Tweetle Tweetle little Star…

Stars on Twitter. It’s almost like reading a gossip magazine before it’s even printed. Since almost every girl loves the gossip magazines, stars should have thousands of followers to see what their latest gossip is. And they do. Some celebrities even gathered over a million people who seem interested in what happens in their (private?) lives. At first glance, this makes Twitter seem better than any magazine, as I can pick the stars I want to follow myself and will be the first to see what they’re up to. Or as Josh Lyford said:  “Probably the most important component of all of this is very basic, and most likely why celebrities do well in social media as well. People WANT to hear what “celebrities” and bands are up to. They WANT to be a part of that. Social media are the perfect platform for this connection.”

(Josh Lyford in Social Turbine

Pick the stars

This assignment could be interesting, since most people have always been intrigued by the (private) life of stars. It am also curious to see if, and how much of their private life stars give away through social media like Twitter. Also it would be good to have a closer look if stars realize how much influence they can have through social media like Twitter or if they are very naive when it comes to give away sensitive details via social media. An example of the influence stars can have through Twitter:“Director Kevin Smith gets thrown of a South west air flight for which he was already seated. Why? Because he was apparently “too fat”. He tweets about it to his 1.6M Twitter followers and creates a PR nightmare for the airline, causing them to issue an apology.”

For this assignment I followed four different stars of which I had four totally different ‘Twitter expectations’.

  • Arie Boomsma, TV host and model from the Netherlands. I thought it would be interesting to follow Arie since on the one hand he is seen by many as the perfect son-in-law, living by his Cristian values (he was even actively involved in a Christen unie campaign in 2008). On the other hand though, he is the little rebel that got in trouble with the EO for having pictures of himself half nude in L’Homo magazine. I am curious how rebellious he will be on Twitter. Also he is the only famous dutch person I’m having a closer look at. We could have a look if he tweets about other things than the international stars I’m following.
  • Charlie Sheen. As soon as I heard of the assignment I just knew I wanted to have a closer look at mr. King of Twitter himself: Charlie Sheen. Who other than Charlie Sheen could have reached the insane amount of more than one million followers within 24 hours? Wondering what sort of tweets this guy would type, and to see if he would react via twitter to all the (not so positive) media attention he got lately, I added him to this little research. (
  • Oprah Winfrey. I added Oprah for a few reasons: first of all she is a woman and it would be good to have a look at the difference between postings of men and women (though of course this sample is too small to make any significant generalizations, it could be interesting to compare the two groups). Also, knowing her shows she always has a lot of ‘hidden advertising’. For example, the whole audience get’s a ‘super awesome super deluxe BMW car’ where BMW is talked up and highlight several times in the show. I am interested if she also promotes people or products the same way on Twitter.
  • The last person I will have a closer look at is Fin, better known as Fink. He is a quite famous, but still upcoming, singer songwriter from the United Kingdom. Not as big as for example Rihanna or Jack Johnson, but certainly a well-known name within the singer song writer scene. Since I know this guy in person, I might be biased about his Twitter behavior, but it also gives me the unique opportunity to have a look at his personal tweets, versus his ‘fan tweets’, since he has an account with his real name and his famous name.

Follow the stars

After following several stars for a week or longer, I noticed several similarities and several differences between the different types of celebrities and their ‘tweet behavior’. There is a not a real clear distinction between the stars who have already ‘made it’ Oprah and Charlie Sheen (I’ll call them A stars from now on to make it easy). And the stars that are still on their way to fame, or not as famous as the stars previously mentioned (B stars) Fink and Arie Boomsma. Both Oprah and Fink are promotion their shows, interviews, movies etc. Via their tweets: Oprah “A new day at Harpo. @TheRosieShow now takes top billing. Don’t miss it Oct. 10 7pm e/p on OWN.” versus Finkmusic “@ remember that doors are at 5pm this Sunday in Leeds #hifi#finktour#Leeds@adamgads

It is also interesting to see Oprah approach fans from different countries. She tweets to a Croatian girl that she had never been there, but it should be beautiful there, and to another guy whether he’s Australian or from the US. Arie Boomsma however just tweets about Dutch tv shows, he doesn’t seem very world orientated. Both of them however don’t mention much about their personal life, which is different from what I expected as they come across as pretty open family orientated personalities. Arie even only seems to tweet with his colleague’s about his and their new shows. I was actually kind of disappointed about this as every girl who has heard even just little gossip lately knows he recently became single. I therefore expected some more juicy bachelor style party details on his tweets. If Goffman would have read their post he would probably have said they use Twitter as their front stage, as they still put up their ‘act’ as TV personalities.

About Charlie Sheen however, he would have most definitely concluded he sees Twitter as his backstage world, not caring about what the audience thinks of his tweets. (Though in mr. Sheens case it could also be a front stage part as it’s hard to tell lately what’s real and what’s not in his world). Charlie tweets a lot (and by lot I mean a LOT) about his (incredibly adventurous) private life. Charlie Sheen “@SteveO Went back for another shot at the end to get the nose break?!? That’s commitment my friend. Funny as hell. … post was just the top of the iceberg. He doesn’t seem the need to hide ridiculously drunk nights (well if I have to believe twitter: every night), epic roasts or sharing his love with girls like Kate. With more than 4 million followers, apparently this is what the fans want: personal stories.

Another interesting finding about Oprah was that she indeed promoted products, people and places in her tweets. Oprah Winfrey “Spent the day going to and from Minneapolis .Gorgeous CLEAN city.had a fun time meeting our friends at TARGET! Got a MIssoni box!” Little research teaches us that stars can get paid huge amounts of money to promote products via Twitter. To me personally, tweets seem somewhat more personal and trustworthy than what I see on TV, thus I wonder if this is a situation we should be concerned about, as there might be people reading their hero’s tweets and being influenced by the information they gather through Twitter. “Celebrities can be great influencers, whether they’re on TV or tweeting,” (Arnie Gullov-Singh).( I could find a clear distinction between her posts and between that of the men. I expected her to be more affectionate, and even though she comes across as a nice and affectionate person over twitter, so (surprisingly?) did Charlie Sheen and Arie Boomsma, sending loving and praising tweets to colleague’s. Only Oprah seemed a bit more fan orientated.

When I compared the two different pages from Fink, it was obvious that he was way more active on his band page than his personal page (over 2000 followers versus 66 followers and daily tweets versus two tweets in total). All the posts on the Fink page where about the band and upcoming shows. His personal posts were about the discovery and use of twitter and something about his cat. The fact that he doesn’t use his artist name for his personal profile, might already suggest that he doesn’t want to be bothered by people that don’t know him other than his band. This also rises the question if Arie and Oprah might have another (secret?) twitter account to share their latest info with, only with their real friends. Or maybe they just use a (personal) Facebook page to reach a little less audience.

Reach for the stars

Now that I have carefully studied, it’s time to approach my targets. I tried to come up with certain strategic lines that I could use to get in contact with them. I could ask Charlie Sheen for example how i can become as ‘Winning’ as he is, but I don’t think Oprah would appreciate that as much. Would Oprah with her >4 million followers even be keen to answer me, the girl next door? I had a glance at her page and surprisingly she responded to a lot of fans. Assuming that she can’t answer every single persons question I understood I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high, but still… even though I’m not a huge fan, saying that Oprah commented on my tweet would be pretty sweet. As I read before how she replied to a Croatian girl that she thought Croatia would be very beautiful, I decided to go for a neutral question “Hey Oprah, have you ever been to Amsterdam and what did you think of it?”. Unfortunately I didn’t get a response. No hard feelings though, as I already have a hard time keeping up with just 1200 friends on Facebook, I can’t expect her (or would she have a whole Twitter team?) to respond to every single question. Looking at the other responses though she makes a warm and caring impression over Twitter.

This can not be said over mr. Sheen. Though I love following this guys tweets as he always seems to get into the most random stupid trouble, he comes across as a pretty arrogant (guess that’s what happens when you bang ‘7 gram rocks’) and only replying to fellow stars. To be honest I couldn’t really be bothered to even ask him a question as I didn’t expect him to reply.

From Arie Boomsma I kind of expected a reply as he comes across as a pretty serious but nice guy. I did see him reply mostly to just fellow TV hosts though. I didn’t want to ask him something to private about his broken relationship, since he is probably fed up with those questions, but because he seems a bit more ‘hip’ and younger I decided to just ask him what his favorite bar is in Amsterdam. So far I haven’t had a reply yet (as soon as I find out I’ll let all of you girls know!). I can’t really say that my attempt to contact Arie has failed, as I only asked him the question a few days ago and I ind of hope that, even though he has been online after that, he will still respond or he might just be too busy. As you can tell by his posts it is really Arie himself keeping up with all the tweets and I can imagine that he has a too busy life to keep up with everyone.

For my last star, Fin and his alias Fink, I let a friend of mine try to message him as I assume Fin, since he knows me, would most definitely reply to my messages. My friend asked him something on his band page, as well on his personal page. On the band page she got an immediate reply. The reply was very enthusiastic, which you would kind of expect from a star that is still on the rise and should hold on to all his fans. However, he didn’t reply to the message she sent to his personal page, by which you could say that he probably doesn’t want fans to intrude into his private life. It seems like Fin(k) has a front stage as well as a backstage page on Twitter. A front stage for his fans, where he is Fink and a backstage for his friends and family, where he is Fin.

Why do stars want to shine on Twitter?

This little ‘research’ was quite interesting to see what sort of Twitter posts stars post on their page. However for further research I would also interview some stars about their reasons to tweet and why they tweet the things they tweet. I tried to find some scientific research about celebrities and their reasons for being on Twitter, but I couldn’t find a lot. I did find an article in the Sun of february 16th 2011 about the reasons why celebrities would have twitter by TV psychologist Dr Cynthia McVey. According to her there are a few main reasons why stars have Twitter:

  1. Some of them may genuinely want to connect with their fans.
  2. The can ‘control’ the information about themselves via Twitter. By revealing little private bits about themselves, they create a feeling of intimacy with their fans. This allows them to portray themselves as regular people who have everyday foibles.
  3. Some will be use them as a tool to keep their profile up, when they’re not doing a film or appearing on TV.

If I had to do further research about Stars and Twitter, I would look at what they want and think to achieve by tweeting, as well as their actual Twitter behavior.  But therefore I do need the stars to reply to my messages…

Background information and Stats of the stars.

(Not relevant, just for those interested)

About @arieboomsma

About @charliesheen

About @Oprah

         About @FINKMUSIC

(personal  page 66 friends/followers)


2 Comments on “Tweetle Tweetle little Star…”

  1. jeanaf says:

    What a thoughtful post! I like how you connected your observations to the reading by Goffman.

  2. joyce279 says:

    Wat een leuke blog. Je kan wel zien dat je erg goed je best hebt gedaan! En ook in goed het Engels :p. Waar ik wel benieuwd naar ben, is wat je zelf van twitter vindt? Gebruik je het naast de opdracht vaak?

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