Becoming Internet Famous

In my zeal to ‘raise my external profile’ (yes, I realise how completely wanky that sounds – bear with me), I’ve been reading a lot about Internet memes and the ‘Internet Famous‘. We all know about the ‘Leave Britney Alone’ guy, Lolcats and notorious operators like Julia Allison and her Non-Society crew, but what if you want to PR yourself in a credible way that doesn’t involve 100% disclosure?

Wired recently published a piece looking at ‘How to Become Internet Famous‘ with Julia Allison at the centre of it. Reading it, I felt as though I was watching a very slow and painful car crash. I know we have media operators like Jordan and Kerry Katona in the UK, but this woman takes media manipulation and self PR to the next level. Highlights include Twittering her every single move and blogging in minute detail about her relationships, including her full disclosure on breakups. But despite the naysayers and the haters, you’ve got to give her credit – she’s parlayed this into a money-spinner, with an American reality-TV show in the works.

With tools like Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn and FriendFeed impressing a keen sense of urgency on letting your community know what you’re doing every minute of every hour of every day, where do you draw the line between letting it all hang out like iJustine and blogging and interneting in a professional capacity with a bit of personal thrown into the mix like John Battelle? The UK communications and advertising sector is such a tight little group that there’s a balance that needs to be adhered if you don’t want to see yourself constantly on Campaign’s Diary page or on Media Week’s Bitch page and your employer gnashing their teeth and wondering what you’re going to do next.

So what is that balance? Well, I think there’s something that can be learned from Julia Allison. Here are my top tips to getting a name without sacrificing your professional reputation and credibility.

    1. Know your audience and give them what they want – think about who you’re trying to appeal to and tailor your content to them
    2. Don’t be afraid to get out and meet people – don’t be that guy who’s just good online and can’t have a conversation in real life
    3. Make meaningful connections – it’s all very well having a huge friend list but what use is it if you can’t have a considered conversation if you met them in person?
    4. Make these connections your key advocates
    5. Don’t be afraid to surprise – people get bored really easily, especially Internet folk. Keep them guessing and they’ll come back for more
    6. Expect dissenters – not everyone’s going to love you. But that just builds up your profile and reputation even further
    7. Would you be comfortable with a client seeing what you’re up to online? If you’re not, then it’s time to reconsider what you’re up to

What do you think? Is there anything else that should be on this list?

2 thoughts on “Becoming Internet Famous

  1. Hey there

    Great post. I’m the marketing director for Wired and totally agree with your viewpoint. People are having a really hard time coming up with the balance. But I keep telling people, whether or not you like Julia, it’s working. There are still far more blog posts about this issue vs. the one on “the end of science.”

    I interviewed Julia for my marketing/technology podcast and she had some great things to say. Things that the average “hater” probably wouldn’t here. Check it out:

    – Jim

  2. Wow that’s incredible -> just spent the last half an hour reading about her. It never ceases to amaze me how anyone in any field can make something happen for themself if they want to do it badly enough.

    For me my aim is not to be internet famous, I want more to be an information spreader -> people have such good ideas that they keep in their heads and they need to be out there for other people to learn from as far as I’m concerned.

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