Is Celebrity a developable skill?

People forget what you say but they never forget how you make them feel. So much of the value we provide comes from how we make people feel. It is the difference between brands. It is the difference in elasticity of pricing. It is the difference in luxury goods and services.

It is all about how you make people feel.

How you make people feel is the power of celebrity. We tend to underestimate the power of celebrity. This may seem strange to you, given our celebrity-powered society, but it is true. Celebrity, properly managed and augmented, is incredibly powerful. Celebrity moves units. Celebrity creates credibility where anonymity currently exists. Celebrity socially proofs. Celebrity is timeless.

Celebrity also isn’t new. Generations ago, civilians put kings and queens on the celebrity pedestal. The monarchs of the age were the celebrities, and they had their entourage, the court. Certain people played roles and had certain responsibilities to the king and queen who entertained and were entertained at their leisure.

Fast forward to today and people still long to be famous. There’s good reason for this, too. Being well-known makes most things far easier. There is great power in Social Proof. Being socially vetted makes selling and marketing easy. The best salespeople are the ones with the most friends and the largest personal and professional networks. No more beating your head against the wall with testing and wondering whether the marketing campaign will work. It’s you. You’re socially proofed. Of course, it will work. Of course, you’re selling product.

People buy because of celebrity endorsements.

Yes, people do, in fact, buy things because a celebrity endorsed them. These celebrity endorsements act as decision-making shortcuts, and we all use them whether we admit it or not. They also act as sales and marketing shortcuts for businesses and manufacturers who seek to sell product. The right celebrity backing the right product for the right market is a combustible combination. For certain goods with precise market timing, there is no limit to how high sales can go.

Note this celebrity power is not just for commercials, ads, and YouTube. It is also for other domains that you may not think about. Take the stock market. If Warren Buffett writes about a stock he likes, it is suddenly socially proofed and vetted by one of the greatest investors in stock market history. That stock will be bought up almost immediately because Warren talked about liking it at a certain level. Ironically, this works against Buffett because he only likes buying stocks and companies at good prices, not inflated ones.

This also works for Jim Cramer, one of the top stock market analysts and stock pickers working today. When Jim goes on CNBC and says he likes a particular stock at some level, other people who watch him will go and purchase the stock immediately, hopping on the Jim Cramer bandwagon, which is similar to the Warren Buffett bandwagon. This is the power of Social Proof working its way through the stock market via CNBC and Jim Cramer and his brands.

Celebrities essentially become their own media, their own brand. In fact, it is common for them to show up in various media: books, TV, YouTube, podcasts, satellite radio, Internet, just about anywhere they can have a megaphone to talk to their audience. Anywhere with reach.

We feel like we know them even though we know they have no idea who we are. It’s a strange thing, that feeling. And it’s even stranger to be on the celebrity side of the interaction. You might be charismatic, well-known, at the top of your field or game, or you may be all of these qualities.

Video and the power of repetition

So much of this familiarity power comes from video and repetition. When we see someone over and over and over again on video, we feel like we know them. Interestingly, we don’t need to hear them. We merely need to see them over and over to feel like we know them. It turns out that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt — it breeds comfort and liking. It also spawns celebrity.

Many kids today desire to be YouTube famous. They want the prestige that celebrity brings. This, too, is not new. They merely want what most adults are too proud to admit or no longer wish to admit. Nearly everyone at an early age wants to be a princess or a rock star — some of us still do — to be the center of attention. YouTube is simply the most visible and salient and accessible mechanism to make that happen. The potential for fame is available to anyone.

It is ironic that while so many of us want to be YouTube famous, we hate to see ourselves on video. We cannot bear the sight of us. There’s no way I look like that! we exclaim. It must be someone else.

Getting good on video is a developable skill.

It can be uncomfortable being on camera the first dozen or so takes. You flub. You excoriate yourself. You self-flagellate. You’ll do anything to get out of it. Anything but be on camera. Yet it is a developable skill just like any other. Just like the stage, it takes a little time to get comfortable and to find yourself on camera. Then, you just have to watch yourself over and over and over and over again to get used to your look, your style, your on-video personality, which should be similar to your off-video personality unless you’re an actor. The great news is you get to hone you. You get to whittle away at you. You get to improve you. You get the power to be the you you wish to be. And while you get better and add value to people, you get more fans and followers.

It turns out that becoming well-known is also a developable skill. Simply create content consistently and release it to your fans and build your audience. Yes, it is easier said than done, like everything else. By being your own content creator, you essentially are your own media brand and personality. This is how people get to know you personally and professionally. This is how you breed familiarity and not much contempt (but a little contempt is OK). It all starts with sharing what you know and adding value by solving problems consistently.