By now, it’s obvious (or should be) that influencers are equally as good, if not better, for a brand’s image as a mainstream celeb. When marketing toward Gen Z and Millennials, influencers are seen as a trustworthy signal of a product or service’s true value, as YPulse data shows: 50% agree that “If someone posts an endorsement for a brand, I believe they actually like that brand.” So, it’s key that brands are in tune with what influencers, especially TikTok creators, are reaching their desired consumers.
Our data shows that when it comes to who they trust for product recommendations, influencers are the best source to young consumers; meaning, if brands want young people to want a product the first time they see it, they should see it from an influencer they already love. TikTok creators are especially looked to: 66% of Gen Z say that TikTok has their favorite celebrities/online creators, and 47% say they would be more likely to buy a product their favorite online celebrity recommended. YPulse keeps up with which influencers are amassing the most attention on the app, showing exactly what content young consumers are buying into and from whom. Today we’ve rounded up some of the most popular TikTok creators and influencers right now:
Alix Earle: 4.4M followers
TikTok creator Alix Earle is a 22-year-old college student from Miami who recently blew up (like 2M in a month blew up) for her “get ready with me” content. Coming from a wealthy family and previous relationship with Yankees player Tyler Wade, Earle is basically the epitome of “That girl,” but more humble about it than most. A sorority girl by day (and night), and an influencer the rest of the time, Earle is a leader in product recommendations for makeup, self-care, and clothing. In the last few months, she’s been on huge beauty brand trips, made content with Rare Beauty founder Selena Gomez, and all the while, posted her day-to-day going to class life.
Recently she stirred up quite the controversy, though, after sharing her top Amazon purchases from 2022, and on the list was the wildly popular Mielle Organics’ Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil, a product well known and used in the BIPOC community and designed for curly and textured hair– content that has been called out as another example of White creators mis-appropriating BIPOC women’s beauty practices. But Earle, despite being the catalyst of the issue, did not suffer damage to her reputation or following, and continues to be a TikTok it-girl brands want to work with. In the short time since her follower gain, she’s been a paid partner for Princess Polly, Charlotte Tillbury, Spectre luxury yachts, and many more.
Matt Rife: 7.6M followers
Lately, TikTok has been thirsting over Millennial Matt Rife, a 27-year-old actor / comedian best known professionally for his self-produced comedy special Only Fans (2021), his appearance on Bring the Funny, and his guest appearances on Wild ‘n Out, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Fresh Off the Boat. But now, he’s known more on TikTok for his stand-up crowd work, and the flirty tone he takes with his audiences—feeding into the exact image of him his young viewers have latched onto. He’s TikTok’s heartthrob, and he’s not shying away from it.
But with this aspect of his newfound fame comes something unique to social media fandom: thirst edits. Hashtag #MattRifeEdit is currently at 73M views with a seemingly never-ending amount of fan video edits of his glow up from corny teen to hilarious hunk, clips of him saying sexy phrases during comedy events, and slow-mo renditions of him wiping sweat off his face (or undoing his belt with one hand). Fans are even shipping him with It-girl Alix Earle, because if they can’t have him, they hope their other favs can.
While Rife is not actively posting branded content, that doesn’t mean he and influencers like him can’t be an asset to a brand. Nowadays, the simple presence of a TikTok creator at a brand event can make it seem more important to young consumers, showing them their fav creator supports a brand without ever having to say so directly.
Suburb Talks: 1.4M followers
Six California college students make up the cast of Suburb Talks, a podcast they describe as “Just a group of best friends sitting down and talking about anything and everything from past childhood experiences to our own opinions on relationships.” On TikTok, they’ve blown up from short clips of the more than an hour-long episodes. Posted to host Nick Grajeda’s account, they’ve amassed 1.4M followers who feel like close friends of the hosts after getting to know their personalities and group dynamics (though they are lovingly named the suburb stalkers as a fandom). Whether they’re debating the differences between girls and guys or sharing their thoughts about flirting and relationships, and always making fun of each other in the process, the clips garner anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of views.
They’re conquering long form video, too, as the pod is posted to their YouTube channel, where they have 330K subscribers. And they’ve already ventured into brand partnerships, with video sponsorships from brands like water-bottle flavoring Airup to making content for Tinder’s own YouTube channel. Again, while they aren’t often doing direct product endorsements, especially in their TikTok clips, their partnership with Tinder shows how a brand can reach influencer’s viewers through their own accounts just by featuring them, and letting algorithms do the rest.
Monet McMichael: 2.9M followers
Monet McMichael makes beauty and lifestyle content—the kind that make viewers feel like you’re on FaceTime with your bestie. And as a Black Puerto Rican woman, McMichael reflects the much-needed diversity in the beauty content creation realm. She recently got the spotlight as she posted content from the somewhat controversial, prolific Tarte trip to Dubai—but in a good way. While viewers critiqued promotion of such an expensive trip during hard times for young consumers, they also showed love to McMichael for bringing representation to the exclusive space of the beauty industry most often occupied by White influencers. And they called to attention the fact that though she has as many millions of followers as others on the trip, she was not verified on TikTok like the rest, which was to them a clear sign of less value being given to people of color on the app. She has since received the check mark she deserved and continues to make the content that got her there. The brand collabs she incorporates into her GRWM videos are especially important to her followers because so many beauty content lovers are used to seeing products reviewed only on people with lighter skin, and her content shows if products are inclusive of deeper skin tones.
Chris Olsen: 9.7M followers
Originally gaining popularity for relationship content with his ex-boyfriend, Chris Olsen is now an internet bestie to all who has ascended social media stardom into red-carpet invitee level fame. Just this weekend, he posted videos from the Grammys letting Swifties and Harry Styles fans in on the most exclusive moments he observed alongside his date Dylan Mulvaney, another viral internet sweetheart known for her “days of being a girl” series. He’s also become known for his content with best friend Meghan Trainor, interviewing celebs at award shows, and delivering coffee to celeb friends (and even the vice president) a plane ride away.
Olsen has done a wide variety of branded content, with everyone from Domino’s to Zip Recruiter to Express. He’s even recently started his own brand called Flight Fuel coffee (named after the previously mentioned coffee delivery series). He brings humor and personal stories to his brand collabs, making them engaging for his followers like a story time would be, while still nudging them toward supporting the brand. Olsen is an example of an influencer who doesn’t review products, but instead acts as a sort of spokesperson for a brand on TikTok, making branded content flow into the regular feed of his followers’ FYPs—a strategy YPulse data shows many brands are wise to be tapping now.