Fans Follow Celebrities on Twitter No Matter What They Say
This guest article is written by David Murton who has been helping companies build and maintain their online relationships with customers since 2006. He is also a professional writer and blogger, with a particular interest in the open source Drupal platform. On a more personal note, David is an avid piano and accordion player, drawn especially to music of the classical and romantic periods.
Lo, it is written: the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. And, with celebrities now increasingly following their own followers on social media - the world's hippest new hit series - Matthew 20:16 has come to pass.
But Twitter 'twasn't always such. Back in the medium's early days - say, back when your current vehicle had about twenty thousand fewer miles - it was common for celebrities simply to treat social media merely as an extension of traditional media. That is, as just another billboard to plug their next film, book, or show, or to announce their latest political cause or adoption of a developing country's child.
But a funny thing about a social medium: people like the social bit. Celebrities who don't 'follow back' their own fans, letting those who are last sometimes go first, are liable to see their stars not wax but wane. Conversely, those celebrities who do 'follow back,' or at least hire stunt tweeters to do it for them - highly trained professional story spinners who have often honed their craft via online creative writing schools - are liable to reap the rewards of popular acclaim by virtually hanging with their adoring hoi polloi.
Take Demi Moore, for example. Thanks to her tweeting habits, she is no longer known just for kicking alien butt, drinking her own pee, and dating guys hardly old enough to babysit, but has now helped to thwart not just one but two suicide attempts by alerting the authorities to her confused fans' whereabouts.
While suicide prevention can be pretty hairy, so can the debate over Justin Bieber's new do. Now whether the kid actually did cut his late 70's style haircut or was just having a bad hair day when the rumor took off like a tweet-propelled rocket, the fact remains that young Master Bieber remains in the spotlight of attention through his use of the medium. Check it out for yourself by following Twitter's trending topic with the hashtag #riphairflip.
But, for other celebrities, twittering and Facebook updates aren't all sweetness and light-feathery bangs. Some celebrities have used social media to take on the man. Take, for example, Kevin Smith. Famous for his brilliant film Clerks and for his portrayal of the character "Silent Bob," Mr. Smith, last year, was kicked off a Southwest Air flight. The reason? Cheek creep. That's right. Part of Mr. Smith's ample behind, not finding sufficient space in his own seat, had sought refuge in his neighbor's space. When Southwest bumped his butt, grounding his gluteous to the maximus, Mr. Smith hit back with a tweet attack, alerting his 1.6 million followers to the outrage. The result was a quick apology from Southwest Airline's corporate headquarters. Not bad. (Michael Moore, are you taking notes?)
However, since social media can reach millions of people so quickly, it is also an excellent way for a celebrity to scuttle his or her own ship with some intemperate tweets. Take, for example, 50 Cent's recent ignorant remarks on the Japanese catastrophe. On Friday afternoon, he tweeted, "Look this is very serious people I had to evacuate all my hoe's from LA, Hawaii and Japan." Hmmm. And this as the bodies washed out to sea. If 50 Cent was using a stunt tweeter to post that one, he may want to spring the extra two bits and hire a better writer at a full buck an hour.
And speaking of two cents worth, another celebrity who has had racked up at least half of that value with her social media pontifications is Sarah Palin. Perhaps best remembered for coining the term "refudiate" during her tweets about the expansion of a pre-existing mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero, Mrs. Palin joins the ranks of Shakespeare and Orwell for introducing neologisms into the lexicon, and all through her twitter account, you betcha'.
Athletic / Actor celebrities are in on it, too. Shaq, in fact, the big-hearted man with the shoes so large that they could house the homeless were it not for the fact that his feet need a place to live as well. Mr. Shaq, (that's what I call him), has chased away all the fake Shaqs tweeting in his name and is now bringing us his real deal opinions from on high, seven foot plus. One of his tweets? Well, he twote, "LIVE THE LIFE U IMAGINED, JEEZ I SUCK AT TYPIN, LOL." Wow, how could anyone refudiate that? No, really. I get an image of Mr. Shaq sitting at his kid's computer with his knees up somewhere near his chest because the seat's too short and he's typing with just the tips of his pinkies because his other fingers are too big to just hit one key at a time. Anyway, that's the kind of celebrity tweeting that will keep the big man in his fans' esteem until they're all well into their nineties.
Compare it to its exact opposite in the tweeting style of Britney Spears. When "Britney" twote that "our LA tree lighting insider says: there are lots of fans here, some with 'we love Britney' signs - you can watch of Ktla!" one can almost envision Spears' sullen publicist grudgingly typing out the text while simultaneously printing out her resume and waiting for the real Britney to wake up from her nap. In other words, authenticity counts, and those celebrities who don't write their own tweets had better pay good talent to do it for them to keep their stars shining in the public eye.
However, regardless of whether a celebrity is using social media to save lives to spew ignorance, what cannot be refudiated is the fact that fans will follow where celebrities go. Yes, the last shall be first and the first shall be last. But then it flips back again to the way things always were. To use this to their advantage, some social media platforms such as Tumblr have hired a full-time staffer just to help famous folks set up and maintain their blogs. The hope, of course, is that the big names will pull the other eyeballs into the Tumblr tent to see what's up. Call it the Scientology Strategy? Hmmm... a little harsh, perhaps. How about high school? Yeah, call it high school.