Building a Brand: Social Media Fame & ‘Going Viral’

The online video-sharing platform YouTube has been around for absolute ages and seems like a dinosaur compared to much newer platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Yet for many social media stars, it has been the backbone of their success.

Let’s take Lily Singh for example.

Lily Singh first emerged onto YouTube in 2013, with an online personality she called ‘Superwoman.” Since then, she has accrued over 15 million YouTube subscribers, and is now worth more than $10 million.

She became known for her entertaining comedy videos, and her first video to go viral was the ‘Official Guide to Brown Girls’, a series of satirical comedy skits about Indian culture. She then started earning small checks from ad revenue on YouTube videos, and hit 1 million subscribers in 2013. She subsequently skyrocketed into YouTube stardom, inking a book deal, starring in a movie, and has now set up her own production company – Unicorn Island Productions. She has also become the only female late-night host on NBC.

But most importantly, what inspired Lily to embark on a YouTube career was seeing other creators (like for example, Jenna Marbles), gain a following by simply just being themselves. It seems our personal skills and character can often be the very thing that makes us successful.

Other famous faces who have leapt to fame from creating video content include lockdown hero and fitness instructor Joe Wicks, make-up artist James Charles, and internet celebrity Lele Pons, who started off with short comedy sketches.

But what makes YouTubers and short-video content creators so successful?

Simply put, they’re authentic, inclusive and relatable. YouTube offers ‘real’ opinions and houses a community of people that share interests and views.

Gaming videos like the ones created by PewDiePie (who has 27 million subscribers) and KSI (22.5 million subscribers), are among the most popular content streamed, but their ordinariness and their relatability are what makes them so appealing. The idea of a celebrity being “just like us” is not an unusual cliché in the entertainment world, but on YouTube it’s heightened.

The sense of intimacy is also heightened from videos such as coming-out announcements of stars like Connor Franta and Shane Dawson; or Zoella sharing her experience of anxiety attacks. We are exposed to not only the amazing and starry aspects of their lives, but also the harder and more difficult aspects.

From a technical point of view also, the vlogging format is structurally more intimate; it started out, after all, with a person talking directly into a webcam, usually in their own bedroom. Many YouTube stars have tried to maintain this simple style even as editing and recording equipment has gotten more advanced.

Lastly, the possibilities on social media are endless! You can create a blog about absolutely anything: food, fashion, movies or even yourself! And as such become an entrepreneur, broadcaster, actor or journalist. Social Media has put the world in your pocket. As the long-standing Nike slogan says: “Just do it”.

Recommended Links: