A couple of decades back, Brett Borders had visionary aspirations. Instead of aimlessly wondering the halls of his high school, he took to the underground to search out threads of conversations that were beginning to surface in this new arena called the Internet. A unique but somewhat logical beginning for a fellow who would later go on to bill his blog the “Social Media Rockstar,” Brett was in search of digital networking way before its time.
In a recent interview I conducted with him, he sums it up as, “an extremely limited (environment)… the only social networking options were Prodigy/Compuserve, a handful of local Bulletin Boards and the the same 35 active users.” Along with a small group of hacker friends, he learned how to call overseas and obtain Internet access by sneaking through local university and business systems.
He would then hack into telephone systems that would allow access by dialing out without being traced. According to Brett, it “really wasn’t that devious,” as his group was the same kind of crowd that today “you would find on FriendFeed or Digg.” When the first public internet service became available in his area in 1994, he immediately quit hacking as he “finally had unlimited, bulletproof access to the ‘Net,’” where he found it “far more interesting to connect versus crack.” However he looks back on these early days fondly as it motivated him to become a resourceful out-of-the-box thinker who could forge a path into the future without the need of a guidebook.
Brett studied Sociology in college where he was able to reflect on some of the anthropological underpinnings of online social demographics. Metaphorically similar to a Margaret Mead uncovering tribes in Samoa or New Guinea, Brett observed and researched the collective consciousness of various online tribes. He proposed that “online social interaction mirrors real life (with parallels to) castes, circles, cliques and socio-economic groups.” And as a social marketer, he now feels that to communicate to each group and target them properly, one needs to analyze their social structures and online habitats.
When asked why institutions of higher learning haven’t embraced social media as an academic discipline, he feels that “universities are kind of reactionary in that they (will only) offer programs and classes after a job market emerges.” Since social media jobs are presently just beginning to take on a prominent role in corporations and organizations, it will take a while for universities to catch up.
Today Brett Borders is an independent “Web Traffic Developer.” Even though Borders’ blog is titled “Social Media Rockstar” he doesn’t view himself as rock star, nor Internet Famous. Similar to Liz Strauss titling her blog, “Successful Blog” and Hugh Hefner labeling his pop culture mag “Playboy,” his blog title is more about the content versus a moniker for himself as the originator.
According to Brett, ” I think with the exception of a small handful of established, elite social media people, pretty much everyone out there is ‘faking it till they make it.’ I wake up, explore, learn, make mistakes, improve and re-define myself on a daily basis. I try to be confident, but also completely honest about what I know about and what I don’t – and careful not to mislead or make false promises to people.”
However, Brett is also cognizant that online detractors can be more powerful than your actual followers. Non-fans (what Brett terms “your shadow”) are usually much more diligent about blocking the spread of your message than the average acquaintance is dedicated in spreading it for you. Here’s a visual interpretation of Brett’s perspective on this topic.
To become Internet Famous, according to Brett is to be an initiator, not a follower. For example, when social media first came on to the scene, those that became the most successful in blogging and developing apps were those that pushed the envelope, by using new tools and searching out new terrain to maneuver. Brett feels the ones that faltered in this regard were the less aggressive breed who settled for “aggregating or recycling” the work accomplished by the front runners.
Brett refers to some of these social media followers as “online snake oil salesmen” who are motivated by money. These are the folks that aren’t “at all shy about claiming they know stuff that they don’t or making promises they can’t deliver. There’s a boom of interest in social media and SEO – and there are only a few barriers to entry (all you need is a website and business card), so some less-than-scrupulous types of people are trying to cash in on it.”
“The truth is that you have to give something (time, energy, attention or $$$) before you can really expect to get anything in return,” notes Brett. Something he calls “Digital Karma,” where those that are serious about online marketing and invest their time strategically and ask for recommendations are the ones to reap the benefits. “Those who are looking for ‘quick fixes’ and too-good-to-be-true promises can easily get burned or disappointed.”
Narcissism is sometimes an unattractive by-product of Internet Fame “There’s something very hypnotic about watching someone with an over-blown self image get all excited about themselves (which is why sites like TweetingTooHard.com are funny),” notes Brett. “There’s also “bad boy” and “bad girl” rockstar types in social media who are outspoken, hostile and inevitably create drama wherever they go. Many people unconsciously placate them (to avoid getting on their “bad list”) and follow them to see what kind of exciting trouble they’re gonna stir up next.”
In retrospect having lived through the Web 2.0 explosion, Brett reflects that “today social media is definitely over-hyped. “Yes, it is very powerful. Yes, it changes they way business is done. Yes, it empowers people to make choices they never had before – and it changes the world in some ways. But people are still people – and we like to waste a lot of time and use social media to mindlessly distract and entertain ourselves.”
He also believes that social media marketing is not a great fit for many types of products and services. He affirms that companies could “definitely get more ROI with traditional advertising or other online marketing methods like SEO or PPC.”
Currently Brett is working for an automotive publisher that focuses on hybrid and electric car technology. He’s building buzz and connections around content that raise people’s awareness of next generation transportation options. In the past he’s worked for international e-commerce companies, product manufacturers, and local tech start-ups in Boulder, Colorado.
In closing, I think Brett Borders’ Internet fame came about as result of his invested time and energy in this field and that his advice is based on years of trial and error. While he feels that a lot of folks are just not cut out for this business (“it’s demanding, time-intensive, volatile, and requires much more creativity than people are able to give to it”), I think Brett Border is one of those experts that has sized up the social media landscape realistically and knows how to make it do his bidding.
If you’re looking for a social media coach to help you wade through those Web 2.0 waters, I would suggest you contact Brett Borders for the job. He may be just that Social Media Rockstar his blog refers to.
For other stories on the Internet Famous, check out my previous interviews with Nick Thune, Marina Orlova, Julia Allison and Alejandro Reyes… and stay tuned for more stories of the the Internet Famous in the weeks to come.
He calls himself a Social Marketing Rock Star! His web site was designed for “successfools” like himself. He runs a Ustream broadcast on a regular basis and has amassed over 13,000 (and counting) followers on Twitter. His profile proclaims that he is “ADDICTED to people, their passions, and teaching them to use Social Media Marketing to get Internet Famous! He’s a blogger, a speaker, a coach (a puppet, a poet, a pawn and a king!). He’s Internet Famous and has a story to tell.
In a recent interview I conducted with Alejandro Reyes, he confessed that Internet fame was not something he sought out, but was more about something he “knew he could leverage.” He believes in social marketing and feels that this platform gives him latitude to “entertain and inspire people,” something he is very passionate about.
Alejandro credits the birth of his daughter as one of the initial triggering events that created a buzz about about his persona and its impact on the Internet. On April 24, 2008, utilizing Ustream as a media tool to communicate, Alejandro conducted a broadcast to brag online about the birth of his daughter to his wife’s family who resided in another state. While transmitting the live stream titled “Social Media’s First Baby,” he decided to tweet it out to his Twitter followers at the same time, and in one of the first simulcasted communiques combining streaming video with tweeting, he was pleasantly surprised when he received 60+ tweets from his modest (at the time) fan base.
It was at this moment, he began to understand the power of the Internet and the connection he could make in people’s lives. Today, simulcasts of this nature are conducted regularly by celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and P.Diddy when they want to broadcast to their fan base. And consequently Ustream has since integrated Twitter into their chatrooms.
This intimate entree’ into people’s lives ‘positioned’ Alejandro as someone who was willing to share personal stories with total strangers. In the Web 2.0 environment we all reside, here was a guy who was willing not only to be upfront and personal, but also one who was transparent in a very honest and forthright manner. Dissimilar to the self-promoting “online celebs” or “snake oil” netizens that abound online, Alejandro displayed substance and delivered advice that was consequential. He found his soap box, and as an online town crier, the Internet community was willing to listen.
After this event, Alejandro indicates that things really began to ramp up. While the live Ustream involving the birth of his daughter gave him a jump start, it’s what Alejandro was able to do with the buzz thereafter that was critical. He cautiously warns others that this is where many often drop the ball: “A lot of people miss the boat. They do something that creates a buzz, and then they don’t capitalize on it. When you secure momentum, you gotta keep it or it will die quickly and get lost in all the Internet ‘noise’” that continually competes for our everyday attention.
It was at this tipping point, that Alejandro changed up the game. Differing from others that often rely on the status quo, he decided to transform the way people saw “entrepreneurship” by making it a fun thing to manage. And while he continues to offer human interest life examples (e.g dancing with his daughter) he balances these vignettes with inspirational success training. In this way, he works collaboratively with his audience. He collaborates with them in creating his personal brand… the “successfool” brand…a process he calls “collaborate or die.”
Collaboration is the key. Without involving his audience, Alejandro would not be the success he is today. For him ‘branding’ is really all about listening to your followers and building your persona around one’s passion. To further illustrate his point, Alejandro cites an analogy that underscores brand management: “your brand is like a ‘jetliner’ and your passion is the ‘jet fuel’ that jettisons that brand forward. “You and your brand can only go as far as your fuel and passion will last.” He sees a direct correlation with this and the age-old tried and true philosophy that if “you love what you are doing, you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”
Today, Alejandro conducts a Successfool.tv Ustream broadcast every Wednesday night at 6pm Pacific time. The focus of the show is to motivate, inspire, and entertain entrepreneurs through live skype interviews, success tips and tools of the week, and accompanied by some weekly rants. While monetizing Successfool.com is a goal, for Alejandro, it’s more important to “build a brand that people trust, love, and know that they’re not going to get some cheezeball marketing pitch every week with tons of advertisements.” Presently his website receives 10-15K hits per month, according to Compete.com.
As a result of the success of Successfool.com, he’s created a coaching program, hosted a conference, and launched a local marketing company that is quickly generating a ton of buzz in the Sacramento market area. Alejandro’s Social Marketing Rock Star Webinar series provides an 8-week video training course that helps users learn how to use social media marketing as a tool and how it can boost one’s website traffic.
The series teaches people how to develop a long lasting Internet business by building their brand online through Social Media. The webinar modules include, Branding, Blogging and Advanced Blogging Strategies, Social Networking with a focus on Twitter and Facebook, Video/Live Streaming, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Properties and How to use Social Media to become a local hero. Since its success in ’08, a new Social Marketing Rock Star series will launch again this July.
Alejandro’s life journey revolves around his ongoing quest to determine “what success really is?” As we all know, success means different things to different people. When asked if he feels successful and whether he has reached his goals, Alejandro admits to only just getting started…and that his life long dream is to enter the entertainment field. Whether “that’s hosting a TV or radio show, that’s yet to be determined,” states Alejandro. So if Oprah, Ellen or Conan are reading this…you might want to give this “successfool” a call. He is in a passionate over-drive mode to take his social marketing rock star fame to another level.
Alejandro Reyes is one “successfool” that doesn’t fool around with success!
P.S: If you are thinking about contacting Alejandro on Twitter, you might want to congratulate him on the upcoming birth of his 2nd baby...Social Baby #2!
For other stories on the Internet Famous, check out my previous interviews with Nick Thune, Marina Orlova and Julia Allison… and stay tuned for more stories of the the Internet Famous in the weeks to come.
It’s been said about Julia Allison… “She can’t act. She can’t sing. She’s not rich. But thanks to a genius for self-promotion, she’s become an Internet celebrity.” Ms. Allison has learned the art of personal branding and specializes in distinguishing herself from the pack with a joie de vivre and an innate sense of knowing what to leverage when?
Marketing may be a dated term in this Web 2.0 world we live in…a hackneyed meme attributed to the billboard boys, TV execs and those Mad Men who ran fast and furious in the second half the 20th Century. With all the changes we have experienced in this last decade, Internet branding may have taken the place of Marketing while reputation management and its economy have definitely become the new black!
Like muscle building in fitness training, exercise is essential in building up one’s specs! Brand reputation is a discipline separate from traditional marketing campaigns. It recognizes that due to increased transparency and access to information, ‘traditional branding’ can no longer be fluff unsubstantiated. It can however be fluff substantiated as long as there is an audience to lap up the pablum that is being fed; e.g. the Paris Hilton syndrome. That is not… however… the case with Julia Allison.
With attention comes power and control over one’s destiny. People are now viewed in terms of their identification where personal branding now trumps actual products. In the case of Julia Allison, she learned early on that to make it in today’s field of journalism, she had to not only know her craft, she had to differentiate how to best use her craft to become her own story.
In a recent interview, when I asked Julia what prompted her to become an Internet Celeb, she quickly denied that such an unlikely path was her goal. “I think it would be a bit inane to say ‘Oh yes, I set out to become an ‘internet celebrity,’ as if I checked a box my senior year at the career center, next to ‘aimless law student’ and ‘soulless banker’,” she postured.
She also believes that “Internet celebrity is arguably the least useful media vocation one could fill, although some could make a case that “reality show star” trumps it, if only by sheer ridiculousity. And yes, I realize “ridiculousity” isn’t a real word. I couldn’t think of anything else that quite captured that genre’s inherent absurdity.”
With that said, there was a time early on in her career when it occurred to her that the conventional methods of query letters and job postings were not going to get her a job in journalism. “I had just graduated from Georgetown in May of 2004, and I moved to Newport Beach, California with my then fiance.” I thought, “I can write from anywhere. Which is true, technically. But what I didn’t realize was that editors gave assignments to writers they knew. And I couldn’t meet editors from anywhere but New York.” So she moved.
What followed was a number of humbling years of interning. where countless story pitches were overlooked by editors. “And that’s when I had that one ‘triggering event’ inasmuch as there was just one. I remember seeing a magazine cover featuring Tom Wolfe (in his signature white suit), and hearing from my friend Lloyd Grove, gossip columnist at the Daily News that Wolfe made $6 per word for his writing vs. my $50 per 700 word column.” It was at that moment she had her epiphany: “People would read Tom Wolfe simply due to their familiarity with his byline. Tom Wolfe had transformed himself into a brand.”
So a plan to brand herself was put into motion. “I thought – somewhat unconsciously at the time, later much more consciously – if people were familiar with me, and with my byline, I could: A) be able to publish my writing in a wide variety of publications, B) be able to write about what and whom I wished, and C) be able to make a decent living off of my writing.”
And she was correct! While familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, in today’s Web 2.0 environment it can also nurture micro-fame. “But, like any wish fulfillment scenario, it also comes with a multitude of unintended consequences.” Reputation is definitely a double-edged sword. While the public’s expectations are constantly changing, the very things that create celebrity status can sour and fall out of favor in an instant similar to the fluctuating fortunes of political careers.
Linked romantically with former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., her relationship was used in attack ads by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Ford’s unsuccessful run for United States Senate in 2006. Allison tells the story without regret: “I went out with Harold a few times when I was a sophomore & junior in college. It wasn’t serious, but I was beyond naive about press (and hell, the world, really!) at the time, and I think quite a few people took advantage of that. But, you know … those were lessons I needed to learn, one way or another. Life hands you whatever lessons you need for the evolution of your consciousness (Eckhart Tolle) and in this case what I needed was a lesson on why you shouldn’t date politicians.”
She also put several publicity events together that spotlighted her ability to be innovative and controversial at the same time. On Halloween 2006, when Allison was dating a columnist for the newspaper AM New York, she solicited the costume designer who created the wardrobe for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (as she puts it: “no one has better costumes than Drag Queens”). What she ended up with was a Halloween costume made entirely of gold Trojan XL condoms, complete with a condom wand and pumpkin for distributing said condoms. She called herself the “Condom Fairy,” and as a result, the story has become the urban legend she “has never been able to live down!”
The press has said that “it’s easy to dismiss Julia Allison as little more than a rank narcissist” ¢â‚¬â€ and many of her vocal online critics have agreed. However, in Wired Magazine’s August 2008 cover story entitled: “Internet Famous: Julia Allison and the Secrets of Self-Promotion.” it details how she managed to storm the Internet with other unique events that received widespread attention. Once she invited handbag designer Mary Rambin and Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to dance in Jazzercise outfits in Times Square to Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘”Dancing in the Street,” which was filmed and documented by cameramen.
Here in a YouTube video following the cover story in Wired, Julia describes how she invests in her own “reputation economy” with Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson.
However as previously mentioned, Julia isn’t the “Paris Hilton” fluff that sometimes gets applied to Internet Celebrities who reach for notoriety. In fact in early 2007, Julia expresses some of her own thoughts about the one-note overexposed wonder on Fox News…
Yes, there is rhyme to her reason and methods for her madness. Utilizing her brand awareness, she’s been hired in the “legit” world of corporate events – including keynotes and speaking engagements to top execs at Unilever, A&E, at DLD in Munich, at Next 6.0 in Denmark, at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, and at MediaBistro’s personal branding seminar.
She’s also been hired as a social media consultant for several companies, and as a brand ambassador with NonSociety for Kodak, Cisco, Axe and a handful of other entities. She’s an unofficial evangelist for Blueprint Cleanse (“I don’t receive payment, but do receive trade”), and was recently hired by Sea World in Orlando to launch their new roller-coaster, the Manta. “I believe in supporting companies and products I think are great, and I also believe that online entertainment has to pay its bills, and smart, ethical sponsorships are the answer to that,” she notes.
When asked what Internet fame has brought her, she thinks “it’s a bit early to say what it has or hasn’t brought me … but it certainly isn’t as if I’m now living in a West Village penthouse, paying for my Manolos with my black Amex while my bodyguards polish the tinted windows on my custom Escalade. I mean, I live in a studio. But you know, I’m pretty psyched that I can now afford health insurance.”
“The most important thing to me is to be able to share my life – my energy and enthusiasm and questions and confusions – through the work that I love – whether that’s a column or writing my blog or TV segments or my little chat show. And that is what the internet has allowed me to do, and so for that I am very, very grateful.”
“Listen, bottom line: there are consequences to every choice we make – each lifestyle we decide upon, whether public or private, whether as a lawyer or a journalist or a scientist or a hippie. Everything has pros and cons, and it’s up to you to do a cost/benefits analysis. No one else can do it for you. Anonymity and its accompanying privacy confers incredible freedom in one sense – you can make your life choices without a chorus of judgment. But there are some wonderful parts about being a bit more public – the ability to have a large scale conversation, to reach many people, to (hopefully) entertain, to think and wonder and learn and grow along with your audience. The opportunity to meet people you would never have met before, to embark upon experiences you couldn’t have imagined – the chance to have every day surprise you.”
In business school we learn that the ‘goal of management’ is to increase shareholder value. As it turns out, the definition of a ‘shareholder’ are those folks that have a vested interest in a company. While traditional business practices focus on the bottom line, brand reputation takes a more holistic approach on the importance of the individual. It recognizes that people can create value through excitement, buzz and celebrity leverage. Ms. Allison has learned to turn the old adage “its not personal, its business” on its head. In the world according to Julia Allison, “getting personal is her business!”
She poignantly sums it up as “I think everyone has a purpose in this world. Many times I’ve wished that mine were something more straightforward: to make people happy through song or dance or acting. Well. It’s quite clear I didn’t get any of those talents. But I can talk. I can write. I can wonder and I can share. It’s not much, but hopefully my little corner of the Internet gives people a bit of joy. I think that’s my life’s purpose. And for that I feel incredibly blessed.”
(Note: Also see my other Internet Famous stories on Nick Thune and Marina Orlova. If there is one common thread that connects Julia, Nick and Marina, it is their ‘joie de vivre,’ the joyous spirit they all bring to life, the roles they play and how they have all have found a unique way to fit into the grand scheme of the Internet landscape).
For the naysayers who don’t believe the Internet can produce celebrity-status, I initially anticipated only doing a two-part series on the Internet Famous. However after the attention that surfaced from my “Nick Thune” and “Top Ten Internet SuperStars of 2009,” features, I slowly realized that the Internet is a virtual breeding ground for building (if not full-blown celebrity) then at least… micro-celeb status. The number of budding digi-stars are growing at a phenomenal rate online, with social media as its major catalyst, and some of their stories are downright incredible.
I tracked down some of the Internet’s biggest overnight sensations to see if they are truly exceeding their 15 minute of fame expiration date. While some have settled into lives of quiet anonymity ¢â‚¬â€ others are now making grand livings off their Net-based fame. Living beyond the Warholian dream, most of these innovative entrepreneurs are turning self-promotion into an art form. This is now the second part of non-ending series that will track the lives of the pioneers that exploring fertile territory to plow on the World Wild Web!
Marina Orlova is another superstar emerging from this digital landscape and her story is not only about becoming Internet Famous… at its core, its also about how one can achieve the American dream with just a little ingenuity and whole hell of a lot of online imagination.
Born in 1980 in the Nizhni Novgorod region of Russia, Marina attended the State University and received two teaching degrees while specializing in Philology and the English language. Upon graduation, she started teaching high school students in her hometown. However the opportunity was limited from a world-view perspective and when she got the chance to emigrate to the US, she seized it. About 5 years ago under an Au Pair program she was assigned to teaching an autistic boy in the States. It was during this period of time Marina had the opportunity to perfect her English skills, and deliberate on her next career move. When a friend introduced her to YouTube in 2006, she quickly came to an epiphany: “Here is how I can teach, not just 20 students, like back in Russia, …but rather thousands of students all over the world.”
Marina’s take on branding oneself is different from some of her counterparts. In a recent interview I conducted with her, she noted: “I used YouTube and YouTube ONLY to brand myself for the first couple years. Since my product is videos (and since) YouTube owns something like 60% of all video traffic…it made no sense for me to waste my energies elsewhere.” In less than 3 years, having produced over 400 videos with an explosive 183,117,864 views, she is currently ranked as the 16th most popular YouTube Celebrity tallying over 200,000 YouTube subscribers. In a recent video, she celebrated this landmark achievement:
In conjunction with her presence on YouTube, Marina also designed her own website. “I can give a more personal experience to the fans on my website and I can email my 50,000 members from time to time. Lately I have been using Twitter as my third outlet. I signed up a couple months ago (actually I had to email them as someone registered my username, but since I own the trademark on “hotforwords”, they were kind enough to give me my screen name.).. I am now up to 12,000 followers on Twitter, and it is working as a great way to keep driving people back to my website.”
Her advice to others that want to emulate her business model is to “set up one major (social network) outlet, like YouTube, and simultaneously set up a website and a Twitter account, all using the same name. Use YouTube as your sieve to then drive traffic to your website, where you will communicate with people on a more one-to-one level.. then use Twitter on your iPhone or Blackberry to let people know what you are up to, with pictures as well.. and use that as an additional sieve to again drive traffic back to your website!”
Today, Marina Orlova is often described as “too hot for words” and a “cunning linguist (puns intended)!” While Marina exploits her “blonde-bombshell” looks to the max, appearing scantily-clad in her video clips, she is far from being an “air head”. To the contrary, while being attractive is certainly an asset on the Internet, many would be hard pressed to compete with Ms. Orlova on an intellectual level. As she describes it, “intelligence is sexy!” And as testimony to her online popularity, her video on the derivation of the word “HOOKER” has received over 3 million views on YouTube.
As you probably have already guessed, Marina’s demographic is predominantly male (80% men and 20% women). However, differing from other attractive Internet Babes, according to Marina her audience actually skews older than the typical YouTube audience. Instead of YouTube’s typical “12 years old… my audience is 92% above the age of 21.. and 25% are between the ages of 45-54!”
More than just a One-Net wonder, if you want to catch Ms. Orlova on another medium, she appears once every other month or so on Fox’s TV Show, the O’Reilly Factor. Initially cautious about appearing with Mr. O’Reilly because she “was warned that Bill was a tough guy and to watch out,” she was pleasantly surprised at her reception. “I have had nothing but an amazing time every time I have appeared! It gives Bill a chance to get away from politics for a while and to discuss something he loves! And that is words!” So she discusses “word origins that may be timely.. such as political words during the election (and) romantic words on Valentine’s Day!”
As she describes the difference between the Internet and TV: “The Internet is all about 2 minute clips. PERIOD! People are not used to watching things longer than that. Which is very different from television where people will watch a half-hour show. So that is the disadvantage of the Internet.. you have to be brief. But the advantages are, you can reach soooo many more people.. they can tune into your videos any time of the day…they can watch them as many times as they want.. they can email them to their friends.. you can interact with your audience online. All of these things are difficult, if not impossible to do on TV.”
Looking forward, Marina just finished writing a book for Harper Collins, aptly titled: “Hot For Words” that will come out in August, 2009. “I am working on a game show idea for the net that could potentially exist on TV as well. But since everything seems to be moving toward the Internet, I will continue to keep making fun, interesting videos online! It’s a great job and I LOVE it!”
This month Marina can be found at the Cannes Film Festival where she will be interviewing and filming celebrities on a yacht for upcoming videos. So stayed tuned as our favorite word-smith continues to brand her celebrity-status. She’s definitely a lady that has a lot to talk about and in a language that is never lost in translation!
Continuing with our Internet Famous series, let me know which online superstars you would like to learn more about? Your comments and feedback are always welcome and feel free to twitter me at: http://twitter.com/roncallari with your ideas!
Today’s technology has given us all the power to brand ourselves in whatever way we see fit. No longer does one need an expensive PR agency or a full-blown advertising campaign to define who we are or how we want to be perceived. Similar to how corporate branding defines how a company distinguishes itself, personal Internet branding is the sum of all one’s online activities which then triggers an expectation about who you are. Perception trumps reality when one seeks fame on the Internet.
The Internet has transformed the world — connecting cultures, streamlining commerce and revolutionizing communication. Not unlike a mosquito-infested swamp, the Web has become a rich breeding ground for buzz and viral transmission. The ability to become a worldwide celeb and the concept of becoming famous for being famous perfected by Paris Hilton and others can be developed fairly effectively on the Internet, without ever meeting one of your fans face to face.
Twitter can lay some claim for this individual branding movement. Presently organizing a conference this June, 2009 in NYC aptly called the “140 Characters Conference,” Twitter’s reach reinforces one’s ability to gain notoriety quickly. With their intent of not only attracting established celebrities who use their social network (e.g. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher), Twitter is also focusing on the new-found celebs who have learned how to harness the power of the Twitterverse to do their bidding.
For the naysayers who can’t conceive the Internet producing celebrity status, this is the first part of a two part series that will provide you with insight to contrary. The number of budding digi-stars are growing at a phenomenal rate with social media as its major catalyst. I tracked down some of the Internet’s biggest overnight sensations to see if they are truly exceeding their “15 minute of fame” expiration date. While some have settled into lives of quiet anonymity — others are now making grand livings off their Net-based fame. Living the Warholian dream, most of these innovative entrepreneurs are turning self-promotion into an art form.
One of those bright new shining stars is Nick Thune, a Seattle-born comedian now residing in LA and pursing the American dream in the entertainment field. While Nick’s modesty inhibits him from admitting to being an Internet celebrity, as a working stand-up comedian Nick first reached world attention when one of his YouTube videos went viral in 2006. Directed by Ruben Fleischer of MTV’s hit reality show fame “Rob & Big,” Nick’s video entitled “Phone Tag” is a funny sketch about a young man struggling to accept a break-up with a romance gone sour. Also starring Olivia Munn, the video currently tallies almost 1 million page views on YouTube.
An even greater buzz was created with Nick’s production of “Masturbation.” As Nick tells the story, his stage work included a ‘masturbation’ joke that he thought would be even funnier as a short film. Once again with the assistance of Ruben Fleischer a film version of the joke was produce that took slightly longer than the actual act of masturbating! A week later, after editing, Ruben Fleischer met with Funnyordie.com, the comedy video website. In tandem with their website’s debut launch, they posted “Masturbation” on their front page directly below Will Ferrell’s infamous Landlord Video, and Nick’s jerk-off session went viral!
While Nick doesn’t believe that the Internet brought him notoriety, he does feel that the attention it creates with casting directors and fans is immeasurable. On his second appearance on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in August,2007, Nick’s aptly named “Instant Messenger” stand up routine became an ‘instant’ success.
Nick’s latest project is called “Nick’s Big Show.” According to Nick,”it’s an undertaking” that he hopes will be his “last webseries,” and will act as a stepping stone “worthy of TV” exposure. On March 23, 2009, Atom.com, a digital comedy network and Comedy Central announced the premiere of “Nick’s Big Show.” This new six-episode mockumentary, available now at Atom.com and NicksBigShow.com, follows Nick Thune as he puts his comedy career on hold to do something much more important: “make people laugh because they’re crying so hard.”
One could ask after watching whether Nick really have a clock that reads It’s Go Time? Or Why does he own a pimped-out low rider limousine (driven by his assistant, played by the funny Kate Micucci) – and, for that matter, why does Nick even have an assistant? In Nick’s world, nobody asks these questions, and Nick’s world is a better place for it.
In coming weeks, “Nick’s Big Show” will be distributed widely to consumers across Atom’s multi-platform distribution network, including the “Atom TV” series on Comedy Central, mobile phone partners and other leading Internet destinations including iTunes, AOL, Dailymotion and xBox Live.
Internet Celebrity is not lost on Nick Thune. He appreciates what it has done to help mold his persona and allow him appeal to a growing fan base. But when asked if he tracks his website traffic, Nick mockingly points out that he has “someone track his websites…” as he doesn’t “wanna know numbers. I tell them to tell me if the numbers are low, then I’ll put more work into it. Do you think Picasso knew how many people had or will have seen his work? Is anyone (really) keeping count?”
Well in the case of Nick Thune, I think a lot of folks are keeping count and will be marking their calendars for his next TV appearance which just so happens to be April Fool’s Day, when he appears on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Tune in to see the next comedic superstar with humble Internet beginnings. He measures up… all “5 feet 16 inches” of him!