Recently singer Mika launched the Twitter campaign #rompioilsilenzio (break the silence), against the discrimination of homosexuals, which was trending topic on Twitter for hours. After one of his concert posters was daubed with the word ‘frocio’ (faggot) in the city of Florence he responded to his Twitter fan base to go against this. When taking a closer look at celebrity management, self-branding, (fan) engagement and word of mouth Twitter is one of the best social media options.
The rise of social media has changed celebrity culture in the way people relate to celebrities and how celebrity is ‘practiced’. There used to be a highly controlled and regulated ‘celebrity management’ in traditional media. But Twitter, probably more than other social media, transformed this into an active interaction between artists and their fan base.
The fact that a celebrity grants you a peek into his or her thoughts or daily life through messages and pictures and you can @reply to this creates a sense of intimacy, like you can really connect and make this person ‘part of your everyday life’. If fans receive @replies back, they function as a public acknowledgement and are publicized within the fan community. Celebrities mention fans or react to fan requests (like Mika) to perform connection and availability, give back to followers, manage their popularity, brand and thus increase engagement and word of mouth. Next to this, celebrities on Twitter use language, words, cultural symbols, and conventions in order to create affiliation with their followers, which also adds to the feel of authenticity of the celebrity Twitter account. Unlike firms, a celebrity Twitter account needs this feel of authenticity because otherwise there will be scepticism about the genuineness of the microblog.
Thus, Twitter is the ideal medium in creating a sense ‘back stage’ access through ‘front stage’ actions. For a celebrity this requires a carefully constructed self-presentation, self-branding or identity performance. Of course a famous person never really expose their actual private life on social media. But with celebrity becoming a performative, interactive practice through Twitter, they need to manoeuvre in a complex social environment in which fans, other famous people and intermediaries like gossip reporters co-exist. So it can be tricky business. Because a celebrity’s actions on Twitter may also backfire, depending on the contextual point of view, creating negative exposure. On the other hand, Twitter also makes it easier to respond to gossip and bad publicity directly.
In Mika’s case, his Twitter action involving the ‘poster incident’ created a positive effect amongst fans, in the industry and the (old and new) media. Lucky coincidence that this happened a few months after releasing his new album and announcing upcoming concerts. Making his Twitter campaign add to awareness, ‘Mika brand’ engagement, word of mouth and probably increasing revenue in its wake. I’m curious about your thoughts on this; is it too much of a coincidence or is it just making really good use of someone’s bad taste, meaning the person who vandalised the poster?
Hoffman, D. L., & Fodor, M. (2010). Can you measure the ROI of your social media marketing. MIT Sloan Management Review, 52(1), 41-49.
Marwick, A. (2011). To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on Twitter. Convergence: the international journal of research into new media technologies, 17(2), 139-158.
Wildenberg, van der N. (2015, 2 April) Mika komt ook met nieuw album [online article]. Accessed at: http://www.maxazine.nl/2015/04/02/mika-komt-ook-met-nieuw-album/