The unprecedented involvement of Social media in our daily lives has made it impossible for anyone to overlook the impact on an individual’s image. A celebrity in this regard is therefore at the crossroads of a vigorous image makeover and upkeep. The celebrity today has associations, most of which are beyond the realms of self.
There are a few factors and situations that are to be considered while dealing with a celebrity’s presence on the Social Media. Here’s chronicling a few of them:
Celebrity for Image upkeep and branding:
A celebrity’s popularity in current times is subject to the number of fans and the positive share of voice, online. Image building traditionally, used to be a painstakingly slow and elaborate process. Thanks to a slew of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace et al, the process has picked up a bit of pace.
A celebrity’s presence on social media needs devoted time, energy and a bit of predetermined strategy with occasional spur of the moment thoughts. Each celebrity has a distinct nuance and tonality to his/her way of being and the fans know it well. This is why it becomes crucial to establish a voice that reflects the personality, opinion and brand of an individual.
Celebrities like Lady Gaga (just breaking the 25 million followers mark on twitter) and Ashton Kutcher have a humongous fan following on twitter and they engage pretty actively with them by posting events and activities from their daily lives, quotes and share links that interest them etc.; enough to provide fodder for their star-struck fans.
Closer home, celebrities from various walks of life have already started to connect to their fans via Social Media. Close on the heels of their international counterparts, our very own Bollywood actors, leaders, sportsmen, celebrated authors etc. have resorted to twitter, Facebook, blogging platforms etc. to strengthen their appeal among fans. The new breed of celebrities including the likes of Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Mahinder Singh Dhoni, Priyanka Chopra, Chetan Bhagat, etc. along with the old stalwarts like Amitabh Bacchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan and others have connected with fans to provide a sneak peak of their future releases, share their daily routine, practice sessions, etc.
A platform to showcase talent:
This is not just with established actors. In fact even musicians who look forward to making a cut have been using MySpace besides twitter, Facebook and blogs to promote their initial releases. This mostly works as a precursor to generate enough buzz that could subsequently lead to album sales.
Actor Charlie Sheen, who had at that time just recently taken to twitter, on 7th March 2011, tweeted for an ad “I’m looking to hire a #winning INTERN with #TigerBlood. Apply here http://bit.ly/hykQQF #TigerBloodIntern #internship #ad”. Needless to say, the response was quite overwhelming. By March 11th, there were already 475,375 clicks on the original link and about 82, 148 in surplus applications for the internship that had been received by Sheen’s social media firm from around 181 countries. If statistics are anything to go by, this kind of response is evident that a celebrity’s word to fans, draw in a lot of attention and could in turn inspire action.
Celebrity as Cause Endorsers:
Promoting a social cause and committing to humane activities is what a modern day celebrity is leveraging the social media for. Owing to a large number of doting fans, a celebrity in a way becomes the torch-bearer for a more optimistic, tolerant and compassionate society. On occasions, they lend in their support for various fund-raising campaigns and help spread awareness and put up a show of solidarity through Social Media.
For instance, celebrities like Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Oprah Winfrey spend an incredible amount of time working and supporting charities and other fund-raising causes. Ian Somerhalder, who is a prominent user of Twitter and known-environmentalist, tweets about his charities to help draw in support from his fans.
Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way foundation’ is one such initiative on the similar lines to build a society that is more acceptable of differences and celebrates individuality. This movement was to empower the youth and inspire bravery.
Two years after the devastating earthquake off the coast of Haiti, ‘Haiti: Aid Still Required’ online campaign took off. The ones who lent their support included about 40 celebrities (Maroon 5, Sting, Alicia Keys, Lady Antebellum etc.) with a combined social following of more than 125 million people on Twitter and Facebook. The money raised in collaboration with www.snobal.com (an online micro-donation portal) is to be used for funding infrastructure, trauma relief, rape victims, reforestation, schools and orphanages.
In India particularly, Social Media has another dimension to its functionality. In a country where the grapevine stirs up quite a lot of buzz, often harbouring on borderline slander, Social Media provide a platform to the celebrity to voice out their opinions and add credibility to their brand.
Also, Social causes have received a fair share of boost, riding high on a celebrity’s mileage. One of the foremost, Aamir Khan who is regarded as a part-time activist because of his several associations with social issues has garnered enormous support through his fan following.
Nurturing the Medium:
The most evident advantage that a social media platform provides to the stars and their fans is the proverbial breaking down of the 4th wall. Not till this medium came up, would a common person have imagined having a direct conversation with their demi-gods. What it also means is, that this platform is a very important listening tool for the celebrities. While they would want to deliver what their fans want, this would only happen if they listen to the audience and there is no better place to listen than social media.
The Scope Therefore:
With celebrities mushrooming from all sections of the society at a pace that can outpace the medium itself, it is increasingly getting important for celebrities to know their game well and play it in their favor. More often than not, time does not permit a lot of them to nurture their association with fans and at the most what happens is information is doled out just to keep that eager fan on the hook. To gain a following that is healthy and interactive, one must invest time.