Self-branding, 'micro-celebrity' and the rise of Social Media Influencers

Susie Khamis*, Lawrence Ang, Raymond Welling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

726 Citations (Scopus)


The notion of self-branding has drawn myriad academic responses over the last decade. First popularised in a provocative piece published in Fast Company, self-branding has been criticised by some on theoretical, practical and ethical grounds, while others have endorsed and propelled the idea. This article considers how and why the concept of self-branding has become so prevalent. We contend that it parallels the growth of digital technology (particularly social media) embedded in the current political climate: neoliberal individualism. Another objective here is to imbue the concept of self-branding with a marketing perspective and show how the ‘celebrities’ of self-branding manifest at a marketing media nexus distinct to the opening decades of the twenty-first century. Building on literature from mostly media and cultural studies, this critique sees self-branding as a distortion of key branding principles that has obvious implications for its practitioners and advocates. The article shows that, despite inherent tensions and problematic ironies, self-branding persists through the rise of Social Media Influencers; we consider three of these whose fame and following was achieved via the practices and phenomena under consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • micro-celebrity
  • neoliberalism
  • self-branding
  • social media
  • Social Media Influencers


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