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YouTube and influencer business trends newsletter February 18


Hi, this is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Insider Influencers, our weekly rundown on the business of influencers, creators, and social-media platforms. Sign up for the newsletter here.

In this week’s edition:

But before we get started, Insider is looking to hire an associate media editor who will help shape our coverage of creators on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Does that sound like your dream job? Apply here. 

YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson (MrBeast) launched a pop-up “MrBeast Burger” restaurant in December with the goal of building a permanent brand, not just a one-off viral stunt. 

To do so, Donaldson partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts, a company that works with celebrities to launch delivery-only food brands.

Dan Whateley spoke with Virtual Dining Concepts’ CEO to learn more about the business of influencer “ghost kitchens.”

Here’s what he said: 

  • Virtual Dining Concepts helped the MrBeast team design a menu, secure restaurant partners, and create training materials so every product would taste the same nationwide. 

  • The company enlisted a network of 300 “ghost kitchens” (some that it owned), which paid an all-inclusive platform fee to cook and sell MrBeast menu items.

  • The company is planning to expand to 1,000 restaurants by the end of the second quarter.

Read more about the business of influencer “ghost kitchens” here.

Yahoo! News TikTok account.



Yahoo! News/TikTok.


As TikTok has grown in popularity, both upstart and legacy media companies are joining the app.

“45% of our new audience growth in 2020 was from TikTok,” Barstool Sports’ CEO Erika Nardini told Insider last month. 

Dan Whateley spoke with four media companies about how to build an engaged audience on TikTok:

  • Barstool Sports has 12 million TikTok followers and has focused on posting content that fits with what’s popular on the app, rather than repurposing its existing IP.

  • NPR’s “Planet Money” has about 300,000 TikTok followers and built and audience by converting its podcast and video content into short, funny economics explainer videos. 

  • Yahoo News has 1 million TikTok followers and regularly interacts with users in the comments section of videos. 

Read more on the strategies for TikTok growth here.

The cofounders of Studio71 have teamed up again to launch a new talent-management firm for creators.

The firm, Underscore Talent, has signed over 60 clients so far and is focused on helping digital stars expand content into areas like TV formats and short-form video.

I spoke to with Underscore Talent execs at about their plans:

  • The firm is interested in expanding clients into TV formats with partners like Roku or Amazon Prime.

  • Underscore wants to help clients create passive, ad-based revenue streams by repurposing YouTube videos for Facebook.

  • It also wants to launch direct-to-consumer brands with clients. 

Read more on the new talent management firm here.

The 19th

The 19th, left to right: Johanna Derlega, Emily Ramshaw, Errin Haines, Amanda Zamora, and Andrea Valdez

The 19th


The 19th, a nonprofit newsroom covering gender, politics, and policy, launched last January.

Mark Stenberg spoke with cofounders Emily Ramshaw and Amanda Zamora on how they set it up for growth and how they plan to grow after the Trump era.

Read more on the nonprofit newsroom, here.

More creator industry coverage from Insider:

Industry updates:

This week from Insider’s digital culture team:

most disliked youtubers list

Jake Paul, Jeffree Star, and Logan Paul were among the influencers of whom survey respondents had an unfavorable opinion.

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Rosdiana Ciaravolo/Getty Images; Morgan Lieberman / Getty Images


Insider reporter Palmer Haasch surveyed 1,000 people to figure out how well certain influencers are known and liked.

Data revealed which personalities had high unfavorability rankings.

Controversial YouTuber Jake Paul topped the list, with his brother Logan in second. 

Logan is the most well-known influencer on this list, with 30.6% of respondents saying that they knew who he was and putting him close to other big-name internet personalities like Joe Rogan, who was known by 37.2% of those surveyed.

Check out the full list here.

More on digital culture: 

Addison Rae


Todd Williamson/E! Entertainment / Getty Images



Here’s what else we’re reading: 



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