brand of dog toys. Marbles has the top non-musical YouTube channel operated by a woman.
Flash animation and YouTube pioneers Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla) run one of the funniest, most subscribed YouTube channels online. In addition to dominating the web, they even transitioned to movie-making with Smosh: The Movie this summer.
Along with his brother Cody, Marcus Johns is one of the most popular Viners, and one of the platform's first superstars. He's also a sought-after prom date: He attended prom with one fan after her request received over 100,000 retweets.
The former state champion wrestler has amassed a huge following on Vine -- 8.6 million and counting -- thanks to his comedy chops and talented parrot Maverick (the bird even has its own Twitter and Vine accounts). Paul is also pursuing an acting career, landing a guest spot on Law & Order: SVU.
This Vine star has gone way beyond the Web, with roles on TV (NBC's short-lived American Odyssey) and in movies (2014's Expelled and the upcoming The Outfield with Nash Grier) -- not to mention his 2015 win for male choice web star at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards. But he's still pulling pranks on the micro-video site, collecting 8.6 million followers so far.
The Vine OG has been making six-second comedy clips since April 2013, only months after the site's launch. He's the second-most-followed on the site, with 12.2 million fans; that big audience has come along with some controversy, including an early video featuring a homophobic slur. Grier makes his film debut this month in The Outfield, co-starring fellow Viner Cameron Dallas.
He started out as just Nash's little bro, but now Hayes Grier is a Vine superstar in his own right -- with 4.1 million followers on the site -- as well as the youngest-ever male contestant on Dancing With the Stars. All this, and he only just turned 15.
Calling all the basic b—he’s! Lohanthony takes his name from another creature of celebrity, Lindsay Lohan. The teenager gives his thoughts about his pop culture loves and loathes to his 1.5 million YouTube subscribers.
Justine Ezarik, a.k.a iJustine, shot to Internet fame beginning in 2008. Recently, she’s branched out from YouTube tutorials with TV acting roles as well as a book released in summer 2015.
One of the most successful breakouts of the Internet age, Oakley’s 7.5 million YouTube followers tune in to watch him give his opinions on wide variety of issues, from pop culture to LGBT rights. He’s leveraged his huge platform for everything from a meeting with the President to being part of The Advocate’s 40 under 40.
Beginning as a beauty vlogger at 16, she became one of the biggest figures in the transgender movement when she transitioned into a woman — and shared the entire journey with viewers. She counts Miley Cyrus — who she worked with on #InstaPride — as a huge fan.
Whether he’s playing Sheedra, Jenny, or himself, Alx James always keeps it sassy. The North Carolina native boasts over 500k YouTube subscribers, over 350k Twitter followers, and over 2 billion loops on Vine. With his hilarious anecdotes and over-the-top antics, it’s no wonder his peeps keep coming back for more.
Vine god Jerry Purpdrank has 8.5M followers that can’t get enough of his self-proclaimed “dumb stupid crazy” swag. The Boston boy and emoji enthusiast has collaborated with other Vine stars (like Alx James and King Bach) but certainly holds his own.
Everything is fair game for “that guy from Vine who’s on TV now.” King Bach’s hilarious 6-second vids have secured his status as the comedy king.
Frankie Grande’s colorful flair, massive YouTube fan following, and sparkly presence on Big Brother have solidified him as a major media mogul. Not simply tied to the screen, Grande also has a few Broadway credits under his (likely bedazzled) belt, having performed in Rock of Ages and Mamma Mia!. Oh yeah, he’s also Ariana’s brother.
After accruing a following on YouTube and landing a few film roles, the Australian singer-songwriter earned raves for the emotional pop on his debut major-label EP, 2014’s TRXYE. Sivan still spends a good amount of time catering to his dedicated social following, but has spent the past year focusing on tightening up his songwriting and developing his voice for a pop takeover. His WILD EP earned raves upon its September release, and Sivan is expected to have a proper album out soon.
Jack and Jack:
Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky have sunk their teeth into the music world after developing a massive number of fans on Vine as a comedy duo. The pair of 19-year-olds from Omaha, Neb., effortlessly transitioned from posting six-second cover songs to original pop-rap material, landing on the Hot 100 chart with “Wild Life” in 2014 and touring across North America.
Shawn Mendes will go down in history as the first legitimate pop star with looped six-second videos as an origin story. The former Vine star scored a deal with Island Records in 2014 and promptly crashed the top 40 with “Life of the Party”; 2015 was an even bigger year for the 17-year-old Canadian, who opened for Taylor Swifton her 1989 tour, landed a No. 1 album debut with Handwritten and notched his first top 10 hit with “Stitches.”
Us The Duo:
The husband-and-wife duo of Michael and Carissa Rae Alvarado have turned their nifty cover videos on YouTube and Vine into a career blending originals and homages. Regarded as the first Vine stars to sign to a major label, Us The Duo released its debut album, No Matter Where You Are, on Republic Records last year, and have continued sharing their covers to their nearly 5 million Vine followers.
This Brooklyn-based jack-of-all-trades started cranking out albums as a teenager, but settled into a nice niche as an online comedian. With almost 5 million followers to view his schlubby, self-deprecating Vines, he earned a big enough platform to put out his first book, Mega Weird: Stories from the Anxiety-Ridden Mind of Nicholas Megalis.
Power got his start ghostwriting at Bad Boy Records, then turned his artistic prowess (and top-notch physique) into successful videos in the early days of YouTube, starting with fitness bits. He’s transitioned well across emerging platforms, specializing in snappy, well-edited comedic Vines that have gotten his Twitter followers way up, too.
Kurt Hugo Schneider:
Schneider has made a big name for himself in the world of YouTube music videos. In addition to writing, producing, and directing, he also runs his “One Take” covers series, in which he and collaborators put their spin on hits like the Weeknd’s “The Hills” and Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”
It’s easy to see why Madison Beer is on the social media fast track: she’s gotten online shout outs from her friend and artistic influence Justin Bieber, and just so happens to be managed by Scooter Braun. Signed to Island Records, the 16-year old Long Island native is yet to release her debut album, but videos for songs like “Unbreakable” and “Melodies” have hit 8 figures in YouTube plays.
-- Aggi Ashagre, Katie Atkinson, Jason Lipshutz, Joe Lynch, Malorie McCall, Chris Payne, Erin Strecker, Lindsay Sullivan