A couple of weeks ago I read an article on The Ringer about Vidcon (Take a minute and go read it). Vidcon is a place where social media stars have panels and present in front of people who are either fans or aspiring stars. As I was reading this, I realized how much the definition of celebrity had changed, or rather, how one became a celebrity had changed.
The big names amongst young people around me aren’t necessarily movie stars and musicians; the names I’m hearing are ones like PewDiePie, Logan Paul, and Andrea Russett. Even DJ Khaled has experienced a resurgence in popularity from his social media usage. There are even dogs who have millions of followers.
“Making it” as a celebrity used to require getting cast in a tv show or movie or making a hit CD, and those avenues were controlled by a ton of different gate keepers. It required a lot of money and commitment from not just you but family members and friends as well.
What does it take to be a celebrity today?
It takes a phone and an internet connection. PewDiePie started his channel in 2010 streaming himself playing video games, and Logan Paul started making Vines in high school. Are there those who make it and those who don’t? Absolutely. This still requires a ton of luck. But that doesn’t change the fact it is easier than ever to “make it” as a celebrity or a star.
Their followings were built more organically than before. Many of the followers of this new kind of celebrity feel like they “discovered” them and really helped them in their rise to stardom. There’s a stronger ownership and a different relationship than we’re used to working with.
Because of that, we have to rethink how we handle influencer marketing. We can’t just say, “this person is popular amongst young people! Let’s use them”. We need to really analyze the audience following them to make sure we’re connecting with the right kind of people. We also have to think about the different audiences they connect with depending on the platform and make sure our brand is being promoted in the right place. Lastly, we have to give the influencer the creative freedom to promote the product within some parameters. They’ve built this following. They know better than us what their audience likes, and we need to trust them.