The Lion's Den

What Makes Someone a Microcelebrity?

Influencer Marketing
Lionize Team
January 11, 2023

To understand the rise of the influencer, aka the microcelebrity, and their place amongst influencer marketing; let’s take a look back at the history of fame as we know it.

The earliest “celebrities” date back to early Rome, where rulers, philosophers (see Plato and Socrates), Olympic athletes, and more gained fame across the land. Throughout the 1500s and 1600s, notable creators became prominent in Europe as more aspiring actors and playwrights emerged. 

Then, when printing practices were modernized and reading rates increased in the 1700s, philosophers like Rousseau and Voltaire gained a level of fame by spreading their ideas across the globe. Finally, the invention of film and TV allowed wide numbers of people to recognize famous faces of those like athletes, actors, and artists, and we even saw advertisers start to use celebrities in campaigns.

The advent of social media changed absolutely everything. With millions of websites available to visit, the internet understandably took a few years to truly bring the world together into an interconnected digital space. In the early days, social media platforms like Six Degrees, Myspace, and Facebook made it easy to connect with long-lost friends and acquaintances.

Today, social media technologies make potentially broad audiences available to individuals, and everyday people can become TikTok famous overnight. It’s not just “celebrities” making advertising deals anymore, either. Prominent social media personalities have become outlets for brands to spread their messages online, making influencer marketing an effective promotional strategy.

In this blog, we will dive into the concept of the microcelebrity (also called a micro influencer), provide industry context and benchmarks, and discuss how brands can find microcelebrities to work with.

What Is a Micro Celebrity? 

Alice Marwick, the Co-Director of The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was an early definer of the term microcelebrity

In her words, it is “the state of being well known to a niche group of people, and a practice whereby people present themselves as public personas, create effective ties with audience members, and view followers as fans.”

In her paper, entitled Microcelebrity, Self-Branding, and the Internet, she goes on to define self-branding as a concept “that encourages individuals to present themselves as edited ‘personal brands’ to potential clients or employers.” 

The emergence of blogs, video apps, and social media platforms in the early and mid-2000s allowed lots of everyday people to realize that they could become content creators, contributing to the platforms that they spent time on every day. As they started building their own personal brands, they transformed into microcelebrities. 

Thus, the influencer was born. 

How Many Followers Are Needed to Be Considered an Influencer? 

Many people wonder how many followers they need on Instagram or TikTok to be considered an influencer (and start getting paid). But there’s not a certain number of followers that makes someone instantly considered any kind of celebrity. 

Most marketers agree, however, that there are a few distinct groups or ‘tiers’ of microcelebrity. In this chart by Zero Gravity Marketing, they indicate that anyone with over 1,000 followers can be considered an influencer. 

Pictured: The Tiers of Influencers (Source: Zero Gravity Marketing)

While an influencer’s follower number is important, brands should also consider other key performance indicators such as their average reach, impressions, and engagement rate, as these will point to how successful a brand partnership can be for them.

How Do Brands Find Influencers on Social Media? 

Brands looking to work with influencers have various research methods at their disposal to find creators to work with. Here are a few common ones:

  1. Social Media and Hashtag Research. Looking through brand mentions, relevant trending hashtags, and highly-followed accounts is a great (and free!) way to get started with your influencer search. When on a niche creator profile, don’t forget to also scour their following, tags, and comments, as other relevant creators you can work with may be interacting in that space.
  2. Influencer Marketing Platforms. Brands also frequently turn to sophisticated influencer agencies and platforms to help them scout. As a top influencer marketing platform, Lionize can help you find the perfect partners for your brand. Our expansive influencer network makes it easy to recruit top talent, and our expertise in influencer campaign management will free up your time to focus on other pieces of your marketing strategy. 
  3. Top Influencer Lists. Lots of blogs put together their roundup of the best influencers in certain industries. While this isn’t the most advanced research method, these lists can be a good starting point for understanding the influencer landscape within a space. 

How Lionize Can Help 

The definition of celebrity has changed a lot over the years, clearly. And with the advent of social media platforms, influencer marketing, and the “microcelebrity,” the world of advertising has changed forever, too. 

Stay ahead of the curve with Lionize. Our software helps you find the perfect influencers for your brand campaign and then helps you manage those campaigns from start to finish. Book a demo today to see how far your microcelebrity marketing efforts can go in 2023

Article written by
Lionize Team
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