The toppling of traditional media started many years ago. After all, why spend $1,000 on the radio to reach an unknown audience of indeterminable size that may or may not actually be listening when you could spend a fraction of that to speak to an incredibly specific target demographic and know exactly how they respond?

Ok, you know that. But you might not know–or might not have articulated, at least–the fact that the toppling of traditional media is accompanied by another phenomenon: the rise of the “non-celebrity,” the new influencer.

Influencers have taken the power from traditional brand spokespeople (star athletes, models, movie stars, etc.). The reason? Well, it’s complicated, as a new report from Think With Google suggests. But it has to do primarily with these three things:

  1. Relationships
  2. Community
  3. Trendsetting

Building Friendships
According to the Think With Google report, which focuses on YouTube personalities, in particular, “ YouTube creators listen to and interact with their fans, resulting in communities that look more like friendships than fanships.”

  • 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities.
  • 4 in 10 millennial subscribers say their favorite creator understands them better than their friends.

Community Builders Drive Engagement
“Because creators foster strong ties with fans,” reports Google, “they have a more engaged audience. Compared to videos owned by traditional celebrities, videos created by the top 25 YouTube stars earned…”

  • 3x as many views
  • 2x as many actions
  • 12x as many comments

Trendsetters Shape Culture & Brand Perception
Fans tend to believe that YouTube creators shape trends and drive culture more than other celebrities.

  • 7 in 10 YouTube subscribers say that YouTube creators change and shape culture.
  • 6 in 10 YouTube subscribers would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite creator over their favorite TV or movie personality.

What YouTube Tells Us About Marketing
While Google’s report focuses on YouTube, it speaks a greater truth to marketing and branding as a whole. The thing that makes YouTube creators more popular and trusted than celebrities is authenticity. And “authenticity” isn’t just an abstract, feel-good term. It actually carries an ROI, as proved in a study we reported on in April 2015.

  • 63% of those surveyed buy from authentic brands over competitors that hide their true selves.

So whether you choose to partner with content creators, work with an agency, or go the DIY route, make sure your marketing is an authentic, true reflection of your company. And if that’s not a place you’re ready to venture into, then it might be time to re-evaluate what’s going on at the core of your business! Learn more about authentic marketing in my latest book, Finally Human: Using Digital Media to Restore Culture and Better Our World.

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