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  • Writer's pictureThe Outloud Group


Updated: Oct 20, 2022

What’s the difference between a celebrity and an influencer?

We’d argue that today the answer is...not much.

In the past, it all came down to audience access. Influencers built up a following based on granting constant, direct access through a self-made social profile.

Now, celebrity after celebrity is jumping on that bandwagon. Celebrities with active social followings reap the benefits.


Key Takeaways

0:55 - What’s the difference between a celebrity and an influencer?

Joel breaks down what has previously separated celebrities from influencers. In the past, it all came down to audience access.

“So the way that we've always defined it is that what separates celebrities and influences apart - both they're very well known, both have broad audiences. What makes an influencer an influencer is they have built their own following themselves by virtue of their own social media platforms, including YouTube in this case. And the most defining characteristic of what separates them is access. An audience has access to an influencer. Audiences do not have access to celebrity. However, that's what we're talking about. That's starting to change.”

2:19 - Why are celebrities taking over social media?

Today celebrities are proactively creating their own presences across multiple platforms. Cam Newton, Jack Black, Keven Hart, and Dwayne Johnson are all examples of this trend.

“Why is it that Cam Newton feels that he needs a YouTube channel? Jack Black. Jack Black has his gaming channel Jablinski, wildly popular right out of the gate which makes sense because it's Jack Black. But again, this is one of the most well-known comedians of the last 20 years. Why does Jack Black need a YouTube channel? So what's going on here? Why is it that we're starting to see celebrities? You have, you know, Will Smith now has his own channel. You know, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson are incredibly active on stuff. Why is it that these celebrities feel the need to start building out their own direct access to their audience that's not through the medium of movies, or not mediated by the Hollywood tabloid world?”

3:11 - Modern celebrity equals success in multiple dimensions

In the past, being a wildly successful celebrity meant appearing in both movies and television shows. Now, it encompasses even more.

“One of the things that seems to be happening to me is that just the world of celebrity is getting watered down. There's so many different ways that you can become a celebrity now that if you really want to try to stand out, you've got to be relevant across a lot of channels. I mean, in the olden days there was movies. And then it became movies and TV if you wanted to be a star. And now like we live in this omni-channel world, there's so many different ways that you can stand out. And I think if you want to stand out, you've got to be popular across multiple dimensions.”

3:56 - Celebrities with active social following reap the benefits

Celebrities who cultivate their own followings on social media can see multiple benefits: it’s attractive to casting directors, and enjoyable for fans.

“So here's kind of stage one of celebrities getting super active on social media was I think to be able to demonstrate that they have a built-in following, which was going to be attractive to casting directors, which was going to flow directly to the bottom line for the movie that they're in. They're super hot right now, here's the evidence for it. Right? Super active social channels. And now I'm wondering if celebrities are looking around the landscape and they're saying, oh, I need to have more access. And frankly, my audience needs to have more access to me than it does right now. And that dividing wall between my celebrity and the great unwashed, that cannot exist anymore. We have to grant access if we're going to continue to be relevant.”

6:14 - Social media allows for paparazzi-level insights on celeb’s own terms

Celebrities who take on an influencer role satisfy their fans’ desire for up-close insight, while simultaneously controlling the narrative.

“People have wanted to see behind the scenes of celebrities forever. I mean paparazzi has been huge because people wanted to see what's their day to day life look like. Us Weekly is huge. Paparazzi is huge. And now one really nice thing for celebrities is you can give your fans that access on your own terms with social media, and you become an influencer by walking around your house and talking about what you're doing from a day-to-day perspective. And so you're giving your fans that access. But you're also, in a crazy weird way, you're actually controlling the message a little bit more.”

6:53 - Will celebrities begin to cut out the middlemen?

Right now, the line between celebrity and influencer is blurring. When celebrities start negotiating their own brand deals, the line will be nearly invisible.

“It'll be really interesting to see if celebrities start doing their own brand deals, right. Like that will be the piece of data that suggests that the lines have been completely blurred. Because the line was about access before - that's already getting meshed. And now if it becomes about their own earning potential and taking control of that, and it not being in the hands of their agent and the casting directors and everything else where they get to control their own relevance destiny, that will be the last shoe to drop to suggest that the lines are now completely and fully blurred.”

Visit our Youtube Channel for our bi-weekly video series, "Thinking Outloud" where we share industry knowledge, discuss influencer marketing trends and host influencers we work with. Also, follow and chat with us through Twitter , Instagram and LinkedIn!

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