Because We All Just Wanna Be Big Rockstars

by Kat French |

“Social media influencers are not celebrities.”

Jason said it last week, and at least a couple of people repeated it in the comments.

Except…they kind of are (sorry, Jason!)

True, the paparazzi aren’t chasing Scoble, Arrington, et. al. around Silicon Valley. (Aside:  although that would make a fairly awesome humor video…)  But in their sphere of influence, they’ve achieved a level of notoriety and attention that equates to celebrity.

Admit it, social media geeks.  All altruistic talk about authentic conversations and community building and the greater societal good aside, some part of your motivation in getting into this tilt-a-whirl of web 2.0 crazyness is the idea you, too, could someday be a Social Media Rockstar. You may not admit it to anyone else.  You may not even admit it to yourself.  But at this point, social media is still a fairly small pond–and you’re a fish with growth potential.

I’m reminded of Seth Godin’s recent offering, The Dip.   He says it’s not enough to be good at what you do.  To succeed and push past “the dip,” you need to be the Best in the World. But “the World” in this context is “your World,” and that may mean “the World of Seattle independent coffeehouses” or “the World of online community managers.”  Or “the World of social media.”

In other words, to really succeed, you need to be a Rockstar at whatever you do.

It turns out that it’s only natural that social media creates notable, personality-driven leaders and influencers.  It’s social media, after all, and that makes it intrinsically personal.

Social media has radically lowered many of the technical and financial barriers to being seen and heard at a national or international level.  But to rise above the cacophony of voices from all the other people who’ve recognized that, you have to have something really compelling to say and you have to say it in a way that resonates with a large number of people.

However, the people who’ve figured out how to do that and who have gathered a large enough following, the Social Media Rockstars, would be naive to not recognize they have a valuable commodity on their hands.  Influence is power, and power can be sold, bartered, and traded.

I don’t hear it articulated in quite this way often, but I get the impression that this tendency to gravitate around individual Rockstars is one of the many and sundry things that cause corporations to hesitate to get into social media.  I think there’s a fear (and it’s probably justifiable) that social media is essentially funneling your brand through a human being to the masses, and if that human being has a massive melt down, they can take your brand down with them.  If you make a person the “personal, human voice” of your brand to the consumer, what happens if that person leaves?

We’re still walking that dodgy line between social media folks being people who are motivated by passion to talk about stuff online, and being “talent” who are motivated to talk about stuff online by a paycheck.  Especially since increasingly, many bloggers and social mavens are motivated by a mix of both.

But the thing about Rockstars is, they’re people with passion and creativity.  Pushing anything, whether it’s a grassroots movement or a brand, into new territory requires a huge amount of energy, drive, creativity and passion. Those are the people you want on your team, even if they do occasionally need a kick in the ego to remind them not to get all prima donna.

You may need to sometimes remind a Rockstar that it’s not all about them, but if you do, they will usually remember it, because it’s true.  Deep down, those altruistic or idealistic ideas are what motivated them in the beginning.  The Rockstar thing was just the icing on the cake, because the people who are primarily motivated by the chance to be a social media celebrity will drop off the map when they realize it’s hard flippin’ work.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice that C chord.  I may still be a “social media roadie” at this point, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

photos courtesy JasonRogers and anyjazz65 on flickr.

About the Author

Kat French

Kat French is the Client Services and Content Manager at SME Digital. An exceptional writer, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in content strategy, copywriting, community management and social media marketing. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, CafePress and more.