If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or Vine account, odds are good you follow at least a few of your favorite celebrities. You might love Jon Stewart's brand of snarky social commentary, Wiz Khalifa's often sage advice, or Amanda Bynes' downward spiral, but the point is that you're reading and sharing. Successful celebrities are well-versed in the art of using social media tools to build up their brands and keep their names current, but how are they so successful—and can you follow their lead?
One of the biggest ways celebrities use social media to build their brand is by getting closer to their fans. Using Twitter or Instagram gives a star the chance to talk to his or her fans in a relatively safe environment. Since people love "talking to" their favorite stars, this endears celebrities to their adoring hoards even more. A retweet from someone you love is cause for celebration and it makes you think the stars you love really are just like you.
Of course, not every interaction is positive. Some stars engage in Twitter fights with haters or more vocal fans. Most don't go this route, but those who do – see Amanda Bynes and Chris Brown, for starters – are possibly craftier than people think. All publicity is good publicity, after all, and a feud with a fan or a fellow artist is sure to get people talking—from fans to magazines to tabloid shows.
Social media is ideal for self-promotion, and it doesn't take a lot. Daily tweets, status updates, or photos keep celebrities in the public eye. A lot of them make use of several platforms all at once so they can keep all their fans updated, even the fans who don't use Instagram or eschew Twitter. They'll share their activities, their plans, and information about upcoming projects to keep people in the know.
Lady Gaga is particularly good at this. She tweets hints, teasers, and riddles about upcoming albums, tours, and videos to keep her fans guessing. She shares information about the creation process, offers photos peeking at her inside life, and keeps her fans on the edges of their seats. The result, of course, is that she's a huge mega-star and her concerts get sold out the moment tickets go on sale. She's not just Mother Monster, she makes instant music news when she tweets or posts a photo.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, a celebrity falls out of favor. Just a few years ago, that pretty much spelled the end. Once people stopped talking about you, it was time to consider yourself finished with the fame game. These days, there's hardly any such thing as "washed up." Sometimes celebrities don't even have to do the work themselves to get back in the spotlight.
Take a look at beautiful Betty White, for instance. This witty, intelligent, and talented woman graced television and movie screens for years, but new generations didn't know that much about her. Lo and behold, through her social media presence, which is extraordinarily funny, and a few well-chosen roles, suddenly all new fans took to Twitter and Facebook to demand that she get a gig on SNL. There were even online petitions. And guess what happened next?
On a similar note, many celebrities also find social media beneficial in rebuilding their brand. It doesn't always work, but celebrities who have committed some sort of faux pas in the public eye will often take to their social media accounts to apologize, explain themselves, or otherwise atone for their actions. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it works well.
Fans are very forgiving of stars they view as humble. Because it takes a big man or woman to apologize, fans flock to those celebrities who are willing to say "I'm sorry." As a result, they're more likely to buy albums, see movies, and read books by those humble stars who are ready to admit that they have feet of clay. Reese Witherspoon is a wonderful example of this; after her recent run-in with the law, a heartfelt apology got her right back on top.
Celebrities are brands unto themselves. Katy Perry is a brand; Jonah Hill is a brand; Snooki is a brand. Whether they make music, star in movies and television shows, or write books, celebrities aren't just people. However, they often have outside interests that make money for them too. The Kardashians, as well as being reality show royalty, have their own clothing store which they showcase on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Jay-Z and P. Diddy have various endeavors, as does Donald Trump, and they make more money by sharing their ideas on social media.
Many celebrities, the Kardashians included, also send out sponsored tweets and Facebook posts. Occasionally, the posts they write on any subject earn them money—sometimes a surprisingly huge amount. Some celebrities, such as Khloe Kardashian and Jared Leto, earn upwards of $30K per tweet. Even celebrities you might not expect, including Mike Tyson and Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle fame, keep themselves in the spotlight by earning mad social media money.
Not all celebrities share social media updates themselves. Some choose to cross-post, so what goes up on Twitter shows up on other platforms. Others stick mostly to Twitter or Facebook and hire a social media manager to update their other profiles with news about their daily lives and careers. Some may even use tools like Seemple to leverage their knowledge of the social web in order to find the right ecommerce platform for their clients.
This has several benefits. With a manager on duty, a celebrity is far less likely to engage in any feuds or say something he or she might regret later. They also benefit from constant updates, even if they're busy in the studio or on the set of a movie. This keeps their fans happy, because they receive fresh content every day, so it's all but impossible for the celebrity in question to fall out of favor.
Celebs definitely have this social media thing down. Which celebrities do you follow?
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