We are entering a new paradigm of celebrity. Social media stars today have an unprecedented level of autonomy over their brand and image, resulting in significantly greater monetization potential. This evolution of social-media fame is creating a platform shift and laying the groundwork for a new generation of companies to succeed.
What is happening?
Whereas individuals previously may have slowly grown their fame over a number of years, social media stars can now build recognition in a matter of months. For example, while Kim Kardashian spent over a decade building her following, teenage TikTok superstar Charli D’Amelio rocketed to recognition in less than a year. This pattern is repeating itself even among individuals with much smaller followings; in the TikTok Era, anyone is capable of rapid growth.
Not only has the time to recognition shortened, today’s stars can also now engage with fans almost instantaneously. Whereas the old model of engagement relied on month’s-long production cycles, social media stars are now producing content in a few minutes and live-streaming instantaneously.
Most notably, this has cut out the middle-man position traditionally occupied by large networks including Disney, Nickelodeon, and MTV. While Charli D’Amelio is indisputably the brightest star in this new universe, the same dynamics around her celebrity apply to smaller influencers as well. Consumers no longer seek the validation of institutional backing and instead prize the authenticity they find with these “independent” creators. The result is that today’s stars more closely resemble a direct-to-consumer product.
Most obviously, more money is primed to flow directly to the stars themselves. Brands who partner with these stars also stand to benefit from their marketing power. However, perhaps the most interesting angle emerging is for companies that can connect stars to monetization.
One example is Partipost, a startup focused on democratizing the influencer economy, allowing any individual to sign up for online social media marketing campaigns.
Cameo, an app that allows for paid, personalized short videos from celebrities, is another example of a company allowing even micro celebrities to cash in on their fame.
Companies will continue to emerge that benefit from the platform shift enabled by social media and this new generation of celebrity. Monetization is less likely to look like network deals and large partnerships, especially among micro influencers and stars.
Those that can connect celebrities to capital in new and innovative ways — and keep pace with the accelerating pace of recognition and engagement — have the strongest chance of success.