The other night, I got into it with a celebrity on Twitter over a question I asked. I won’t get into details because it really went from 0-60 and it was disappointing and made me become less of a fan of someone whose work I really respected and really liked.
What I came away with was the reminder that Twitter is a communication tool that requires good communication skills to be used effectively. Celebrities and public figures need to be very conscious of their interactions with fans and recognizers alike because Twitter has come to be their main representations online. How they conduct themselves in these 140-character bites shouldn’t be taken lightly because in a worst-case scenario, they can turn off their most die-hard fans in one measly tweet.
There are some lessons that all celebrities (and really, people in general) need to learn about Twitter.
1. Your tweets are under a microscope.
As someone who is famous, with thousands and millions of fans, you should know that your tweets are under a microscope. Even if regular people’s aren’t, yours are. It comes with your territory as a celebrity. People will dissect your words because your life is up for greater scrutiny. Is it fair? No. Is it what you should consider a by-product of your job that you must deal with? Yes. Consider it an occupational hazard.
Oh, and remember that every public tweet is archived by the Library of Congress.
2. Be social on Twitter. This means don’t just throw out tweets but respond to some.
Twitter is supposed to be a conversation, not a monologue. If all you do is tweet your own words, without ever replying to people, you look like a self-centered egomaniac. No one likes someone who just talks instead of listens.
3. Learn to distinguish between trolls and people who are trying to engage you in conversation.
There are trolls online. These are the people whose only point is to get people riled up, to say shockingly negative things and to just piss you off and ruin your day. There is no shortage of trolls on Twitter. As someone who is famous, you will have many trolls in your mentions but you will also have people who are just trying to engage you in conversation. They might ask you questions but some people really suck at words so they might come across as shadeful. You need to figure out who the trolls are and who the curious folks are and deal with it accordingly.
Folks have really showed out and lost out on the chance to really connect with fans by placing everyone in the troll box. Take the time to figure out who is who.
4. Don’t feed the trolls.
Now, if you do know who’s a troll and who’s not, make the decision not to feed the trolls. This means you do not engage them in any way. You do not respond to them and give them the attention they need because they will only multiply. Like the eGremlins they are. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. You’re giving them what they want and that is your time. They don’t deserve it. Ignore them and keep it moving. Also, use your block button.
5. Don’t use Twitter as your therapist couch.
You should NOT use Twitter like it’s a leather couch at your Psychologist and Psychiatrist’s office. No one should really, but as a celebrity, you really can’t afford to do that. I’m looking at you, Kanye. Remember that folks are always watching and they’re looking to use this against you, TMZ takes no time off and neither do bloggers who are waiting to talk about how manic you seemed the night before.
6. Don’t tweet things that you will need to delete later.
On the topic of being emotional and making bad decisions, don’t tweet when you’re incredibly mad or sad. If you’re having a bad day, Twitter is not the place to be. What ends up happening is celebrities will shoot off a series of tweets, sometimes about someone they’re beefing with and act a complete fool. Throwing a massive online tantrum for 3 million fans to see is not the move.
Then afterwards, they’ll say they were hacked and delete the offending tweets later. But everyone already got screenshots of it so those tweets still get attention and they get embarrassed. And we all wonder where their PR person is.
Don’t be that person. If you say something, stick with it. Deleting tweets is like walking in a crowded room naked, then running back out to put on clothes. We already saw your goodie bits and some of us even took a picture so the damage is done.
7. Do the opposite of everything Chris Brown does on Twitter.
Think of anything Chris Brown has ever done on Twitter. And do the exact opposite. In every situation, ask yourself “What Would Breezy Do?” and go the other direction. It’ll serve you very well.
8. Your tweets will dictate public opinion on you. They become a crucial part of your brand.
When you spend enough time on Twitter, your tweets start to paint a picture of who you really are. If people only know your work before, Twitter introduces them to your actual personality. So it’s only natural that your tweets get people to think of you in a certain way. They will either strengthen your current brand or create a new idea of you. Celebrities who we know and love on-screen or on stage are either excelling and being loved more or shooting themselves in their foot in 140 characters.
I can’t tell you how many celebs who I love have been ruined on Twitter for me. Folks who I’ve adored over the years because of their work I’m no longer fans of too many people because of their tweets. Finding out your favorite can’t spell, or is a douchebag, or a racist idiot is incredibly disappointing. Twitter has killed the celebrity’s star.
9. You might make mistakes. Own up to them.
If there does come a time when you misstep on Twitter, the best thing you can do is hold yourself accountable for the mistake. And own up to it. Celebrities need to stop using the “I was hacked” excuse, first of all. It’s weak. Most of the time they say it, we know it’s not true. It’s cowardice. Just say you momentarily lost your mind and filter and couth and you’re sorry for making the mistake. We’ll respect you more for the apology than the shirking of responsibility. Just say sorry.
10. Your fans really do love you. Connect with them.
Twitter is a great way to forge greater connections with your fans. You can talk directly to the people who’ve supported your work over the years. Never has this been so easy, so celebrities should take advantage of it. This isn’t saying that they need to reply to everyone who sends them a tweet. No. That is actually impossible to do. I’m not a celebrity and my mentions go nuts sometimes and I can really only respond to a small percent of what I get so I can only imagine what famous people deal with.
What I mean is that you at least take the time to reply to 5 people a day (if they’re on Twitter that day). Just 5 people. It shows that you are listening a little, and hearing from you might make those 5 people’s day.
Also related, when a fan asks you a specific question about your work, don’t tell them to Google it. Realize that it’s an opportunity to market yourself and repeat information to people who want to know.
Twitter is a tool but don’t be a tool on it. Put your best foot forward and realize that every tweet you send out can potentially be seen by millions. If you’re famous or represent an entity that’s greater than you, you should be extra cognizant of how you’re coming across. Don’t burn bridges, don’t be a complete asshole and don’t give your publicist a heart attack by doing the most with the least.
Be humble. Be human. Be interesting.
And all will be well.
Any other lessons that celebrities need to learn on Twitter? Which of these do you think is most important?