The world is becoming obsessed with vloggers. Today, millions upon millions of people are heading online to watch other people talking about beauty, fashion, food, gaming, lifestyle and...well...any topic that pops into their heads.

Youtube has given a stage to the growing phenomenon of vlogging, which has naturally made its home on the site since its creation in 2005 - It is perhaps no wonder then that ‘Vlogging’ and ‘Youtubing’ have become synonymous.

Today, Youtube has officially overtaken satellite TV as a channel for watching content. 85% of 13-24 year-olds interviewed as part of this year’s Acumen Report are consuming video via Youtube rather than other available platforms, compared to 62% who still prefer to watch shows on TV.

At Plotto, we think Vlogging is a precursor to future media trends, rather than a fleeting internet fad. So, it’s time to weed out the top vloggers, analyse what makes them so popular and determine how you can learn from them to improve consumer interaction with online research surveys.

Zoella (UK) 11,115,186 +

Zoella has officially hit Vlogging stardom and is on her way to becoming a household name. In January 2016 she had gathered 10 million subscribers and was the first female in the UK to be awarded the coveted ‘Youtube Diamond Play Button’, marking her success.

Since her first vlog broadcast in 2009, we have been captivated by Zoella’s infectious personality, girl-next-door charm and helpful fashion and beauty tips. Her ‘get ready with me’ videos have no doubt been the go-to content for girls up and down the country and her ever-blossoming relationship with fellow Youtuber Alfie Deyes has surely melted the hearts of all her followers.

Zoella has proliferated a lucrative career from Vlogging. Nonetheless, her videos are often shot in her bedroom, sometimes without wearing make-up, with her friends and dogs within reach. She addresses the camera directly using the first person singular (I, We) as if she’s updating an old friend about what she’s been up to. This type of language adds to the connection her followers feel and further solidifies their fandom.

Often leaving in outtakes at the beginning and end of her videos, she connects viewers to the ‘real’ Zoella: Her glances into the lens and her extreme facial expressions, from screwing her face up to looking wide eyed and open mouthed at the camera, makes Zoella so captivating to watch. Her videos allow an honest and authentic peep into her life that just wouldn’t be possible if we were reading her blog--the bond we feel to her couldn’t be achieved with words alone.

Takeaway for online video research: Video can enable a powerful connection between viewer and subject. This can be used in your favour if you are recording a video question to send to survey participants, where you can use your facial expressions, tone and choice of words to create a person-to-person connection with the respondents. Or on the flip side, as respondents submit videos communicated naturally and accentuated by their facial expressions, you can learn a lot more than you would from written words alone. This depth is made a lot easier with Plotto’s facial expression analysis and sentiment analysis tools.

Good Mythical Morning  (US) 11,201,513 +

Poles apart from Zoella’s vlogging style, the guys at Good Mythical Morning have set the tone for professional Youtubing over in the US. With more than 11 million subscribers, the hosts Rhett and Link seem more like presenters than the typical UK vlogger. They host a weekly series in which they experiment with food to ridiculous conclusions. The show is broadcast from a set, rather than their own bedrooms, and the editing style is significantly more professional than many other popular vlogs. These guys bounce off each other and while they do speak directly to camera, the off-the-wall ‘banter’ between them provides the comedy connection viewers are craving. Their vocal stream of consciousness seems to be the crux of their vlogs popularity--viewers love the unbridled, honest and blunt rapport that comes from two guys riffing in front of a camera. Their relationship provides a tone simply unattainable with written words and illustrates the obvious draw to online video.

Good Mythical Morning have a whole production crew, professional lighting on a set and expert editing, with popping animations and varying types of cut between shots. Rather than a professional set-up most vloggers will use basic lighting, like a light ring, and will follow a few insider tricks to achieve a polished look to their video.

Takeaway for online video survey: Online video is becoming the norm. Shows like Good Mythical Morning demonstrate how people are shifting from TV to consuming videos on their computers, mobiles and tablets. They are also getting more comfortable in front of the camera, with Skype, Facetime, Hangouts and the rest becoming the norm. This shift offers a new opportunity for research: Where previously effort was required to put video subjects to ease, technology like Plotto means that users can record them selves directly on their everyday devices, with no downloads needed, and they are already comfortable in the situation.

PointlessBlog (UK) 5,405,497

Alfie Deyes has a whole collection of channels on Youtube, including PointlessBlog, PointlessBlogVlog, PointlessBlogTV and AlfieGames. As the long-term partner of Zoella, he has come to fame by featuring in her vlogs, as well as in his own right as a video diarist and gaming enthusiast. His vlogging style varies across his channels, from well-polished and edited to casual and chatty.

He is charmingly comfortable in front of the camera and exhibits the natural filming style that has become so common across Youtubers’ content today. The raw, open and genuine window into his life is what draws viewers back again and again.

Alfie’s videos are saturated with a particular editing style known as a ‘jump cut’. This type of edit gives a jump between shots, cutting scenes together which are extremely similar. The result is a punchy, fast-paced, hyperactive delivery which is fun and stimulating to watch.

This short video by James Wedmore, a video marketing enthusiast and prolific Youtuber from the US, gives an example of what a Jump Cut looks like. 

Perhaps this popular editing style is why we are utterly enthralled watching a twenty-something-year-old vlogger do their weekly supermarket shop or talk about why they love sweets for what seems like hours.

Takeaway for online research surveys: The quick paced rapid style of editing delivered by the Jump Cut technique can add impact to your presentations. By working out the key messages from your online video survey and then using Plotto’s showreel tool to edit the best bits together, you can make every second of your presentation count by focusing your viewers attention and adding emphasis to your research findings. Check out our previous post '5 ways to use storytelling to add impact to your presentations' for more tips.

Tanya Burr (UK) 3,586,515 + and Jim Chapman (UK) 2,608,155

Tanya and Jim both reached vlogging fame individually, but they are something of a Youtube power couple and have recently married. Tanya is a beauty and fashion vlogger and Jim focuses on men’s fashion and baking.

They chat to camera with a touch of professionalism, maintaining casual demeanours. They frequently use jump cuts when editing their videos, ensuring a fast, fun pace. And they are open and candid about their lives, home and careers, with an on-screen comfortability typical of the ‘Youtube generation’. 

Tanya Burr’s and Jim Chapman’s friendship with fellow vlogging couple Zoella and Alfie (both also mentioned in this list) is endlessly appealing to viewers. The subsequent group videos that have been posted feel like a peek into the friendship group and as viewers, we feel like we are part of their fun. The bond between the four famous vloggers is palpable from the ample footage generated from each of their Youtube channels. As viewers, we feel connected to them through shared emotions, jokes and experiences. And we feel invited into their community, just by watching.

Takeaway for online market research: Video can offer a window into the lives of your research participants. You can see them, their facial expressions and their surroundings. Plotto’s video survey tool can be used not only to capture survey responses and video testimonials, but also gather footage of participants completing tasks, using your product, going about their everyday activities or even interacting with their friends and family. 

The power of video to connect people is more apparent than ever. Billions upon billions of consumers log on to watch vloggers on Youtube every day. They connect with other viewers, they feel a bond with the vloggers and they relax into what feels like a shared experience. Video allows a deeper engagement and a more profound interaction. Most vloggers are not experts in film, editing or presenting, they are natural people making it up as they go. As increasingly more people watch vloggers online and similarly increasingly more people turn their cameras self-facing, the more comfortable we all are in front of a lens. No props, limited equipment, just raw and honest insight.