Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do celebrities’ use of social media detract from its main purpose?

Celebrities Influencing Twitter

Celebrities have a lot of power and influence within and amongst their publics. They implement and utilize this power through social media use, fundraising, promoting, career-building etc. The uses of social media involve engaging in conversation for the sake of interest and connection. For celebrities it is especially hard to build and maintain these connections and conversations. They cannot quite connect and engage with others in the same way most “ordinary” people can.

Through social media they are able to provide wisdom and advice and display insight into their lives, but not necessarily connect with all of their followers on the same level. It is not for a lack of trying in most cases; however, realistically it is impossible for celebrities using forms of social media, to monitor their pages well. It is especially hard with the use of Twitter.

Influence has been the most popular way of differentiating people on twitter. Influence is simply seen as popularity, which is measured on Twitter by total number of followers.

John Mayer for example follows 86 people on Twitter, while over 3 million follow him. He cannot possibly have conversations with each and every one of his followers. His fans are listening to him, but he's talking at them, not necessarily with them. The same can be said for some of Twitter’s top celebrity tweeters like MC Hammer, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and Shaquille O’Neal.

Despite the fact that celebrities use of social media may go against the traditional meaning intended, its use does allow inspiration and life changing opportunities for some sprung out of power and influence.

Sarah Killen’s recent fame came courtesy of newest celebrity tweeter Conan O’brien, and has literally managed to change her life overnight. His decision to choose her as his one person to follow on Twitter, catapulted her popularity within minutes of his announcement. It is amazing how “celebrity/influence” can be used as means to alter lives through use of social media.

The video below indicates just how much Sarah Killen's life has changed since Conan O'Brien decided to endorse her.

When celebrities engage in social media applications, they draw attention from those that are interested in hearing what they have to say. With microblogging applications like Twitter, they run the risk of too much intake and not enough output to generate proper fulfillment of social media terms of use. They do however provide people with entertainment and a look into their lives, which "ordinary" people may not have been able to see otherwise. Many celebrities tweet to get their messages across, but also to prove their popularity amongst the online world.

Twitter's blowing up around the world- not just for celebrities!!


  1. I think this is a really interesting post and I like the angle you took towards celebrity tweeters. Do you think so-called celebrity tweets ALWAYS come from the celebrity themselves? Or do they come from their publicist? Is it misleading to the public if it is not from the celebrity, or is it to be expected?

  2. I`ve unfollowed almost all of my celebrities on twitter. I found that did nothing but clutter my feed with useless tweets.

    I`m also curious about the comment that Casey made above- who tweets really?

    I recently tweeted Charlotte Gainsbourg when she announced her North American tour. She had canceled her performance in Toronto in January, and I wanted to know if she was coming back. Simple question that only needed a yes or no. Still haven`t got an answer! Other tweets to people like Metric, diablo cody and ani difranco (who follows no one) also went unanswered, even no simple `Thanks!`

    I think that lack of response on the majority of celebrities shows the disconnect they have with their fans. They want to promote things to them, but don`t necessarily want to actually engage with them or create a two-way dialogue. In my opinion, that hurts them more than not being on Twitter.

  3. I don't know if I find anything wrong with having few followers than you are following...I think that just means you are a person of influence, and good on you.

    I think the problem is what the celebrities are tweeting. It's mostly useless information about what they had for breakfast. I, like Brian have taken all mine off since joining twitter, because of their general uselessness.

    The content of the tweets is what I feel undermines the function of the tool itself.

  4. I agree with Natalie!
    There is no problem with following fewer people on Twitter than are following you. It may actually be to your benefit to follow less people as you can engage in conversation more.

    I think it would interesting to interview some of the celebrities about the reasons they use facebook and see what they have to say about lack of communication swith their followers, whether they think it is an issue or not.

  5. Check out some updated points regarding celebrity tweeters and their impact on Twitter at http://hfarb.blogspot.com/2010/04/celebrity-twitter-update.html