The Two Kinds Of Web Popularity

Everyone wants to be popular. Popular businesses make money. Popular people have lots of friends. Popular artists get their music heard by large audiences.

No one wants to be invisible. Invisible businesses fail. Invisible people are depressed. Artists that publicly state they would like to remain obscure secretly want to be popular more than the popular artists do.

There are two types of popularity the web enables:

1)  Insta-fame (or viral fame)

Insta-fame is something relatively new in our society. Thanks to news media, for a while there was the idea of ’15 minutes of fame’ – a concept the web has killed. The new form of insta-fame is to become internet famous. And once you’re internet famous, you’re forever a part of web culture. Even after your big ‘hit’ you’ll still never shake the references in social media, YouTube remixes, or Google. It could prove difficult, if not impossible to get away from what the web comes to know you as due to insta-fame.

A few examples of insta-fame include:

These videos/memes exist far outside the realm of YouTube. Along with a handful of others, these are memes that make up part of pop culture on the web and are referenced, linked to, remixed and talked about throughout the social web. Also note that none of the above people intended to become popular, it just happened.

You more than likely will not experience insta-fame, it is like getting struck by a bolt of lightning. There is no way to predict who will become internet famous and it’s not a strategy to bank on. Also, while you could capitalize on insta-fame, you probably don’t really want this anyway. This is numbers-based popularity.

2)  Reputation-based popularity

If you’re not Techno Viking, becoming popular on the web is actually pretty hard work. It’s not anything you could “force” to happen – instead it is the result of relentlessly contributing on a subject you are passionate about until you start to become a referential person for that subject matter. In other words, when people write on a subject, your name naturally comes up as the go-to person. At that point, your reputation and popularity start to work for you naturally.

Examples of people who have achieved reputation-based popularity include:

These guys may make it look easy, but in reality they have put in an incredible amount of work building their reputation through being thought leaders in a global conversation, writing landmark books and keeping blogs/developing sites that smart people visit. This is influence-based popularity.

If it’s the valuable kind of web popularity you’re after, your only real option is to get to work.

Related posts from The Future Buzz

Geeks:  The New Influencers

The Rise Of Personal Branding

The Shift Of Trusted, Influential Media:  From Brands To People

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