Becoming YouTube famous is a modern phenomenon. With just a computer and a camera, you can broadcast your face around the world. YouTubers have quickly grown to a new level of fame, rivaling that of athletes and celebrities. However, even in the ever-changing world that we live in, the presence and influence of athletes are immutable.
Athletes are competitors, first and foremost. They’ve made it to where they are because they give their all every day. They’ve become role models to us as a result. They have achieved what we can only dream about. In that capacity, we strive to be like them. YouTube stars, on the other hand, are more on our level, less what we strive to be.
In the Times list of the 100 Most Influential People, there is one YouTube personality and seven athletes. They are pioneers, icons, and inspirations. On social media, besides their fans, athletes are followed by celebrities, musicians, authors, and other athletes who can spread information to their fans who can spread to their fans and so on.
In a random sample of 100 followers of an athlete and a YouTube star with similar follower counts on Twitter (5.3 and 5.15 million respectively), the athlete’s followers had an average of 379 more of their own followers. That means that when something is re-tweeted from an athlete, around 379 more people see it than if it were re-tweeted from a YouTube star.
Although these public figures have a similar amount of followers, the athlete is searched for vastly more on Google, as you can see below. The red is how often the YouTube star was searched for and the blue is the athlete with a similar following.
Additionally, there are so many athletes to choose from. Just in North America, we have the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, each with 30 teams or more, at least 20 people on a team. At the very least, that is 600 active athletes at any given time. And that isn’t even counting the NWHL, MLS, UFC, and WNBA, not to mention individual athletes such as tennis players and Olympians. Among these athletes, you can find one that fits any profile imaginable.
YouTube stars, on the other hand, have much less variety. YouTube accounts with the most subscribers, besides celebrity accounts, mainly rely on comedy and gaming commentary. They don’t have the range and diversity in their audience that athletes do.
Sports are unavoidable. If someone isn’t into sports, you can be sure they know someone who is. Even someone with the smallest knowledge of sports knows the face of Cristiano Ronaldo or has heard the name Derek Jeter. So why not take advantage of that when marketing a product?