If you’re looking to learn your way around social networks, or thinking of starting up a social marketing gig, it’s often quite helpful to look to others for examples of what to do – and what not to do. Believe it or not, sometimes it can’t hurt to look towards Hollywood. Sure, not all celebrities have the sort of zazz and knowhow to survive in the social arena; it seems like you can’t got a single day without the news that someone’s said something stupid.
Even so, there are plenty of folks who know their stuff. Here’s just a few celebrities who have found themselves supremacy in the social sphere. They’ve all managed to establish (or re-invent) personae for themselves, and this coupled with a keen understanding of how social media works has earned them their spot on this list.
Wil Wheaton got his big break playing Wesley Crusher in Star Trek. That sounds impressive, at first, until you realize that Crusher was likely one of the most hated characters in all of science fiction (he’d even give Jar Jar Binks a run for his money). Most people in Wheaton’s spot would have been consigned to a life of (admittedly well-paying) mediocrity. Wheaton, however, leveraged his social networking connections, and forcibly carved himself a niche as one of the titans of geek culture. He’s got roles in several successful YouTube series, a well-trafficked personal blog, and a twitter account with over two million followers. Oh, he also played himself in Big Bang Theory.
Anyone who knows about geek culture has probably heard of Mrs. Day. A role in Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog put her in contact with just the right people, and she’s now involved in several incredibly successful web series. She’s right up there with Wil as one of the top celebrities in geek culture, and approaches Twitter in a way that many marketing execs would do well to imitate: she actually converses with her followers and fans.
Hardwick seemed doomed to fade into obscurity as the 90s passed him by. However, he had other ideas. Through podcasts, weblogs, and social media, he constructed Nerdist Industries, a huge geek culture and news hub – with over 15 million visitors per day. Now, he’s less of a comedian and more of a public figure, and yet again, he gained success by appealing to the geeks of the world in a genuine way: after all, he shared their passion.
Yet another former Star Trek actor, George Takei played Hikaru Sulu. As audiences often tend to do when an actor plays a role for an extended amount of time, they tied Takei inextricably to the character. He wasn’t known as Takei, he was known as Sulu. Takei had other plans, and has since become one of the most public, popular figures in the social sphere, and has made a name for himself on pretty much every social site that’s worth mentioning. The man knows how to engage his followers and fans, and his combination of light humor with interesting content keeps people sharing.
If you want an example of how to become known as an ‘expert’ on something, just look at actor and comedian Steve Martin. Having taken time off from the silver screen to focus on a musical career, Martin decided to finally make a foray into social media, and was almost immediately welcomed by millions of followers on Twitter. His personality shone though in his tweets, which he eventually turned into a book about his take on the meaning behind being a celebrity: The Ten, Make that Nine Habits of Very Organized People. Make that Ten.
Rihanna, in addition to being a well-loved musician, knows Twitter like the back of her hand. Looking at her tweets, you don’t feel like you’re being sold a product, or advertised to (even if you are). She intersperses promotional material with remarkably candid (some might say unprofessional) thoughts and details of her personal life, including the odd photograph. Granted, she’s gone a bit too far, at times, but her general approach to social media is something a lot of execs could take a hint from: customers like people who they feel use social media in the same way that they do.
Emphasis on people.
Lady Gaga’s always been a fairly extreme, shocking artist. Even without a social presence, most people know exactly who she is. Still, that hasn’t stopped her from carving out a place for herself on Twitter and Facebook. She brings that same loud, brash, and downright bizarre personality to the social sphere. Sure, the number of fans and followers she has was probably driven by her already overwhelming popularity – but she knows exactly how to whip those fans into a frothing frenzy. A fool, she is not.
Bieber is probably one of the most controversial pop stars of all time. All it takes to polarize a room is the simple mention of his name. Many might argue that he’s a social networking superstar simply because the majority of his target audience use Twitter and Facebook almost religiously. That might be true, but at the same time, he actually uses his social accounts – he doesn’t just hand them off to a marketing guru and throw out a torrent of salesy garbage. Like many of the others on this list, he actually talks with fans, instead of just talking at them.
Though Perry uses Facebook mostly for self-promotion, her Twitter feed makes fans feel like she’s next to them on the couch, pointing out hilarious videos and photos and talking to many of them on a one-on-one basis. That’s no mean feat for an account with 25 million followers.
If you only pay attention to one entry on this list, it should be Louis C.K.’s. He used social media in a way that might well turn many of you green with envy; driving an entirely new (and wholly controversial) content distribution and ticketing methods, turning a simple career in standup comedy into a thriving business.
Not bad for a funnyman.
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