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Traditional Celebrities vs YouTube Sensations

Photos: YouTube Music & Glamour

When thinking about traditional celebrities, my mind goes to who I see on television, like Adele and Julia Roberts. For many decades, television was the primary medium for people to consume news and entertainment. The marketing was strategic in showing off these celebrities in every advertisement, promoting their new upcoming movies or television shows and updating the public on who’s kissing who, brutal breakups and the latest fashion trends. But the rise of YouTube has contributed to the downfall of television and people’s distaste for advertising is prompting a redefinition of the word “celebrity.”  Now, you can click on YouTube videos and see common folk share their opinion and what is going on in their life and are setting the trends. Youtubers are now seen as celebrities due to their overwhelming influence and hold over Gen Z. But why are people obsessed with YouTube personalities? 

Photos of Julia Roberts, a more traditional celebrity, whereas KSI represents the YouTube infuencers.
Julia Roberts is a more traditional celebrity, whereas KSI represents YouTube influencers.

From my perspective, YouTube stars are better at developing relationships with their viewers. Some traditional celebrities put on this illusion that their life is perfect; they always seem to act according to their PR strategies rather than of their own free will, meaning that people can’t relate to them. It is hard to understand where a carefully staged image ends and the real person starts. YouTube personalities connect better with their audiences, as their audience views them as real people because they show the good and bad. They are not afraid to speak on personal issues such as divorce, mental health, racism and sex. In a way, some YouTubers can feel like friends who give you advice, make you laugh, teach you something, and warm your heart. For example, YouTuber Gabriella Lindley documented her battle with her mental illness in her video, ‘The Honesty Diaries: Finally Fighting Back’. This was eye-opening to watch; she is candid about what went on behind closed doors and she advocates for other YouTubers to speak up about their mental illness battles to raise more awareness. Traditional celebrities tend to team up with organisations that support mental health, but this isn’t to say they don’t share their mental health journey. A prime example of this is Selena Gomez’s documentary from 2022, where we saw snippets of her struggles with bipolar disorder and how it affected her mentally and physically. She showed her fans the realities of living with bipolar disorder and what she gets up to in her everyday life, creating a deeper connection with her fan base. 

YouTubers set the trends and shape pop culture. 70% of subscribers say that YouTube personalities change and shape pop culture and 60% of them say they would make buying decisions based on the recommendations of their favourite YouTube star over the recommendation of a television or movie star (Forbes, 2017). This shows just how powerful and influential YouTuber stars truly are; this is why brands collaborate with them. KSI (Olajide Olatunji) and Logan Paul, two YouTubers turned businessmen, created the sports drink PRIME, which has gained enormous market traction since its launch in January 2022. PRIME's incredible success can be attributed not only to its tasty beverage but also to its smart partnerships with major players in the sports and entertainment industries. This is a shining example of two popular YouTubers joining forces to dominate a specific brand they know their fans will go crazy for. Needless to say, the brand sold out within hours of them releasing it. 

YouTube stars drive more engagement, meaning you can leave comments under videos, thumbs up the video, and share videos making interactions engaging more likely than not YouTubers will respond to comments or like the comments making their viewers feel seen and appreciated for all their support and love. On the other hand, reaching out to traditional celebrities and receiving a personal reply isn’t something you can imagine. The relationship YouTube content creators develop with their fan base leads to higher engagement and viewership due to many factors, one of these being the consistency of content. Some YouTube stars make their sole income on YouTube, so to have the money rolling in, they need evenness of content creation. Traditional celebrities will come out with movies, television shows, and new albums which take a lot of time and dedication and they can’t inform their fans until it’s ready or they might release a teaser, and even then, do you still feel they could do more to connect with their fan bases? Traditional celebrities often have a wider reach and larger fan base due to their exposure to mainstream media. They also have access to bigger productions. On the other hand, Youtbers have a more direct personal connection with their audience, allowing for a more interactive and engaged community. 

The influence of YouTube personalities may fall flat with older generations, who tend to prefer traditional media such as television and newspapers where traditional celebrities still steer the conversations. But with Gen Z, this new influence is at an all-time high. Both have their place in the entertainment industry and continue to shape popular culture in their own ways. 


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