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An Internet celebrity, blogebrity,[1] cyberstar,[2] online celebrity,[2] micro-celebrity, Internet personality, or influencer[3] is someone who has become famous by means of the Internet. The advent of social media has helped people increase their outreach to a global audience. Internet celebrities may be targeted by companies who would like them to advertise products to their fans and followers.



A micro-celebrity is a person famous within a niche group of users of a social media platform. Micro-celebrities present themselves as public personas to be consumed by others. [4]

The Internet allows the masses to wrest control of fame from traditional media, creating micro-celebrities with the click of a mouse

Rise of social mediaEdit

Social media had its start via the launch of platforms such as the PLATO system and ARPANET, as well as the rise in popularity of the electronic bulletin board system (BBS).[citation needed], often credited as the first social media platform, launched in 1997. Users were able to upload a profile and make friends with other users.[6] Social media has become a central part of not only communication, but social life, businesses, and news publishing. Some of the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter. [7]

Becoming an internet celebrityEdit

Millions of people write online journals or weblogs. In many cases, these contributions do not make the writers notable on a large scale, or only for people with the same specialist interest. If the author has or develops a distinctive personality, the author may rise to fame derived from this, as much as from the content of the writer's blog.[2]

In some cases, people might rise to fame through a single event or video that goes viral. The Internet allows videos, news articles, and jokes to spread very quickly. Depending on the reach of the spread, the content may become considered an "Internet meme" and, thus, any of the people associated may gain exposure for posting content. For example, Zach Anner, an Austin, Texas-based comedian, gained worldwide attention after submitting a video to Oprah Winfrey's "Search for the Next TV Star" competition.[8]

Internet celebrities have also become a popular phenomenon in China with the likes of Sister Furong (Fu Rong Jiejie), who received worldwide notoriety and fame for her unashamed efforts at self-promotion via Internet postings.[9]

The concept of web celebrity ties into Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame. A more recent adaptation of Warhol's quip, possibly prompted by the rise of online social networking, blogging, and similar online phenomena, is the claim that "In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people" or, in some renditions, "On the Web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people".[10] This quote, though attributed to David Weinberger, was said[10] to have originated with the Scottish artist Momus.[11]

Social media personalities often function as lifestyle gurus who present a particular lifestyle or attitude to their spectators. In this role they may be crucial influencers / multipliers for trends in the fashion industry, variously also becoming popular ("wikt:fashionista") as fashion bloggers or (unlearned) fashion designers.


Self-branding, also known as personal branding, is the behavior of individuals to intentionally develop of public image for commercial gain or social/cultural capital.[12] The rise of social media today has been quickly taken advantage of by individuals with motivations such as promoting personal fame and product sales. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Vsco are the most common social media outlets on which online influencers establish their impression for the public. Fame is often reached through modeling, arts, humor, podcasts and other media forms with significant amounts of followers and accurate target audience for promotion and influencing of any sort. Experts on marketing have concluded that "No longer does a person need to be familiar with complex coding languages or other technicalities to build Web sites, because virtually anyone can upload text, pictures and video instantly to a site from a personal computer or phone. With technological barriers crumbling and its increasing ubiquity, the Web has become the perfect platform for personal branding"[13]

The Youtube phenomenon and "vlogging"Edit

PewDiePie: The most followed YouTuber and an Internet celebrity

YouTube has risen as one of the biggest birthplaces of internet celebrities. Youtube allows individual users to videotape and visualize their daily lives and uploading for the whole world to see. This activity is called video blogging, or vlogging. Youtubers today, regardless of genres and types of videos they make, have grown into an industry with financial gains from greater amounts of views and higher popularity. One good example is YouTuber gamer and streamer PewDiePie," through live streaming gameplay footages on Youtube, with around 95 million subscribers as of May 2019. He has regained his status as the biggest current youtube channel.[14]

Vidcon, 2017

300 hours of video content is uploaded to Youtube every minute, with 5 billion videos watched every day.[15] Individuals are creating videos, sketches and uploading them onto social media platforms, such as Youtube, in return for disposable income. Variety published an article in August 2014 that stated that YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebrities among U.S. Teens.[16] Advertisers needed to start looking elsewhere to reach teens and millennials who were not watching regular television and movies. Many started contacting Internet Celebrities. [17]Youtube now has 1.5 Billion monthly active users, and many Youtuber's have millions of subscribers. [18]Youtube stars appear to have a greater influence on the millennial population than traditional celebrities. One of the main reasons behind this is that the majority of millennials do not watch TV. They prefer to use their handheld devices, quickly accessing these internet platforms that are full of non-traditional celebrities. [19]70% of subscribers say that YouTube personalities change and shape the pop culture and 60% of them say they would make buying decisions based on the recommendation of their favorite YouTube star over the recommendation of a TV or movie star. [19]


Wanghong ( “网红”), or internet fame in Mandarin, is the Chinese rendition of internet stardom. The term is also used to describe the Chinese digital economy based on influencer marketing in social media.[20] Wanghong has been predominantly used to generate profits via retail or eCommerce, by attracting the attention of celebrities' followers.

According to CBN Data, a commercial data company affiliated with Alibaba, the Internet celebrities economy was set to be worth 58 billion yuan in 2016, more than China's total cinema box office revenue in 2015.[21]

There are two main business models in the Wanghong economy: Social Media Advertising, and Online Retailing.

In the online retailing business model, eCommerce-based Wanghong involves the use of social media platforms to sell self-branded products to potential buyers among followers via Chinese customer to customer C2C websites, such as TaoBao. Celebrities work as their own shops’ models by posting pictures or videos of themselves, wearing the clothes or accessories they sell, or giving distinctive makeup or fashion tips.[22] The celebrities serve as key opinion leaders for their followers, who either aspire to be like them, or look up to them.

Zhang Dayi, one of China's best known Wanghong, with 4.9 million Sina Weibo followers, has her online shop in a TaoBao website, reportedly earning 300 million yuan ($46 million) per year.[23] This is comparable to the $21 million made by Fan Bingbing, a top Chinese actress. Li Ziqi, a celebrity food blogger, has over 16 million followers on Weibo and has inspired many bloggers to post similar content on traditional Chinese cooking and crafts.[24]

In social media advertising, internet celebrities can be paid to advertise products. When celebrities have garnered sufficient attention and following, advertising companies approach them to help advertise products, which can then reach a large user base.

Censorship in Chinese media has created an entire social media ecosystem, that has become wildly successful in its own way.[25] For every social media platform in the Western world, there is a Chinese version of it, and the Chinese version can be equally successful. In China, the social media platforms used are different from those used in the West, but the results are the same - the platforms generate revenue. The greatest difference between Chinese Wanghong celebrities and their Western counterparts is that the profits generated by Chinese celebrities can be immense. Unlike YouTube, which takes a 45% of the commission on ads,[26] Weibo, one of the biggest social media platforms of China, is not involved in advertising, which allows internet celebrities to be more independent. Monthly incomes can exceed 10 million RMB ($1.5 million) for those at the top.[27]


Chiara Ferragni is a fashion blogger and designer on Instagram. She is known for her sponsored fashion posts and brand she created.

Different types of online celebrities make money in varying ways, but most make money from endorsements. Online celebrities use their fame to promote products or experiences to their fanbase. These products are marketed by using the celebrity to give credibility to a certain product.[28]For example, Youtube celebrities can make money directly through their Youtube channel by using ads or by sponsoring products. Youtube has a program, called Adsensethat allows Youtubers to gain revenue from ads and views. In order to be monetized and use Adsense, Youtubers must fulfill some requisites: have more than 1,000 subscribers, live in an eligible country, and have more than 4,000 with hours per year. [29]Youtube can be a lucrative platform for Youtube celebrities like PewDiePie who made US$15.5 million in 2018. Youtubers can also expand their source of revenue by creating their own products or merchandise to sell.[30]Similarly, fashion bloggers and Instagram celebrities can earn money by promoting brands in their platform and many developing their own brands. Bloggers will feature sponsored posts in social media to make profits. [31]For instance, fashion blogger turned businesswoman, Chiara Ferragni started off as an online blogger and then gained millions of followers on Instagram. She later created her own brand, the Chiara Ferragni Collection. She like many other Instagram influencers started off by charging per post for promoting brands. She now gets paid a large but undisclosed amount of money per Instagram post and from the revenue of her brand. [32]


Meetups are often a way Internet celebrities engage in to meet and interact with fans. Occasionally an Internet celebrity has naively invited fans to meet him/her at a certain place and time, without proper organization, attracting crowds of fans, causing disorderly and even unsafe situations. Tanacon is an example of an organization involving a group of internet celebrities that were set to meet paying fans but did not follow through. Because of the unorderly setup, the meetup resulted in chaos.[33]

Alternatively, it can be organized in a venue with security personnel. An active organized meetup called Vidcon is a yearly event designed for people interested in online video. VidCon invites Internet content creators to participate in functions for paying fans such as performances, panels, and meet and greets.[34]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^
    • Michelle Meyers (1 June 2005). "Do you have 'blogebrity' status?" CNET News.
    • Ron Rosenbaum (31 October 2005). "Frenzy of Judyism May Augur the Dawn Of New Neural Age". New York Observer
    • "E-Branding The Red Light District". WebNewsPro. 5 September 2006.
    • Kevin Smokler (1 October 2006). Citizen Media: The High School Years". Fast Company.
    • "Perez Hilton says he's an 'outsider'". USA Today. 6 November 2006:
    • Christopher Williams (15 March 2007). "Lego, Superman and the US Army". The Register.
    • Shivam Vij (5 May 2007). "Blog Baron of Agra". Tehelka.
    • Beth Merchant (1 June 2007). "CS3 Up Close". Studio Monthly.
    • Samantha Wender (11 September 2007). "The Brightest Stars in Cyberspace". ABC News.
    • Chris Hudson (2008). "Bad Girls Go Digital: National Selves, Cyber Selves, Super Selves". Youth, Media and Culture in the Asia Pacific Region (eds. Usha M. Rodrigues & Belinda Smaill), Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781847184603, page 137.
    • Jory Des Jardins; Jennifer L. Jacobson (2009). "Forward", 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business. Super Star Press , ISBN 9781607730149 page 1.
    • "Pleasing with persona". National Post. 8 March 2010.
    • Maggie Parke; Natalie Wilson (2011). "Fanpires: Utilizing Fan Culture in Event Film Adaptations", Theorizing Twilight: Critical Essays on What's at Stake in a Post-Vampire World. McFarland & Company Inc. , ISBN 9780786463503, page 36.
  2. ^ a b c Jason R. R. Rich (2009). "9. Become Famous as a Blogger". Blogging for Fame and Fortune. ISBN 978-1-59918-342-8.
  3. ^ "What are influencers? definition and meaning". Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  4. ^ "Instagram micro-celebrities". Marketing Weekly News: 149. 2018-05-05. ISSN 1944-2424.
  5. ^ "The new fame: Internet celebrity" at CNN
  6. ^ "Then and now: a history of social networking sites". Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  7. ^ "Most popular social networks worldwide as of April 2019, ranked by number of active users (in millions)". The Verge. 2018-06-20. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  8. ^ Rich, Gerald (June 16, 2010). "Zach Anner flattens 'Next Oprah' competition". The Daily Texan. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  9. ^ Celebrity in China. Hong Kong University Press. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b Weinberger, David (July 23, 2005). "Famous to fifteen people". Archived from the original on December 14, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
  11. ^ Momus (1991). "POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! In the future everyone shall be famous for fifteen people..." Grimsby Fishmarket. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  12. ^ Khamis, Susie; Ang, Lawrence; Welling, Raymond (2017-04-03). "Self-branding, 'micro-celebrity' and the rise of Social Media Influencers". Celebrity Studies. 8 (2): 191–208. doi:10.1080/19392397.2016.1218292. ISSN 1939-2397.
  13. ^ "ScienceDirect". Retrieved 2019-04-01.
  14. ^ Tobin, Ben (April 2, 2019). "PewDiePie back on top as largest YouTube channel over Indian music label T-Series". USA Today.
  15. ^ "36 Mind Blowing YouTube Facts, Figures and Statistics – 2017 (re-post)". Videonitch. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  16. ^ "YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens". Variety. 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  17. ^ "The end of Hollywood and the rise of social media celebrities". VentureBeat. 2015-03-13. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  18. ^ "YouTubers vs. Celebrities: See Which One Outperforms The Other". Mediakix | Influencer Marketing Agency. 2018-04-19. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  19. ^ a b Network, Under 30. "Why YouTube Stars Influence Millennials More Than Traditional Celebrities". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  20. ^ "Celebrity economy set for explosive growth in China". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  21. ^ "China's Internet celebrity economy bigger than cinema|Society|". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  22. ^ "Celebrity economy set for explosive growth in China". China Daily.
  23. ^ Tsoi, Grace (2016-08-01). "The making of a Chinese internet star". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  24. ^ 100 Chinese selected as "good young netizens"
  25. ^ "Understanding social media in China". McKinsey & Company. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  26. ^ "YouTube partner earnings overview - YouTube Help". Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  27. ^ "How Do China's Internet Celebrity Differ From America's?". Ruggles Media. 2018-01-27. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  28. ^ Juntiwasarakij, Suwan (2018). "Framing emerging behaviors influenced by internet celebrity". Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences. 39 (3): 550–555. doi:10.1016/j.kjss.2018.06.014.
  29. ^ "Additional Changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) to Better Protect Creators". YouTube Creator Blog. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  30. ^ Robehmed, Natalie. "Highest-Paid YouTube Stars 2018: Markiplier, Jake Paul, PewDiePie And More". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  31. ^ "How Online Celebrities Make Money Via Advertising and Endorsements". Reynolds Center. 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  32. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (2016-11-29). "Chiara Ferragni – how a 'crazy blogger' turned her life into a shop window". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  33. ^ Kircher, Madison Malone (2018-06-26). "Tanacon Was a Fyre Festival for the YouTube Set". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  34. ^ "About". VidCon US. Retrieved 2019-03-25.

Further readingEdit