If you ever stop the important business you are conducting in order to shoot off a tweet or two because your boss (or your PR agent or the research you did on the web) told you it was important, and it makes you question whether any of this is really necessary, then you need to read this post. Also, you should read it just because it’s really interesting too. (But that’s just my opinion.)
Ten Stars in the Social Media World
If you ever ask yourself whether social media is an important marketing tool, you should step back and think about the following books, TVs shows, blogs, and unexplainably famous pop star who all were first noticed through social media. We’ve got ten here who were highly successful through their social media.
- Dear Girls Above Me. If you have ever had loud upstairs neighbors, then you know Charles McDowell’s pain (and if you are the loud upstairs neighbors, we all beg you to please quiet down). After dealing with the noisy girls upstairs for too long, McDowell decided to make his ire known on a public forum: Twitter.He started an account that chronicled the girls’ conversations and his thoughts on the matter. And the next thing he knew, people were listening, though lucky for all of his followers, none of those people were the girls upstairs.His Twitter account became so popular, that he was offered a book deal. Which is how the book Dear Girls Above Me was created. And if you haven’t read it, you should. Because it’s pretty funny.
- SH*T My Dad Says. Remember that TV show starring William Shatner that lasted for hardly anytime at all? Well, it started out as a book. And that books started out as a Twitter account hosted by Justin Halpern, who was chronicling the comments of his colorful father. After the success of his first book, Halpern wrote a second book, I Suck at Girls, and got a second TV show out of it, which also didn’t make a full season.So why is he making this list if both his shows flopped? Well, have you turned being forced to move back home with your parents and having girlfriend problems into successful books and two TV deals, one of which starred William Shatner, successful or not? I sure haven’t. So I call Halpern a social media success story.
- Joshua Marshall. Here is a social media success of a more professional nature. Circa 2000, Josh Marshall decided he was going to start a political blog. So he did, and he called it Talking Points Memo. This blog uncovered several big political scandals as it grew in prominence, and it gained more and more followers.Soon, TPM turned into more than a blog; it became TPMcafe.com – a website hosting multiple blogs on politics and foreign and domestic affairs. For its coverage of a US Attorney’s scandal, it was nominated to the Time 100. It does all of this with a very small staff (a seven man staff according to the all-reliable Wikipedia).Many large corporations have tried to buy Marshall out, but for now, he is happy being an independent, social media success.
- Hyperbole and a Half. Allie Brosh decided to give the world a little insight into her life from childhood to now. So she decided to create a blog and web comic, which she called Hyperbole and a Half.Hyperbole, both the blog and the drawings, struck a chord with readers who decided that Brosh was pretty funny. She expanded the blog into an also popular web series, and a few of her drawings became viral memes. She got a humor column on the blog The Gloss. And then she got a book deal.One of her most famous posts was on her struggles with depression, and that was lauded to be one of the most insightful depictions of this disease to date. And nobody would have known about it if it was not for social media.
- When Parents Text. Recent college grads Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli decided to open a Tumblr account. They needed something interesting to tumble about, though. Then, they had it! Why not write out some of the hilarious fails parents make when they try to text? So they did. And it turned out that this was a winning formula. Apparently, people like making fun of strange texts they received from their parents.The popularity of their Tumblr account did not go unnoticed by the publishing industry who are quick to pounce on anything they see that appears to be working in this arena. So, they offered the girls a book deal, and that is why we can all go over to Amazon and purchase When Parents Text. They were even in talks for a TV show for a while.
- Perez Hilton. If you want to find out all of the latest celebrity gossip in the most snarky manner possible, where do you turn? To Perez Hilton, of course. He tried acting, and it wasn’t for him, but blogging seemed easy, so he thought he’d give it a try. Lucky for him because it drove him right out onto the paths of infamy.Hilton is always on top of every celebrity scandal, and he reports it in the funniest, if also the meanest, way possible. He not only reports the scandal, though, he is not above causing a little controversy himself.Whether you like his style or hate it, the fact is that Hilton’s blogging success has gotten him book deals, notoriety, and TV appearances. – and even celebrity status if MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar can be believed.
- Gawker. How much do you think Gawker is worth? If you guessed upwards of $300 million, then you might just be right on the mark. It is considered to be one of the most successful blog-oriented media companies. It also was headquartered in Nick Dalton’s personal residence in SoHo at one point.
- Drunk History. Have you ever seen the Comedy Central show Drunk History? This show, which makes me laugh almost every time, has drunk people relate stories throughout history, History Channel documentary style, and has different celebrity guest stars act out the drunk tellings.The show started out as a web series, on the website Funny or Die, created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner. The series performed so well that it got picked up by Comedy Central, and, perhaps more importantly, got discussed by me in this very post.
- Heather Armstrong. Heather Armstrong is another famous blogger. She got some attention when she got fired from her job reportedly for including stories on her blog, apparently not flattering stories, about her coworkers. So instead of finding another job, she just started blogging fulltime. She writes about her life and experiences, no matter how mundane or personal they may seem.Through her blogging, not only has she earned a respectable living through advertising and book deals, as well as other sources of bloggy income, she has also won actual Bloggies, the prize of the Weblog Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also named one of the thirty honorees on Forbes “Most Influential Women in Media” list in 2009.
- And Now for All the Beliebers Out There. And what good list of social media celebrities would be complete without an appearance by everybody’s favorite pop star to despise and mock: Justin Bieber. You might know him for
- His adoring young fans,
- His sensationalized relationship with Selena Gomez,
- His mentoree relationship with Usher,
- His many stints going against the law,
- His Comedy Central Roast,
- His general annoyingness,
- His appearance beside the Burger King mascot as part of Floyd’s entourage at the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, or
- Maybe something boring like his music
You might be aware that he came to us from Canada, but were you aware that his mode of transportation from Canada to here was social media? That is right, he started out as a YouTube star.
Beiber’s mom recorded then 12-years old Beibs singing in a competition and uploaded it to the popular video site. She continued to do this for other songs he performed. If you have ever heard preteen girls squeal his name in delight, you will not be surprised to know that people seemed to like these videos.
However, pure popularity is not all that got Beiber discovered. He also got helped with a little bit of luck when a So So Def marketing executive accidently stumbled upon an old video of Beiber while looking for another musician. And thus, Beiber Fever began.
Successful People Through Social Channels: You Can Do It Too
So there you have it, all of these people, books, blogs, etc. became uber-successful through social media channels. And if they can do it sitting in their living room with no marketing backing or advice, why can’t you? I’m sure you are just as talented, and probably have better resources.
So next time you feel that social media is not important, think about Justin Beiber. Because if it can launch him to the level of success that it has, then, really, what can’t it do?
Photo credit: Huffingtonpost.com