Celebrities have always been influential; people tend to listen to their political views, follow the exact trends celebs are wearing and will buy the music they’re listening to.
Thanks to social media it has become even easier for celebrities to reach their audience. Many have an own Twitter and Facebook account where they share thoughts and pictures just like any other human being. Except that celebrities are probably the biggest influencers when it comes to social media; in general they have significant social capital.
There’re many examples of ‘social celebs’ in the US. However, I’d like to share with you an example I experienced 2 years ago in my home country, the Netherlands.
One of the most famous comedians in the Netherlands, Youp van ‘t Hek, had issues with his son’s Iphone and he tried to solve that by calling the T-mobile customer service. After several very unsatisfying attempts, he tweeted his frustration. He complained about the horrible customer service and the ‘Soviet-practices’ by T-mobile. By that time he had 45.000 followers (this might not seem a lot, but imagine this is 2 years ago and in a country with half of the inhabitants of California) and many re-tweeted his message. The news traveled very fast: the number of tweets where T-mobile was mentioned rose with 300% and the negative sentiment regarding T-mobile went from 44% to 64%.
According to Youp his goal was not to break T-mobile, but it was meant as a call to action. The effect of his tweets however, was devastating for T-mobile. According to a research company the estimated reputational damage was somewhere between 200.000 and 300.000euro (app 250.000-400.000usd).
The example above shows how celebrities on social media are very influential. In this case messages had negative consequences for the specific brand, but you can imagine that there’re many examples of positive communication by celebrities which can benefit a brand. Either way, celebrities should be conscience of their status; of course they can use it, but there comes a point where it becomes misuse of power. The problem is, that there’s only a fine line between these two.