On one level, celebrities use social media for the same reasons that regular people do: To connect with other people.
But they also use social media in a way that is similar to brands. They market their movies or their music or their concerts. They strengthen their fans' loyalty. They bring awareness to themselves. They get feedback on their work. And they get to express themselves a little bit in the meantime.
The hook that celebrities have that most brands and regular people don't have is that people are already interested in looking at their photos and learning about the narrative of their lives.
This infographic from Fragrances Cosmetics Perfumes.com includes information about the celebrities who are social media mavericks-e.g. Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift-and those who eschew it entirely-e.g. Kristin Stewart, George Clooney.
It brings us back to the beginning of some of the celebrity world's most notorious tweeters. Do you remember Ashton Kutcher's first tweet? How about Lady Gaga's? I like Tom Hanks' first tweet: "Testing...testing...Is this thing on??"
"Companies can seek guidance from a group that has mastered the art of online self-promotion. Celebrities are social media's power users, and their strategies provide a valuable pathway for businesses as they build-and maintain-their brands online. Being well liked on social media can enhance a star's career, with many celebrities openly admitting their careers have been significantly aided by the likes of Instagram," writes Deepa Seetharaman in The Wall Street Journal.
What kind of celebrity strategies should brands steal? Seetharaman suggests that companies use different social media platforms differently, like Rhianna. He says that just showing up, day after day is really important. "If anybody knows anything about the dark arts of social media, it's Kim Kardashian West.With 48.8 million followers on Instagram," he writes. "Ms. Kardashian West has built her career and empire on social media. Her appeal online boils down to one major thing, social-media experts say: showing up." He suggests that brands keep track of what their followers are saying, like Taylor Swift. And that they make sure that their social media use isn't too promotional, like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Social media has also become a medium where people can respond to the deaths of celebrities. It can be a place of public mourning.