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Celebrities in the Age of Social Media: Can everyone be famous?

Social media influencers have risen to fame in recent years, with many now household names. The increasing popularity of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok has given users a unique space for themselves to create a relationship with their audience and build a profile. This makes us wonder- where do celebrities stand in this dynamic? As more of them turn to social media to communicate with their fans, are they cultivating a position for themselves within the social media realm? How different is this position from the space that influencers occupy, and can everyone be famous?

The Traditional Celebrity vs The Influencer

A celebrity in the traditional sense is usually someone who has garnered fame through their work in entertainment or sport, often in movies, music or TV.

However, online influencers have recently started to enter this space, using their platforms to develop a following. As influencers gain more and more traction, brands flock to them for deals and endorsements.

The role of the ‘traditional celebrity in the wake of this new dynamic is constantly evolving as some celebrities willingly take on social media to build closer relationships with their audience, while others use social platforms sparingly or even not at all.

Audience Relationships

Influencers tend to be more close-knit with their followers, often letting them into their lives and sharing personal stories; they develop their following through this relationship. The daily content that influencers produce and the time they take to engage with their audience often result in them having more influence over them, with followers often trusting them and feeling like they know them personally.

Traditionally, celebrities tend to use social media for brand partnerships or to promote their work rather than for creating a bond with their fans. Their offline following follows them onto their online platforms. In the past, stars have pulled stunts on social media in a bid to garner attention for their new projects, as opposed to using it for an insight into their personal life. Blake Lively famously deleted all her posts from Instagram in 2018 and then in 2019, each time to promote her upcoming projects ‘A Simple Favour’ and ‘The Rhythm Section”.

Celebrities & The Pandemic

As the pandemic and restrictions have made it hard for celebrities to interact with their fans in the usual ways that they used to – through events, interviews, or even getting photographed on the street, many have been turning to social media to remain in touch with their audience.

While some have managed to use these platforms to their advantage, such as Selena Gomez through her cooking series on IGTV, others haven’t been so successful.

Gal Gadot’s infamous ‘imagine’ video featuring a host of celebrities was perceived to be tone-deaf as celebrities, most of whom weren’t known to sing, collaborated for a rendition of the iconic song from their luxurious homes during a time when most of the world is struggling with health and financial issues.

Influencers’ Rise to Fame

With influencers growing in popularity and brands seeing the value they hold, there has been an increase in their involvement in mainstream media.

More opportunities have been opened up to influencers in the offline entertainment space. HRVY recently appeared in the 2020 series of Strictly Come Dancing, Callux & Sarah Close were used in a TV advert for Olay in 2019, and James Charles was invited to the prestigious Met Gala.

However, the move from influencer to celebrity is usually an uphill battle that only a few have managed to win, including the likes of KSI, Joe Sugg and Saffron Barker.

Today, the road to becoming an influencer has become somewhat of a simple and sometimes incredibly fast process.

In the past, content creators often started out on YouTube, regularly sharing videos and slowly building a relationship with their audience by letting them into their private lives over a long period of time.

The rise of Instagram and TikTok has sped up this process and has allowed creators to amass a large following quickly, from a few pieces of content, sometimes even from one video overnight.

‘Cancel Culture’: Celebrities vs Influencers

Even though it is now quicker for influencers to grow large followings, these can be taken away just as easily.

Followers have become more aware of their role in the rise of an influencer, meaning that there is little room for error. Even small mistakes can cause irreparable damage and risk an influencer’s reputation, as followers quickly abandon and ‘cancel’ them, creating a ‘cancel culture’, which popular influencers like Jacklyn Hill, Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson have been victims of.

On the other hand, celebrities are usually able to emerge from such incidents, with a firmly cemented place in popular culture through their jobs. Stars like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Brad Pitt have all recovered from varying levels of crises, with it having little impact on future work.

Celebrity Endorsements vs Influencer Campaigns

So when it comes to Celebrity Vs. Influencer, which is more effective for a brand?

Audiences identify with the influencers they follow, and they are known to be trusted sources of product recommendations due to the personal connections they share with their followers.

Using influencers for product promotions also allows brands to effectively target their customers by filtering followers for demographics like location and age and working with influencers known in a particular space.

On the other hand, celebrities are aspirational and looked up to by many – holding qualities that can be associated with products they endorse. Celebrities are also able to reach a wide audience through a variety of means, including print, television and even social media. So, who works better depends on the needs of each product and brand.

Can everyone be famous?

The pandemic narrowed the gap between the traditional celebrity and influencer as popular artists turned to social platforms to communicate with their fans; this trend is predicted to continue in the post-covid world as audiences grow increasingly accustomed to close interactions with their favourite stars.

The rise of social media influencers has paved a new path for advertising and marketing and has even changed what is perceived to be aspirational by audiences worldwide. Social media has made fame seem a lot more accessible. Teenagers who once dreamt of becoming famous celebrities one day can now log onto Instagram or TikTok and amass a large following, sometimes overnight!

As the road to becoming an Influencer becomes more accessible, we will see more people trying to develop a platform. In January 2021, there was a 90% increase in the search team “how to become an Influencer”, and this is a trend we predict will continue to grow, with some universities even offering degrees in the subject.

With more people to choose from, it becomes even harder for brands to choose who is best to work with and what will deliver the best results. When putting together a campaign, there are so many different things to consider, and it can sometimes become a bit of a minefield.

However, at each&everyone, we make this easier for you! Using our years of experience and bespoke analysis tools to take a deep dive into an Influencers profile, looking into factors such as their content quality, communication skills, and credibility, that help us calculate their genuine influence and determine who will generate the best results for your brand.