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Social media is the driving force in marketing today. It's the hub for the dissemination of information, communication and beyond. Brands use it to connect directly with consumers, disrupting an entire media landscape that was predicated on platforms as the intermediary between products and the customers they sought.

One of the most interesting facets of social media dominance is the emergence of social media influencers. Some people deride influencers as merely kids making videos and posting them on social media for attention. But they are far more consequential. In fact, influencers are the modern tastemakers, with loyal audiences who meaningfully engage with their work. They drive trends and social movements and create shared cultural moments.

We showcase some of the most consequential influencers — and some influencers on the rise — in this special feature, from YouTube stars to artists, fashion designers to TV personalities, fitness gurus to gamers. We'll be rolling out our list of influencers to watch online over the next few days.

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