Most celebrities have a “pennant” or “badge” to represent their most recognizable feature. For example, Jennifer Aniston’s “Just Kids” badge represents her characters’ short-lived romance, and Brad Pitt’s “Family Guy” badge represents his character’s frequent “family” gatherings. For decades, these celebrities have been associated with particular TV shows, movies, or songwriters. However, the 2000s saw the rise of “influencers” who, instead of promoting a product or brand, use their massive followings to inspire or convince others to adopt particular behaviors or attitudes.
The Rise of Influencers
According to Influencer UK, an industry group, video content is the most shared type among people on social media sites like TikTok and Instagram (69% of all content). This content can be used to reach a mass audience and have far-reaching effects.
Why is content creation on the rise? The short answer is platform shift. As people migrate toward online spaces to share content and conduct commerce, more and more content creators are looking to get their content in front of as many eyes as possible.
Whether they’re promoting beauty products, travel destinations, workout gear, or political causes, influencers have cultivated a “following” of people who enjoy their content and want to see more of it. In today’s world of infinite entertainment options, exposure is everything.
The Influencer Effect
The effect of this trend toward content creation is called the “infuencer effect.” The phrase “infuencer effect” was first used in 2013, when the industry was in its infancy. Now, it’s a widely used descriptor for the phenomenon of celebrity Instagrammers, TikTok stars, and YouTube creators changing the way we consume media.
Since the beginning of this decade, TikTok’s biggest star, Megan Jayne Crabbe, has accumulated 77.8 million followers on the platform. With 16.8 million more on Instagram. Together, they have helped establish a benchmark for an influencer’s following on social media. It’s no wonder why people are comparing today’s online influencers and YouTube creators to legendary celebrities of the past.
This trend is changing the way we look at celebrity. Once reserved for theatrical plays and magazine spreads, today’s celebrity is now defined by our screens. And with the rise of TikTok and other platforms, the way we consume content has changed, too.
The Impact of Influencers on Marketing
The impact of this shift toward online influencers is hard to overstate. Not only are people following celebrities’ and influencers’ content, but they’re using it as a form of discovery — researching products and trends before they appear on social media.
In an age when audiences are already overloaded with content, influencers help consumers find content that is both relevant and interesting to them. According to HubSpot Blogs research, customers discovered 14% of the products they researched on social media sites like Instagram and TikTok. The impact of this type of content is far-reaching. Not only are people using these sites to find product information, but they’re also using them to express opinions and rally support for particular causes.
One example of this is Megan Jayne Crabbe, whose campaign for PETA drew an audience of 121.4 million people to a YouTube video she posted in 2018. One of the most-viewed videos of all time, it shows Megan advocating for animals while dishing about veganism, animal testing, and other topics. Since then, she has continued posting content about veganism and has even launched a vegan-specific magazine.
How Video Content is Changing the Way We Listen to Music
While video content is changing the way we interact with other people using social media, it’s also changing the way we consume music. Thanks to platforms like Spotify and YouTube, which provide millions of tracks for users to discover, video content is helping people find the music they love even if they’ve never heard of it.
Spotify’s research department found that 34% of users discovered a song they’d never heard of before because of video content. In addition, YouTube users reported that a song would often inspire them to create their own video content, including covers, remixes, and re-edits.
YouTube stars like Mark Zuckerberg’s 20-year-old music channel, Music By Me, have inspired a generation of creators who are now running circles around traditional music journalists. These young creators are pushing the envelope, experimenting with different styles, and establishing themselves as authorities on music culture and trends. And it’s all thanks to videos.
The Rise of ‘Self-expressionism’ and Authentic Content
In the past, celebrities represented a single lifestyle choice, often associated with a particular brand or product. Today, celebrities are often more like identity architects who create multiple personas to represent themselves as closely as possible. This characterful identity approach is influencing the way people are using social media platforms to find and express themselves.
In an age when the news is plagued by fake news and unreliable sources, people are seeking out content that provides them with authentic information and experiences. This desire for authenticity is influencing creators to produce content that is both honest and true to their identities. In the words of Influencer UK, “the more people can relate to and genuinely connect with your content, the more effective it will be.”
Thanks to social media, celebrities can now connect with millions of people and provide them with invaluable information and insight into their lives. Instead of just being a face on a magazine cover, celebrities can now influence their followers to change the way we live and discover new things.
The internet has provided us with the ability to discover endless entertainment, information, and inspiration, but it’s also made the world a lot bigger. Through this endless information stream, celebrities can now share with their audience, influence events, and even change the way we experience life. Through video content, they can become better advocates for the causes they support and inspire others to become more involved in social issues.
This is a far cry from the humble beginnings of the World Wide Web, where information was largely limited to a small group of people with access to computer terminals. While the internet has opened up many new opportunities for people, it has also increased the power of big media companies and celebrities, too.