Please join us for a colloquium being given by Ashley Mears, Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston University.
Going Viral: Content Creators in the Emerging Field of Digital Cultural Production
Social media platforms enable creative producers unprecedented reach to share their work with massive audiences. What is gained and lost as reach expands? This paper examines the labor, rewards, and costs of success in the new market for viral video content. Based on an ethnography with a group of entertainers who have become viral content creators on Facebook, I outline key differences between “influencers” and “content creators:” content creators shift from following the rules of their analogue fields of cultural production, to playing games of virality. As a result, they reorient around new understandings of authenticity, quality, imagined audiences, and audience engagement. Going viral is often understood as a professional achievement for creators on social media; but in this paper, I explain why high reach leads to status loss and recuperation in the new field of digital cultural production.