Social media case study: How « nobodies » become famous on the Internet by standing out using their outgoing personalities and their communicational skills: the Philip DeFranco case

Who is Philip DeFranco?

This is the story of a controversial, funny, provocative yet very well informed 25-year-old American called Philip DeFranco (also called PhillyD). In the year of 2006, the New Yorker decides to start making videos and post them on Youtube. His almost daily contributions are called “The Philip DeFranco Show” and DeFranco is found under the username “sxephil”.

Talking about “current events, politics, technologies and celebrity gossip” in his very own personal and cynical way, his show attracts more and more fans every day, until the point where the video blogger gets millions of views and subscribers, and the number of his followers on his Twitter and Facebook accounts also reach unbelievable heights, considering that before that project, the man was a perfect “nobody”. His biting way of presenting “the things that mattered to him today”, as he likes to present the content of his videos, got him known all over the Web and made the press as well as various advertisers notice him and want to work with him as he has a naturally outgoing and entertaining personality.

Here is one of his debut videos, which wasn’t edited and presented as professionally as his more recent contributions. His show has indeed evolved a great deal through the years and its generic was modified quite a few times too, but the spirit has remained the same since the beginning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-gSi-a4h4Y&feature=relmfu

Over time, The Philip DeFranco Show has evolved in terms of quality of image and sound, the monochrome backgrounds have made way for more attractive and fresher decorum, the generic has regularly been updated and the rhythm of his videos has been accelerated using “jumps cuts”, which give the viewer the impression of a fast moving speech, far more interesting and entertainig than one shot recordings. Here are some more recent versions :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEuoVMQZupw&feature=fvst

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zBEWhDDjSA&feature=relmfu

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05hoY4hNTiU&feature=related

Next to his official Youtube channel, DeFranco also has a vlog channel, on which he posts daily videos of him discussing random subjects or filming bribes of his everyday life, which he calls the “vloggity”. Here is one of the hundreds of vlogs he has made to this day:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT54paw6fnw&feature=BFa&list=ULci-aYTWU9fI&index=2

Philip DeFranco also has a website dedicated to his full-time job as a blogger:

http://phillyd.tv/

On top of that, Defranco also works as an editor for SourceFed.com, an American information website:

http://sourcefed.com/

The public’s reaction :

The blogger has both Facebook and Twitter accounts and works daily in making his own promotion and reminding his followers to go check on his new videos and vlogs.

More than 300’000 people are “befriended” with him on Facebook and his Twitter account counts 181’006 followers to this day. Every single post he adds gets hundreds of responses and retweets.

Derived activities:

Philip DeFranco has become so famous that even TV channels are making reports and parts of their news programs on him. Here on NBC:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U38TazLLh2I

Youtube made DeFranco access to their “partner program”, being an invitation to the most viewed youtubers to work as partners with the website. This partnership offers many advantages, including getting a channel entirely dedicated to the selected youtuber, making their username and the name of their show a brand, benefiting of supplementary conception and interaction options. The most interesting point for both parties is that this program is  based on revenue sharing which allows original content creators and producers to get a revenue for their videao broadcasted on Youtbe. They can earn money by allowing companies to put commercials on their videos or by renting their content (streaming). That is notably why Philip DeFranco has been able to make a living out of his videos, out of his passion.

Firms of all kinds have heard of the “great ironist” and each of them wanted a piece of the man. The fast food company Karl’s Junior asked him to make promotional videos for their restaurants and he was approached to make commercials for the US television series “Lie To me” and “Fringe”.

Philip DeFranco now even has his own range of clothing (essentially t-shirts and sweathers) selling on the Internet, with the logo of his show (a monkey face) or his name printed on them. In addition to that, he sells posters of his show internationally.

Link to the store: http://phillyd.spreadshirt.com/

His branded by-products are very successful and people getting them are proud to support Philip DeFranco. Here is a comment written by a follower on Philip DeFranco’s twitter account:

After a consequent amount of e-mails and messages telling DeFranco to “get a real job” instead of spending his days making videos and posting them on the Internet, the blogger filmed a reply-video for his “haters” to watch, and yet didn’t lose his characteristic irony explaining why his work is right for him:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8gjTKB_aVg

Such interventions make him even more appreciated for his followers (who are for most of them very consistent in following his latest submissions on Youtube) will support him and take his defense by replying to rude comments other people have posted on his channel and blogs or even leave video comments to show their love and appreciation of DeFranco’s committed work.

Conclusion:

The reason why The Philip DeFrancoShow is getting so much attention, even in the long run, is because it is everything the new generation wants entertainment to be: fun, fresh, new, interesting, if possible short because people are more and more occupied and do not want to waiste their time. Philip DeFranco’s concept meets all of these expectations with a 3-4 minute clip that goes straight to the point, which is critical but not smear, political but not fanatically engaged, contains swear words and sex-oriented comments but isn’t dirty, makes fun of people without humiliating anyone: in fact, just a smart combination of “not too much” and “not too little”.

“Don’t live like there’s no tomorrow, that’s stupid. But live your life like it’s a story that you would want to tell someone else. A little fun, a little exciting, a little sexy, and always off key.”  — Phillip Defranco —

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