Do you remember the time when your dream of becoming famous was only made possible by making it in the glamorous world of Hollywood? With the rise of social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, making a name for yourself in the limelight is no longer a pipedream. Your days spent secretly dancing in your bedroom and singing in the shower to hone your skills may actually be put to good use. Nowadays, anyone with a digital device and a creative idea can share their talent, stories, and knowledge with the world at the push of a button.
We have heard of the internet’s household names such as David Dobrik, Addison Rae, the D’Amelio siblings, and Khaby Lame who are young millionaires who have all made a living out of creating humorous and imaginative content online. As a matter of fact, social media has become so powerful that politicians and A-listers in Hollywood have all flocked to these platforms not only to interact with fans but also to create compelling content and online businesses that generate millions of dollars. Not to mention, Hollywood and brands are excessively utilizing social media influencers to carry out their respective business goals and projects.
Hopping On the Million-Dollar Social Media Train
Social media entertainment is like the new kid on the block that has gotten everyone all wound up. Social platforms instantly gained the attention and attachment of society because of their matchless power to connect people from all over the world, disseminate information efficiently, and satisfy their various interests. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s interaction with social media has exponentially grown to become a part of their everyday routine and has been their leading source of entertainment, news, and education.
For some who have lost their jobs during this crisis, social media has been a saving grace because the significant growth in social media consumption has urged brands, businesses, and industries to redirect their efforts to the online platforms and create a strategy that satisfies the newly-formed habits of their target market. It has opened new doors for content creators to find sponsorships from brands through product placements, promotions, and advertisements.
People’s interaction with social media has exponentially grown to become a part of their everyday routine
“Brands are recognizing that social media is the place to be if they want to reach their target audiences in an authentic way, whatever their budget size. With creatives for nearly every niche market, there truly is opportunity for everyone. As a brand, not only can you support your creative communities (and customers) with these integrations, you can also make them actionable with measurable conversion rate and ROI. One of YouTube’s key investments is in e-commerce, with the goal of going full circle and connecting users, brands and creators further. TikTok is also pioneering a similar approach, with new shoppable livestreams,” via NewDigitalAge.
In 2020, Khaby Lame lost his job as a factory worker in Italy during the height of the pandemic. During this period, this Senegal-born young man turned to social media, particularly TikTok, to share his hilarious take on complicated life hack videos with friendly sarcasm and non-verbal expressions. After working for hours in creating content day after day while stuck in his parents’ house, people started to take note of his talent and his videos began going viral. Within just a year, his TikTok has now garnered 112 million followers and has over 45 million followers on Instagram. Through the TikTok Creator Fund, Lame is able to earn money from his videos as well as brand partnerships. In fact, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendez, and Bo Burnham are some of the other celebrities who got discovered on social media.
A New York Times article had this to say, “Mr. Lame’s meteoric rise as a digital creator is especially noteworthy because his work lacks the polished production value associated with the most famous TikTok stars of today, many of whom have been embraced by Hollywood. He didn’t find success through joining a collab house with other 20-somethings, or by relying on artificial growth like buying followers or views. His rise has been entirely organic.”
Hollywood is also cashing in on social media influencers and their huge followings, which undoubtedly plays a huge role in the success of a film. By already having an audience similar to A-list celebrities in the film and TV industry, there are higher chances that these people will support the film and immensely contribute to the box office sales or show ratings. It eliminates the huge amount of risk that studio executives avoid when investing in a talent that has no proven success or audience.
Hollywood is also cashing in on social media influencers and their huge followings
“Hollywood stars come with tens of millions of their own fans on social media, making it much easier to promote and market their new film projects. The Rock, for example, now has 169 million followers on Instagram, and prominently displays ticket info for his new Jumanji movie right in his profile.”
Not to mention, these social media influencers are not only asked to help promote, but also to star in the film itself. For instance, TikTok celebrity and first-time actress, Addison Rae, who starred in the ’90s remake of the teen comedy He’s All That (2021), was an instant hit. Due to her palpable influence, Netflix offered her a multibillion-dollar deal to create more films for the streaming giant. “Rae — who has more than 84 million TikTok followers and is repped by WME, One of One talent, law firm Nixon Peabody and PR The Lede Co. — is the latest in a new crop of social media stars to parlay her digital fan base into a rich streaming deal.”
Furthermore, TikTok queens and sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, who have amassed over 80 million subscribers, also launched their own reality show with Hulu entitled The D’Amelio Show (2021). The series chronicles their life and how they deal with the ups and downs of social media fame. These film and TV deals were all possible because of their popularity and global audience reach.
Celebrities with millions of followers like the Kardashian Clan, Shay Mitchell, Ryan Reynolds, and Rihanna are also using social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram to promote and sell their own brands. They also partner with social media influencers to test their products and promote them to their respective audiences, hoping they could reach more people in various social groups.
Proceed with Caution
As technology keeps evolving, there will always be high risks involved when it comes to doing business online. Last October 4, 2021, the world came to a standstill as Facebook-owned social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, and Oculus shut down for hours, causing a huge disruption that made Mark Zuckerberg lose $7 billion. There are approximately 3.5 billion people all over the world who depend on these social media platforms to connect with family and friends as well as some who do business online.
“With Facebook being down we’re losing thousands in sales,” said Mark Donnelly, a start-up founder in Ireland who runs HUH Clothing, a fashion brand focused on mental health that uses Facebook and Instagram to reach customers. “It may not sound like a lot to others, but missing out on four or five hours of sales could be the difference between paying the electricity bill or rent for the month.”
Another downside of social media is the prevalence of cancel culture. One gets canceled and receives backlash when a public figure does or says something offensive or inappropriate either in the past or present. Some notable YouTubers, celebrities, and influencers such as David Dobrik, Ellen DeGeneres, J.K. Rowling, and Jeffree Star have been scrutinized and called out by the public, causing them to lose projects, sponsorships, as well as having their accounts demonetized and banned by social media platforms.
“To many people, this process of publicly calling for accountability, and boycotting if nothing else seems to work, has become an important tool of social justice — a way of combatting, through collective action, some of the huge power imbalances that often exist between public figures with far-reaching platforms and audiences, and the people and communities their words and actions may harm,” via Vox.
Nowadays, audiences have the power to make or break a person’s career or business in a blink of an eye as they are the reason behind their success in the first place. They can easily unsubscribe or unfollow their accounts as a way of voicing out their convictions and holding these personalities accountable for their unacceptable behavior. As the saying goes, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
Despite its drawbacks, there’s no denying that social media will only get stronger and more powerful as technology advances and new creative trends emerge. It has come a long way since its inception to the extent that huge industries such as entertainment, music, beauty, fashion, and food are taking their businesses online. Making a name for yourself is no longer limited to making it big in the entertainment capital of the world, but rather utilizing social media platforms to share your talent and make a living from the comfort of your home.