Friday, December 9, 2011

Will the new Twitter be a boon or bust for celebs?

In the past five years since its inception, Twitter has allowed tech-savvy celebs with a small but dedicated fanbase offline to snag even more fans online. (See: @MindyKaling, @DonaldGlover.) It’s also allowed huge stars to make an even bigger splash by voicing their thoughts… sometimes for the best (ie: @JustinBieber), sometimes for the worst (ie: @CharlieSheen).
With the announcement this week that Twitter is redesigning to make the site easier to navigate for those not fluent in hashtag-speak and to allow brands to have more discoverable pages, I’m wondering what this will mean for the Hollywood elite. Will there still be a way for new celebrities well-known for their adept Twitter coverage to break through, or will the new interface give preference to those we already see constantly across all forms of media?
Celebrities seem to have a love/hate relationship with Twitter – they love it… until something happens that leads to a wind tunnel of bad PR. In the past few weeks alone we’ve seen early adopter Ashton Kutcher @aplusk put more oversight on his feed after the Penn State kerfuffle, and relative newcomer to the platform Alec Baldwin straight out quit after a Words with Friends-related fiasco on a flight.
The new redesign, however, might just help celebrities appear less like flawed human beings (just like us!), and more like corporate entities. For now, branded pages are limited to a few companies with Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Dell among those included in the initial launch. The new branded pages allow companies to feature larger logos and make @ mentions from followers visible on their pages. I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually celebrities started using this type of page as a way promote themselves, which may detract from the grassroots feeling and direct connection with fans that celebs now enjoy on Twitter. And, based on an AdAge review of the new site, we should fully expect celebrities to adopt a branded page. As the review noted, Twitter “has also partnered with some charities and individuals that it hasn’t disclosed.”


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