Influencers or celebrities? Study presents the central role of digital actors at companies

Last year, more than US$292 million was invested in Brazil in advertising in these actors, who create, disseminate and curate content on social networks, up 37% from 2021.
20 二月 2024
Influencers or celebrities? Study presents the central role of digital actors at companies

One of the most heard and talked about terms in recent years is digital influencer. However, what exactly is this phenomenon, which has grown so large on social networks? To answer this question, researchers Gabriela Fasanella, Fábio Sandes and Eliane Brito wrote an article titled “Should You Ally Yourself with Influencers or Celebrities?” The paper, published in GV-Executive, analyzes these terms and discusses the differences between celebrities and digital influencers, highlighting the factors that ought to be considered by brand managers who associate themselves with these digital actors.

In recent years, digital influencers have played a central role in advertising campaigns. Last year, more than US$292 million was invested in Brazil in advertising in these actors, who create, disseminate and curate content on social networks, up 37% from 2021. This isn’t surprising, as it is estimated that more than 50% of internet users in the country follow at least one digital influencer.

Companies have sought partnerships with these digital protagonists due to the evolution of the consumer journey, which takes place collectively and without borders these days, since the dynamics of consumers’ social journey have changed. Among the various characteristics that define influencer marketing, we can highlight a distinction between two types of digital figures often treated as a single entity: influencers and celebrities. 

Influencers gain fame as they build contact with consumers on social media and receive support from followers. In the case of celebrities, fame precedes their presence on social media, which means they quickly gain an audience in the digital environment.

The journey of digital influencers is marked by the transformation of an ordinary consumer into an influential personality who seduces and engages a community of followers on digital media. Influencers expand their reach through the megaphone effect. By gaining social distinction through this effect, digital influencers impose esthetic values that will determine what is good taste on the web.

Celebrities, on the other hand, are characterized as products resulting from the media industry, designed to satisfy market demand for public figures. Their identity is shaped by the traditional media, established and legitimized by cultural production and widely promoted and disseminated by the mass media.

It can therefore be seen that there are significant differences between the influence of celebrities and digital influencers on social networks. While influencers achieve fame by projecting and sharing their private life, involving a supposedly spontaneous demonstration of taste, celebrities obtain social distinction in the digital environment through a well-known narrative that serves interests that have not been defined by their audience.

Thus, the relationship between celebrities and their fans is more distant. The latter behave more like an audience that sees the celebrity’s trajectory as emblematic, mysterious and admirable. 

Here are some differences between influencers and celebrities and the main similarities between them.


  • Community
  • Expose personal life
  • People like us
  • Dialogue
  • Accessible
  • Authentic
  • Independent


  • Audience
  • Mysterious life
  • Persona
  • Talent
  • Parasocial (one-sided) relationship
  • Distance
  • Industrialized image

Main similarities

  • Special
  • Admired
  • Status 
  • Followers
  • Social influence

“Influencers and celebrities establish different connections with their followers. The best way to express this difference is by using the term audience for celebrities and the term community for influencers,” the researchers write.

In this context, it can be seen that in both situations, it is advantageous for organizations to take advantage of their followers’ anticipation of news. However, while brands can link to a post that deals with the beginning or end of a relationship involving an influencer, in the context of a celebrity, it is more pertinent to exploit professional elements, such as publicizing their participation in an international series.


According to the study, both celebrities and digital influencers can be important allies for the success of brands on digital social networks. As well as offering the possibility of transferring the company’s values to followers, celebrities and influencers have the potential to humanize brands.

In relation to brands, each one has different objectives, which must fit the narrative and coherence of the characters involved, whether they are influencers or celebrities. The symbolism that both types of digital actor carry is the result of a long journey of public exposure to their tastes, practices, consumption and behaviors.

“Another point to watch out for is a lack of natural connection between a brand or product and the style of an influencer or celebrity. If consumers perceive that the characteristics of a brand are not part of what they consider to be appropriate for an influencer or celebrity, there is a risk of diminishing the social prestige of the digital actor and even causing the negative perception that they “do everything for money.” There is also the possibility that consumers will pass on their discomfort about the artificiality of the proposed action to the brand, stressing the relationship between the digital actor and their followers. In these cases, both the brand and the influencer or celebrity suffer,” the paper warns.

To read the full article, click here.

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