Ok, we get it. It’s 2018, and if you are a millennial, the world is essentially your oyster. You have come of age during a time when technology is advancing faster than society can acclimate. Where side hustles have become commonplace for almost everyone. And social currency is at times a higher priority than actual currency. But for this generation, those currencies actually go hand in hand. Social fame in today’s world isn’t just a source of clout and bragging rights among the members of your community. It is a legitimate source of income for social aficionados around the world.

In fact, it’s a career for a lucky few. And quite a lucrative one at that. The biggest and brightest stars on social media take in hundreds of thousands, and for some, millions of dollars in revenue from their online channels. This caveat, paired with the admiration and attention that comes with online fame, makes the idea of becoming an “influencer” all the more appealing.

This desire is not simply a notion, there is data to support it. According to numbers from Google Research, 70 percent of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to online creators more than traditional celebrities. The research firm L2 says 70 percent of companies use influencers for marketing. That often means deals with social media stars, who fill their fun-looking social feeds with brokered brand placements. Social stars the likes of Pewdiepie pitch products like bacon toothpaste with subscription box service Loot Crate.

Generations before millennials yearned to be the next big movie star or elite athlete. But in today’s world, A-list actors and huge social media celebrities carry surprisingly equal influence over their audiences. And for those who dreamed of pursuing their goal of being the next Michael Jordan, but were genetically predisposed with a lack of natural athletic ability, there are now outlets in professional e-sports one can explore. It’s a whole new world.

So it should come as no surprise that everyone these days seems to have their own reality show or YouTube channel. We live in a culture where your social channel is your public identity more than ever. And a world where everyone assumes that they will get their fifteen minutes of fame sooner or later if they can get that one viral video. That one piece of content that kick-starts their career into social stardom.

The current generation of young adults has always had access to hundreds of channels and a lightning fast internet connection. They’ve grown up communicating through text message since they were able to write a sentence of their own. From the Kardashians to the Logan Paul’s of the world, millennials are inundated with reality stardom from a young age. How could we not expect them to want their own piece of the pie?

Fame at all costs?

However, some would argue that this dream of social celebrity comes at a cost. And that those with dreams of one day turning their social media channels into sustainable careers, should proceed with caution. Experts and data alike support the idea that kids these days have social aspirations that precede those of more traditional values. An online poll of 2,450 American millennials revealed that one out of nine millennials would rather be famous than get married, and one in ten would rather be famous than get a college degree. Aspirations for stardom have been prevalent since fame itself existed, but the perceived ease of which this fame is achieved in today’s age creates a sometimes toxic desire to focus one’s efforts almost exclusively on achieving a high level of social celebrity. At almost any cost.

Just a couple months ago, an 18-year-old hiker died after falling off a cliff at Yosemite National Park while taking a selfie. Back in May, friends watched on in horror as a man plunged to his death after attempting to take a selfie at a popular Australian tourist site. Now, these situations may be considered outliers to some, but it’s simply a lens into the lengths some people will go for a juicy piece of social content. While the term ‘do it for the gram’ is a playful catchphrase for some, it’s a legitimate life mantra for others. And the result of this mindset is changing the fabric of social culture for the entire world.

Logan Paul

These thoughts, opinions, and data points likely won’t dissuade anyone from creating their own YouTube page or Instagram account in an effort to become famous. Nor should it. In a free enterprise and an era where our dreams are at our fingertips, no one should be inhibited from investing in their aspirations. But for every Logan Paul, there is a likely ten other ‘would be’ social celebs who have failed at their online stardom, and have little to nothing to show for their efforts. Or those who achieved some short-lived social fame for a viral video; only to never fully leverage it into a lasting career. They call it “fifteen minutes of fame” for a reason.

Fame is fleeting, and to say the world of social media is fickle would be a gross understatement. Not to mention it is an ever-changing industry, one who’s fluidity has left a slew of one time celebrities in its wake. For those trying their hand at online or reality star fame, keep these factors in mind when assessing your life path. And do not let your self-worth be determined by the merits of your social clout and status. Being a social media influencer isn’t for everyone. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Just make sure those decisions are never made in vain.

As a reminder, Influencer marketing doesn’t have to be fluff but can be a sales channel and an imperative part of every marketing strategy. Our influencer marketing agency caters to all of our clients’ needs, we aren’t simply an influencer marketing company.

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