Last week the headline "Woman quits teaching job to twerk professionally and now makes six figures" was making rounds on the Internet. The name of that woman is Jessica Vanessa. I suspected that the headline was heavily sensationalized, as headlines often are, but I was intrigued: this was not the first time I had heard of someone making a considerable amount of money from their social media presence.
A few months prior, I had read about DisneyCollectorBR, a YouTube content producer that publishes videos where a pair of hands is shown unwrapping a new product. These videos are immensely popular one of them alone had 90 million views with many others having over 40 million views as of July 2014 (Reisnberg, 2014). Since a YouTube content producer earns a little bit of money each time a video is viewed, it was fair to conclude that those videos are generating significant revenue for DisneyCollectorBR.
Based on those facts, it seemed obvious to me that a strong social media brand can be a significant asset to any person, not just monetarily, but as a source of influence. Under that premise I set out to investigate what we can learn from those examples, and how they can be applied to the social media presence of any person.
I decided first to look deeper into Jessica Vanessa, was she just a lucky person that struck gold? As expected, Vanessa is a more nuanced personality than what the headline would have us believe. She is a content producer that creates short videos on Vine, a short-form video sharing service owned by Twitter. In Vine, Vanessa started publishing short comedy skits which seemed to strike a chord among Vine's audience. Through those videos she steadily gained popularity and as of October 2014, around 2 million people subscribed to her video channel (Moore, 2014) making her an influential social media personality. Most of the six figures, that the headline claims Vanessa makes, are a product of her promotion of sponsored products in her comedy skits. The video of Vanessa twerking was just her most popular one.
After that, I decided to look at what the research community had to say about the subject. Kaplan and Haenlin, a pair of market researchers, set out to investigate the challenges and opportunities present in social media. One of the conclusions of their research was the "five points about being social" which are: be active, be interesting, be humble, be unprofessional and be honest (Kaplan & Haenlin, 2009). Not coincidentally Vanessa and DisneyCollectorBR are perfect examples of these five points. Vanessa and DisneyCollectorBR have both created a steady stream of videos with content that is unique, serving as an example of the "be active" and "be interesting" points. DisneyCollectorBR's videos in particular are also an example of the "be humble" point: they only show the author's hands, the product being unboxed and nothing more. "Be unprofessional" is a slightly trickier point, but what Kaplan and Haenlin are trying to say is that content that seems heavily produced is often off-putting to the average social media consumer. Vanessa's videos, which she usually films herself, are a perfect example of this point. Finally, "be honest", is a crucial point as any information that is put on the Internet will live forever and can be fact-checked; if the information published proves to be false, the author will lose the faith of their audience, possibly forever.
The conclusion of my investigation is that anyone can reap rewards from their online presence by following the five points about being social. Jessica Vanessa and DisneyCollectorBR are two particularly visible examples of people that have used social media to obtain monetary rewards, but monetary rewards are not the only point behind social media. A professional can use social media to become influential in her field, enabling her to have better and more varied career choices. A company can use social media to promote its brand and increase sales. If you want to get started on social media and share in its rewards, start by first picking a class of social media that fits your personality (as depicted in the chart below), and then start producing content following the five points about being social.
- Kaplan A., Haenlin M., (2010) "Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media" Business Horizons Vol. 53, Issue 1.
- Moore, L. (October 15, 2014). "The Real Story About the Woman Who Makes Six Figures Being a Professional Twerker". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved Oct 24, 2014 from: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/interviews/a32138/the-real-story-about-the-teacher-who-became-a-professional-twerker/
- Reinsberg, H. (July 18, 2014). YouTube’s Biggest Star Is An Unknown Toy-Reviewing Toddler Whisperer. Buzzfeed. Retrieved Oct 24, 2014 from: http://www.buzzfeed.com/hillaryreinsberg/youtubes-biggest-star-is-an-unknown-toy-reviewing-toddler-wh