by David PiersonÂ
Whoâ€™s the bigger star: comedian Jimmy Fallon or YouTube sensation Connor Franta? Seems like a no-brainer in favor of the NBC late-night host and former “Saturday Night Live” mainstay.
But consider how the two perform on social media. In an age when advertisers prize engagement (lingo for when someone â€œlikesâ€ your Facebook post, â€œsharesâ€ your tweet or â€œcommentsâ€ on your Instagram picture), Franta appears to have an edge.
Those are the findings of Venice-based marketing start-up Zefr, which compared the reach of traditional stars like Fallon against social media influencers like Franta.
The company determined an â€œengagement rateâ€ by dividing an individualâ€™s engagements with the number of followers and subscribers they maintain on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube.
Even though Fallonâ€™s fan base is more than three times larger than Frantaâ€™s at about 40 million, the network television hostâ€™s engagement rate pales in comparison at 3.1% versus Frantaâ€™s 16%.
Thatâ€™s important to advertisers who get more bang for their buck when online followings spread the word for free by being actively engaged.
â€œUser activity reveals in real time whatâ€™s resonating and what isnâ€™t by how individuals interact and engage with content,â€ Zefrâ€™s report said. â€œThe value of engagement cannot be understated. It is quite literally the data equivalent of millions of people telling brands and content owners exactly what they care about most.â€
Thatâ€™s an important shift as digital content continues to challenge traditional TV for ad spending.
Advertisers paid $68.5 billion for TV placements last year, a modest increase of about 3.5% from 2013, according to eMarketer.
Digital advertising, on the other hand, grew nearly 18% over the same period to $50.7 billion. Online videos alone saw advertising spending soar 52% between 2013 and 2014 to $5.8 billion.
There to reap the benefits are previously unknown stars who have amassed followings on social media over the years, helping redefine what it means to be a celebrity. If stardom was bolstered in the past by building walls between fans and fueling a mystique, itâ€™s now being driven by increasing accessibility.
â€œThese people are actively asking to be engaged with fans,â€ said Zack James, Zefrâ€™s co-founder. â€œThe fan base is more engaged because thereâ€™s not a lot barriers. Itâ€™s a different mind-set. People feel closer to their stars.â€