Every year Forbes Magazine puts out a “Celebrity 100″ list. They rank the most powerful people in the entertainment business. These days, power isn’t just about money. Power is about your influence, your reach, and how you connect with the world around you. Sure, money is power—but it’s not the only thing.
Oprah’s been on the top of the Celebrity 100 list for four of the last seven years. But she didn’t make it to the top in 2011. It’s hard to dispute Oprah’s influence, but she doesn’t have 10 million Twitter followers or 34 million Facebook fans. That distinction belongs to someone else.
Meat dresses and egg cars aside, Lady Gaga knows what she’s doing. She features MAC makeup, Monster headphones, and Virgin Mobile phones in her music videos—and her fans (lovingly known as Little Monsters) eat it up. Why are they all so willing to listen to what this (seemingly) crazy person has to say?
It’s because Lady Gaga is accessible. She’s out there for her fans to get in touch with if they want to. She expresses her opinion online—and that makes her so much more than just a pop star. She’s a person. A pants-less, platform-shoed, avant-garde person; but a person nonetheless.
The Forbes list includes actors, models, athletes, authors, musicians, comedians, and everything in between. They’re ranked by their entertainment-related earnings and media visibility. (That includes print, TV, radio, and the Internet.) In case you were curious, this is how Forbes calculates social media power: “[we look] at each celebrity’s presence on Facebook and Twitter.” Genius, guys. But that’s the only way to do it.
If you want to crunch numbers a little bit, this is what her huge social media presence did for Lady Gaga: She earned $90 million in the past year. Oprah earned $290 million. So Oprah earns $200 million more than Lady Gaga, but Gaga makes it to the top of the Celebrity 100 list.
I’m not putting words in anybody’s mouth, but it looks like great social media is worth about $200 million.
What can we learn from this? Just get out there, Little eCommerce Monsters, and be more like Lady Gaga. (It’s okay, you can still wear pants.)