To celebrate Black History Month, ZEFR Insights tracked and ranked five of the top black influencers on the rise across YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine. As we’ve watched the digital influencer landscape continue to grow and evolve, what ties all these creators together is their ability to build highly engaged audiences by carefully maintaining authentic relationships with their biggest fans. By just being themselves and celebrating what makes them unique, they transcend expectations and deliver a singular voice that draws people into their world.
1. Marques Brownlee
Platforms: Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
Total YouTube Reach: 3,223,615
Total Social Reach: 4,504,119
97.7th Percentile in Cross-Platform Social Engagement*
Brownlee, better known to his fans as MKBHD, has been a YouTube creator since 2009, honing his unique voice as a technology reviewer. In that time he has attracted over 3 million subscribers to place him third overall in the tech category on YouTube. Originally from New Jersey, Brownlee attended the Stevens Institute of Technology before becoming a full-time YouTuber in 2015. Brownlee’s most-watched clip—a review and “scratch-test” of the Apple iPhone 6 sapphire crystal display—catapulted him to YouTube stardom when the footage was featured on NBC News, TIME’s website, and numerous other tech outlets that Brownlee beat for the scoop.
2. Tré Melvin
Platforms: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine
Total YouTube Reach: 3,028,686
Total Social Reach: 5,860,756
97.9th Percentile in Cross-Platform Social Engagement*
Originally from Cincinnati, Melvin has studied both theatre and business marketing, uniquely preparing him for his influencer role as both performer and entrepreneur. His LA-based YouTube channel, This is a Commentary, features new webisodes every Monday. The content draws from his performing arts background (comedy sketches, music, and parodies of vlog culture) and his newfound status as a bisexual role model. In less than five years, Melvin has grown his audience to 3 million subscribers and 272 million total views.
3. Teala Dunn
Platforms: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Vine
Total YouTube Reach: 1,239,337
Total Social Reach: 3,082,098
97th Percentile in Cross-Platform Social Engagement*
Known to her YouTube fans as Tealaxx2, the 19-year-old Dunn already has an impressive resume as an actress with appearances on the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet? and in the feature film Expelled. Her on-screen experience is evident in her engaging YouTube uploads; among Dunn’s most-viewed videos are variations on the timeless “Truth or Dare” game and glimpses into her daily rituals (makeup tutorials, school lunch ideas, etc.)
4. Todrick Hall
Platforms: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Vine.
Total YouTube Reach: 2,042,900
Total Social Reach: 3,057,103
89.9th Percentile in Cross-Platform Social Engagement*
Hall shot to YouTube fame when his carefully orchestrated (and choreographed) Target store flash mob (set to Beyoncé’s “End of Time”) went viral. Currently the third most-watched clip on his channel (hovering near the 14.5 million mark), the joyous stunt got the attention of Beyoncé herself (who filmed her own YouTube response) and laid the groundwork for an official partnership with the retail chain. With over 2 million subscribers and 300 million views, Hall keeps his fandom engaged with unpredictable content ranging from Disney tributes to prank calls.
5. Tianne King
Platforms: Facebook and YouTube
Total YouTube Reach: 683,428
Total Social Reach: 708,264
95th Percentile in Cross-Platform Social Engagement*
Tianne King, and her daughter Heaven, first caught the public’s attention when they appeared on The Ellen Show as a mother-daughter dancing duo. That video alone has pulled in more than 70 million views. Since their career-defining television appearance three years ago (when Heaven was just 3 years old), Tianne King’s YouTube channel is approaching 700,000 subscribers with over 250 million views across her videos. The family business has expanded into a full-on dance troupe and choreography studio, which provides fresh content for King’s YouTube channel in the form of dance tutorials and behind-the-scenes footage from the studio’s popular dance productions. The Kings’ audience appeal has been recognized by brands such as Cheerios and Gymboree.
* Percentile calculated based on 55K top-tier influencers tracked in ZEFR’s Influencer Management System (IMS)
Data Insight: Most Engaging Content Topics
ZEFR Insights also conducted an analysis of the most popular content topics from top black influncers, identified through ZEFR’s BrandID IMS data platform.
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