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Top Ten Internet SuperStars of 2009

I tracked down some of the Internet's biggest overnight sensations to determine just how many were able to live past their "15 minute of fame" expiration date. Some have settled into lives of quiet but sustained popularity; others are now making grand livings off their Net-based notoriety. While becoming famous for being famous and turning self-promotion into an art form is often the stimulus, there are micro-celebs growing up all over the Internet who have a lot to offer.

Like it or not, we are all public figures ever since social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Flikr entered our lexicon. While some of us have attracted massive followings of hundreds of 1000s, others are perfectly content to run in smaller circles. So the old cliche' of being famous for fifteen minutes might now be defined as being famous for 15 people. "By actively keeping a blog and using Twitter and maintaining my social network profiles, I am shaping my image," says Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus, an Internet marketing firm in New York and LA. "Maybe not for the general public, who couldn't care less, but for the 500 or so people who are listening and actively or passively paying attention."

My Top Ten Internet SuperStar list focuses on those that have used many of the Internet tools available to their utmost advantage. I monitored popularity based on pageviews, RSS subscriber feeds, followers, number of mutual connetions on multiple sites, retweets, Twitter trending topics, number of blog posts, attendance at social media events and sustainability over time. See if you agree with my choices and please take our poll and vote for your own favorites at the end of this blog.


The the most recent entry into my Top Ten list just made it in under the wire. It appears that "American Idol" isn't the only launching pad for aspiring singers. Across the pond, "Britain's Got Talent" scored a huge boost in their ratings when an unassuming  47-year old contestant gave her first televised performance. On April 11, 2009,  the Internet went abuzz internationally with a viral video on Youtube that to date has tallied over 30 million views (as of April 21, 2009) and is climbing exponentially as we speak. Susan Boyle (remember that name) became a Web phenomenon after singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from the Broadway musical, Les Miserables. The performance brought the audience to its feet and left the judges (including Simon Cowell) in awe. What is unique about Ms. Boyle and testimony to the power of the Internet is she is a middle-aged matronly-looking woman who could have stepped out of a Charles Dickens novel. Luckily for us, Ms. Boyle who may have live a life of anonymity is now going to be able to share her rare gift with the world...in fact, she's already meeting with officials from Mr. Cowell's Sony BMG label. This may have be the first you've heard of her, but it certainly won't be the last. You can watch her stunning performance here...



Magibon (not her real name) was born in Florida, but presently resides in Pennsylvania. Before becoming a YouTube celebrity, she worked as a pharmacy checkout clerk. She learned to speak Japanese from watching Japanese television dramas and listening to their music. By October 2008, Magibon had uploaded over 60 videos onto her YouTube channel. Most of these clips are in the form of video blogs that exhibit her Mona Lisa smile. When asked whether she planned making the videos, she replied "I don't use scripts. There's no grand plan." In some of her videos, Magibon speaks or sings in Japanese. As of January 2009, Magibon leads the YouTube Japan's All Time Top Video list.



Amber Lee Ettinger (born October 2, 1982) is the Internet celebrity best known as "Obama Girl" in her online video "I Got a Crush... on Obama" — referring to U.S. Senator (now President) Barack Obama. Earning her massive media attention, she has since appeared in a comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live with Fred Armisen as Obama to an interview on Geraldo at Large with Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly's "The Factor." Beyond her Internet persona, Ettinger has launched a music career as well. However, staying true to her online roots, her first album, "Queen of the Web," will be made available only online.  Ettinger's "I Got a Crush... on Obama" video was posted by Barely Political to YouTube in June 2007 and the video has caught on to the tune of 13 million viewers.




Andy Bumatai is an executive producer of Nighttime Productions, and produces and stars in his own Hawaii-based online talk show, "The Andy Bumatai Show". When I interviewed Andy most recently and asked why he switched to the Internet after a successful 30 year TV career, he was savvy to the power of the Internet: " I filmed shows on Social Media and being the Internet junkie that I am, I quickly realized that I owned what would amount to the best 'web cams' out there. So I ran the numbers and the cost savings alone was enough to sell me on an "Internet Only" talk show format. I realize that it will take a little time for sponsors to convert over but after many years in 'traditional' TV, the transition to the Internet was inevitable." With over 30,000 hits per month, its a slow build for Bumatai, but based on his talent, I think he's going to make a mark as an innovator in transitioning talk shows to the Internet.



Alejandro Reyes was selected as my Number 6 choice because of his passion and ability to generate excitement across social networks, most notably Twitter. If you have ever wanted to tap into your own desire to become Internet famous, you might want to consult with Reyes and his successful podcasts that go by the apt name of "Successfool." Alejandro is a modern day Pied Piper. As a  success/life coach and online marketer, he will not only get you started down the road of success but will arm you with invaluable tools for overcoming obstacles that might be stumbling blocks.  Alejandro has several mentoring programs that  you can purchase, most notably his social media "Rockstar" program. Tune into his weekly live videocasts at USTREAM, where he addresses the Twitterverse and all the tweeps that are twittering in for free advice.

 
Comments
Apr 14, 2009
by Anonymous

Julia Allison

No one knows who Julia Allison is outside of a few hundred media types in New York. She is seriously snooze worthy in every way and her blog is a content-free joke compared to iJustine. Julia posts pictures of her dog and one sentence captions. My 16 year old niece has a more interesting website than Julia's joke of a "lifecast."

Apr 14, 2009
by Anonymous

Huh?

Okay, Ron, what kind of crack are you smoking here?!

You're about a year late and a dollar too short on most of these entries---that youtube hack Magibon made the list? Really?? What, was were LonelyGirl 15 and the "Chocolate Rain" guy suddenly not available???
Obama Girl's 15 minutes are just about up already. Julia Allison(aka the Norma Desmond of online fame) is even older news.
The only person still of any rising relevance on that list is iJustine, and that girl actually deserves her fame: she's bright, talented, beautiful, WORKS HARD, and knows her stuff. She should've been #1 on this list.

Did anyone even do current research on some of these "celebrities"? Their most recent projects weren't even mentioned here!

Apr 14, 2009
by Ron Callari
Ron Callari's picture

Susan Boyle

Hi Anonymous...thanks for your feedback. But I have to differ with you on a couple of points,  For one, you can't get any more current than Susan Boyle hitting the world scene on April 11, 2009, and secondly, just because things move at the speed of light on the Internet doesn't mean all of my readers are aware of some of these folks, nor the accomplishments that originally made them famous!  Since you apparently favor iJustine, I would suggest you and your followers vote for her.The readers' poll will tally votes up until May 31, 2009. Thanks.

Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist. His slighlty off-center published work includes trends, social media, politics, travel, humor and political articles.

Follow Ron on the InventorSpot and Twitter.com/roncallari

Apr 14, 2009
by Anonymous

#1 & #6

Very nice. I agree, Nick and Alejandro are two great and influential individuals.
Congrats guys.

Apr 14, 2009
by Anonymous

I vote for Andy Bumatai

Love Andy's show. The live chats/excellent guests are awesome! I look forward to it every Tuesday and Thursday. Glad he made your list!

Apr 15, 2009
by Anonymous

Aww

Susan Boyle Should have been number one :-P

Apr 15, 2009
by Anonymous

Andy

I vote for Andy Bumatai. Love his show

Apr 15, 2009
by Anonymous

What about Paul Potts?

You should have mentioned the other BGT discovery Paul Potts, last I saw he had over 17 million hits on one of his Youtube videos.

Apr 15, 2009
by Anonymous

Internet Star iJustine

This is a great website and sure it took plenty of research to arrive at your choice of stars.

Thanks, Ron for the exposure on this site.

I vote for iJustine, I followed her since 1999, I know the work and worry she contributes to her craft and how she has the persistence it takes to keep editing, filming and the patience it takes to continually blog, upload and work with her peers and her fans. She is an artist and expresses herself in her work. She never forgets to mention her peers and give them a nod when she can.

Helen of Joy

Apr 16, 2009
by Anonymous

I vote for iJustine

No doubt, Justine is number 1, she's no fake and a really inspiring person

@wiibart

Apr 16, 2009
by Anonymous

What the...?

Where the hell's Brandon Hardesty?!
Definitely voting for iJustine. She's not fake and one of the few people who actually deserve to be on this list. She worked her ass off to get right where she wanted to be and never forgot her fans on Youtube. However, if Brandon was on this list, it would be a tough call as he has done the same and is hilarious! :)

Apr 16, 2009
by Anonymous

Hi iJustine

Justine, you really don't need to be blowing your own horn. ;-)

Apr 16, 2009
by Anonymous

totally agree

about number 1 choice.

-nick t

Apr 17, 2009
by Anonymous

Amber Lee Ettinger

Amber Lee Ettinger aka Obama Girl is not a web celebrity of 2009. She has jumped the shark and her videos have become annoying. This is what happens when youtube stars think that they are relevant beyond their 30 seconds of fame.

Pathetic.

Apr 17, 2009
by Anonymous

Andy

That guy is funny and witty. Keep it up!

Apr 20, 2009
by Anonymous

Really? Of '09?

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but 2009 is still relatively fresh and new, yeah?
Are we already trying to predict who's gonna be the big YouTube star 8 months before New Year's Eve?
I applaud anyone willing to put their neck out and make a list like this - knowing that there's gonna be backlash, shameless plugging, hateful vitriol and very little praise. Still, do it closer to the end of the year and most computer geeks will be too tired to type negativity yet one more time.

In the interim, lose "Obama Girl," "Magibon" (really? She's just kinda creepy...), and "Julia Allison."

Replace 'em with DEVEN GREEN, Jon Lajoie, and leave one spot open for someone that's bound to come along.
Then you got yourself a list!!

Kudos you.

Apr 21, 2009
by Anonymous

Justine is amazing!! :o)

Justine is amazing!! :o)

May 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Site Source 101

Really interesting videos!

May 11, 2009
by Anonymous

Justine

She must be number one..... she is amazing!! To all those who leave bad remarks, come on, you try doing it, let see what you got. Justine you rock girl.