How Social Media Celebrity’s have risen to fame

It’s now easier than ever to be classed as a celebrity thanks to social media.

The goalposts for being rated as one of the top 100 Celebrities have moved. Every spring Forbes publishes its World’s Most Powerful Celebrities listing, which use a set of complicated algorithms to work out who is the celebrity of celebrities.

In the past, if any of us wanted to rank within the elite 100 a lot of weight was been on magazine covers as this reflected ‘celebrity power’. The thinking behind this being that magazines will choose the more powerful/popular celebrities to sell their publications.

Now Forbes has moved away from this and onto something new. And one of the reasons for this change?:


“emphasis had started to reward reality stars who know how to work the tabloid media, but don’t actually have what we would consider power.” Dorothy Pomerantz – Forbes.


Forbes uses a metric which now takes into account entertainment related earnings, media visibility, social networking power etc. This in turn produces a ‘number of ways’ which measures how desirable a celebrity. Earnings carry the most weight within the power ranking.

What is most interesting is that Forbes have improved the way that they measure social-networking power.


“Some celebrities, like Justin Bieber, who is our most social celebrity, take advantage of this. Others, like Jennifer Aniston, avoid social networking like the plague.” Dorothy Pomerantz.


The reason that this came under the radar in the office was that, where as previously Forbes would just look at Facebook and Twitter numbers within the ecosystem of social tech to evaluate the social-networking pull, this year they have measured across 11 platforms including, you guessed it, YouTube.



Celebrities have become a huge part of our culture – more than ever before. We are obsessed. But the way in which we perceive celebrity has changed too:


“it’s the idea that celebrity is something you do rather than something you are”  Alice Marwick author of Status Update: Celebrity and Attention in Web 2.0

“we used to think of celebrities as someone who was famous but now we can think of celebrity as something that we can do even if only 25 people are listening.”


Enabled by social media, we now have access to the inner workings of ‘celebrity’. We have access to many Celebs every day thoughts, mistakes and melt downs. Traditionally, a publicist would control what information we had access to, but now we can hear it directly from the celebrity.


“You go from this model of very carefully managed, very carefully orchestrated celebrity image to one in which, you know it’s supposesdly more authentic” Alice Marwick


Warning: Please do not watch this video if you are easily offended. Contains strong language. 

You too can be a celebrity…

Not only do we now have more access to celebrities, but we have more information about the inner workings of ‘celebrity’. We can adopt such techniques ourselves and become ‘micro-celebrities’ in our own right. And you never know where it’ll lead from there…


Parasocial Interaction


“Parasocial interaction (or para-social relationship) is a term used by social scientists to describe one-sided, “parasocial” interpersonal relationships in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the other does not.” WikiPedia


Parasocial interaction is key to the ‘new celebrity’. Fans crave acknowledgement from the people that they desire. Traditionally, a fan could only interact with a celebrity through fan mail, autographs or going to see them in concert/film etc. Now that we have access to our favourite celebrity we can feel like we know them and our involved in some way in their lives.


Measurable Status

The only way in which celebrity could be measured in the past was through money and exposure. Social Media has given us new ‘fame metrics’ – ‘followers’; ‘views’ and ‘subscribers’ etc. All terms which we can relate to, have access to ourselves and can measure our own ‘fame’.

To conclude, The Bieber…

The Bieber (Forbes no.9 World’s Most Powerful Celebrity) is a living testament to the modern ‘celebrity’. He has more followers than the population of a small country and he gives us constant access to his daily goings on. Crucially, however, he tries to interact with his fans constantly and this interaction is what defines the new celebrity.

This does raise a question though. If YouTube is now being used within the algorithm will Psy make it to the 2014 list? (If he ever get’s paid).

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