In 2011, an unknown five-person a cappella group called Pentatonix won the TV show The Sing Off. On the show, talented vocal groups compete as they perform in true a cappella fashion without lip-synching or instruments of any kind. "That was sooo good," gushed judge Sara Bareilles after the quintet's very first performance (Katy Perry's "ET"). "I feel like Katy's in the room with us." The group's astonishing harmonies and unique innovative sound blew the judges away; Pentatonix won a recording contract and $200,000.
Since their Sing Off victory, Pentatonix's popularity exploded to epic proportions. They released best-selling CDs. They were featured on every talk show from Tonight to Today to Katie Couric, and even made a Sesame Street appearance.
The group, which includes Scott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan and beatboxer Kevin "K.O." Olusola, was written about everywhere. But most notably, the group made a staggering social media splash.
Pentatonix has always been heavily involved in their social media. "After we won The Sing Off, we didn't want to stay in the background," says Grassi. "Reality show stars can be a bit of a flash in the pan because the next reality show comes along and people quickly forget about them. But we wanted to make sure that we maintained our presence in the music industry."
And maintain they did! The group posted content on YouTube and interacted with fans on Twitter and Facebook. "We were so heavily involved and interactive on social media, that boosted us and it just snowballed from there," explains Grassi. In fact, the Pentatonix YouTube channel has more than 335 million views and 4.7 million subscribers. They have more than one million Facebook fans. Their latest video, a cover of "Say Something," was posted in late February, but already has nearly 10 million views on YouTube. And their current 2014 world tour is mostly sold out.
A number of celebrities have been social media pioneers. Using Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, they have found unique ways to connect with their fans. Who are the most successful social media superstars? (Hint: One of them has 51 million Twitter followers and counting!) Look at this slideshow on Parade.