The Social Web is Driven by Fame

Warning: Bold statements ahead…

Photo cred: JM Abania

It seems, and I’m basing this off literally no factual information, that people who participate on the internet are entirely driven by fame.

Everyone looks up to our great leaders, hollywood actors and rock stars. They dream about what it would be like to live in their shoes.  Now, with the social web and everyone building their own audiences, fame has become attainable by all, and therefore an even stronger force.

Feel free to comment if you’ve seen this in other spaces. In the social media space it’s pretty evident…

Check all that apply:

  • You spend a lot of time and effort on getting the people who are considered to be “famous” to recognize to you.
  • You tie your level of success directly to the level of recognition for your brand.
  • If you can get someone of considerable web fame to respond to you regularly, you in turn become more famous.
  • More fame brings you more confidence.
  • You believe “internet fame” and “authority” are synonymous.
  • The more famous you get, the more opportunities come your way.
  • Sometimes, you feel like you’re not good enough to talk to someone who is more famous than you are.
  • Sometimes, there are actually pricks who think they’re too good to talk to you because you’re not famous enough.
  • If no one responds to you, you get a little depressed.
  • If everyone responds to you, you feel like a king.

All of these may not apply to you, but I bet at least a couple do…

Fame is why badge systems are becoming so popular on websites.  It’s why forums give participants different ranks.  It’s why “power users” exist. Anything that allows users to gain some level of notoriety, even in niche communities, will grow because the social web is driven by fame.

How much are you focusing on fame?

20 thoughts on “The Social Web is Driven by Fame

  1. “If no one responds to you, you get a little depressed”

    That pretty much happens daily, I’m not afraid to admit it.

    I think slowly I’m realizing that in terms of succeeding on the web, it’s not about how many people you know, it’s who you know, and more importantly who actually pays attention to you.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the best, or only way to get people’s attention is by the sheer number of people in your network.

    Unfortunate catch – 22. Great post David, thanks.

    1. It happens to me too Danny.

      No one can blame anyone for trying to build their network and gain more opportunities. I just keep thinking, is seeking fame the best method in the long run?

  2. I’m not sure if “fame” is everyone’s target, but you’ve hit on some basic human social needs here. Anytime the word “social” is involved it’s a complicated dynamic. We all have some basic need to feel wanted and accepted. We all feel inadequate at times. We all have egos (some much bigger than others). That being said, I’m not sure everyone’s goal is so much “fame” as it is “success”, however they define it.

      1. There are some that judge their success by that recognition, I agree. People, by nature, seek recognition, big and small. Spending some time managing others I learned that a little recognition can go a long way in motivating people. Even if you aren’t a “glory hound” or “crave” recognition, it’s hard to say you don’t enjoy it when it does come.

  3. Interesting, Spinksy!

    As a wannabe blogger and amateur Twitterer the checkpoints you mentioned are definitely applicable. However, after tweeting and blogging for well over a year, I’ve realized that as much as I’d love to be known as a blogger and “social media guru” {gag me, hate that title}, I’d much rather be known for quality over quantity. I’ve also found that once I stopped trying too hard to put myself out there, people began coming to me. And I’d rather have 40 interesting, relevant and thought-provoking followers than 40k who I have nothing in common with.

    The point is to be authentic and not try to measure personal ROI based on people’s reactions (or lack of).


    1. I’m just hoping I don’t get famous as “spinksy”.

      It’s true, those that “try too hard” to get famous, will find very little fame. So perhaps when someone decides to focus on quality rather than quantity, it’s because they’ve realized that fame doesn’t come by seeking quantity. Fame comes from pursuing quality and letting the quantity follow.

      So I think even those of us who would choose 40 quality followers over 40k, are still seeking fame, just being much smarter about it.

      1. This is true but I feel like it’s more authentic – it’s fame for talent rather than personality – when it’s quality. In a word, it’s more deserved, earned, etc. Or maybe it’s just less obnoxious and more respectable :}.

        I don’t think the quest for fame is isolated to the social media sphere. Everyone would like to be famous.

        I, personally, would rather be famous for my talent then my personality.

        The internet has created many a “fame monster” (oh la la at the GaGa reference) based entirely on who can yell the loudest. However you do have to respect those who’ve made a name for themselves and a brand of their name even if it’s not entirely based on merit.

  4. We’re a society that wants to belong to the “in-crowd”. From our fascination with Hollywood, to our desire to hear ourselves talk, to wanting people to look up to us – we all want fame and notoriety.

  5. A topic that I rail about often, especially when it comes to communications professionals. The problem is that I think you hit on TOO many aspects of fame here, when in reality you could take each one and break it down into its own post. But, having said that, you still hit on a great discussion here.

    Anyone who doesn’t admit to one of the things above is either lying, or they’re not being honest with themselves. Are most of us looking for great people to interact with on Twitter? Of course. Is it nice when someone you don’t expect (maybe even someone “famous”) RT’s or comments on your entry? Sure it is. But you should never be actively looking for that, because it’s a little sad. Famous people put their pants on one leg at a time just like you and I do.

    The way I look at it is this: if you’re “famous” on Twitter, you’re not “real,” and if you’re not real, then I can’t be bothered to follow you. For me personally, the example above that rings true is the one about pri**s who think they’re too good to talk to you. I actually have my own unwritten rule about Twitter. If you’ve got more than x amount of followers I won’t follow you (with some admitted exceptions) because there’s almost zero chance we’ll actually interact. Most of the time, if the person is “famous” there’s no real interaction that can go on, and I can get that person’s content I might want from RT’s and such. There’s no point in trying, because really, these people have little interest in what I have to say.

    Personally, I’m ok with that. I’ve got better things to do than to spend all day saying, “look at me, I’m cool too!!”

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Jay. I agree that the concept of “fame” online can be broken down into a lot of different areas. But the thing I wanted to show is that the influence of fame can be found everywhere you look online.

      Even the concept of not following someone because they have too many followers. That’s something I do too. The real reason for it is because I see little chance of that person recognizing my existence, and so I don’t bother. They’re not helping me build fame.

      We follow people who will recognize that we exist or that we trust to at least provide great content, so we can impress our followers.

      All driven by fame.

  6. perhaps “fame” shoudl be split into stardom and just plain fame?


    but seriously, I think Seth Godin had a brilliant point in a post of his.
    It pointed to a simple number, 1000. He spoke of what you could do with just that number, ($1000 each is $1M, pretty cool).
    I know we’ve worked on this in our B&M store for years. We see $1 customers become $500 customers over time, and just WISH we had 1000 of those 🙂

    Maybe that is one guiding principle in all of our searches for “fame” — that small group of very influential (or rich) contacts who most benefit us and our liveliehoods.
    The issue is some forget the 1000 and marvel at their 20,000 instead, when, in reality, they are at 10.

    Personally, I’m pretty happy with conversing with even just 10 people in a day, that’s a pretty full day, isn’t it? I mean, just devote each one a half hour, and zap, day’s gone. Never get lonely that way.

    1. Yea the 1000 fans concept is a really interesting one.

      I’m certainly not arguing the business value of achieving fame. If your’e famous, you can sell just about anything.

      It’s how people perceive fame, how they justify their pursuit of it, and how it’s achieved that I’m calling to question.

  7. I’m not kidding when I say I was in the middle of writing a post eerily similar to this one, or at least along the same idea.

    The Vanity Fair article brought it all to a head. The idea of gaining a “following” is what drives people to reply to a tweet or retweet someone who already has gained a following and could be considered a legitimate “star.”

    It’s the high school side of Twitter. And I don’t care for it.

  8. Frighteningly astute observation. I think we are all guilty of these items from time to time, but I hope (and this may be hopelessly naive or there just may be enough of us who “arent famous enough”) that there those who are truly in it for the community and for the education.

    Have I had access to people I likely never would have had a conversation with, absolutely… Has that occasionally put a self satisfied smile on my face, absolutely… but at the end of the day, the value isn’t the fame (unless you are part of that rare few that make it really high up that ladder), it is the community we build.

    Hopefully we can all get out of our own heads enough to see that, but going by that laundry list… probably not.

  9. To me fame on the social web is not defined by top 10 lists or thousands of followers. It’s more personal for me. I’m grateful to interact with truly amazing, helpful and responsive people (some may be on those lists, some not)we meet and learn from every day.

    If I can ever provide that much enrichment to others, that’s enough “fame” for me. I will admit there are those we admire, but that should never get in the way of us having to sacrifice who we are or what we believe in just for a tweet or response from that person.

  10. Hi, my name is Harveer Panesar and I am an amazing rapper and actor as told by my friends. I am 14 years old and my friends say that I sound kind of like Kayne West when I am rapping. I have been in many school plays and love to act. My family compares me to a young Will Smith as he was a great rapper and actor. My friends nickname me Harvey P. because they think it is a good name for a rapper. I really believe that I have the young talent that you are looking for. Please talk back to me I am really looking forward to talking to you. Please help me show my talent to the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s