What does it take to be an influential person on the internet in 2018? While it may take more than just great social media skills, being an influencer – whether positive or negative – is all about global impact with an emphasis on one target message. With an overall ability to drive traffic and newsworthy buzz to online outlets across the globe, these influencers have somehow managed to garner cult followings with their activism, music, and ideas. Whether you love them or love to hate them, these top influential people on the internet in 2018 have something worth observing. Even though she deleted her social media accounts last year, Taylor Swift was highly influential online in 2018.
The Students of Parkland, Florida Became America’s Fiercest Voices For Gun Control
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After the horrific events in February 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 students and faculty members were senselessly killed in a shooting, student survivors have become the voice of a nation. Emerging as some of America’s fiercest and loudest voices for gun control, the young activists — Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind and more — exercised their influence on Twitter, challenging the NRA while urging followers to hold elected officials accountable.
This past March, the teens used social media to rally for new gun control laws at the historic March For Our Lives in Washington D.C.
Kylie Jenner Cost Snapchat More Than $1 Billion
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It seems like everything Kylie Jenner does is influential and somehow deemed newsworthy. In February, the 20-year-old posted a photo of her newborn baby to Instagram, revealing Stormi Webster to the world. That photo somehow managed to become the most-liked image ever posted on Instagram, overthrowing Beyoncé’s 2017 pregnancy photo.
A few weeks later, Jenner shared her lack of interest in Snapchat – on which she was the most followed celebrity. That action alone prompted the app’s parent company to lose more on $1.3 billion in market value. Jenner is now the highest-paid celebrity on Instagram, with each sponsored post worth the equivalent of $1 million.
Kylie isn’t the only celebrity whose influence delivered a blow to Snapchat.
Taylor Swift Made a Statement By Going Silent On Social Media
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After taking a few months off from the spotlight, Taylor Swift re-emerged in 2017 by deleting her social media accounts and starting all over with a series of cryptic teasers for her sixth studio album, Reputation. For someone of her caliber to have stayed silent on social media – among other things – is impressive, considering the millions of fans who await her every move.
But that move may have been more for her own sanity. While the media hasn’t always been to kind to Swift, she took it upon herself to step back and reflect, coming out stronger than ever and proving that sometimes silence is the answer.
BTS Are The Modern Backstreet Boys
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We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a seven-member boyband but we’re not complaining. Korean pop act, BTS – meaning “Beyond The Scene” – are global superstars in their own right. If you thought the screams were deafening for the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and One Direction, you haven’t heard anything until you come across BTS fans.
So how does a boyband reach this amount of success? A devoted social fanbase, of course. Calling themselves the “ARMY,” BTS fans devour everything BTS-related with YouTube views within 24 hours for their music video “Fake Love” almost surpassing Taylor Swift’s and Psy’s all-time records. The band recently won Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards for the second year in a row.
Rihanna Doesn’t Take Domestic Abuse Jokes Lightly
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After Rihanna shared an Instagram post this past March denouncing an ad that appeared on Snapchat that used her image to make light of domestic violence (of which she is a survivor) Snap, Inc lost $800 million in value.
While the singer and entrepreneur may use her voice for good, she also knows how to listen. When she heard that there was a large population that felt under-served by the fashion and beauty industries, Rihanna got to work and responded with her successful makeup line, Fenty Beauty, and lingerie line, Savage x Fenty. To no surprise, both were instant hits. That might have something to do with her savvy use of social media to market them.
The next YouTubers prove that sometimes bad behavior is rewarded.
Millions Still Support Logan and Jake Paul Despite Their Bad Behavior
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It’s hard not to think of YouTube without two of the site’s biggest stars coming to mind. Logan and Jake Paul are no strangers to controversy, though. In 2018, YouTube dropped Logan as a preferred ad partner following an incident in which he filmed himself discovering a dead body in Japan’s “Suicide Forest” while Jake came under fire for using the N-word while rapping.
Oddly enough, their fans don’t seem to mind. Logan and Jake tally more than 33 million subscribers on YouTube, 27 million followers on Instagram and 21 million fans on Facebook.
Elon Musk Will Save Us All
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It’s rare to open social media without a mention of Elon Musk. The founder of SpaceX and product architect of Tesla is constantly blowing our minds and making headlines with his ideas and findings. As of February 2018, he has a net worth of $20.8 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 53rd richest person in the world.
In January, Musk was granted a $2.6 billion award by Tesla, awarding him with 20.3 million shares, which could raise Tesla’s market value to $650 billion. While the world is in shambles, Elon Musk just might be the one to save us all.
Chrissy Teigen Sounds Off On Important Issues
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It’s impossible to not have a smile on your face when reading any of Chrissy Teigen’s tweets. She’s so down to earth, it’s insane. But that’s not the only reason why we love her so much. While it’s easy to relate to her tweets, it’s even more gratifying to find that this model uses her influence for good.
Teigen often rallies for immigration, women’s rights, and gun control, using humor and her signature no-nonsense style of forming words that we just cannot get enough of. In June 2018, she made a moving speech while holding her infant son at the Families Belong Together event.
Charlotte and Dave Willner Started The Most Successful Facebook Fundraiser Ever
Photo courtesy of the Willner family
After international horror spread of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy where more than 2,000 children had been separated from their families, Silicon Valley couple Charlotte and Dave Willner knew they couldn’t just sit by and watch. Together, they started a Facebook fundraiser titled “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child.”
The goal was to generate $1,500 for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, better known as RAICES. Instead, it became the most successful fundraiser in Facebook history, raising more than $20 million from more than 500,000 people!
Desus and Mero Are Comedic Gold
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Bronx natives Desus Nice and The Kid Mero are a comedy duo made for the internet age. They met during summer school but reconnected years later on Twitter where their jokes earned them a sense of Twitter royalty. Their combined following on Twitter currently clocks in at more than a million and that popularity led them to host gigs with MTV2 and an unscripted late night show on Viceland where they discuss politics and pop culture with featured guests.
In 2019, the duo will bring their brand to Showtime where they’ll host the network’s first weekly late-night show.
After The Manchester Attack, Ariana Grande Came Back Stronger Than Ever
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There’s really no need to question Ariana Grande’s social media presence and impact, being that she’s one of the hottest stars out there today. Having a heart of gold kind of helps too.
While she may be making headlines recently for her engagement to Saturday Night Live star, Pete Davidson, Grande is about to drop her fourth studio album, Sweetener, this August. The record is expected to dive into her life post-Manchester, along with some insight into her relationship with Davidson and more. Like Taylor Swift, Grande recently went silent on social media after 2017’s Manchester attack to regroup and focus on her music and mental health.
Naomi Watanabe Is Known As The Beyonce Of Japan
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Thirty-year-old Naomi Watanabe is Japan’s most popular social media star. While using her platform for comedy, Watanabe is also a fashion designer, challenging the long-held stereotypes that Japanese women face.
Watanabe shot to fame in 2008 after her over-the-top impersonations of Beyoncé and Lady Gaga went viral, becoming known as the “Beyoncé of Japan.” She recently snagged an endorsement deal with Gap and continues to snag seats at Fendi and Gucci runway shows. Watanabe’s own line, Punyus, released in 2014, carries sizes up to a US 16.
Roland Szabo Started The Yanny or Laurel Debate
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Who knew that an 18-year-old high school student from Georgia would divide the entire internet and become a viral sensation over something as crazy as whether or not we are hearing what we think we’re hearing? Roland Szabo is the culprit of the Yanny or Laurel debacle that all started with a clip posted on Reddit.
After a friend discovered an audio recording on vocabulary.com of someone pronouncing the word “Laurel” in a way that also sounded like “Yanny,” Szabo took matters into his own hands and posted the clip on Reddit, thinking it wouldn’t get much attention. Instead, it quickly garnered more than 3,000 upvotes within three days, becoming a viral sensation comparable to The Dress situation.
Ryan ToysReview Made $11 Million In 2017
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It’s one thing to watch an adult review music or products on YouTube, but once a kid comes into the mix, you just have to tune in! Six-year-old Ryan started reviewing toys on YouTube at age 3, but instead of reviewing a few, he went all out and reviewed 100 all at once, making him a viral sensation.
Now, Ryan shares daily vlogs where he often reviews toys while featuring an “unboxing,” which tends to rack up millions, and sometimes billions, of views! Most recently, he ranked 8th on Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Highest-Paid Youtube Stars, pulling in $11 million.
Shaun King Raises Awareness About Issues Marginalized Communities Face
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Shaun King first rose to prominence alongside the Black Lives Matter movement after utilizing Twitter to share details about the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. At the time, King, a former pastor turned journalist and activist, had 100,000 followers, but now he counts more than a million.
King’s mission is to raise awareness about the issues within marginalized communities face. In the past year, King has amplified stories about racism at Starbucks and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with one about a police officer’s sexually assaulting a Texas woman during a traffic stop that proved to be false.
Kayla Itsines Built a Workout Empire
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Kayla Itsines is the owner of a workout empire. The 27-year-old Aussie entrepreneur and personal trainer started in 2014 with a series of “Bikini Body Guide” e-books that offered nutrition advice and results-driven exercises.
As of right now, Itsines counts nearly 10 million Instagram followers and her signature app, Sweat, has been downloaded more than 30 million times, while also being the highest-grossing app in Apple’s fitness and health category, bringing in $77 million this year alone. Next up, she is working on “more holistic” product offerings for wellness goals and positive gym experiences.
Who knew this Freaks and Geeks star would be so influential online in 2018?
Busy Philipps Keeps It Real Online
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Busy Philipps has been a part of our television experience for the past 20 years, starring in Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, Cougar Town, and Vice Principals. These days, Philipps is busy living out loud on Instagram, using the platform’s Stories feature to narrate her everyday life. From some pretty rad adventures to some not so great experiences, she always manages to add her signature comedy into it all.
Because of her newfound fame, Philipps has earned herself a book deal, profitable partnerships with brands such as Michaels and Campbell Soup and recently, her own late-night talk show on E!
Kim Kardashian Spoke Up For Inmate Alice Marie Johnson
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Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian is an influencer whether we like it or not. In 2015, she was reported to be the highest-paid reality television personality, with her total earnings exceeding $53 million. But it’s not always about fame for her…okay, maybe it is but you have to give her a little credit where it’s due.
Kardashian advocated for the commutation of the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman who received a life sentence for a first-time drug offense, which was granted by President Donald Trump in June.
Kanye West’s Loyal Fans Overlook His Problematic Behavior
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Kanye West might be his own biggest fan. While his tweets are often described as “erratic,” “controversial,” “unfiltered,” and more recently, “problematic,” West recently dug his own grave by supporting President Trump by posting an image of a Make America Great Again hat and calling Trump his “brother.”
If that wasn’t enough, West even made a remark about slavery being a “choice,” leaving fans in an upset. Despite calls for West to be “canceled,” his recently released album, Ye, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, proving that positivity doesn’t always mean more followers.
All Of President Trump’s Tweets Are Newsworthy
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Who knew that a president would be utilizing Twitter so much? While President Donald Trump views Twitter as his soapbox, most of us are not impressed or enlightened one bit. As if the uncalled for insults weren’t enough, his tweets also undermine his own administration. Oddly enough though, the media gobbles whatever he has to say right up, making everything he decides to tweet out at four in the morning deemed “newsworthy,” therefore, making him a questionable “influencer.”
In November 2017, one former employee for Twitter appeared to be so fed up by Trump’s online antics that he suspended his account on his last day of work. Though he now asserts that it was all a “mistake.”