The Influencer Industy: Histories, economics, and cultures

Many young people are now vocationally pursuing celebrity on the internet as commercial, cross-platform, and highly relatable Influencers. Influencers are raking in millions of dollars, working with blue chip companies, establishing their own brands, and even effecting change in legal, economic, and social regulation in various societies. In fact, the communication formats of Influencers are so innovative that ailing legacy media formats ​are ​learning​ to ​brandjack their vernacular participatory cultures to appeal to young audiences. But how did they get here? Drawing on traditional and digital anthropological research on internet celebrity since 2010 across East Asia and Scandinavia, in this talk we will review a brief history of internet celebrities to understand how Influencers have emerged in the last decade. We will explore how attention and money are generated and circulated in the Influencer ecologies, and learn about the highly creative strategies encultured by Influencers to capture viewer attention in the increasingly saturated market. Portions of this talk is based on Crystal’s forthcoming book, Internet Fame: Understanding Celebrity Online (Emerald Publishing).

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For colloquium: Abidin, Crystal. 2018. “The Influencer Industy: Histories, economics, and cultures.” Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. May 1, 2018.