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.