Which came first? Social media or the celebrity?

Celebrities. With the explosion of social media on the internet in the past decade, we can’t escape the images of Kim Kardashian’s perfect makeup contour on Instagram or Jimmy Fallon’s cheeky tweets.  They, and many other celebrities like them, have mastered the importance of supporting their personal brand with a social media presence to keep their audience  involved way past the end of an episode.

However, with the rise of social sites, we’ve seen a new type of celebrity emerge: The Social Media Celebrity.  Ever hear of Jenna Marbles?

Here’s a few others who have made a name for themselves:

So how does it work? Whether these “Social media influencers”, as many call them, blog, Instagram or post videos on YouTube, they are sure to craft a defined personal brand and attempt to offer something unique.  Heather Saul of The Independent points out that it’s not about the amount of followers, its about the number of engagements. For example, viral videos like Jenna Marble’s “How to Trick People into Thinking Your Good Looking” exposed her to an audience and opened the door to create more content for profitable gain.  It was not the amount of followers at the time that made the video successful but the amount of likes, shares, and views. Now with her millions of subscribers on YouTube and followers on Instagram, she needs to create content that compels her followers to share so that it continues to be viewed extensively.

Similar to “Traditional” celebrities, social media influencers sometimes will also use their fame to promote products, whether asked by a company or it’s a product they’ve developed themselves.  Bunny a.k.a Grav3yardgirl rose to fame on YouTube in 2010. Her authenticity, wit, charm, and self love has garnered around 7.6 million subscribers and 1.2 billion views on YouTube and 2.6 million followers on Instagram.  Bunny’s social media fame led her to link up with Tarte Cosmetics and create her own makeup palette.  Bunny now uses her social media platform to promote the product.


Social media influencers also engage in the same behavior big time celebrities do to support their fame: they network.  On YouTube and Instagram, social media influencers often give shout outs to other famous friends and often even link over to their content.  This keeps everyone’s engagement numbers high. Here’s Bunny doing just that with YouTube famous hair stylist Guy Tang.


With all this celebrity fame and, yes, even fortune, are there any drawbacks? Traditional celebrities and social media influencers alike could find that with such a strong spotlight on them, they may one day slip up and say something that their audience may dislike. The viral abilities of social media can spread such a slip up and ultimately damage that individuals image.

Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, damaged the authenticity of her image when it was discovered she used a ghost writer for her first novel. Social media followers demand a certain level of authenticity out of social media influencers because they are considered “real people”.  Heather Saul’s article in The Independant echoes this notion that followers dislike posts that feel contrived because it ends up feeling almost like an advertisement.

So whether they are traditional celebrities or social media famous influencers, their defined brand matters.  Keeping that brand authentic and unique will allow them to continue to grow their fame through the next levels of the social media era.


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