What do these celebs have in common? Serendipity. Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated. That's certainly what happened with the latest "Internet-famous" celeb, Axelle. The uber photogenic Axelle Despiegelaere was just a 17-year-old from Belgium at the World Cup in Brazil when someone took photos of her cheering wildly for her team. The photos quickly viralized on Twitter; her Facebook page garnered more than 200,000 likes, and cosmetics giant, L'Oreal signed her to a modeling contract.
Then there's the legendary "miracle on the Hudson." It was Jan. 15, 2009, when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 took off from New York, struck some birds on its way into the sky, lost both engines and was then brilliantly guided to a safe landing in the Hudson River by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. All 155 people on board were saved -- as the world watched via Twitter.
Adele never expected to be signed as an artist because of her size. But luckily, record labels started to employ scouts just to trawl MySpace, and some of Adele's songs, uploaded to the site has part of a school assignment, caught their attention. Five of Adele's videos are on YouTube's most viewed (140 million + hits) list but the one with the most is Rolling in the Deep with 465,844,282 views.
Justin Bieber's life changed by "fortunate chance" when he released a cover song on YouTube using the name Kidruhl and was discovered by talent manager Scooter Braun and singer Usher.
Pamela Anderson was discovered when her image was transmitted on the stadium's wide screen at a British Columbia Lions football game. Fans fell in love with little Pam, who was wearing a Labatt's t-shirt. She was signed to a commercial contract with Labatt's and became the company's "Blue Zone" girl.
These folks were all discovered out of the blue via the phenomenon called social serendipity. In the old (analog) days, the answer to "What are the odds?" would be a rueful chuckle. The only way to increase your possibilities of connecting, whether in business, opportunities, love, relationships, insights, anything, was either to up the elbow grease via traditional networking or bury a statue of St. Jude in the backyard.
Today in our Kevin-Bacon-World, serendipity gets a digital boost. When you use social media what you're doing is greatly increasingly the odds of stumbling across exactly who or what you want to stumble across:
- If you're writing a book, agents, publishers and writing experts show up
- If you're looking for a job, the right contact, the opportunities show up - including some you never imagined
- If you're running a business and need help, the right virtual admin, the right CPA, the right insurance agent shows up - and maybe even partnership opportunities
How to increase your odds
Yes, your personal message-in-a-bottle is floating quixotically in the tumultuous seas of social media. But you have a choice about when, where and in what direction you want it to bobble. You don't have to toss it willy-nilly into the world. You can pick your ocean. For example, if you're into music and entertainment and seeking fans, labels, producers, then you'd want to throw your bottle into the sea that's youtube, Tumblr or Instagram. You'd tightly target your message so it's immediately engaging to the people who find it washing up on shore. You research the influential beachcombers, learning where their favorite sandy patch is and when they're out roaming.
Enter contests conducted via social media. The most recent celebrities are Rufus and Hannah, two British 18 year olds who won Next modeling gigs as a result of their gorgeous selfies. Practice up. You never know who's watching what you're pinning or posting.
Be prepared also, for whatever shows up. Often it's not the way you imagined it. But even more often, it's more intriguing.
However, serendipity being what it is, it can also backfire. After an offensive hunting photo of Axelle showed up online, L'Oreal cut its ties with her.