By Cami Nicoll
Influencers, Influencers, Influencers. Nowadays they’re popping up just about anywhere and everywhere, making me wonder what qualifies a social media influencer to cross over into celebrity status. The widely popular app TikTok, which launched conveniently before the pandemic hit, is now home to 689M active users. Shortly after this launch, many TikTok users and their 60 second videos began going viral overnight, thus creating new household names and millions of dollars in brand deals.
Can famous TikTokers like Charli D’amelio with a staggering 115.5M TikTok followers consider themselves at celebrity level? At first I would’ve told you no way, but then I saw her on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and it completely changed my thoughts on the success of these self-made influencers. My previous perception of talk shows as a rare insider look at some of Hollywood’s biggest A-listers are now shared with 15 year olds who do dances in front of their iPhone.
So what makes someone a celebrity? Are celebrities and influencers even distinguishable at this point? These are all questions I’ve had over the past year or so following the launch of ultra-successful app TikTok, worth $60B and rapidly inclining.
One distinguishable feature between traditional celebrities and social media content creators, however, is that with influencers, you’re constantly seeing their content on your apps at any time and anywhere. The masses are able to access that content on a daily basis and for free so you may start to feel as if you know them, whether than tuning into traditional scheduled entertainment that you have to wait for. Traditional celebrities back in the day, before social media, typically were one of two kinds: television/movie actors or music artists. Whereas now we are constantly able to keep up to speed with the influences of today, putting up a divide from the traditional celebrities who grew their fame without social media and were unreachable if you didn’t tune in to the television channel every Thursday or go to the theater to see the movie during its limited box office window.
Growing up, I personally remember the days where my favorite Disney and Nickelodeon stars were only accessible if I tuned in during their show’s scheduled programming each week, and that was the only time I would get to see them. Now with influencer content at your fingertips and constant disposal, I feel like the novelty of true celebrity-ship has worn off. This poses the question: Would these influencers’ fans pay to watch them in movies or purchase their music in a world where we are already getting so much of their content on a daily basis for free? The answer, I am unsure.
However, The advantage to the modern day influencers is that we can get a stronger feel for their personalities since we have constant access to their content, which can make them feel more relatable to their fans. On the other hand, this accessibility to influencers can also be negative since anyone is are able to comment directly on any action or mistake they make and pick them apart so publicly.
As long as TikTok is alive and well I don’t see any slowing down for these viral influencers. Is this the new normal or will there still be new celebrities that don’t come straight from the social media world? With this ever-changing and rapidly evolving technological world, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.