A few weeks ago, nearly every major celebrity blog covered, in breathless detail, the revelation that Kylie Jenner had decided she would no longer be posting any images of her daughter, Stormi Webster, on her social-media accounts. Almost all of these postsâpublished by People, Harperâs Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and moreânoted that Jenner had made the statement in an Instagram comment, in response to a question left by a fan on one of her posts. Itâs something very few would likely have been aware of if it wasnât for recent Syracuse University grads (and good friends) Emma Diamond and Julie Kramer.
About a year ago, Diamond and Kramer started an Instagram account called Comments by Celebs, which, as the name would suggest, tracks the comments celebrities leave on other celebrity accounts (or on their own posts), and helpfully screenshots them for their followers to enjoy and contemplate. The account exploded in popularity after Kelly Ripa mentioned it on the air this past winter, and now it has more than 400,000 followers, including, in a meta twist, a few actual celebrities themselves (such as Chrissy Teigen, John Mayer, and January Jones). Recent posts have spotlighted comment-section highlights including Miley Cyrus writing âhotâ underneath one of Jonah Hillâs photos, Hailey Baldwin gushing over a Bella Hadid runway shot, Issa Rae expressing excitement about Drakeâs new album, and Zach Braff reaching out to Martha Stewart, among many, many others.
In 2018, Instagram essentially operates as the central hub for celebrity news; it is where couples make their debut, where feuds go down, and where friendships are solidified. In that sense, Diamond and Kramer are the historians of this celebrity moment, pinning down the ephemera floating in the social-media landscape for âposterity.â In several cases, Jennerâs Stormi comment included, the pair manages to nab the screenshot of the interaction before one (or both) party deletes his or her comment. When all the best gossip starts in pixelsâand sometimes disappears quicklyâit takes at least two dedicated, intrepid individuals to help us sift through and keep track of it all.
Diamond and Kramerâboth self-described âpop-culture enthusiastsââsaid that they bonded initially over their shared love of the world of celebrity and tabloid culture, a passion which involved obsessively monitoring celebrity Instagram accounts. About a year ago, Instagram instituted an algorithm that highlighted comments left by verified users, which suddenly made it much easier to see how celebrities were engaging with each other on the platform. âAll of a sudden, we were seeing these hilarious comments that we had never seen before. We were constantly studying them, [and] we were screenshotting them and sending them to each other in our group chats,â Diamond explained. âI just said to myself, âI have to capitalize on this.ââ
Maintaining the account involves a 24/7 monitoring of over a thousand major celebrity accounts. (The pair also tracks reality stars and athletes.) Both Diamond and Kramer have trouble articulating exactly what their âprocessâ involves, but itâs a general full-court press for both of them. âItâs so funny when people ask us [what the account upkeep entails], because I wish that there was a way where we could explain our responsibilities, but we both do everything, which sounds really inefficientâbut itâs kind of impossible not to. Weâre both constantly on social, constantly sending each other, âWhat do you think of this? Should we do this one now? Should we wait?ââ
Diamond, who graduated from Syracuse in 2016, was getting her masterâs in social work at Columbia when the account became popular, but she has recently decided to defer grad school to work on the account full time. Kramer, who graduated in May, said she was âin the works of applying to grad school,â but âcut that off for now.â The pair also recently hired a âgood family friendâ to work as an intern for the summerââIt was just getting to be too much logistically.â
One of the unexpected consequences of the accountâs popularity is that several celebrities have reached out to the pair, and get very excited when they see themselves featured. (The tagline of the account is: âBecause even famous people love famous people.â) Getting highlighted on Comments by Celebs is perhaps an emerging form of âpromotionâ for stars, and far less work than arranging for a paparazzi photo to show up in a tabloid.
âWeâve had a lot of interactions with celebrities actually, which has been kind of unexpected and kind of awesome,â Diamond said. âI think something that we kind of pride ourselves on is the fact that weâre not looking to shade people, weâre not really looking to âgetâ peopleâitâs not that. If you follow our account, you know that the whole tone is very lighthearted and humorous. I think that what weâve allowed is that weâve kind of created this safe space for celebrities, so if anything, weâre just helping showcase their human and humorous side. They kind of flock to us for that reason.â
And it might just be vanity. âI think thereâs an aspect to it thatâs just general human nature, which is people want people to think theyâre funny,â Diamond assessed. âLike who doesnât want that? So if you have an opportunity for 400,000 people to be like, âWow, I never knew that so-and-so was so funny,â why wouldnât they? I think that thereâs a part of it thatâs like . . . you think these celebrities are so famous, but yet they still like that basic human gratification.â
The two note that the most popular celebrities, among their followers, whose comments they regularly feature are Teigen, Mayer, the Rock, and Kevin Hart. Teigenâs social-media rejoinders were so well received that Diamond and Kramer now post a weekly recap of Teigenâs best commenting moments from the past seven days. Kramer noted that their followers also tend to enjoy learning about a celebrity friendship they didnât know existed (âTheyâre like, âWho knew that the Rock and so-and-so were such good friends?!?!ââ)
Comments by Celebs was also all over two emerging relationships, which developed over the last month, between Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, and Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra. In each case, the âevidenceâ that the pairs were becoming quite serious showed up, yes, in the comments section, as Grande and Davidson began commenting on nearly every post the other would put up, and Chopra and Jonas also exchanged flirty messages on the platform. In both cases, Comments by Celebs was âbreakingâ these initial back-and-forths, and much of the Internet coverage about the nascent relationships was fueled by their excavations, with many outlets embedding their work.
From a technical standpoint, the pair does a good amount of the legwork for gossip bloggers. The two note that they âhave a built a big relationship with a lot of different entertainment reporters,â with the service they provide being quite evident. âWhy would they go back and re-screenshot when we already have the receipts?â Diamond observed.
There are some plans for growth and brand extensions âin the works,â but Diamond and Kramer arenât making money from the account for now. âWe havenât monetized yet, and thatâs kind of been purposeful,â Diamond said. âI think that one of the most unique aspects of our account is that weâve built up this very loyal following, and also a connection with our followers. We would not want to isolate them or ostracize them for one small ad here and there, you know?â
The two were never more animated than when discussing which of their favorite celebrities they are hoping will one day follow the account. Diamond started, âThere are celebrities we want to join, because we genuinely feel like they would appreciate our contentâfor example, Busy Philipps. She’s everywhere; she’s hilarious; we feature her all the time; we want her. Same with Bethenny Frankel.â Kramer added, âChelsea Handlerâs one that I would love to have on board.â Diamond then hopped back in with âJohn Stamosâof course we want him on board,â before Kramer had the final word: âAny of the Kardashians, if we could get them, would be unbelievable.â
And if a Kardashian does follow their account, you can be sure they will promptly take a screenshot, update their Instagram Story, and perhaps generate a mini-news cycle.