16 Rising Social Media Stars To Know In 2016

There's a new crop of fresh faces taking over the internet.

Last month, we rounded up the social media stars who tweeted, 'grammed, snapped and Vine'd their way through your iPhone screens and into your hearts in 2015. With the new year officially in full swing, there's a new crop of fresh faces taking over the internet -- and you might want to get to know them before total world domination.

At MTV News, we've handpicked the most talented young creators to watch in 2016, who are poised to make big waves within the online community. They're influencing social platforms and users all while sparking dialogue, crushing stereotypes and taking the perfect selfie. If you aren't already, #FF these 16 rising social media stars who should be on your radar in 2016.

Maddi Bragg

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: Orange County, CA

Why you should know Maddi:

Model Maddi Bragg is one of YouTube’s most edgy teenagers. The 17-year-old from California vlogs about lifestyle, fashion and beauty, releasing a new vid every Thursday for her over 1 million subscribers. Whatever you’re looking for -- product hauls, lookbooks, makeup tutorials, giveaways -- Bragg, who has worked with top brands like Nordstrom and CoverGirl, does it. Last year, she was nominated for a Streamy in the Fashion category. Most recently, she collaborated with Wildflower to design her own trendy phone case. Killin’ it. -- Deepa Lakshmin

Her guilty pleasure: "Ordering fast food late at night."

Her social media secret: "Be consistent! It's so important to let everyone know you're serious about what you're doing by posting at least once a day on Twitter and Instagram. Also, setting up a distinct schedule on YouTube and sticking to it."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "I'm most excited to travel more in 2016. I know there's going to be so many amazing opportunities this coming year and I can't wait to see all the places they take me."

Brendan Jordan

MTV News


Age: 16

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Why you should know Brendan:

Brendan Jordan first danced his way into viral stardom in October 2014 on a local newscast covering the grand opening of Summerlin Mall in Las Vegas, Nev. This brought him to another show-stealing performance: a talk show interview with Queen Latifah. As Jordan made his way into our living rooms and hearts, he also made his way onto YouTube and launched his super popular channel. In the past year, Jordan has become a social media star, an American Apparel model, an MTV Voices contributor and an icon in the LGBTQ community. Along with addressing LGBTQ issues in his videos, he was recently part of Miley Cyrus’ #InstaPride campaign, which celebrated transgender and gender-expansive people. -- Lauren Vino

His guilty pleasure: "Watching too many episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians while eating dark chocolate covered pomegranates."

His social media secret: "To have a thick skin and be able to ignore any and all hate you receive (but also pay special attention to the love)."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "Hopefully to meet a lot of new people and friends. And VidCon 2016!"

Alivia Latimer

MTV News


Age: 19

Hometown: Tampa, FL

Why you should know Alivia:

Alivia Latimer from Tampa, Fla. may be young, but she’s already making noise in the entertainment industry. Her acting credits include leading and supporting roles in various commercials and independent films. Social media, most notably Instagram and YouTube, is her latest platform. Her goal is to "discover, document and inspire," and her adventurous videos certainly capture that feeling. Her Instagram pics are also the definition of flawless. Seriously, this girl's account deserves its own museum exhibit. No wonder she has over 38,000 Insta followers. -- DL

Her guilty pleasure: "My guilty pleasure would probably be late night Instagram stalking. I could get lost on there for hours!"

Her social media secret: "My secret or 'advice' would be to make sure you're being authentic with the content you post. Finding your brand or niche in social media can be challenging, but staying true to you is the only way to succeed!"

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "I am really excited to step out of my comfort zone this year and discover the world. I definitely have many travel plans throughout the U.S. and abroad, so stay tuned!"

Bretman Rock

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

Why you should know Bretman:

If you thought Kim, Kourtney and Khloe were the queens of contouring, clearly, you haven’t heard of Bretman Rock. The talented 17 year-old from Hawaii is a makeup wizard who shares hilarious tutorials online. Bretman’s fame took off after he uploaded a video titled “How to Contour” to YouTube and the rest was viral history. Whether it’s dealing with the haters or you’re running an hour late to school, Bretman understands that the struggle is real, but with a few beauty tips, a fierce attitude and a little ~colorful~ language, you can persevere -- all while having perfectly groomed #powerbrows. -- Taylor Trudon

His guilty pleasure: "Getting more makeup."

His social media secret: "Be yourself and don't try to filter yourself out too much."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "I'm most psyched about seeing what social media has in store for me."

DeStorm Power

MTV News


Age: 33

Hometwon: Baltimore, MD

Why you should know DeStorm:

DeStorm Power is as mighty as his name suggests -- the comic actor, internet personality and current host of PUNK'D is also the owner of the 376th most popular channel on YouTube, with 1.7 million subscribers. Power really shines when he can combine his gift for comedy, his musical prowess and his social media savvy (take this rap video about how to solve a Rubik's Cube, for example). Be sure to follow his hilarious Vine, too -- about 6 million other people already have. -- Joseph Lamour 

His guilty pleasure: "Netflix and chill."

His social media secret: "Be consistent. Never stop or allow negative people to halt your momentum. Collaborate -- sharing audiences is one of the fastest ways to grow and be seen. Spread your talents to more than just one platform. There are different audiences to be reached."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "Continuing to expand my brand on TV, radio and film and seeing which new social platforms arise and take over."

Lauren Giraldo

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: Miami, FL

Why you should know Lauren:

If you put the spirit of your jokester younger brother in the body of a 17-year-old fashionista, you would get Lauren Giraldo. The spunky and outgoing Vine and YouTube star is especially fun to watch when she’s capturing spontaneous moments on the fly. Giraldo also has plenty of opinions about pop culture. Her coverage of the now-infamous 2015 Miss Universe incident was ridiculously on point and far surpassed the footage caught by many traditional journalists. We’d give Princess Lauren the social media crown any day. -- Tess Barker

Her guilty pleasure: "Postmates."

Her social media secret: "Be yourself and don't try to emulate other creators you love."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "Releasing my own music."

Raymond Braun

MTV News


Age: 25

Homestate: Ohio

Why you should know Raymond:

Raymond Braun is an activist, YouTube personality and -- no pun intended -- a beaming ray of sunshine in our social media feeds. While leading social media and LGBT marketing/partnerships at YouTube for three years, the Forbes “30 Under 30” 2016 All Star and OUT 100 honoree pioneered the platform’s wildly successful marketing campaign honoring and celebrating the LGBT community: #ProudToLove. Even though he was at the top of his game, Raymond took a huge career risk by leaving YouTube and launching his own channel where he provides support, laughs and life-saving resources for LGBT teens. As one of the most influential leaders in the digital space, whether he’s giving coming out advice or talking about dating within the trans community, his passion and commitment to youth issues is nothing short of inspirational. -- TT

His guilty pleasure: "The explore feature on Instagram. I could spend hours on there!"

His social media secret: "Don’t forget that behind every follow, like, view and share is another human being. I encourage anyone who is visible on social media to be mindful of how their actions, their words and their posts can influence other people. How do you want people to feel after they view their social posts?"

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "I’m so excited about a photo project I recently launched on my Instagram called #VisibleMe. I'm privileged to receive messages on social media every day from young LGBTQ people around the world who often feel isolated, misrepresented and invisible. Their courage and strength amidst difficult circumstances is what drives me every day. I created #VisibleMe to bring these important stories to life and make the invisible visible."


MTV News


Age: 18

Hometown: Montgomery County, PA

Why you should know Danababy:

This 18 year-old Philadelphia native consistently produces hilariously quirky videos. The subjects of her Vines and YouTube vids range from “WTF,” things reality stars say to the shenanigans she and her (also) funny friends get into at the mall. What sets Danababy apart is her unique tone -- particularly when it comes to her off-beat editing style. It seems clear we can expect even more intelligent goofiness from her as she continues to hone her distinctive voice. -- TB

Her guilty pleasure: "Seaweed snacks and K-pop."

Her social media secret: "Don't pay attention to what everyone else is doing. Just post what you like and you'll have a genuine following."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "Selena Gomez's Revival Tour!!! Also, movies like Planetarium and Youth in Oregon."

Bryant Eslava

MTV News


Age: 23

Hometown: Anaheim, CA

Why you should know Bryant:

If you dream of one day moving west and living that California life, 23-year-old Bryant Eslava is the one to follow. The photographer, who gained a following by posting his images on social media, now boasts 1.3 million followers on Instagram. Eslava's work showcases sun-kissed images of youthful beauties and internet stars, like model CoryAnne Roberts and Viners such as Nash Grier, Grayson Dolan and Cameron Dallas (who happens to be one of his best friends). He often posts images on his Twitter and also has a couple of gorgeously shot behind-the-scenes videos on his YouTube channel, showing you his process. -- JL

His guilty pleasure: "Buying something from the Apple Store every time I go in."

His social media secret: "Don't focus too much on keeping a consistent theme. It's always good to try new things and expand your work as a creator."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "All the new people I'm going to connect and work with while traveling to places I've never been to. Keep an eye out for my new work coming soon ;)."

Alexis Isabel Moncada

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: Sunrise, FL

Why you should know Alexis:

Like many teens, Alexis Isabel tweets about politics, feminism and social and global problems. Unlike most teens, this talented 17-year-old Mexican-American founded an entire website, Feminist Culture, to talk about these issues. The site gives young adults a platform to share their opinions on often-controversial topics like race, religion, sexuality and more. Isabel allows everyone, no matter how old they are or where they live, the opportunity to make their voices heard. Her goal for Feminist Culture is to raise awareness for these issues, and she's definitely accomplished that. There's no doubt she'll continue to do big things in the future. -- DL

Her guilty pleasure: "Justin Bieber's first album, My World, is everything."

Her social media secret: "Always be yourself and stand up for what you believe in. Don't take hate too seriously --there will always be people who don't agree with what you have to say. Social media gives us the opportunity to voice what we believe -- use it the best you can."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "College and all the opportunities coming my way!"

Aidan Alexander

MTV News


Age: 15

Hometown: Boise, ID

Why you should know Aidan:

Aidan Alexander began his acting career at age 5, and his success has only skyrocketed from there. The 15 year-old from Idaho has appeared in various short films and TV shows, but his social media accounts prove this actor is a true triple threat. He acts, writes and directs videos for his YouTube channel, which covers mostly lifestyle and fashion topics. (He posts a new vid every Sunday!) Last week, he rang in 2016 on Dick Clark's annual New Year's Rockin' Eve in Times Square, NBD. With over 180,000 Twitter followers and 600,000 Instagram followers, this teen is going places. -- DL

His guilty pleasure: "I love '90s music. Preferably the kind that's in those ridiculous romantic comedies. There's something about the vibe that just puts me in the best mood. I also love horror movies and re-enacting protagonist scenes."

His social media secret: "Be consistent! Never give up. It's important to consistently post and remember nothing happens overnight."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "Honestly, I'm so excited for all the new music. Every year there's all this amazing music released and I always look forward to hearing new upcoming artists release things that mean something to them. As always, I love the process of creating content across different disciplines and bringing new things to life."

Leo Sheng

MTV News


Age: 19

Hometown: Ypsilanti, MI

Why you should know Leo:

Like most college students, Leo Sheng has an Instagram account. But instead of your typical photos of fro-yo and sunsets, the University of Michigan sophomore’s feed is a personal and brave documentation of his journey as a trans man. Hailed as one of the 8 Most Inspiring LGBT Instagram Stories of 2015 by The Huffington Post, Leo gives his followers an honest look inside his transition be it getting top surgery to injecting testosterone. Having written about transgender representation in movies and TV as well as trans visibility, the film student challenges others to think deeper about the barriers the community faces. While there’s still much progress yet to be made, I’m proud to have Leo as one of the voices behind it. -TT

His guilty pleasure: "I sorta, maybe, kinda like One Direction sometimes."

His social media secret: "I just like to have fun and capture moments I really, really wanna share with folks. Does that count as a secret?"

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "I can't wait to see how many more young artists shine across social media. So many people have such strong and passionate messages, and they're so creative! I love seeing everyone's personalities come to life."

Alexis G. Zall

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Why you should know Alexis:

She may have gotten her start as a commercial actress, but the subsequent success of her YouTube channel proves she’s nothing short of a writer, producer and entrepreneur. Since launching her incredibly popular channel, Zall has gained over 800,000 YouTube subscribers, 126,000 Twitter followers and 328,000 Instagram followers. Not only is Zall successful -- she is BUSY. She writes and costars in the hit YouTube show Bomb Dot Com with fellow Internet star Shane Dawson and has appeared in multiple projects for AwesomenessTV. Zall regularly collaborates with other new media celebrities like Alyx and Andrea Russett, who she just launched an adorable advice calendar called the #LettuceGuide2016 with. -- LV

Her guilty pleasure: "Stalking f*ckboys on social media and jamming to 5SOS in my car."

Her social media secret: "If you want to be a YouTuber, make a video! SO many people struggle with how to get started, but the first step is just to make something -- anything -- even if it is terrible. Figure out what you liked/disliked about the experience and grow from there."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "I am excited to record and launch season 2 of my podcast, Zall Good With Alexis G. Zall, and a few sneaky surprises involving *Winky face.*"

Big Nik

MTV News


Age: 17

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Why you should know Big Nik:

"Big Nik" Keswani wasn't looking to become a social media sensation, but tens of thousands of Instagram followers and 2.8 million Vine subscribers later, it's become much more than a way to alleviate boredom. After hospital treatments for Keswani's rare form of dwarfism, the 17-year-old turned to the internet to pass the time. In just one of his surgeries, doctors operated on his legs, hips and ankles all at once. "I started social media because most of the time I was bored while recovering from surgery," the California resident told MTV News. Really, all you need to see to want to follow Big Nik lives in this hilarious burn he delivers to a commenter on one of his Vines. -- JL

His guilty pleasure: "Binge-watching Netflix shows."

His social media secret: "If you try and follow the footsteps of someone else, you will not succeed. Create your own footsteps because being unique is key in making a mark in the world of social media."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "Moving to Los Angeles."

Franchesca Ramsey

MTV News


Age: 32

Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL

Why you should know Franchesca:

Franchesca Ramsey is a writer, actress and vlogger in NYC, by way of West Palm Beach, Fla. Also known in new media as Chescaleigh, she became a household name when her video, “Sh*t White Girls Say… To Black Girls” went massively viral. The subversive and spot-on sketch addressed race and micro-aggressions in a way that resonated with people like never before, amassing over 11 million hits and even national news coverage. In addition to creating content for her impressive following since then, Ramsey writes for Upworthy and is the head writer and host for the MTV News webseries, Decoded. -- LV

Her guilty pleasure: "ABC's Nashville. The storylines are so cheesy, but the music is so good and Connie Britton is everything.

Her social media secret: "Tailor your message to each platform. If people are following you on more than one place (which most of them are) they're going to get annoyed seeing the same message everywhere. So for example, you have a new video. On Facebook, post with a question asking for people to chime in on the topic. On Instagram,share a behind-the-scenes photo from the shoot. On Twitter, tag and thank the people who were in the video with a link for your followers to check it out. Remember social media is a conversation, so you don't wanna sound like a robot."

What she's most psyched for in 2016: "Personally, my husband and I are going to Morocco in the spring, which is going to be AMAZING. Professionally, we have some really great sketches planned for Decoded and we're working on trying to collaborate with more vloggers and maybe even some celebs."

Gabriel Conte

MTV News


Age: 21

Hometown: Pompano Beach, FL

Why you should know Gabriel:

Conte’s background is in theater, which is a fact that becomes especially evident when watching his charismatic videos. The infectiously charming star, who has more than 225,000 subscribers on YouTube, has no problem “putting it all out there” in his posts. He willingly released one hilarious (and slightly cringeworthy) video of himself acting totally spacey after having his wisdom teeth removed. He’s also always willing to answer personal questions from fans. Oh, and he’s not so bad on the eyes either. -- TB

His guilty pleasure: "Netflix."

His social media secret: "Stay consistent, keep a consistent brand, stay true to yourselfand ultimately, have fun with what you're creating."

What he's most psyched for in 2016: "Creating bigger and better quality content for my audience, and branching off with larger properties."

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