Because of their massive audiences and follower fan-bases, celebrities on social media, Twitter in particular, have become a prime target for brands and even individuals looking for help in spreading messages. But is the effort that brand marketing managers put into this backfiring?
You could be killing your own Twitter marketing campaign by focusing on celebrities at this very moment. It may seem counter-intuitive that someone spreading your message, who essentially holds a megaphone on social media, could be a waste of time. What it all comes back to is developing and being prepared with the right messaging and content in order to promote trust.
This recent article about what makes a tweet popular, discusses the research of UCLA and Hewlett-Packard’s HP Labs in formulating an algorithm that forecasts a tweet’s “shareability”, and one of the most interesting takeaways was that established organizations trump even outspoken celebrities. In the end, “shareability is largely a function of reliability,” and a trusted resource outweighs a loud one.
This is not to say that reaching out to celebrities to help a social media campaign is a poor tactic in general. We have run campaigns that involve celebrity outreach, but have always kept in mind a deeper communications plan with supporting content. You can’t rely on people to be interested in your message or product just because a celebrity retweets it. This is especially true if EVERY message you are putting out is a pining request to a celeb, and doubly so if there’s not a match with the celeb’s own interests. Don’t create a “where’s the beef?” situation that doesn’t satisfy.
At a panel discussion on Celebrities and Causes back in March at SXSW, Noopur Agarwal, Senior Director of Public Affairs at MTV, mentioned how Lady Gaga’s influence on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was due not only to her millions of followers, but because “she was also credible, authentic and very coherent and congruent that this is an issue that she singularly supports.” Her own cultivation of limiting support to causes she believes in increases the trust factor for those millions of fans.
Like any other aspect of marketing, social engagement with celebrities requires planning, strategy, and solid communications. Four things to keep in mind if this is a tactic you plan to pursue:
Before you begin outreach, build a base of trust for your brand through consistency and useful information.
Be smart about which celebrities you reach out to for a campaign, make sure there is a match for both parties.
Have support material ready for anyone that clicks for more information; don’t lead people to a dead end for attention’s sake.
Take the long view…work to establish an ongoing relationship with the celebrity, instead of employing a one-time hit-and-run tactic
This last point is something else to take to heart. Beyond the social message request, are you prepared to establish an ongoing relationship with any of the celebs you are reaching out to? Social charity Wish Upon A Hero (with whom our agency does work) has fostered a kinship with Leann Rimes in an unofficial, yet ongoing, capacity because she personally feels a connection with their mission.
So are celebrities going to be the death of you on Twitter? Most likely not. As long as you’re not begging, shouting or pleading…and have a credible reason to be reaching out to them. If it makes sense for the right cause, or because a product appeals to a celeb’s actual interests or personal life, then tweet away. However, be prepared to substantiate the request. In the end, if you have the right message and reason to connect, they will be part of – and help build – your fanbase.