The New Hollywood: Building Celebrity Brands Online panel at SXSW featured a lively discussion between panelists Nathan Coyle (General Manager of Cambio), Meghan McCain (McCainBlogette and the daughter of John) and Miles Beckett (CEO of EQAL). Moderated by Digital LA founder Kevin Winston, the panel shed light on how celebrities are using the internet to interact with fans and achieve greater reach.
For those of you that couldn’t make it to Austin, and were lucky enough to miss the torrential downpour, here are some of the lessons attendees were lucky enough to learn and/or be told for the umpteenth time.
If it wasn’t before, it’s now an absolute requirement for any public figure, or brand, to interact with their audience online. The panelists agreed while discussing how to effectively use Twitter, Facebook and other social media applications that authenticity and honesty are of the utmost importance when a household entity is communicating with fans in a digital environment. That means that whenever possible, it should be the person whose social media account it is managing that person’s social media. Those PR agencies or recent college grads celebrities sometimes employ to Tweet and post to their Facebook Pages are not only easily detectable, but can cause current and would-be fans to develop some serious negative connotations with the celebrity’s image.
So, how does a celebrity (or anyone, for that matter) develop an authentic link with his or her online fan base? McCain said you should do what she does, and “pretend like the internet is your best friend” when interacting online. That mental trick and sharing details about her life is what she says is responsible for her 137,474 loyal Twitter followers (or at least the reason those 137,474+ Twitter followers stick around after they followed her for her last name).
The panelists also emphasized the frequency of interactions and responsiveness to fans as major contributors to a successful online presence. Frequency has always been an interesting topic not only for celebrities, but for anyone trying to expand their online network. How often should a celebrity engage their audience? “Way more than once a week,” Coyle said when responding to a question by Winston.
Beckett also raised an interesting point regarding responsiveness, as he believes engaging fans online should be seen as a conversation. The amount of time replying and retweeting should rival the time spent writing new tweets and posts. It’s not just about talking, it’s also about listening and interacting.
Every person forms a social media connection to a celebrity, politician or random stranger for a reason, and that reason is the “value” being offered to the follower. It’s important to always understand the value you are providing, whether it’s a offering entertainment, important world events or even a dirty joke.
The tools celebrities use to engage and keep their fans are the same tools that can help anyone develop a following, expand their business or promote a viral video. And that was the crux of the most important takeway from the panel: Each and every person should view themselves as a celebrity when using social media.