Instant Influencer was a hit. Can the show's contestants convert YouTube subscriber numbers into influence? Or are they destined for instant obscurity?


Instant Influencer was a hit. The James Charles-fronted YouTube Original amassed 12.2 million views for the season finale. 

I’ve written before about Instant Influencer. I argue that the show is everything wrong with influencer marketing. It makes artiface of apology. It conflates popularity with influence. 

However, the show’s six contestants have enjoyed turbo-charged subscription growth to their YouTube channels. Will their popularity hold? Can they convert subscriber numbers into influence?

Ashley Strong: the season’s competition winner counted 24,000 subscribers the day before the first episode. Today she has 653,000 subscribers. 

Kailin Chase: went from circa. 1.5k subscribers on April 23 to 401,000 today. 

Benny Cerra: who had only posted a handful of videos before the series started jumped from 629 subscribers to 65,300 today.

Christian Perez: rose from 15,000 subscribers to 220,000.

Britany Renteria: climbed from 14,600 to 170,000 subscribers on her channel.

Gabriel Garcia: grew his channel from 1,000 to 38,400 subscribers. 

Are these big subscriber gains for the long term or are they a spike? Mark Dandy, founder of Captivate Influence, an Influencer-led, social first marketing agency, thinks viewing figures will be short lived: “I think they'll hold subscribers but lose view count".

A rule of thumb for subscription to view ratio on YouTube is around 1:10 i.e. around 8-10% of someone's subscribers will be watching their content. Dandy thinks the contestants' viewing figures might enjoy a surge in views to begin with followed by a trough in views. "I reckon these guys might get a 15-20% view rate.  But it will drop to 3-4% in a few months". 

Benny Cerra instant obscrurity

Weekly video views gained for the six contestants’ YouTube channels show a clear spike in subscriber sign ups quickly falling away after the season finale was aired.  This suggests that the quality of their content does not match their notoriety. "There will be huge interest immediately after the show to see what they're up to after the series. But shortly afterwards they just become the norm; people will probably lose interest” says Dandy.

Instant obscrurity Brittany Raquell
Gabriel Dreams instant obscrurity

At its heart influencers consistently create compelling content which sparks conversations, strengthens connections, nurtures community and converts into action.

Valuable content and consistency are the watchwords here.

“Rather than the intensity of passion, what comes up again and again is achieving consistency over time" writes Mark Schaefer in KNOWN: 'The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age' "In fact" Schaefer continues "nearly every person [I interviewed for the book] has said that consistency is the most important element in the journey to be known. Passion … that’s common. Endurance is rare.” 

I'll return to these contestants over the next few months to chart their YouTube channel growth. To date the figures suggest it will be a story of instant influencer to instant obscurity. 

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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