Images: Storm Santos; Styling: Anna Schilling
Alex and Alan Chen Stokes— better known as The Stokes Twins— have been cultivating a presence on the internet since the mid-aughts. They’ve been through it all: the YouTube boom, the rise and fall of Vine, the takeover of TikTok and everything in between. As of 2022, they have the ninth largest YouTube channel, which has continued to be the primary space for their comedic videos.
Alex and Alan do it all. For more than a decade, they’ve been committed to their two-man show that writes, produces and edits all their own content. This hard work has earned them 6.4 billion views across their platforms.
Recently, The Stokes Twins opened up more about this journey. Read the full conversation below.
You first joined YouTube in 2008. Why did you start making videos?
Alan: We got our first camera around that time, so that’s when it all started. We ultimately began making videos for our friends and family to make them laugh. We just loved seeing everyone’s reactions.
What has been the key to growing your audience over the last fifteen years, especially as new platforms like Instagram and, later, TikTok popped up?
Alan: We got our first phone at the age of 19—which was about five years ago, and the first platform we began posting to was Instagram. The number one thing we found that was most effective for engagement was to stay consistent with posting. We mainly just began posting videos that we thought were funny.
Do you have a favorite platform?
Alex and Alan: YouTube is definitely our favorite platform. We have a lot more freedom to post what we want because it’s more longform content. It’s tough to show your full creative side and your humorous side in a shorter video. It’s great to have the audience’s attention span for longform as well, which is a lot longer than the other platforms.
When did content creation pivot from hobby to career?
Alex and Alan: We would definitely say when our first YouTube video went viral, we were already living in California and were sleeping in our car and couch surfing. After that first viral video, we were able to make enough money to rent an Airbnb and then from there, an apartment. The return that we’ve received has been incredible, and just keeps growing. We definitely still see it as a hobby because we have so much fun creating content, so it doesn’t feel like work.
How has being twins benefited your roles as influencers?
Alan & Alex: From a viewer’s standpoint, it’s unique because you don’t really see a lot of twins when it comes to content. From a business standpoint, it’s been helpful because with pre- and post-production, sometimes people wish they had a clone to get more work done. With a twin, you have someone who is on the same page as you and knows exactly what to do—and can get the work done the way you want it done.
What is the secret to keeping fans engaged?
Alan: There’s not really a secret, but a lot of people don’t enjoy what they’re doing and they do it for the wrong reasons. If you’re genuinely having fun the fans can tell and appreciate that.
How do you want to continue to evolve your content as you approach your late 20s?
Alex & Alan: We’d say we’re hoping to evolve just by trying to make each video better. It pushes us to be more creative. Staying creative and on top of trends is important, but also keeping it in our own style. Filmmaking and directing is something we’d like to do and are hopeful that we’ll do, so essentially what we’re doing now but on a grander scale.
Do you have any particular upcoming projects you are looking forward to?
Alex & Alan: Not really a project, but more of a change of life. We bought our first home recently, so we’ve been doing a lot of renovations. We’ve put a lot of energy into it and we’re excited to film content there and show everyone the new place.
Photography by: Storm Santos