When I was growing up, the people most famous and influential were major pop stars and film stars.
The fastest way to catch-up with celebrity gossip was to tune into E! News or to pick up a copy of your favourite magazine.
Today, to be famous means something entirely different.
The noughties saw the birth and rapid development of social media. What began as a tool for families and friends to keep in touch, became a platform to promote your own personal brand.
The rise of social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram have made it easier than ever to grow an audience and share content. Anyone with a mobile phone has the potential to instantly go viral online.
But why have social sites like these become our primary source of celebrity news and entertainment? The simplest answer is convenience.
Before we would have to go out and buy the daily papers to get the most up-to-date news. Nowadays, it’s all there at the touch of a button, often with no extra cost. The speed at which social sites are updated, with the amount of content being posted every minute, creates a constant battle for our attention.
The importance and esteem we once gave to celebrities has lost its power with the rise of the influencer.
Celebrity status is no longer defined by pop and film stars.
An ‘influencer’ is a person with a large social media following who has the power to influence their audiences’ spending and/or living habits.
Instead of funding large ad campaigns, brands are now paying influencers to promote their products on their social media accounts. This is because influencers are more accessible to younger audiences than a typical celebrity endorsed ad campaign on television.
Many influencers start off their careers on reality television.
A good example is 22-year-old Molly-Mae Hague from Hertfordshire who was cast in Love Island in 2019, coming in second place alongside her boyfriend Tommy Fury. Boosting 6.1 million Instagram followers, Hague recently signed a seven-figure deal with Pretty Little Thing, becoming their new creative director.
As well as being a hot topic in the fashion world, Hague also uses her influence in a positive way.
In the past 12 months, she has shared her self-love journey on her YouTube channel. Last month, she underwent surgery to have a lump removed from her breast. She then urged members of the public to check themselves more regularly.
One of Ireland’s top influencers is Nicole O’Brien who came to prominence in the Netflix show Too Hot to Handle. Nicole, originally from Cork, has 849,000 Instagram followers and can be paid up to €3600 per social media post. Using her platform to discuss beauty, mental health, and fashion.
So, what does it mean to be famous/influential in 2021?
In my opinion, becoming famous is getting increasingly harder as different generations consider different types of celebrity. Traditional celebrities may now feel under pressure to use their social media accounts to further their success by selling products and creating their own brands.
We are living in an age of mass fame and there has never been as many famous people in the world as there are now.
As such, to be influential, you no longer need to have a typical celebrity career, you can make your own success via social media.