At this year’s SXSW, a group of the hottest social media celebrities and influencers took the festival by storm, to unprecedented results. The Facebook, YouTube, Vine and Instagram stars who attended SXSW 2016 included Jon Paul Piques, Arantza Fahnbulleh, Max Isidor Jr, Joey Salads, JoJoe, Jason Mendez, Gabriel Valenciano, Matthew Windey and more.
“Native Digital,” a new app platform that seeks to facilitate collaborations between influencers, brands and creative professionals, brought the group together. The platform will be available in beta next month at www.native.digital, and fully launched by the Cannes Film Festival on May.
The festival kicked off the weekend with an official panel featuring the influencers, and was moderated by veteran sports and entertainment publicist and CEO of CW3 Public Relations cw3pr.com, Charley Cullen Walters. Despite the panel occurring at the exact same time as Obama’s keynote speech, the room was filled with over 600 people in attendance and lines out the door due to capacity restrictions. Obama himself acknowledged the Influencers power, stating, “The reason I’m here really is to recruit all of you…it’s to say to you as I’m about to leave office, how can we start coming up with new platforms, new ideas, new approaches?”
The panelists touched on many relevant topics, ranging from their rise in followers to how they monetize their content. They each discussed how their growth in online stardom was organic, and that they did not intend for this to be a full-time job. When asked about the key to their videos’ success, Piques told the audience that “our videos are relatable, and ones you want to share with friends because you think that’s me, that’s a situation I’ve been through in my life,” with Max Jr adding that “comedy is important too, the videos have to be funny.” Gabe Valenciano also related to the audience that he believes “one thing that gives us an edge: we are just normal people, ones that youth can relate to.”
YouTube sensation Joey Salads discussed how his videos were a bit different from the rest of the group. Rather than comedic videos, Joey’s motivation in his videos is to stir up comedy and “make people feel a certain way.” He shared an anecdote with the audience about his activism for the rights of breastfeeding mothers. He did a video interview with a woman who was recently shamed on a United Airlines flight for breast feeding, which was picked up by Huffington Post and went viral with millions of views. “United, a billion dollar company, came to us and asked us how to fix this…it just shows how much power these videos have. They are in the process of changing their policy as we speak.”
Arantza Fahnbulleh discussed the differences between men and women on social media. Noting that most female social media celebrities prefer to do make-up or modeling content, Arantza, a comedian and writer, implored female audience members to create more content. She also commented on her joy of collaborating with the rest of the social media stars, saying they treat her like one of the guys. The panelists all noted a sharp uptick in their viewership after they began working together – a unique collaboration in a world where most social media stars are one-man (or woman) shows.
Throughout the rest of the festival, the panelists acted as SXSW ambassadors to the official brands and partners. The group attended and promoted activations and events for Samsung, Budweiser, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and more. Each brand or platform recognized the growing impact of these influencers, as they continue to collaborate closely with them to reach an audience of billions. Media outlets like AOL and Entertainment Tonight
The Social Stars postings with the #sxsw hashtag also comprised the most of the whole festival, more than any mainstream tv, film or music celebrity, with reach in the 60-100k range per post for likes and shares.
The Native Digital group’s next big activation will be at the Cannes Film Festival. Links to their social media platforms are below.
Miss Hattan (Natalie Amrossi)
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/