In 1968, Andy Warhol made a prescient prediction: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes“. Thanks to technology and the internet, 15 minutes of fame is within just about anyone’s reach. Unfortunately, thanks to social media, extending that fame beyond 15 minutes is a tough task.
In fact, most ‘internet celebrities‘ don’t even get 15 minutes. It’s more like 15 seconds. But that doesn’t mean that the internet and social media haven’t produced some big successes. They have. And here are five of the biggest.
Perez Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, bills himself as the “queen of all media“. And it’s increasingly hard to argue with that title. In late 2004, he launched a blog called PageSixSixSix.com (which would later become PerezHilton.com). It quickly rose to prominence as of the most hated celebrity gossip blogs in Hollywood. Today, thanks to Lavandeira’s penchant for attracting attention and creating controversy, it’s one of the most popular blogs in the world.
Lavandeira has parlayed his blogging fame into a lucrative career as a media personality. Lavandeira’s website reportedly pulls in big money (deals for sponsored tweets alone are said to pull in six figures) and Lavandeira’s online success has given him the ability to build a career offline, where he’s a regular on television and radio.
Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
DeAndre Ramone Way, better known as Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, turned
internet fame into a multi-million dollar career as a rapper and record
producer. All before he reached the age of 20. How’d Way do it? He got
his start by posting his music to a website called SoundClick, and then
to MySpace and YouTube. In March 2007, Way recorded a song called Crank That (Soulja Boy),
which he first released on the internet. By May, Way had been signed by
Interscope Records. After finding its way onto HBO’s hit cable
television series Entourage, Crank That (Soulja Boy)
shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in September 2007. It stayed
there for seven straight weeks and Way hasn’t looked back since.
The Lonely Island
If you watch Saturday Night Live, you know The Lonely Island — Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. These three comedians are best known for their SNL Digital Shorts, a number of which have become viral hits on the internet. One short, D–k in a Box (NSFW), even won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyric.
The success of the trio’s SNL Digital Shorts is not surprising given that the internet played a big role in rise to fame after the group began filming internet-style short skits with a home video camera in 2001. While the group had Hollywood connections, the internet played a key role in the distribution of some of its earliest work, including The ‘Bu, a parody of the MTV series The O.C.
According to Samberg, “The Internet is encouraging a bunch of people to make comedies and any
other kind of art. People who never in a million years would’ve
tried [to make a movie] now have the opportunity to. It doesn’t cost
anything, and you can get it up there and be discovered in an instant.“
27 year-old Lauren Luke loves makeup. A teenage mother who dropped out of high school to support her son, she started selling makeup on eBay in 2007. A natural marketer, Luke stood out by posting photos of herself wearing the makeup she was selling. Before long, her customers were asking for makeup advice. So she turned to YouTube and developed a channel for makeup tutorial videos.
The rest is history. More than 50m views later, Luke is an up-and-coming makeup mogul. She’s been featured in two BBC documentaries, writes a column for The Guardian and has published a book. But that’s not all: she also has a line of cosmetics, By Lauren Luke, that is sold worldwide in Sephora stores.
What’s a friend worth? Companies participating on social media websites have a hard time answering that one but Tila Nguyen (aka Tila Teqila) doesn’t. No stranger to self-promotion (she was a Playboy model by the age of 18) and the internet (she ran a website called Tila’s Hot Spot starting in 2001), it was her popularity on MySpace that gave Nguyen the ability to take her career to the next level. Today, Nguyen is a model, reality TV star, recording artist, author and fashion entrepreneur.