In this blog we’ll look at the impact social media fame can bring to individuals across all ages and consider what factors users should be aware of when wanting to find fame online.
When I Grow Up, I Want to be Famous
Internet fame is not a new concept. We are now seeing our third or second generation of young people finding ‘fame’ online. Fame online looks different now than it did over a decade ago, nowadays, it’s serious business! The goal might still be to have increased followers, but the number of followers and engagement can now directly correlate with how much money you can make.
Anyone and everyone can choose to make their account a ‘business’ one. Young people are collaborating with brands, creating content and promoting products, and it can be quite a lot to handle when you’re at such a young age.
Social media fame can bring many positive qualities but it can also potentially lead to young people involving themselves in harmful behaviour in order to keep up with expectations and ‘likes’. In this aspect, it can show the negative culture around fame online and what people will do to make money even when a bad spotlight is placed on them.
A New Platform Where Every Word Counts
There’s people that go viral for good or bad reasons. We might see someone suddenly promoting a product who then goes on to have a line of merchandise with their face or catchphrase on, trying to make the most of their short lived fame. There are those with a talent who have built a name or business on the grounds of something more solid. These people don’t just do ad’s, they are brand ambassadors, have tight contracts and have to deliver enough content to keep up with their quotas. Another category of the ‘Insta famous’ are the activists, campaigning for human rights and many other political issues. All of these carry a weight and pressure which for younger people could have a seriously negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
A conundrum that has been going on for decades, is how teens and 20 somethings are expected to say just the right thing in response to a complex issue they are probably only just learning about. If young people don’t say the right thing, they may expect abuse, a loss of followers and therefore a loss of earnings. If they say nothing, then it is common to be branded with shame. Having this exposure can lead to other causes for concern such as anxiety and self-hatred.
Responding to Social Media Fame Aspirations
How can we support young people that have ambitions to be ‘Insta famous’, or have found themselves in a position where they suddenly have a large following?
Understand why and help channel creativity. Being famous for being famous is probably not the best motivation. If a young person wants to grow their following and be a ‘name’, try to help them find their niche, whether that’s gaming, music, art, animals or anything they take an interest in. They are likely to have a bit more success and feel fulfilled if their content is about something they are good at or interested in.
Be aware of the potential increased pressure or responsibility. Having a heightened awareness of the young person’s welfare and how their online life might impact it will mean you can notice and respond faster if they need help. Help might just be encouraging them to have some time off, take a break or supporting them to find another project that is not scrutinised so publicly.
Set some ground rules and doing the homework. Rules can be flexible and can change in the face of different issues. Homework is research and the more that is done, the better footing they will have.
- Having a separate private account to share more personal updates with close friends and family
- Putting time into researching political issues before speaking publicly on them. Setting a boundary that you don’t have to respond immediately
- Similarly, researching and looking into brands and people that want to use their following to promote products. For example, a person who uses their platform to educate about global warming would get quite a bit of flack if they promoted an unsustainable product.
- Agree principals. If for example the young person has a keen interest in the environment, knowing what principals that entails will help when choosing brands you want to work with.
- Lastly, if young people are looking to generate an income and use their social media platform to promote, it’s important they are familiar with advertising standards and play within the rules. Here is some more info on this from the Advertising standards agency; asa.org.uk/news/making-your-marketing-an-insta-nt-compliant-success.html
Fame may seem easier to obtain than it was 10 or 20 years ago, with the help of social media, but the lure and excitement of it seems to not have diminished at all. There are certainly new factors and risks to consider but we can’t discourage young people from their aspirations and ambitions, we just need to learn how to help them in a safe and productive way. There are now many examples of people doing it well and role models to look up to, and there are also stories of where it has gone wrong. We are looking at another generation making waves, and hopefully they will be better placed with all this resource around them.
If you are concerned about managing your social media profiles, you can download our social media checklists for free. If you have come across any harmful content online, you can always report it at Report Harmful Content.