“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

 I remember being asked that question numerous times as a child, youth, teenager, young adult and even now, in my mid twenties, and my response has always been the same. When I grow up I want to be happy. Whatever I was doing, wherever I was and whomever I was with, I simply wanted to be happy. Except for that one year I really wanted to be a professional back up dancer…...anyways, moving on.

Nowadays, it seems as though youth have a much more extravagant goal than I had when I was their age. For, should you ask that same question to any young person with a smartphone, you might be surprised when they respond with, "I wanna be famous." And not just famous, they want to be “Internet famous”. And Internet famous is what urban dictionary describes as: 

“A limited and perhaps temporary state of notoriety enjoyed by people, groups, works or feats that are made public exclusively (or nearly so) via the Internet. The audience is of limited size, though their devotion may be intense. The "Internet" qualifier emphasizes the limited breadth of notoriety in this medium, and its easy-come, easy-go nature. Internet fame may be contrasted with fame conferred by traditional media, which have relatively much greater access barriers and which react to change much more slowly.

An "Internet famous" person might be deeply admired, but the total number of admirers is invariably smaller than that of a conventionally famous television, music, or film celebrity. This notoriety might persist: it is not necessarily limited to a Warhol moment of fifteen minutes.”

To summarize; being Internet famous involves exploiting a single or series of attributes which results in an individual attracting an extremely dedicated following and often, a mass audience (million plus). Of course once a person has achieved this notoriety/fan base, they have to consistently work to develop and evolve their personal brand and maintain their popularity.

Fortunately,  today, attaining fame - or rather Internet fame - is a few hair flips, beach bods, and outfits-of-the-day away for the younger generation. And they've got what was once referred to as the pound key (#) and now “hashtag”, to thank for that.

Welcome to the hashtag generation, where youth are creating and manipulating their own marketing and branding strategies in order to promote their own personal brand. Youth are taking control of how they want the world to see them and they’re doing it all by themselves. 

The biggest catalyst in the Instafame seeking generation is easily the use of the hashtag. Hashtags allow users to add searchable key words to their post. These key words essentially summarize what the image is and are made searchable by including the # in front of the tag word(s).

The hashtags provide a summary of what is happening in the image.  By tagging images with key phrases, the image is searchable by other users.

It’s through this function that young people have discovered - and in a sense created - a way to capitalize on social media platforms. Instead of merely posting a photo to share with their friends, youth have discovered how to brand and market themselves, and they’re not half bad at it!

Success metrics – attention and engagement – are pretty immediate in the digital space and youth can measure the success of their strategy in the form of digital ‘likes’, video or GIF virality and importantly, as monetary gain.   

Youth are utilizing social media platforms to create marketing strategies in order to promote their personal brand and in a lot of cases they have had great success doing so.