Celebrities and Social Media: How Brands can Make the Best of Fame
"If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are."
Oprah Winfrey knows what she's talking about when it comes to fame and its impact on millions of people. Fame (thanks to social media) is no longer just a mysterious capital propagated through professional media, but a daily construct which is directly interacted with by people.
Celebrities now cherish in sharing their reputation with their "fans" or "followers", now labeled as the true shareholders of their reputation. The first step for any new attention-seeker is to open a social media account; whether it's in the porn industry or in politics, a war on attention is happening.
In the long-term, celebrities can ultimately free themselves from traditional media to directly launch their own platforms, using channels as a way to drive people to their digital properties. To some extent, "LittleMonsters" by Lady Gaga is probably a sign of what the future will look like.
This long-lasting capital has never been as important for brands. As they try to tap into communities to earn their attention, celebrities can be a strong accelerator to open the Pandora box and potentially drive change.
NGO endorsements or cause-related topics have naturally run for quite some time. But as brands are more interested in redirecting this interest for celebrities to their own properties or content, we've attempted to arrange the diverse types of celebrities and weighed the pros and cons for social media activities.
Celebrities who Have Inherited Their Fame
The offspring of stars seem to inherit their social media fame very early on. This new plutocracy is also fed by the brands that decide to quickly tap into this promising attention. There is also a fear for cyber-squatting, which endeavors defensive social media presence, at the very least.
Dynasties used to make people dream as it's a way to promote a "saga" and establish the brand in a long-lasting relationship with certain circles.
A photo posted by Brooklyn Beckham (@brooklynbeckham) on Jan 30, 2016 at 6:29am PST
But aristocracy itself had to change a lot; on that field, the British monarchy is a fabulous example of how they've transformed their ancestral missions into a daily telling of their activities. In a sense, the fact that the Royal family opened the gates to their activities (both personal and public), is a very strong sign that even the most prominent celebrities need to share their DNA with the rest of humanity... and that they can't just be born but must "become" legitimate in the eyes of a wider audience.
A need to properly understand the stage of the celebrity's story
However, recent partnerships with too unsettled celebrities can generate strong backlash. Brooklyn Beckham, son of David Beckham, has recently been hired by Burberry to shoot its latest fragrance campaign. The match seems natural: the son of a British legend, who happens to be extremely active on social networks (and a sweetheart for young girls and boys...) - it seems like a winner. Brooklyn Beckham definitely has an eye for photography, so a collaboration could be a good move. Nonetheless, as Brooklyn Beckham suddenly received such hectic media attention, many questioned his legitimacy to become a fashion photographer; not only generating a certain hate and jealousy from fashion photographers but also from a wide range of creative people, craving to "make it". This story tells us that a relevant collaboration is not just an addition of the social channels' powerhouse, but that there must be a certain equation and "deal" between the celebrity maturity and the brand territory.
Celebrities who Have Built Up their Personas Thanks to the Media Circle
More traditional celebrities (actors, singers, models, but also the Pope etc.) have now translated their media attention to digital channels.
The main challenge is to be consistent both in the traditional information loop, whilst maintaining an extremely sharp social media identity. Beyoncé on that field is one of the best examples. She revealed her new FORMATION World Tour while performing the eponymous single during Super Bowl, driving massive attention on the pre-sale. A big coup as no new album has been released yet.
From endorsement to engagement
For brands trying to work with these folks, strong work must be done in order to perfectly "time" the collaboration, as well as establishing how this celebrity is going to promote the brand endorsement. These kind of celebrities still rely a lot on a traditional talent contract, mentioning the amount of days she / he will dedicate to the brand for PR events or shootings, but without loads of mentions on the social channels. This lack of detail can generate extremely disappointing results. As celebrities multiply collaborations with brands, it's become impossible for those who pay less to be heard among the celebrity's community. What's the point in investing a lot of money on someone who'll tweet 10 times about a collaboration in a year, or who'll just be a nice, pretty face on a YouTube ad when you can engage millions of fans and followers?
Celebrities who Were Born in Social Media
There's a wide range of talents emerging from and with social media. Niche interests also generate their own influencers - most of the time undiscovered from mainstream media or general webzines.
The same problem with traditional celebrities: availabilities
Kayture aka Kristina Bazan, who runs one of the most popular lifestyle / fashion blogs, has developed a massive audience from scratch. She was named as the new ambassador for L'Oréal Paris, but is also featuring in the latest MUGLER film as well as in other brand content. Except for hardcore fans, it's become extremely complicated to get a sense of purpose on the collaboration. Is it a simple aesthetic collaboration? But then, wouldn't it be more powerful to work with models with strong fan base? Top social media stars have become difficult to work with.
Niche influencers, the subcultures' celebrities
Many trends and streams of interests, sometimes regrouping millions of consumers, happen in the depth of social networks. Most of the brands don't know how to tap into this on-going interest, because it's less convenient than identifying people who "buzz" in more traditional media.
However, these new influencers (if difficult to outreach) are probably more relevant and valuable for brands. They are extremely meaningful for a lot of social media users who trust them and really crave for deep conversations with them. And most of the time, they're extremely specialized meaning that they're not already over-used by the same brands. They are keen to work with brands that know how to help them in fulfilling their passions.
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