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Start-up lists top Web celebrities of 2008

January 9, 2009 |  8:00 am

Introducing the most popular Internet celebrities of last year: Smosh.

If you haven't heard of the comedy duo from Carmichael, Calif., you're not alone. But Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla host the No. 3 most-subscribed-to video channel on YouTube. IStardom, a Web start-up that tracks Internet celebrity, declared Smosh the most popular name in online entertainment of 2008.

Fred, a YouTube wunderkind profiled by the L.A. Times last summer, has the most video subscribers on YouTube, but he comes in second on iStardom's list -- even though each of Fred's videos reach about 77,000 more users.

How do iStardom's rankings add up? While Fred may have a stronger following on YouTube, Smosh seems to leverage other social networking websites better to build its popularity across multiple portals.

YouTube appears to be weighted more heavily in iStardom's celeb rankings. But the service does take other online social tools, such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook, into account. That would explain why Tila Tequila, with her 3.5 million MySpace friends, made No. 8 on the list.

Unlike Forbes' Web Celeb 25, iStardom doesn't track blogs and technology news, said Bryan Barton, iStardom's chief marketing officer. So, someone like Kevin Rose, who appeared on last year's Forbes list, is ranked 716 on iStardom -- despite being the second most popular Twitter user (behind President-elect Barack Obama) and hosting the hugely popular Web show Diggnation.

IStardom doesn't use the most straightforward formula, but it appears to have the most comprehensive aggregate of popularity across the social sphere.

The fact that we're even talking about this just goes to show that social media is a lot like a popularity contest. But when the kids sitting at the "cool" lunchroom table are a couple guys who dress up as cardboard box men (see video below) and a hyperactive teenager, it should give a glimmer of hope to any average Joe.

-- Mark Milian

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