Influencers and Celebrities: What’s the difference?

Traditionally, spokesperson for brands has always been celebrities like singers, actors and actresses. With the rise in popularity of influencers or KOLs (Key opinion leader), brands are switching to influencers as brand ambassadors and social media as the main channel for marketing.

Some may still be confused about the difference between celebrities and influencers. Below, I will discuss that in detail.

Channel in which popularity is gained from

Celebrities and Macro-Influencers both have massive social followings. Thus, it is not surprising that people sometimes confuse the two. The easiest way to differentiate between an influencer and a celebrity is the channel through which they built their influence. Celebrities built their influence through traditional channels such as television, radio, magazines, etc while influencers built their influence via non-traditional channels like social media and blogs.

It is true that some of the big influencers did have a taste of mainstream media like appearing in movies or having their own Netflix show. However, their priority still remains with the Social Media platform in which they gain their initial popularity from.

One good example is Marianda Sings (6.7M Followers). She has her own Netflix show called “Haters Back off!” that ran for 2 seasons in 2016. The show was well received but she never neglected her YouTube channel and continued to put her main focus on YouTube.

Why the popularity?

The public recognises celebrities through their characters inside the different shows and movies they acted in or for their work in music. Majority of the public may never truly know how celebrities are like in real life. There are always groups of hardworking teams behind every celebrity, packaging and presenting them in the best way possible to their audience.

On the other hand, influencers are known for their personality and expertise in various areas. Their audience like them for their personality and their various niche before everything else.

Type of Audience

Celebrities generally do not have a specific audience in terms of demographics or interests. Someone who does not follow the celebrity on social media may also recognise or have heard of the celebrity in some way or another. You may not follow The Weeknd on Instagram, but I am pretty sure you must have heard his music.

This differs greatly in the case of influencers. Influencers are mostly known only within their area of expertise. Someone who is not interested in makeup may not know the famous beauty influencer Huda Beauty who has 29.9M followers on Instagram. An influencer’s niche can go as specific as you can imagine.

What can they offer to brands?

Majority of the influencers produce their own contents. Thus, brands can depend on them on the majority of the creative aspects of the campaign. The influencers would know how to engage their followers and what type of content gets the most views, likes and comments. This saves time for the brands and increases the effectiveness of the campaign with more in-depth knowledge of the audience.

Most influencers have a clear idea of what their style is. Followers would usually follow influencers whose style appeals to them. This is extremely useful as brands have a certain style and image too. While working together, when the image of the influencer and the brand fits, it is very easy for brands to transform a large percentage of the influencer’s audience to their own. This is also a reason why brands are switching to influencer marketing now.

Even though celebrities do not have expertise in any niche, they are household names. They are able to bring brands massive exposure. One may not necessarily follow the celebrities on social media and yet they will still recognise the celebrities. As compared to influencers, celebrities would still be more effective in increasing mass reach. Consumers will have a deeper impression of your advertisements when familiar faces appear in them.

Many might suggest that influencers are cheaper than celebrities. Truth be told, that is subjective and it all depends on the type of influencers you are hiring. Some influencers are in fact more expensive than influencer endorsements. What is really important here should be the ROI of the campaign.


With the fast-growing popularity of influencers, almost every week there is a hot and up-coming influencer in town. Influencers are getting more recognition and reach to multiple niches. The distinction between celebrities and influencers are blurring. Everyone has some type of social media account just like how we use to have a TV in every household. I would still recommend using a mix of both influencers and celebrities for your next marketing campaign.

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