What can the world's biggest YouTubers teach business leaders?

Story highlights

  • YouTubers are some of the most influential people on the planet
  • The stars of the internet can sell-out stadiums and have millions of followers
  • Businesses are reaching out to social talent to build their brands
'Thinking Business' focuses on the psychology of getting ahead in the workplace by exploring techniques to boost employee performance, increase creativity and productivity.

(CNN)The biggest stars on the planet are emerging from our screens, but not the ones you first imagine, TV or cinema -- they're coming from YouTube.

YouTubers, those producing content solely on the video sharing site and Vloggers, bloggers but on video, are the talking heads of the global social phenomenon and command a fan base into the tens of millions. Their video views have now reached well into the billions -- a number most business people can only dream about.
    While vlogging may have once been thought of as a fad for Millennials, many business people and leaders could benefit by taking tips from successful vloggers whose reach seems unstoppable.
    Here are a few pointers from managers of the most influential stars:

    Be authentic and unique

    The key to being successful online is doing something that you're passionate about. Most bloggers began by sharing their own views in their own way, focusing on what they're good at rather than taking over the world.
    "When the vloggers started out, it wasn't because they saw a gap in the market or had a business plan," said Dominic Smales, founder of Gleam Futures, which manages some of the top social talent. "It was created purely as a creative outlet rather than any specific game plan and that gives rise to the enormous credibility to their output," he added.
    "Each talent is unique. You'll see a rush to market with lots of people trying to emulate the success but over time, the top talent will emerge and stay on top," he noted.

    I didn't choose the Youtube life, the YouTube life chose me.

    A photo posted by PewDiePie (@pewdiepie) on

    PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg): Age 25
    YouTube subscribers: 36.4 million
    Views: 8.7 billion
    Twitter followers: 5.9 million
    YouTube debut: 2010
    Vlogs about: Gaming

    Rome wasn't built in a day

    Smales hasn't seen any overnight successes. He believes it's something that's been built up over time, several years in some cases.
    "This is something these guys have been working on for years, making content tirelessly in their bedrooms," he said.
    "People are now suddenly taking notice and saying "Oh my god, look at the overnight success this girl has achieved", but it's not -- it's years of toil."
    Zoella (Zoe Sugg): Age 25
    Subcribers: 8 million
    Views: 435 million
    Twitter followers: 3.2 million
    YouTube debut: 2007
    Vlogs about: Beauty, fashion and lifestyle

    Work with the competition

    Business leaders may think it's counter-productive to work with their competitors and promote their products, but that's exactly what vloggers have done and it's helped their followings grow.
    "The creators give rise to growth for their channels by sharing content and appearing in each other's videos -- it really is a community," Smales said. "By the act of sharing the audience with your community, you actually increase engagement rather than trying to shut down the competition."
    Pointless Blog (Alfie Deyes): Age 21
    Subscribers: 4 million
    Views: 231 million
    Twitter followers: 2.4 million
    YouTube debut: 2009
    Vlogs about: Anything and everything

    Engage with your followers

    YouTubers are in constant contact with their followers. Instant feedback and the close contact allows them to tailor output to what their fans want.
    Liam Chivers, who heads OP Talent, managing big names like Ali-A and KSI, says a key to success is about being able to relate to their subscribers. "KSI is really good at speaking to fans -- he really tries to engage with everyone on his channel and he once thanked every person who tweeted about buying one his music tracks -- probably near 1,000 individual mentions. This makes his followers really feel like they're involved."
    KSI Olajidebt (Olajide Olatunji): Age 21
    Subscribers: 12.8 million (over two channels)
    Views: 2 billion (over two channels)
    Twitter followers: 1.8 million
    YouTube debut: 2009
    Makes videos about: Mostly the FIFA football video game, but also makes comedy and music videos

    Content is king

    It's a cliche but the content created by the vloggers is what is behind their success and it has nothing to do with the growth of YouTube.
    Speaking about KSI, Chivers said: "He's very personable and the fans feel they can relate to him. He played the UK's biggest game but what set him apart was his content and that's what got people heavily into -- his content is so much more than videos about FIFA.
    "Building the brands of talent like Ali-A has meant we can help other real life brands expand their reach."
    Ali-A: Age 21
    Subscribers: 8 million (over two channels)
    Views: Over 1.5 billion (over two channels)
    Twitter followers: 2.6 million
    YouTube debut: 2006
    Known as: The "golden boy of gaming" for his great presenting style