Meet the young stars turning online fame into cold hard cash
They hang out with everyone from Ed Sheeran to the Pope. Gallivant across the globe staying in plush resorts and showered with all the free clothes they want. They boast more viewers than some TV channels while brands can chuck £10k at them for posting a few Instagram snaps. And they all do this from their living room, bedroom or garden shed.
Meet the social influencers: the savvy young Brits who've become global celebs, thanks to pics and videos they share on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Whether it's Zoella becoming the UK's fastest-selling author or Joe Wicks earning £1m every month, this new breed of online stars is changing the fame game. They're so powerful, even traditional stars are taking note - Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid can make up to £100,000 per social media post.
heat has compiled a list of the UK social media sensations ruling the world from their smartphones. Wanna see the top 10?
10. Alfie Deyes (@pointlessblog), 23
[YouTube] 5.5m [Twitter] 4.1m [Instagram] 4.8m
Zoella’s boyfriend has uploaded a video diary to YouTube every since he was 15. His most popular video, has been viewed 15.5m times while Alfie’s also a Guinness world-record holder (Most Party Poppers Popped in 30 Seconds). His fanbase love him so much they snapped up copies of his despite it being largely full of blank pages. Sister Poppy’s (@PoppyDeyes) also a social media maven with 1.2m Instagram followers.
9. Dina Torkia (@dinatokio), 27
[YouTube] 589k [Twitter] 59.8k [Instagram] 1.1m
Called the “hijabi blogger” by the press, fashion designer/stylist Dina (known as Dina Tokio) started her fashion vlog while working in a call-centre. The trend-setter – who grew up between London and Cardiff – has since launched her own jewellery range, presented BBC3 shows and collaborated with Liberty London on a head-scarf collection. She still finds time to vlog beauty products such as bird poo facemasks and proudly addresses her Muslim faith in her tweets and videos.
8. Louise Pentland (@sprinkleofglitter), 31
[YouTube] 2.5m [Twitter] 1.94m [Instagram] 2.4m
Louise’s first internet project was a craft and DIY blog. It soon mushroomed into Sprinkle of Glitter, which doesn’t just cover beauty and fashion, but also personal issues such as pregnancy video diaries and discussing her mum’s death from breast cancer. She’s now got thousands of fans (they’re called #Sprinklerino’s), plus-sized Simply Be clothing line and even met the Pope at his Vatican gaff.
7. Iskra Lawrence (@iskra), 26
[YouTube] 33k [Twitter] 146k [Instagram] 3.2m
Iskra was once turned down by an agent because her hips were “too big”, but the size-14 Worcestershire model has definitely had the last laugh.
She refuses to have her Instagram shots re-touched (Iskra: “Who says cellulite is a flaw?”), calls out body-shaming trolls and stages publicity stunts such as stripping on the New York subway. It’s all led to a monster Instagram following and big-buck deals with US underwear brand Aerie.
6. Caspar Lee (@dicasp), 22
[YouTube] 7.1m [Twitter] 4.35m [Instagram] 3.8m
Caspar might look like all of 1D put into a blender but he’s also got famous mates to rival Hazza and co. Cara Delevingne, Ed Sheeran and Seth Rogen have all appeared in Caspar’s videos, while he’s been linked to Irish TV host Laura Whitmore. Caspar’s South African accent (he was raised there) voiced a seagull in while he also appeared in travel doc with ex-flatmate Joe Suggs (3).
5. Tanya Burr (@pixi2woo), 27
[YouTube] 3.6m [Twitter] 2.48m [Instagram] 3.1m
Once, Tanya’s makeup advice went no further than the Norwich department store makeup counter where she worked. Now she broadcasts them to 3.6m YouTube followers every week. Her beauty tutorials are so successful Tanya now sits on fashion week frows, has her own Superdrug range (Tanya Burr Cosmetics), has published a recipe book ( and lives with fashion influencer hubby Jim Chapman (19) in their £2m home.
4. Dan Middleton (@DanTDM), 25
[YouTube] 14.3m [Twitter] 876k [Instagram] 2.2m
You won’t know what is unless you’re: a) under the age of 10 and b) a parent. The video game is estimated to earn Dan Middleton up to $2.15m a year (£1.75m) a year, by vlogging about it from his Northamptonshire home studio. So famous even his pet pugs are online celebs, Dan angered fans’ parents recently when the fire brigade called him “irresponsible and thoughtless” for setting fire to a toy penguin with a blowtorch. He was trying to give it a haircut at the time.
3. Joe Sugg (@ThatcherJoe), 22
[YouTube] 7.8m [Twitter] 4.21m [Instagram] 5.8m
Zoella’s little bro' was a roofer (that explains the YouTube name) when he started uploading videos of himself doing pranks and impressions. Now, he’s a celeb in his own right, thanks to footage showing him larking around with then-flatmate Caspar Lee (6) or being smeared in makeup by his big sister. His videos have been viewed nearly a billion times, while he’s also written two graphic novels and briefly dated Perrie Little Mix during a whirlwind romance last year.
2. KSI (@KSIOajidebt), 23
[YouTube] 15.9m [Twitter] 2.7m [Instagram] 4.3m
runs the title of his 2015 book. He clearly isn’t. For starters, he’s got nearly 5m more YouTube followers than Zoella, is reckoned to be worth a whopping $4.5m (£3.6m) and is a part-time rapper too – last year’s album hit #13, spawning hit single (guess what – he drives one of those too). KSI has earned it all by doing the kind of job every spotty teenage boy dreams of – playing video games.
Watford-born KSI (real name: Olajide Olatunji) begun by posting videos of himself commentating and playing footie game in his boyhood bedroom. Although gaming is his livelihood, KSI’s just as likely to vlog about his KFC addiction, deceased nan or asking his mum if she’s ever owned a dildo. Nice.
1. Zoella (@zoella), 26
[YouTube] 11.6m [Twitter] 7.64m [Instagram] 10.5m
Zoella – plain old Zoe Sugg to her mum – has come a long way from the shy Wiltshire teenager who filmed make-up tips in her bedroom back in 2009. Today, she holds the record for being the fastest-selling debut author in history with 2014 novel selling 78,000 copies in its first week. You can even buy Zoella-branded lipstick and doormats, thanks to her beauty and homeware ranges. She’s a waxwork in Madame Tussauds, sung on the Band Aid 30 single and is worth an estimated £1.24m. She also reigns supreme as queen of the social media BritPack – boyfriend Alfie (10) and brother Joe (3) often pop up in her vlogs.
It’s not all bouncy videos gabbling about new eyeliners or recent ASOS hauls. Zoella has won praise from mental health charities after being so vocal about the crippling anxiety attacks she’s suffered since she was 14 which once made her so scared, she turned down the chance to meet Prince Harry.
She currently lives in a £1m five-bedroom Brighton mansion with Alfie and pet pug Nala, with her channels earning an estimated £50,000 a month. Future PM, anyone?
And the global top 10 looks a little bit like this:
PEWDIEPIE, 27, PewDiePie [YouTube] 54.1m [Twitter] 9.78m [Instagram] 12m
GERMÁN GARMENDIA, 26, HolaSoyGerman [YouTube] 31.2m [Twitter] 9.15m [Instagram] 6.6m
CAMERON DALLAS, 22, @camerondallas [YouTube] 5.5m [Twitter] 10.1m [Instagram] 18.5m
JENNA MARBLES, 30, JennaMarbles [YouTube] 16.9m [Twitter] 4.1m [Instagram] 4.3m
SMOSH, both 29, Smosh [YouTube] 22.5m [Twitter] 3.3m [Instagram] 2.8m
BETHANY MOTA, 21, Macbarbie07 [YouTube] 10.3m [Twitter] 3.9m [Instagram] 5.8m
TYLER OAKLEY, 27 [NOTE: TURNS 28 on 22 March], tyleroakley [YouTube] 8m [Twitter] 5.6m [Instagram] 6.9m
LILLY SINGH, 28, IISuperwomanII [YouTube] 11.1m [Twitter] 2.1m [Instagram] 6m
DAN BILZERIAN, 36, @danbilzerian [Twitter] 1.4m [Instagram] 21m
MIRANDA SINGS, 30, mirandasings08 [YouTube] 7.6m [Twitter] 2.4m [Instagram] 6m
You can find out the Top 50 Influencers in this week’s heat magazine, on sale March 21st