While George Clooney (and many other celebrities) may not see the value in social media, success stories like Lady Gaga’s, Katy Perry’s, and Justin Bieber’s speak volumes about the positive effect social media can have on a performer’s career, when used prudently of course.
In his recent article right here on Millennial Influx, Tyler Charleston poses the question, “Is it worth it for someone who is already famous to give the masses another lens through which they can be scrutinized?” His answer: “Probably not.”
While it is true that some celebrities who use social networks merely as personal outlets may experience backlash, more savvy celebrities are increasingly using these networks as a means of positive marketing and furthering of their personal brand, thus creating an intensely loyal community of support. The marketing model used by celebrities is one that business people and even ordinary social media users can take a few tips from.
A recent Forbes article says that successful celebrities don’t seek to “conquer the biggest share of the market,” but rather to “ignite the movement and inspire their tribes. Celebrities understand the ultimate truth about brand marketing: that by keeping your current support base happy—by rewarding them with appreciation for their loyalty, they will not only stay loyal, but they will recruit others, thus adding to your “tribe.” And what better way to do that than through social media?
One such celebrity who has done this especially well is Lady Gaga. Gaga is known for the affection she has for her fans, and the diehard loyalty she receives in return. Gaga calls her fans “Little Monsters,” and even created a new social network customized for her fans only, called littlemonsters.com. She gets involved in conversation on the site, as well as through her other social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, even a Lady Gaga app named after her latest album, Artpop. One of the most important elements of fan interaction is making the dialogue meaningful and genuine. An article in the North American Journal of Psychology proved that for celebrities experiencing social media success, the dialogue was “serious, meaningful, and [appeared] to have an impact for those participating.” Lady Gaga is especially good at creating dialogue that is meaningful and impactful to her fans. She actively encourages involvement in special causes and charity projects, lending the Little Monsters’ community an atmosphere of acceptance and positivity. When 17-year-old Jacque St. Pierre started promoting equality and anti-bullying at his Toronto high school, Gaga sent him a video of support, telling him, “There should be more Little Monsters like you. It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance.” It is personal interactions like these that build fan loyalty and promote Lady Gaga’s image.
Katy Perry and Justin Bieber are additional artists who frequently interact with and reward their fan base. During her 2011 California Dreams Tour, Perry displayed fans’ live tweets on the concert venues’ Jumbo-trons. Then when she released “Firework” in 2012, Perry encouraged her fans, whom she calls Katycats, to post videos of themselves talking about their own “fireworks,” people who have inspired or impacted them. Bieber, who is listed as Forbe’s “most-social celebrity,” has also built a massive base of support using social media. His rise to fame even started with a social network—YouTube. Most recently, Bieber has encouraged fans to support the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
It is clear that, when used correctly, social media can help, rather than hinder, celebrity success and popularity. Not only that, but it is a huge source of power and influence. For the 2013 Celebrity 100, on which Lady Gaga is ranked #2, Forbes placed more emphasis than ever before on stars’ power based on social networking, rather than primarily on earnings or magazine covers as it has in the past.
While the average Tweeter or Instagrammer might never be able to achieve the level of influence experienced by celebrities, there are a few key elements that can be applied to everyday social networking: Be genuine. Promote what you care about, show your passion! Reward loyalty. Find ways to show appreciation to your followers and friends. Retweet, favorite, like, “shout-out,” share, etc. Be active. Simple, but essential. Make frequent and regular posts to your social networks, and don’t forget to interact with other users.