What does it take to be famous?
It used to be that famous people existed only on the big screen. Now the game is largely dominated by the little one — the mobile phone. Mobile platforms such as Instagram, Vine, YouNow and Musical.ly are what appeal to the Gen Z generation — ages around 10-23 — and they have transformed who is a celebrity and how we interact with them.
Traditional celebrities are essentially untouchable — they are nearly impossible to engage with without going through various barriers of entry (i.e. an agent, manager, etc.). In contrast, social media influencers break down these barriers on social media platforms, allowing users to instantly join the conversation. Moreover, consumers are primed to want to interact as they are fed real-time information about influencers’ everyday life filtered solely to videos, pictures and text about subjects they already care about.
“During the Depression, the biggest industry was entertainment. There’s a good reason for that — when people are sad and they see something that will make them happy even just for a few seconds, they like that,” said Arsen Pereymer, who has ownership of several influential social media accounts with access to over 250 million followers. But influencers don’t just entertain — they also create trust and deep engagement with their audience.
The need to find information on your favorite social media star has led Famous Birthdays to quickly become the market leader for influencer information. Famous Birthdays (famousbirthdays.com) started out as a site featuring traditional celebrities’ birthdays. Soon they discovered that users wanted to know about a new breed of social celebrities that didn’t already exist on IMDb, the market leader for Hollywood information. Famous Birthdays pivoted and built the market-leading platform for social media influencer birthdays.
Today, Famous Birthdays is a discovery platform for all kinds of celebrities. It provides fun, unique information in mobile-friendly format — including career highlights, what the stars did before being famous, their family life, and who they’re associated with. The site also allows users to support their favorite influencers by clicking the ‘boost’ button. These measures of popularity make social media celebrity status trackable.
Key to the discovery of celebrities is the site’s specialized search engine, which can filter very specifically so you can find people you relate to. Let’s say people born in Houston, 23-year-olds, and YouNow stars. The search engine has exploded in viral growth — currently it is used 10 million times per month. One of the cool features is that the data can predict who will be the next big celebrity: the ones who are commonly being searched for but do not yet have pages. These are fast-tracked to become new additions to the site (all content is written by staff, often based on information the celebrities themselves send in).
One example of celebrities newly in demand are stars from Musical.ly, a new mobile music app for lipsyncing, where users can lipsync and followers can watch. Influencers on this platform can have 5 to 10 million followers.
“The stars become famous, so we started adding them to our site,” Famous Birthdays Founder Evan Britton said.
Famous Birthdays is growing, receiving about 12 million unique users per month. Britton says, “A Famous Birthdays profile has become a status symbol for social media stars. We used to reach out to the rising stars to get them profiled; now they contact us to pitch themselves.”
This is probably because being on Famous Birthdays helps validate their fame. Now they can say they have the same birthday as other, more standard celebrities — they are therefore featured the same day — allowing them to cross into traditional fame territory.
“There’s so much attention to mobile devices, the technology is so fast, and it’s such a quick and easy experience that you have the time to digest more content information. You can watch videos of celebrities having dinner at their kitchen table or getting their wisdom teeth out. The passion for today’s influencers definitely outweighs the passion for celebrities 10 years ago because there’s just so much information. With the mobile device, people are always connected — and this is what they’re interested in. There’s the opportunity for more platforms to grow,” Britton says.
What do social media influencers mean for our future? Here are several trends:
People pay attention to these social celebrities; through various social media platforms, they interact with them everyday. Their sheer influence over their fans will continue to change the face of advertising, media, and beyond. Who are your favorite celebrities?
Chairman and CEO of Traction + Scale
Deborah Fishman works in community building as a writer and network-weaver. She is also the founder of the FED social club (www.fedsocial.co)
Snackable Media Network