It’s no secret that social media has taken the world by storm. But some parts of the world seem a lot more reluctant than others to embrace this “storm”. Germany is the perfect example. Look for instance at the world of celebrities. In Germany, celebrities and non-celebrities alike, shy away from even having an online presence. Now I firmly believe in the adage, “each man to his own”. But if the rest of the world is doing it, we’ve got to ask ourselves, aren’t we missing something??
So I decided to ask an expert to shed some light on the subject… Richard Le Cocq is the director of Laughing Buddha, the social media management & digital consultancy based in London.
When a celebrity approaches you to manage their online profile, what are their main requirements?
Richard: All celebrities are individuals, so they come to us with different needs and experiences of social media. Some are savvy and need tips and simple ways to improve their presence, others have no idea where to begin and need setting up and advice so they can feel confident using it. It can be a scary thing for many, what with all the networks you can sign up to and the incredibly public mistakes other public figures have made in the past. So we always try and recognize an individual’s needs first and work closely with our client so they can develop an online voice that suits them. For example, some love chatting about themselves so Twitter makes perfect sense, yet others may be more visual so a photographic platform like Instagram or Flickr might be more appropriate.
There are so many fans following celebrities on social media platforms, but how authentic are the celebrities’ profiles and their tweets or posts truly?
Richard: It depends on the client. You’d be surprised how many artists genuinely do it themselves. It really is Stephen Fry on Twitter and Zach Braff does actually film video messages to his fans. A smart artist will understand the value of talking to their fans and how it can translate into positive word-of-mouth marketing. They also enjoy hearing directly from their fans, so having an official channel to speak through, other than their publicist, is a great asset to have. Of course, it’s hard for anyone to be online 24/7, so many of the bigger artists don’t have time to manage it personally with their busy schedules. Reaching out to agencies like ourselves is the next logical step. All artists want to acknowledge fans, yet there’s nothing wrong with having a presence if it’s in the third person either. We all know Madonna isn’t sitting behind her laptop posting onto her Fan Page – she’d be there all day! Her online voice is very different and it hasn’t stopped fans from liking her Page on Facebook.
The use of social media seems to make celebrities more accessible to their fans. Is this truly the case?
Richard: Hugely! And I still think it hasn’t found it’s full potential yet. Over eight years ago Facebook and Twitter didn’t even exist and the only way a ‘celebrity’ was heard was through interviews or their publicist. Now they have a chance to have a voice which is incredibly powerful. Celebrities are also being approached to endorse products through social media, so their voices obviously have value now. It’s just the same as using an artist’s image on a billboard to sell a product at the end of the day. Those who get it right have become valuable commodities, Lady Gaga reportedly earned £20m through Twitter last year but she’s also used it to get her anti-bullying campaign ‘Born This Way’ out there. Those motivational messages are hard to get out through traditional media now.
How did celebrities become interested in having such a strong online presence?
Richard: Celebrities are people; and most people have online profiles. They just happen to be more popular and influential that’s all. I think what’s a more interesting question is ‘when did celebrities realize they could use social media to their advantage?’ It’s definitely come into it’s own over the last two or three years. People like Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry, President Obama and Oprah Winfrey have championed the medium. Let’s face it, the public has always had an innate curiosity with the famous, so it’s only a matter of time until celebrities started talking online or even beginning their careers online, like Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black. And most importantly, casting directors are asking for online statistics and fashion brands favor casting models who have large online fan bases. So it’s definitely no longer just about personal, but also public and industry interest too.
If a celebrity would ask you the question, “I’m already famous, why do I need to manage my online profile,” what would your response be?
Richard: Simply this: It’s your name, it’s your reputation, YOU should be in control of it. With so much information out there, it just makes good business sense to invest a level of commitment to having a presence online. After all, if people are talking about you online, you should be part of that conversation and use it to your advantage.
Laughing Buddha Marketing Ltd.
Richard Le Cocq
Contact: +44(0)771 4247 710