The rise of social media has embedded personal brand management – previously the purview of celebrities and other renowned figures – into the everyday social mores of the emerging generations. At the same time, these platforms have made “fame” seem more accessible than ever before. From celebrity bloggers to YouTube celebrities, to being ‘Instafamous’, many Gen Zs believe they have the potential to be a celebrity. As Jess (b.1999) – one of the 100 members of Generation Z interviewed as part of Hello Gen Z – noted:
“My friends will go on for hours talking about YouTube celebrities – people who have just got famous on YouTube. That’s a new generation of celebrity in itself. They have their own meet and greets, merchandise, they release their own books and cosmetics…”
One of the favourite platforms of Gen Z is Instagram and its use continues to evolve. Managing your personal brand, as many Gen Zs on social media are doing on a daily basis, takes time and focus. People will intentionally develop certain themes and styles so all the photos look like they are part of the same set. Even after posting, the pictures are monitored to ensure they are performing. Images that did not generate a good response are quickly culled, and photos may be deleted after posting if they don’t fit in with the overall profile of that Gen Z.
This extensive personal brand management can even affect the ways that Gen Zs relate to their friends. As Taya (b.2001) described, “I have friends who sit at school and they may have 130 likes on their photo but they go through it to see who has liked it and bring it up with you if you haven’t liked their photo.”
The rise of the personal brand and mass followers has created a new opportunity for peer-to-peer influence and social marketing. Companies are tapping into influential social media users to have them promote products to their followers. Marketers have recognised that everyday individuals who are popular on social media have the ability to generate brand exposure in a similar fashion to how a famous actor or sports celebrity may be sponsored in another marketing space.
Jodie (b.1997) pointed out, “What I’ve realised with Instagram lately, if you’re attractive and have a lot of likes, people will send you products, free stuff, so you promote it. Or people who are attractive and know how to post – they get sponsored by a company – they end up representing bigger brands or they get scouted on Instagram for modeling.”
When having social media followers means free stuff and even a big career break, the appeal of online fame to this generation starts to make a lot more sense.
Based on extracts from the book Hello Gen Z: Engaging the Generation of Post-Millennials.
Hello Gen Z
Hello Gen Z is the new book from Claire Madden, Australia’s foremost social researcher on generational engagement.
With a foreword by Bernard Salt, this book will help organisations, educators, leaders and parents understand what has shaped this extraordinary group of young people. Order a copy of the book here. Bulk order discounts are also available.
About Claire Madden
Claire Madden (www.clairemadden.com) is a social researcher, keynote speaker and media commentator interpreting social trends and implications of generational change. As a keynote speaker, Claire is highly regarded for her dynamic and engaging presentations where she translates robust, research-based content into strategic applications for educators, managers and business leaders.
To invite Claire to speak at your next event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +61 2 8091 4321.