Written by a Master's Student of the Lund University School of Economics and Management
People who became famous creating their personal brands on social media:
To illustrate the opportunities social media present to individuals I would like to look at some examples where everyday people have been able to create strong personal brands and become new type of celebrities- celebrities of social media. Lets first look at second biggest social media platform YouTube, it has more than a billion users, every minute more than 300 hours of videos are uploaded on the site and everyday people watch billions of videos (youtube, n.d.).
One of the biggest YouTube sensations is Jenna Marbles or as ABS news referred to her “ the queen of clicks”. She is 28 years old girl who built her own online empire by making homemade videos from her bedroom. (abcnews, 2015). According The New York Times her YouTube videos have been watched more than billion times. (O’LEARY, 2013) 14 million people subscribe to her channel (today) that makes it 14ns most subscribed YouTube channel and most popular YouTube channel operated by a YouTube women celebrity (vidstatsx.com, 2015). According to CelebrityNetWorth.com Jenna Merbles personal brand account for 2.5 million dollars (Jennamarblesnetworth, 2015). At the moment she is so popular on social media that she has more Facebook fans than such Hollywood stars as Jennifer Lawrence, more Twitter followers that Fox News and she has more Instagram friends than such icons as Oprah Winfrey (O’LEARY, 2015).
What is the key of her astonishing success and how did she manage to build such a strong brand that led her to own online empire? She posted her first YouTube video “How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking,” and this video got viral by getting 5.3 million views in the first week (jenna-marbles.wikia, n.d.). Even though she got an instant fame because of this first video it is not enough for being a star and the real challenge is maintaining the interest of the viewers and building strong personal brand.
As previously discussed in this article strong personal brand should be authentic, built on personal values, reflect genuine characteristics, be unique, it have to reflect once talent as well as being consistent over time. Analyzing Jenns Marbles personal brand it has all of those characteristics. She is authentic because she did not try to cope anyone else, but rather she developed her own unique style, by creating humoristic videos talking about everyday things, which appeals to her main target audience- teenage girls (O’LEARY, 2015). She engages with her fans, listening to them and producing videos on the topics they request. She is consistent by posting a new video every Wednesday and never changing her style of communication, by being brutally honest, stating her own opinion and using a lot of swear words. Without doubt her talent is doing what she does in a funny way, she even refers to herself as a comedian (jennamarbles, 2015), but in wikipedia page she is called as American entertainer (jennamarbles, 2015).
Another respectful social media platform for personal branding is Instagram, it accounts as the seventh most popular social media site (bizmba, 2015). Instagram has 300 million monthly users, with more than 30 billion shared pictures, 2.5 billion likes and 70 million uploaded pictures daily (instagram, 2015).
One of the Instagram sensations is Jen Selter the 21 year old New Yorker, who posts her work out pictures. Jen Selter is in top 60 most followed persons on Instagram (Socialblade.com, 2015) By having only 520 posts (today) she has 5.3 million followers (jenselter, 2015) including such stars as Rihanna and Shaquille O’Neal (intouchweekly, 2014). Now she appears in such magazines as “The New York Post and New York Magazine, and then Huffington Post, Elle, Vanity Fairand People magazine” (Slinker n.p, 2014) Currently her personal brand is worth 500 000 $ and she earns approximately 50 000$ per one sponsored Instagram picture (thesquander, 2014).
How did this 21 year old girl, who is not even professional fitness trainer was able to build so strong personal brand on social media? According to her Facebook page she started her social media promotions because she had passion for fitness and wanted to inspire others (jenLselter, 2015), so does many others. But she was the one who got “Instafame” – term for becoming instantly famous by posting pictures on Instagram (urbandictionary, 2013) Analyzing her personal brand: key of her success is the main distinction she made compared to every other fitness trainer on Instagram, she is promoting only one part of her body and it is her butt. Now there is even new term for that belfie (urbandictionary, n.d.) this is what made her famous (intouchweekly, 2014). If we refer back to successful personal brand characteristics she fulfills them well. Firstly she became authentic by featuring one part of her body that is also her strength that he made special. Secondly, she reflects on her values of being healthy and fit by promoting her lifestyle. Thirdly, is consisted in what she does, not changing her personality, but the same time listening and engaging with her fans.
Another example of successful personal branding through social media that later turned in to million dollar company is Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni. She had passion for fashion and photography and she started her personal branding by posting her pictures in first Internet communities, this hobby made her popular already in her teenage years (ChiaraFerragni, 2014). In year 2009 she started her own blog TheBlondSalad that illustrates the mix of her interests (theblondesalad, 2012). Her popularity on different social platforms led her to collaboration with local shoe company and now she has her own shoe collection (theblondesalad, 2012). As her popularity grew more collaborations followed, and she launched team that would help to develop her personal brand The Blond Salad crew (TBS crew) (theblondesalad, 2012). Now TBS crew has grown to 16 people and runs Chairas two main businesses - her personal brand and Chiara Ferragni Collection – footwear business (Young, 2015).
Chairas Ferragni successful personal branding in social media in 2014 brought her TBS crew group 7 million in revenues, from which 5,1 millions come from her shoe collection (Young, 2015), that is also hugely advertised on all of her social media platforms and also has it own Instagram account. By building her personal brand in social media, she been able to gain extreme popularity, currently her main social media platform is Instagram (Young, 2015) where she has 3.2 million followers. Furthermore this popularity led her to collaborations with the biggest Fashion Houses, she appears in the most popular fashion journals and she is also the creative director of Chiara Ferragni Collection - footwear company, and according a Business of Fashion she is “one of the most influential personalities of the international fashion world” (Young n.p. 2015).
Her success is mind-blowing, how did teenage girl turn her hobby to a million dollar personal brand? Firstly, she benefited from the first movers advantage, at the time when she started out as a blogger, there were just a few people in Italy doing personal style blogs, but press has increased interest at blogging phenomena, therefore she got a lot of attention (theblondesalad, 2012). Secondly, she herself thinks that people liked her looks, because her style was something new, that brought inspiration, balance between mix match and combo, but the same time not too wild (Wand, 2014). She also points out that her style is mix between glamour and affordable, therefore people think they can achieve that. In her homepage she states that she always stays true to herself and in her blog she would never wear anything that is not her personal taste (theblondesalad, 2012). If we reflect back to a theory she truly fulfills all earlier discussed successful personal brand requirements.
Personal branding in social media conclusion remarks.
While social media is well utilized by celebrities, politicians and biggest brand names one of the social media phenomenon is that it provides endless opportunities for individuals to express themselves and built their personal brands. Now individuals who are able to successfully utilize social media for personal brand building are becoming a new type of celebrities. Personal brands on social media get managed as company brands and this becoming a full time job that in some cases can bring even a millions in revenues.
After looking carefully at this topic there are some question that could be razed for further discussions: When building personal brand in social media should one concentrate on personal branding strategy or on how to became viral? Is there any difference between managing personal brand on social media and company brand? What large brand companies can learn from those individuals who have been able to built their personal brands in social media?
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