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Celebrity Social Networks: The Next Big Digital Niche?
By: Jennifer Stack
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Social media is known for its diverse array of jungle gyms. There is a niche for everything and a corresponding sub-culture. The more time goes on, the more fringe becomes mainstream. Bespoke is a big part of Gen Y culture and digital native behavior, so it makes sense that more and more interest-specific networks are emerging to allow those like-minded people to connect online. This concept of one secular passion — an activity or entity that could rally so many Likes or sustain a social network on its own — is the launch pad for the newest social niche: the celebrity social network.
In a world of diluted communication and branding, the idea, in theory, is good for artists in terms of direct communication with their true advocates, but not in terms of selling advertising space or avoiding alienating potential fans who are apt to discover music via mainstream social networks like Twitter or Spotify. Ultimately, celebrity social networks are a quick way to find the superfans and empower them in a collective online. In the event that brands choose to target a specific celebrity following, like Pepsi has done with Nicki Minaj fans, there will be little value in terms of selling online real estate on these celebrity networks, to which it is currently free to gain membership.
In February of 2012, just three months ago, Lady Gaga paved the way when she launched her exclusive, invite-only mashup of Pinterest/Reddit/Facebook entitled LittleMonsters.com, which allows members early access to Lady Gaga's work and the opportunity to connect with other Lady Gaga fans across the globe.
Another celeb with a social media-enabled microsite is Zooey Deschanel, who co-owns the popular group blog and sharing site HelloGiggles.com, which allows members to express themselves via contributions, comments, and forums. The structure is more loosely based, but the interaction is there and this community definitely has tight-knit legs to stand on when it comes to a passion for all things kooky and indie (read: Zooey D.) 
The beauty of the celebrity social network is that anyone famous can do it. They already have the fan base, and the only missing equation in their formula is to put their personal celebrity brand online. They have to manifest their famous persona on the digital screen and invite fans to connect, contribute, and (most importantly) consume — from content to physical products to likenesses — those traits and representations that make the celebrity unique and famous. This is the white space where brands can come into play, allowing members of the celebrity network outlets at which fans can purchase part of the celebrity's identity via associated brands.

Herein lies the opportunity for brands to implement first-mover advantage and capitalize on the celebrity-carved social spaces where the noise hasn't started yet.

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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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