YouTube? So Five Minutes Ago as Meerkat, Periscope Turn Users Into Stars

Matthew Santoro - H 2015
Courtesy of Matthew Santoro

Matthew Santoro - H 2015

Snapchat and Instagram also are making celebrities out of enterprising personalities.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

YouTube stars and Vine sensations populate THR's Digital Power list this year, but by 2016 it could be full of Meerkaters, Periscopers, Instagrammers and Snapchatters — or maybe some entirely different social networking phenomenon now being dreamed up in an app-developer's basement.

Take Instagram. The photo-sharing site has been around for a while, but only recently have stars begun to emerge. The flamboyant comedian calling himself The Fat Jewish (Josh Ostrovsky) has amassed more than 5 million followers just by posting tasteless jokes, while Elliot Tebele has made a name for himself under the Instagram name F—Jerry. "Instagram is a fantastic medium for our content because it is suited well for photos and text-based posts, which is most of the FJ feed," says Tebele. "Other platforms have their limitations: Facebook limits your reach, Twitter is primarily text-based, Vine is shortform, SnapChat is too in-the-moment. With Instagram people tend to look at every image on their feed and interact with it on a more regular basis."

On Snapchat, creators like Shonduras (real name: Shaun McBride) and Jerome Jarre have found fans for their video and photo montages annotated with drawings. The newer live-streaming apps have their own stars: On Meerkat, which counts CAA, UTA and WME as investors, creators are becoming famous for niche "stream-casts" like real-time cooking lessons on SwedishFoodTV and a live sketch comedy called Drunk Puppets. The No. 1 Meerkater — she tops its "Leader Board" with a score of 781,000 — is model-actress Nora Segura, who shows more than a little skin during her live feeds. The first home-grown star on Periscope, meanwhile, is artist Amanda Oleander — she has 29 million "hearts" — who gives live tours of Los Angeles.

Smart YouTubers and Viners are turning these emerging platforms to their advantage. YouTube comedian Matthew Santoro, who has 4.3 million subscribers, has been using Periscope to share his less-polished videos. "People are discovering me there and then watching my YouTube channel," the 29-year-old Canadian says. "Every time I see a comment on my Periscope asking, 'Who are you?' that's exciting because I know that's an opportunity to gain a new fan."