Best Social Media Stars Of 2015
2015 was a great year to be a creator -- and it was just as magical to be a fan. Our favorite social media stars made us giggle (oh hey, Rickey), they made us cry (shout-out to Ingrid's incredible coming out vid) and they gave us some serious nail art envy (we're looking at you, King Kylie). But most of all, they made us feel something through our finger-smudged iPhone screens -- even if it was for as brief as six seconds.
As another whirlwind year comes to a close, we've ranked the social media stars who have undeniably influenced Internet culture -- and culture as a whole -- and double-tapped into our hearts through their videos, Vines, tweets, Snaps, Instas and beyond in 2015. Check 'em out below and if you disagree (or agree), you can also vote for your faves here.
Doug the Pug
In a time where internet-famous animals are ubiquitous, one must have a certain panache to set themselves apart. Doug the Pug has that panache. From his far-too-relatable videos, to his style to his undeniable cuteness, Doug's rise to stardom has been quick, but definitely well-deserved. While we've seen many adorable internet creatures come and go (what's good, Pizza Rat?), we don't doubt that Doug is here to stay. Rest assured that 2015 is only the beginning. — Erika Harwood
With more than 1 billion loops on Vine, 2015 has been infiltrated by Rickey Thompson, one six-second video at a time. Whether he’s confessing his love for “d—k” or expressing his hatred for the pickup line “Netflix and chill,” this ce-Web-rity kept us laughing throughout the year with his honest perspective and snarky commentary. — Cory Midgarden
2015 was a landmark year for Australian singer-songwriter, YouTube personality, actor and all-around wunderkind Troye Sivan. This year, he released his first major label EP, "Wild," to rave reviews and a No. 1 debut on Australian charts. He also earned a spot on the Billboard 200 at No. 5 in the U.S., as well as an effervescent tweet of approval from the ~qween~ herself, Taylor Swift.
Sivan has also been hard at work this year releasing a trio of music videos for "Wild," "Fools" and "Talk Me Down," all while leading his first worldwide concert tour for his debut album "Blue Neighborhood" -- AND he's still creating YouTube videos for his 3.7 million subscribers. Somewhere, he even found time to walk in a Saint Laurent fashion show during Paris Fashion Week. And it looks like 2016 will be just as wonderfully busy for Sivan as 2015. — Joseph Lamour
I’ve been a fan of Ingrid Nilsen’s YouTube videos — her makeup tutorials in particular — for years. She’s positive, engaging and a master of combining polished aesthetics with her endearingly goofy personality. Also, she’s willing to let HD cameras get all up in her no-makeup face, which is pretty brave. Infinitely more brave, though, is the major move she made this year: In June, Ingrid came out as gay to her 3 million (and counting!) YouTube subscribers, and… It. Was. Beautiful. On a platform that is dominated by beauty tutorials, shopping hauls, and other subjects largely attributed to the hetero-female experience, Ingrid and her nearly 20-minutes-long truth-spilling video create unprecedented visibility for femme lesbians around the world and show younger fans and older viewers alike that there is no certain ~way~ to be gay. — Gaby Wilson
While Tyler Ford’s social following isn’t as robust as others’ on this list, their impact on queer and transgender topics is immeasurable. From their work with Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Foundation to their contribution to MTV’s LGBTQA coverage, this agender 25-year-old’s online presence has helped educate and empower others to become the best possible version of themselves. — CM
The stereotype of the Angry Black Woman that paints us as loud, neck-snapping girls who exist always just above a boil has been as persistent as it is destructive. This past summer, Amandla Stenberg held her own burial ceremony for the trope when she called it for what it is, clarifying in her Twitter eulogy that she wasn't angry: "I have strong opinions." Strong opinions is putting it mildly. The 17-year-old "Hunger Games" actress and activist is fearless, whether she's expounding on the long history of black cultural appropriation or using her massive social platforms to speak out on behalf of social justice movements like Black Lives Matter. Forget Katniss, this girl is on fire. — Rebecca Thomas
Zoe Sugg, known on the interwebs as Zoella, is a fashion/beauty vlogger and author, ruling YouTube with over 9 million subscribers on her channel. Her videos range from product hauls to daily vlogs to collaborations with fellow YouTubers like Tyler Oakley and Grace Helbig. Sugg published her first book, "Girl Online" in 2014 (which outsold J.K. freaking Rowling) and the sequel, "Girl Online: On Tour," dropped this past October. The novel is currently a bestseller in Teen & Young Adult Music Fiction on Amazon. Oh, and she also snagged a Teen Choice Award this year -- Choice Web Star for Fashion/Beauty. Killin' it. — Deepa Lakshmin
When it comes to Connor Franta, the question isn't, "What's Connor been doing lately?" The question is, "What hasn't Connor been doing?"
2014 was already a monumental year for the YouTube star when he came out as gay in a moving video (that has nearly 10 million views), but 2015 is where he proved himself to be a modern day Renaissance man. With over 5 million subscribers, Connor has solidified himself as a powerhouse in the world of online video and also as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and New York Times best-selling author. When he's not helping build wells so that individuals in third world countries can have access to clean drinking water or launching his own line of coffee, he's influencing the music charts with his new record label, Heard Well. By enlisting the help of social media influencers like Lohanthony and Amanda Steele, the label produces compilation albums featuring untapped talent and undiscovered artists. (Connor's first compilation album, Crown, broke through on Billboard's Top 200. #Casual.)
Oh, and he's also a photographer who's kind of a big deal on Instagram, boasting more than 4 million followers. What platform will Connor take over in 2016? I can't wait to find out. — Taylor Trudon
It's fitting that Lilly Singh goes by IISuperwomanII, because she's a superhero on YouTube. The 27-year-old triple threat -- she's a vlogger, comedian and rapper -- has had quite the 2015. She wrapped up a global world tour and announced her first movie, "A Trip to Unicorn Island," which drops next year. She won the Streamy Award for First Person Series. Her face is on billboards in Times Square, Europe, Australia, everywhere. She released too many videos to count, including a collaboration with Selena Gomez and spot-on One Direction and "Thriller" parodies. And through all her success, she remains refreshingly humble: "Honestly, eff having stupid amounts of money. I'd rather travel the world and hug everyone. These are my priorities." — DL
I can’t tell you the last time I sat down and watched an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians," but I can tell you the last thing Kylie Jenner did, what her hair looked like and what song she was listening to in her car on the way. Why? Because I follow Kylie on every single social media platform and check them all multiple times a day.
Kylie has a knack for Snapchat in particular, using it to demolish the wall between her fans and her own real (and really fabulous) life. She used her 43 million-strong Instagram following for good this year with her #IAmMoreThan anti-bullying campaign. And not for nothing, her app is, hands down, the best of all the Kardashians’ apps because she actually has an original video franchise that's genuinely helpful. Plus, it’s hosted by our No. 1, Gigi Gorgeous, AND it has the best name of any video franchise in the history of time: “Help, My Face Is F—ked.” If anyone gets the full breadth and depth of harnessing the power of social media, it’s Kylie. — GW
2015 was, without a doubt, Gigi Gorgeous’ year. From starring in Miley Cyrus’ #InstaPride campaign to hosting a beauty series on Kylie Jenner’s insanely popular app, Gigi was everywhere. The YouTube star is smart, charming, inspiring and funny, but most importantly, she provides much-needed exposure of her experience as a transgender woman to viewers around the world.
Whether she’s answering fan-submitted questions or sharing her response to Caitlyn Jenner’s groundbreaking pre-transition interview with Diane Sawyer, Gigi is totally honest and forthcoming with advice that may be hard for viewers to find elsewhere. Her aim is simple: to help people be as true to themselves as possible. She summed up her admirable goal in an interview earlier this year, saying, "Life is too short to not do what you want to do. Let's become the most authentic you that you can be.”
Check Out The Rest Of MTV's Best Of 2015:
...And Vote For Your Own Best Of 2015: