What does it mean to be a celebrity on the internet?

It’s easy to claim that celebrities are a little different than the rest of us - including how they are covered on the internet.

In the past, we’ve measured the way bitly links perform over time and discovered that the majority of bitly links follow a pattern. In this pattern, the number of clicks on a bitly link quickly increases until it reaches its peak and then that number drops exponentially over a certain time frame. While analyzing our Story API, our science intern Tobias noticed something different - although we expected them to behave in the same way, there were certain ‘stories’ that followed their own pattern and continuously attracted attention.

These are stories revolving around a celebrity.

bitly celebrities, taylor swift, obama, ronaldo

What is a story?

We cluster popular content (based on keywords pulled from the content) to create what we call ‘stories.’ Stories are generated by commonalities - in this case, we categorized stories by links that share the same keyword.

We recorded the top 500 stories from January 2013-July 2013 that consistently generated more attention than the average story. The majority of the list included stories around commonly used words; stories about ‘women,’ ‘New York City’ and ‘Instagram’ all attracted a high level of attention.

We noticed this list also included a handful of public figures. These celebrities are the most talked about people on Bitly from January-July of this year.

What does it take to be a celebrity?

The top stories list is constantly changing. This list could change drastically by season (baseball players are talked about more in September than February), by recent or upcoming events (Hollywood actors might make the list around award season or the release of a new movie), or by day, based on breaking news.

Factors like location and language can also affect a person’s chances of making it into the most popular 500 stories at any given time. Political figures well-known in their own country might not have the staying power outside of it, while certain pop stars might transcend location or language barriers.

Taking this into account, being in the top 500 clicked stories on Bitly at all - despite location, language or season - would be an achievement. This small group of people managed to achieve more than that; they consistently attracted more attention than the average story on bitly not just for a day or two, but for nearly six months.

What gives the members of this list staying power? It’s those with the greatest media presence - they’re frequently recognized and talked about, whether it is for their talent, their title, their infamy, or a mixture of the three.

Who is a celebrity?

We found President Obama is the most talked about person in the Bitlyverse. This means that out of the top 500 stories from January-June 2013, a story about ‘Obama’ attracts more attention on Bitly than any other public figure.  

What are some other stories that attracted more attention than average? Stories about ‘Twitter,’ ‘Manchester United’ and ‘Google’ also performed higher than average every day throughout the time period.

Here are some more of the top figures who maintain a constant news presence - they are the most talked about people on Bitly for 2013 so far.

#1. Obama

#2. Justin Bieber

#3. Rihanna

#4. Mourinho

#5. One Direction

#6. Kardashian

#7. Beyonce

#8. Taylor Swift

#9. Ronaldo

#10. Neymar

#11. Selena Gomez

#12. Chris Brown

#13. Miley Cyrus

#14. Harry Styles

#15. Jay-Z

There are some interesting initial observations we noticed after briefly looking at this list. The overwhelming majority of the list are young, American pop stars. These people attract a considerable amount of attention because they live their lives in the public eye - including information about their relationships. Many of these people have publicly revealed they have been or are in relationships - Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, etc. These relationships could amplify the media presence of the celebrities on this list, who already attract a considerable amount of attention on their own.

Although the majority of the people on the list are American, a few big names in soccer popped up; current Chelsea manager José Mourinho, Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and FC Barcelona forward Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. With soccer being the most popular international sport, this was a nice representation of our international community and a reminder that Bitly is heavily used outside of the United States. 

This post brought to you by the bitly science team! Questions or comments? Email us.