Creators. Influencers. Streamers. Vloggers. Whatever you call them, these powerful social media personalities are calling the shots in entertainment and advertising. Say hello to Forbes’ Top Creators of 2023 list.
These influencers, numbering 50 in total, have been meticulously evaluated based on earnings, follower counts, engagement rates, and their entrepreneurial endeavours, courtesy of data from marketing firm Influential. Together, they’ve generated an astonishing $700 million in revenue.
Among this impressive list are some recognisable names like TikTok sensation Khabane (Khaby) Lame, tech aficionado YouTuber Marques Brownlee, and Instagram star Monet McMichael. So, did your favourite influencer make the cut? Let’s unveil the top five from Forbes’ list:
1. Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast):
Total Followers: 312M
Avg. Engagement: 9.8%
With a staggering following of over 300 million fans, MrBeast’s reach nearly rivals the entire U.S. population. This remarkable influence is rooted in his captivating, high-production videos and daring stunts, such as enduring 50 hours in Antarctica and constructing a Wonka-like chocolate factory. Behind the scenes, the man behind the YouTube sensation, Jimmy Donaldson, has leveraged his colossal clout to amass a substantial fortune through digital advertising revenue.
His impact doesn’t stop online; it extends into the real world with a burgeoning empire of Beast-inspired brands. This includes Feastables snack bars and the burgeoning MrBeast Burgers restaurant chain. Moreover, Donaldson has a thriving merchandise line.
2. Olajide Olatunji (KSI):
Total Followers: 112M
Avg. Engagement: 6.5%
In 2009, Olajide Olatunji, aka KSI, began his online journey reacting to FIFA video games on YouTube, amassing millions of fans with his unique humor. However, KSI’s journey didn’t stop there. He smoothly transitioned from comedian to a versatile artist, venturing into music and professional boxing. In 2023, he released two hit singles and inked a multiyear distribution deal for his promotional endeavor, Misfits Boxing.
KSI now represents Prime Hydration, a role he shares with Logan Paul, who holds the #6 spot on the Top Creators list. This partnership propelled Prime Hydration to an official beverage for major sports entities like FC Barcelona, UFC, and Arsenal this year.
Despite facing controversies related to boxing conduct and occasional objectionable content, KSI possesses a unique talent for turning these incidents into heightened visibility, both online and in the boxing arena.
3. Jake Paul (@jakepaul):
Total Followers: 66M
Avg. Engagement: 1.6%
The world of controversy is no stranger to Jake Paul, the former Vine star turned boxer. He’s renowned for his eye-catching YouTube stunts, which range from spontaneous tattoos to consuming dog food and even indulging in Icy Hot baths. These antics have garnered him a massive following but have also stirred up disputes, including allegations of sexual misconduct, fan scams, and most recently, an SEC charge relating to an undisclosed cryptocurrency endorsement.
However, Jake Paul’s uncanny talent for engineering spectacles has cemented his position as one of the highest-earning athletes in 2022. Notably, he secured a sponsorship deal with Celsius, the energy drink company, launched the sports betting app “Betr,” which successfully raised $50 million in a Series A funding round, and inked an MMA contract for participation in a brand-new pay-per-view division this year.
4. Rhett & Link (@mythical):
Total Followers: 51M
Avg. Engagement: 0.85%
Longtime best friends since their school days, Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III, both former engineers, kickstarted their YouTube journey back in 2006 by sharing comedic content. Fast forward to today, their entertainment company, Mythical, based in Burbank, California, boasts a dedicated team of over 100 individuals. Together, they craft a wide range of content for their impressive 18 million subscribers, including the daily variety show “Good Mythical Morning,” the Mythical Kitchen cooking series, and the sketch comedy channel Smosh.
But their creative ventures don’t end there. Rhett and Link also venture into podcasting, live touring, and livestream events, not to mention their forays into book authoring and television show production. What’s more, their Creator Accelerator fund actively invests in emerging creators, championing the next wave of talent in the online sphere.
5. Charli D’Amelio (@charlidamelio):
Total Followers: 213M
Avg. Engagement: 0.7%
Charli D’Amelio, reigning as the leading female TikTok creator and a prominent figure on Forbes’ Top Creators list, is witnessing the expansion of the D’Amelio dynasty. Hailing from Connecticut, this viral internet sensation is now a prominent face for renowned brands such as Prada, Amazon, CeraVe, and SKIMS, the clothing line co-founded by Kim Kardashian. In addition to her thriving endorsements, D’Amelio’s own fragrance, Born Dreamer, has made its way onto shelves across the United States and Europe.
Furthermore, she’s ventured into the fashion realm with the clothing brand Social Tourist, a collaboration with her sister Dixie, who holds the #18 spot on this list, in partnership with Hollister. The D’Amelio family is currently busy filming the third season of their reality series, “The D’Amelio Show,” set to air on Hulu. Simultaneously, they’re managing their recently-launched shoe brand, D’Amelio Footwear. All of this remarkable success has unfolded before Charli’s 20th birthday.
These five influential creators are at the forefront of the internet’s digital revolution, commanding enormous communities and brand partnerships. As the influencer economy continues to grow, estimated to be a $100 billion industry, the social media space has never been more exciting to be a part of. We eagerly await how this ever-evolving landscape will shape our future.