Internet influencers are more relevant than traditional celebrities – writes Scott Guthrie

The concept of celebrity has changed. Social media influencers are not an alternative to celebrities; they are the new celebrities.

Eight of the top ten most influential figures among Americans aged 13-17 are all YouTubers says a survey by Variety, the US entertainment trade publication.

Teens’ emotional attachment to YouTube stars is as much as seven times greater than that toward a traditional celebrity.

YouTube stars are perceived to be 17 times more engaging, and 11 times more extraordinary, than mainstream stars – according to the same study led by celebrity brand strategist, Jeetendr Sehdev.

RELATED: Why celebrity endorsement is not influencer marketing

In the UK public relations and marketing professionals are now more likely to use social media influencers than other types of ‘traditional’ celebrity.  

PR Week has reported findings from a survey of 500 PR and marketing professionals. The study, conducted by Takumi, an app which connects social influencers to brands, found that 82% of communications professionals were using influencers in one form or another.


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Influencers more accessible than traditional celebrities

Audiences feel they can relate more to online influencer celebrities than traditional stars. Followers engage with these influencers finding them a less stylised, more authentic, intimate voice.

Marcus Butler is a YouTuber with 4.56 million subscribers who has amassed over 360 million video views. Earlier this year Marcus explained to me the allure of influencers:

“[Traditional] celebrities have almost placed themselves on a podium. They are inaccessible. I’m sharing my life through my vlogs. I’m doing the same things my followers are doing. There are just more people watching what I do.”


Influencers trading places with celebrities

There was a time, in the old one-way broadcast media world, when fame was determined not by the famous or by the audience but by the media owners.  Like the Duke brothers in film Trading Places who elevated the Eddie Murphy character to commodities broker, newspaper barons and movie studio owners would play king-makers (and breakers) of fame.


That was then. The social web has upturned everything. Social media has given us all both voice and choice. A choice to choose who to celebrate in celebrity. A choice to turn ourselves into celebrities.

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It used to be that fame was heaped upon us. Now fame is something we do.

David Weinberger, co-creator of the Cluetrain Manifesto, and its reprise: New Clues, wrote back in 2012 “The people we make famous and sometimes rich are usually people like us. They’re flawed. They make spelling errors when they tweet from their mobile phones. They treat us with a rough but real respect”.

We love YouTube ‘stars’ not despite their flaws, but because those flaws show that they are one of us.

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Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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