What is the difference between being visible and being seen? 

These are two buzzwords that have become particularly popular in 2024. But what’s the difference between the two?

We compiled a list of a few of our favorite celebrity examples to illustrate the difference between visibility and being seen.

Take Taylor Swift as an example. She is one of the most-followed celebrities in the world on social media. Every day her visibility grows as her music and photos reach more people. But, what really propelled her to the level of stardom she sits at today was her decision to connect with others. She doesn’t just embody her brand, she carries with her the stories of her fans. It’s in her music, in the silly sweet conversations she has with fans between sets on The Eras Tour stage, and in her cat musings, that she connects with others. She is seen because she sees others. She gives people what they are craving: relatable, nostalgic content.  Also, her decision to sit for a Time Person of the Year Interview gave us another glimpse into her life and helped her connect with fans even more. By getting personal and real with her fans she was able to be seen for the things that make her as human and real as the rest of us. Of note, she’s not sharing every part of her life; she’s sharing the things her readers will relate to the most.

One of our favorite quotes from her Time Person of the Year interview was:

“‘Every part of you that you’ve ever been, every phase you’ve ever gone through, was you working it out in that moment with the information you had available to you at the time. There’s a lot that I look back at like, “Wow, a couple years ago I might have cringed at this.” You should celebrate who you are now, where you’re going, and where you’ve been.’”

Relying on vanity metrics alone is wearing “rose colored lenses”. Miley Cyrus is a wildly popular and influential celebrity. With 216 million followers and the most streamed song in 2023, there’s no arguing that she is visible. But what really leads to her being seen are fun viral moments like her lip-synch battles on Fallon’s The Tonight Show. That is the type of thing that really helps her connect with people. We can all see ourselves in a goofy carefree moment like that!

Jennifer Garner wins the hearts of her followers online through her Pretend Cooking Show series, where she keeps it real as she whips up all kinds of recipes. Garner is visible mainly for being a popular actress in movies such as 13 Going on 30 or shows like Alias. But her taking the time to be silly, authentic and chatty with her followers helps her to be seen. Her online presence has helped to take her from known to adored for her relatability and humor. Of note, Garner is the co-founder of farm-to-pouch baby and kid food company, Once Upon a Farm. And, she’s appeared in more family-oriented shows like Netflix’s Yes Day and Family Switch. It’s no wonder she has a sweet cooking show on Instagram! 

America Ferrera is a star who is known most recently for her role in Barbie. The mega-popular movie, in addition to her TV series Ugly Betty and other projects grew her visibility. Recently, she was nominated for an Academy Award and posted her reenactment of her reaction to finding out in Instagram. This unfiltered reaction showed a piece of her life behind the scenes and garnered enthusiastic support from fans. Rather than a simple “thank you” on her story, she connected with fans by showing the rawness and emotion that came with this award nomination.

So what can we learn from these celebs? It’s always valuable to prioritize being seen over just being visible. When you have the eyes and attention of an audience, how can you choose connection? How can you invite them into the story, so they know what’s possible for them, too?

Say it with me: “No matter how large my audience, I have the ability to connect and improve someone’s life.”

Whether you are the spokesperson of your brand who is about to participate in an interview or podcast, or you want to start filming more content for your website or Linkedin page, think about how you can prioritize being seen by seeing others

If you want to be a spokesperson who has the ability to communicate and connect in a more meaningful way, book a Visibility Coaching Intro Call here. Let’s shine!