Youtube has changed and in a sense reformed the media by introducing this whole new platform. While many social media sites proved to have short-lived popularity, YouTube continues to rapidly expand. It becomes the second most visited website in the world and is competing with Facebook, with over 1. 8 billion monthly logged-in users. With that being said it is a force to be reckoned with and has far-reaching influence on other media. Youtube has been around ever since 2005, as a result, it developed a ‘micro-celebrity’ that differs from a ‘traditional celebrity’. This literature review will discuss previous studies on social media celebrities especially those who have become known through YouTube. These sources were compiled using AUC Library and Google Scholar. The sources discuss Youtube as a creative platform, define what content creators and-micro-celebrities are, and how these micro-celebrities reach and maintain their fame. The sources use both quantitative and qualitative methods to approach such a topic. The topics are limited to the aspects of being a micro-celebrity in the youtube realm with consideration to monetization, but with disregard to topics such as political expression, parenting and digital literacy and music consumption, and so on.
What made Youtube a smashing success was its uniqueness, the ability to share a video made by ordinary people without much editing. “Newsworthy or mundane and every day, the amateur nature of YouTube videos is what made it distinctive as a platform in the early days rather than uploaded commercial content such as news or entertaining clips from TV. People could share anything that means that they could share incidents if they were on scene. This also meant it was not manipulated with my news or editing. With the spread of freedom and an enormous amount of unedited and unfiltered data comes the issue of ‘fake news’ and ‘hate speech’ where it is the cost of such freedoms. The introduction of YouTube live was a major advancement for the platform. The mystery behind Youtube and cause of controversy is Youtube’s algorithm. “YouTube is now characterized as a paradigmatic example of a hybrid commercial environment where user-generated content production is efficiently tied to forms of monetization”.
Companies and advertisement agencies now target these micro-celebrities to reach their target audiences. “YouTube has assumed a special role, thanks to an advertising model that facilitates new forms of monetization based on the engagement of users”. To further grasp the extent and meaning of micro-celebrities and how are they are byproducts of social media and Youtube in particular. As stated by Marwick and Boyd (2011), “ Social media enables micro-celebrity, a self-presentation technique in which people view themselves as a public persona to be consumed by others, use strategic intimacy to appeal to followers, and regard their audience as fans.
Micro-celebrities create a certain image or brand and adhere to it. In a sense, a micro-celebrity becomes a job description instead of something that someone is. While self-branding is not new a concept but the way it is employed by influencers on Youtube. It allows ordinary people to become famous through self-branding and self-celebrification practices, where their peers are their fans. The introduction or in a sense the creation of the micro-celebrity changed and created a clear distinction between micro-celebrities and traditional celebrities. As demonstrated by Grazian, “The representation of ordinariness, intimacy, and equality by social media celebrities creates a sense of authenticity characterizing their videos”.
The boundary between the celebrity’s private and public image has collapsed and authenticity is staged in purportedly non-scripted vlogs. Rather than keeping a managed distance from the audience, social media celebrities maintain managed connectedness with viewers and subscribers. As demonstrated by Grazian, “The sense of meritocracy in modern celebrity culture has been diluted, and self-effort is replaced by self-sufficient uniqueness…It is through a comparison with traditional celebrities’ perfection, extraordinariness, and traces of heavy industrial production that we can feel authentic about a no-makeup look facing a camera in the setting of a bedroom”. So no there is beauty in the ordinary, in everyday and mundane activities and lives. But such a life is not always authentic or as authentic as it appears according to what Pooley (2010) called it a “calculated authenticity” in which, through self-work, authenticity becomes “a means to the end of self-promotion”. These influencers are expected to have certain characteristics and maintain an ‘on brand’ image at all times or risk losing their authenticity and fan base following Intimacy and connectedness is also important, in such ways as addressing the followers as a family. All of these aspects translate not always but mostly into economic profit for the influencers. This also gave leeway to Multi-channel networks which act as intermediaries between the creators, Youtube, and large media corporations. “There services include audience development, content programming, creator collaborations, digital rights management, monetization and/or sales’.
To maintain such an image and to attain such a status of fame within the industry, influencers have to put forth so much effort, that is often underplayed by the phrase ‘it’s my dream job’ or ‘I’m getting paid doing what I love’. As much as these phrases are inspiring and liberating, they often conceal the truth about the amount of workload and emotional stress such a job requires. “Importantly, such allusions to “dream jobs, ” “passion projects, ” and “labors of love” highlight a far less dazzling truth about the social media workstyle: It requires a persistent performance of sentiment”. Often, articles and media outlets emphasize that with talent and creativity anyone can achieve what others on the platform have; its considered the perfect blend of work and fun. But that is untrue as there are many who haven’t achieved anything as such and are still considered amateurs. It is the exception, not the rule but nevertheless, is glamorized by the culture. “Intimacy becomes a currency in a social media sphere, not just in the sense of economic capital but is maybe more pronounced as social capital, enabling status and social recognition as a marginalized individual or group”.
Through researching the available literature on the topic one acquires a clear definition of what is now known as a micro celebrity and the evolution of Youtube as a dominating platform and its commercial base. It has become an industry of its own and created a culture that in sense resembles the American Dream, which is working hard enough and you’ll make it which has been proven to be wrong. YouTube has become a topic of discussion and inquiry within the scholarly literature as educa- tors and researchers grapple with questions about the possibilities and problems associated with social media. Yet, while a body of ‘YouTube literature’ has begun to emerge, little is known about priorities for YouTube and video-sharing research.
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