The rise of microcelebrity

What is a micro-celebrity?

via Urban Dictionary:

One who gains a cult or mainstream following due to viral internet distribution. Does not refer to those who have gained limited or cult followings through traditional media. Does not refer to has-beens or “B-list” celebrities.

Essentially a micro-celebrity is someone who, without the benefit of social media, would not have gained notoriety.

This is a phenomenon that has emerged over the last 5-7 years.  You see these people, they are well known within certain small circles.

The two primary kinds of micro-celebrity

In my eyes, I’ve seen only two kinds of micro-celebrities: those that are a**holes and those that are humble and gracious.

The Spiteful Jerk: You used to be a nobody

I'm kind of a big deal | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Perhaps the most common micro-celebrity is the jerk who used to be a nobody but now thinks that a high Klout score means that they’ve “made it.”  You’ll see these jerks, 3 years ago they were begging for more Twitter followers, ragging on people who refer to themselves as experts and reposting articles from Mashable.  Now they’ve got 10,000 followers thanks to team #followback and a few controversial blog posts and they think they’re god’s gift to social media.  They’ve even started calling themselves a “Twitter-Ninja”

My advice when you find one of these people is to move on quickly.  Don’t put fuel on their fire, let them learn to be humble.  Block them, unsubscribe and move on.

The Appreciator: You’re so glad to be somebody

The other type of micro-celebrity is the type of person that you couldn’t convince is a celebrity if you tried.  They blush when you refer to them as a guru.  They often downplay their numbers and instead choose to focus on the anecdotes of people that they’ve helped or outstanding serendipitous relationships they’ve formed.  This micro-celebrity is humble and constantly focused on moving up, not by ego but by ambition.

Are you a micro-celebrity?

A micro-celebrity doesn’t have to have 1 million followers. They don’t have to have an 88 Klout score.  The micro-celebrity is someone that is known amongst a community of people that they might never have been known by if it weren’t for the conversational platforms of the web 2.0 movement.

Micro-celebrities range from widely known (Chris Brogan) to known in smaller circles (Gloria Bell).  Sometimes it’s that people recognize you by your Twitter avatar, as is the case with Marilyn Moran (@PhillyMarketing) and her trademark hat.  If I see her in Philly, I can spot her a block away.

Here’s the thing, as you get started in social media, and you grow your network, make new friends and become known in circles beyond where you could otherwise reach, be sure to respect how you got there.  When someone approaches you for the first time as if you are a big deal it may be shocking.  Take a deep breath and appreciate the flattering gesture, but keep being REAL.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  We’ve all been star struck before.  Don’t start believing you are anymore than one person doing your best.

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  • Mark Aaron Murnahan

    Well, Jeff, I would never have met Peggy if not for social media, and now that we have three kids, my fan base is at least up to five. That’s Peggy, the kids, and of course myself. I’d say that in this little social media circle, I’m kind of a big deal. Of course, I’d invite others to call me “Daddy”, but that could get a little creepy. 😀

    Oops, and my mom, so we’re up to six. Oh … and NO, she doesn’t call me “Daddy”. o_O

  • Jeff Gibbard

    I think you are a macro-celebrity daddy….

    did I go too far?

    In all seriousness, I do love that you met your wife via Social Media. It’s one of those feel good real world stories that stick out from the stories of amassing followers.

  • Mark Aaron Murnahan

    All these years and kids later, she has still never un-friended me on Facebook! 😀

  • Jeff Gibbard

    Maybe you’re not trying hard enough ;P

  • Mark Aaron Murnahan

    Oh, I give it a good run. I should put more home videos on YouTube to show just how tolerant Peggy really is. Ha!

  • Rick Manelius

    I definitely appreciate “the appreciators.” We’re not all competing for the same pie, we’re trying to make the pie bigger. And it’s nice to get some positive encouragement now and again, particularly when we’re not getting 10,000-100,000 hits per month like the micro-celebrities are.

    I always ask myself… what would I like myself to be know by? I’m still trying to answer that question. But I know one thing, I don’t want to be a spiteful jerk!

  • Jeff Gibbard

    That’s a great attitude to take Rick. I’m with you, this pie could get really big. I believe in abundance.

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