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Actors become mega social media sensations thanks to The Netflix Effect

From Squid Game to Bridgerton, stars from hit Netflix shows produce global cult followings, thrusting some of the most inexperienced actors well and truly into the social media spotlight.

Netflix has dominated the streaming scene, and some of their own original series’ quickly earn a massive fanbase around the world.

The biggest show out of 2021 (and likely of all time) has been the Korean drama Squid Game, which has become the first Korean drama to top Netflix’s top 10 weekly most-watched TV show charts globally.

And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have seen just how popular other Netflix originals have been in the past, such as Bridgerton, Money Heist, and the Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness documentary series.

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All of these shows, and several others, have clocked upwards of 50 million views according to Netflix’s metrics, making the actors incredibly seen, incredibly fast, in what is known as ‘The Netflix Effect’.

The outcome of a Netflix sensation like Squid Game is the ultimate fan base for the characters and actors featured in them. What started with a typical few hundred thousand followers for the unknown actor becomes a mega multi-million follower count on their Instagram page.

According to data at HypeAuditor, model and actor Jung Ho-Yeon, who starred as Kang Sae-byeok, or player 067, held only 410,000 followers on Instagram the day of Squid Game’s release – September 17. Jung’s Instagram account quickly grew to 13 million followers on October 4, an increase of 12.5 million in a little over two weeks.

Looking at her follower growth in the four days since that data was released, Jung’s account now sits at 16.6 million, a further 3.3 million increase since Monday. In fact, while writing this article I was lucky enough to witness Jung post a photo to her account, and within 17 seconds, it had generated 4,749 likes. In two minutes, 124,064.

This rapid increase in Instagram followers sees Jung’s account become the fastest-growing since September 17. Surpassing the likes of football players Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Reality TV star Kylie Jenner in terms of follower growth.

Last year, the two leading stars of Bridgerton Rege Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor – also found themselves part of ‘The Netflix Effect’, with their social accounts rapidly generating millions of social media followers within days of the series launching.

Other actors from Squid Game have seen their Instagram account skyrocket in followers, in particular Wi Ha-Joon, a police officer in the series, and Lee Yoo-mi, player 240. Both actors complete the top five of the fastest growing Instagram accounts, since September 17.

In the weeks following the launch of Squid Game, between September 17 (the date of the launch) and October 4, the fastest growing accounts according to HypeAuditor were:

1Jung Ho-Yeon+ 12.5 million followers
2Cristiano Ronaldo + 7.7 million followers
3Lionel Messi+ 5.5 million followers
4Wi Ha-Joon+ 5.2 million followers
5Lee Yoo-mi+ 4.4 million followers

In addition, HypeAuditor data can reveal that on average, Jung’s Instagram posts receive 1.4 million likes and 4.2 thousand comments. What is particularly impressive is that almost 21% – more than 1 in 5 – of Jung’s followers either like or comment on her content. This engagement is exceptionally high, with similar accounts receiving only 1.26% engagement.

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Alexander Frolov, CEO and co-founder at HypeAuditor, commented:

“Social media, and specifically Instagram, is one of Netflix’s main channels to promote TV shows. We saw that by the end of 2020, many actors from other Netflix Shows were among the top 100 growing accounts of the year. For example, both Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things gained 9.7M subscribers and Zendaya Maree Stoermer from Euphoria also grew by 18.2M subscribers in 2020.

However, for any Instagram accounts who experience a sudden surge in the number of followers, it is crucial for brands to analyse the quality of the audience before seeking any partnership agreements with influencers. By only seeking collaborations with influencers with an authentic following, brands can ensure the success of their influencer marketing strategy.”

Streaming services like Netflix provide the opportunity for any actor – looking for their big break – to well and truly make it big online and become one of the most recognisable faces on social media.

And with a bar as high as Squid Game, the only question is which show (and actor) will become the next sensation to join ‘The Netflix Effect’.

Squid Game is currently available to stream exclusively on Netflix.

Matthew Simmonds
Matthew Simmonds is a journalist and blogger, with a keen interest in the world of Reality TV. He loves exploring both what’s happening in front of the camera but also how the magic comes together behind the scenes. If not glued to the TV bingeing one of the newest obsessions or a timeless series, you’ll find Matthew endlessly scrolling through Twitter (and he may even tweet a time or two). Matthew’s also a final-year Communication student, majoring in Journalism, at the Queensland University of Technology.
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