With more than a billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours and generating billions of views -- that's approximately one-third of all people on the Internet we're talking about -- YouTube has become an extremely powerful discovery and promotion platform.
It’s borderline insane to not have a presence on YouTube these days. That's why I've been making that task a priority for my agency. But things are about to get even better: For 2016, we have a pretty clever web-series planned that will be hosted on YouTube.
If you too are considering starting a YouTube channel -- or want to take your current channel to the next level -- take a look at these seven channels that are doing it right, I have no doubt that you will be able to pick up some valuable information by watching these successful channels and taking notes.
1. Prank vs Prank
Prank vs Prank, a YouTube channel started by Jesse Wellens and Jeana Smith, a real-life pranking couple, has grown into one of the most popular prank-theme channels. With more than 9.3 million subscribers, Prank vs Prank is clearly doing something right -- after all, there is a never-ending supply of prank channels to select from. Everyone is an aspiring prankster these days, it seems.
There are two things that stand out in my mind -- the authenticity and the fun factor. The couple, who recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary, are 100 percent themselves on their channel -- there is no "act" or "fake persona" here. Also, their pranks are fun and feature topics that are highly shareable, which no doubt has helped them build a strong and loyal following.
2. Casey Neistat
Casey Neistat is a New York-based filmmaker and the co-founder of Beme, a video-sharing app. He has created videos for some of the largest brands in the world: To get a sense of his style, take a few minutes to watch this movie he made for Nike. It’s nearing 17 million views and is a perfect example of how creative Neistat is, both behind the camera and in the editing process.
His videos have always been epic, but what I believe has really taken his channel to the next level are his daily videos. A new video is added every day at 8 a.m., taking viewers inside his world -- startup life, movie-making, family, the city, etc. Neistat’s channel is one that I visit daily, even on the weekends, becausehis videos are so brilliant. And I’m not alone, as he has more than 1.6 million subscribers, a number that continues to climb quickly.
3. Tiger Fitness
You would think that a channel for one of the largest online supplement websites, TigerFitness.com, would be filled with ads and promo plugs. That’s not the case at all, thanks to Marc Lobliner, the company CMO and CEO of MTS Nutrition and Ethitech Nutrition.
Lobliner speaks his mind and doesn’t hold anything back. Instead, he covers a wide variety of topics, including bodybuilding, supplements, family, social life and anything else he thinks his audience will connect with. Tiger Fitness is a perfect example of how to build a following by providing value, without asking for anything in return. Where do you think the more than 270,000 subscribers buy their supplements? What brand do you think they are loyal to? This is a perfect example of content marketing done right.
Related: How to Start a YouTube Channel
4. Jenna Marbles
Approaching 16 million subscribers, Jenna Marbles’ YouTube channel is one of the most popular and successful, ranking in at number 18 on the Top 50 Most Subscribed Channel List. That statistic is even more impressive when you consider that six of the channels ranking ahead of her are VEVO music channels for the likes of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Eminem, Katy Perry, Rihanna and One Direction.
What really stands out is the simplicity of her videos. There is no wild production -- just Jenna being Jenna. She handles 100 percent of her writing, filming, editing and uploading -- there are no production teams or networks involved. She’s a one-woman YouTube tycoon. Marbles’ success is also a great reminder that you can build a wildly popular and engaged channel without fancy equipment and production.
5. Lilly Singh
Lilly Singh, or Superwoman, her YouTube username, has built up a subscriber base of more than 7.3 million people who engage, religiously, with her channel. In addition to running her channel, Singh is a stand-up comedian, rapper and motivational speaker.
She has two characters in particular whom she portrays, in reaction videos that are among her most popular. The characters are based on her parents. What really stands out to me, though, is the collaboration videos that Singh makes with other YouTube stars. Collaborating with other channels that have large audiences in the same genre is a great way to cross-promote and expose your talent or product to an entirely new audience, further building your subscriber base.
6. Nicole Arbour
The most controversial YouTuber of 2015 has been, hands-down, Nicole Arbour. Her channel gained serious momentum after her “Dear Instagram Models” video dropped; the channel practically exploded once “Dear Fat People” dropped. That video caused such an uproar that it is was temporarily removed by YouTube, but was later restored.
That controversial video led to several media requests, including an appearance on The View, which was the most-viewed episode of the season. The lesson here? You will never be able to please everyone -- even satire can be misinterpreted by some, and cause a backlash. Rather than crumbling and throwing her hands in the air, however, Arbour stuck to her guns, didn’t apologize and continued to make videos, growing her audience to more than 274,000 subscribers.
7. The Dominic Show
Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, the creator of The Dominic Show YouTube channel, took an interesting path through the entertainment world before becoming a full-time YouTuber. Sandoval was a contestant on the third season of So You Think You Can Dance, and won the third season of America’s Best Dance Crew as a member of Quest Crew. He later became a judge on ABDC.
His channel, a mix of dance and comedy, is subscribed to by more than 2.5 million YouTube users -- a clear indication that Sandoval is creating video content that really connects with people. The biggest take-away from this channel: Be yourself and let your true personality draw your audience members in and keep them engaged.