Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of Social Media Influencers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Celebrity Studies, 2017, 8 (2), pp. 191 - 208
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The notion of self-branding has drawn myriad academic responses over the last decade. First popularised in a provocative piece published in Fast Company, self-branding has been criticised by some on theoretical, practical and ethical grounds, while others have endorsed and propelled the idea. This article considers how and why the concept of self-branding has become so prevalent. We contend that it parallels the growth of digital technology (particularly social media) embedded in the current political climate: neoliberal individualism. Another objective here is to imbue the concept of self-branding with a marketing perspective and show how the ‘celebrities’ of self-branding manifest at a marketing media nexus distinct to the opening decades of the twenty-first century. Building on literature from mostly media and cultural studies, this critique sees self-branding as a distortion of key branding principles that has obvious implications for its practitioners and advocates. The article shows that, despite inherent tensions and problematic ironies, self-branding persists through the rise of Social Media Influencers; we consider three of these whose fame and following was achieved via the practices and phenomena under consideration.
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