Created by YouTube, Sustained by Twitter - New Media Publics and the Cult of Celebtity

By Sarah Marris

Social media technologies have created a plethora of new communication methods, allowing a diverse range of interactions that take the cult of celebrity to a whole new level. The rapid growth in the use of social networking site Twitter has created the ability for interactions between account holders and their 'followers'. Celebrities, including singers, actors, sports stars and even politicians, use Twitter to create a sense of direct communication and personal contact [1]. This co-existing environment, where celebrities, followers and journalism collide, provides a volatile platform from where identities are constructed and reconstructed with every Tweet. By demonstrating the notion of “celebrity as a learned practice, rather than an inborn trait”, Twitter enables any person to become a celebrity [2]. The use of Twitter allows the celebrity's followers to feel a certain sense of belonging and intimacy. It also gives the celebrity the ability to manipulate which aspects of their personal life they choose to make public.
The use of Twitter and related technologies has fuelled the importance of the concept of publics in new media communications. Whilst the term the public can be said to refer to members of a social group in general, celebrities more commonly use Twitter to engage with a particular public. A public is a specific audience of people, whether concrete and sharing a physical space, or notional and changing as the subject of interest becomes more or less popular [2]. It is the idea of a notional public that only exists when addressed, that has driven the rapid uptake of Twitter by celebrities. Where as previously fame was dependent upon the appeal to an existing audience created by television, print and other media, Twitter enables any person to communicate with a notional public, through the publication of self-written material.
One of the most prominent examples of the use of social media to create and sustain celebrity is that of Justin Bieber. As a 13 year old Justin Bieber uploaded videos of himself singing to the video sharing site YouTube, attracting millions of viewers. He was discovered by a talent scout, signed by Ushers label and rapidly became a worldwide phenomenon [3]. Bieber and his marketing teams savvy use of social media has assisted in sustaining this phenomenon known as 'Bieber Fever'. Bieber has over 12 million followers, growing by a reported 24,000 people every day, and Bieber related topics are frequently top trending on Twitter [4]. It was the ability to address a notional public through YouTube that led to Bieber's initial celebrity and this continued success is based on the careful control of his interactions with this public via his Twitter account and YouTube channel. Created by YouTube, sustained by Twitter – a product of New Media.


Comment 1:

By Wanda Rebolledo (N7181175)

One Question that get brought up, is how genuine are the relationships. It’s been stated that The use of Twitter allows the celebrity's followers to feel a certain sense of belonging and intimacy. But how do they know that what the celebrity is being honest.

Twitter is just another PR tools that celebrities can use to increase their fan base. Furthermore it may also be another avenue in which celebrates can earn an income. Apparently top celebrities son twitter are getting paid to tweet about companies [5] Some even can get paid as much as $10, 000 or more per tweet. For example P. Diddy can get uo to $20, 000 per tweet [6].
In addition twitter is just another platform for celebrities to manipulate aspects of their personal life they choose to make public. If celebrities where left to their own devices, they would make so many PR blunders – for example John Mayer, and Courtney love [7]. So what does this mean, in most likelihood celebrities will hire professional help adept in social media. One company that hires out this type of services is Ghostwritten Twitters [7]. What this means is that they every tweet has the potential to have been media-coached, to be relentlessly edited — and then have typos inserted for authenticity [7].
If you’re interested in finding out about celebrity PR on twitter these are great articles:
host-written celebrity Twitters: Trick or tweet?
When Stars Twitter, a Ghost May Be Lurking
Celebrities on Twitter - How To Spot a Fake
Is Twitter the new celebrity PR?

Comment 2:

By Kate Bell (N7187955)
Wanda raises a really good point. It seems that whilst there are a plethora of celebrities out there that promote their 'brand' many of us often question how genuine these relationships are between a celebrity and their followers. Celebrities and Twitter have gone hand in hand from the very early days of Twitter, when it became evident that social media could be used to promote new products or launches.
Demi Moore is one such example of the power of celebrity endorsements. is a new business that's heavily invested in social media as a method of marketing, and each of their top selling products relate back to tweets from Demi Moore who was paid to endorse their business on Twitter [8] However, it is evident there is a fine line between paid endorsements and what celebrities have chosen to spruik themselves. A line clearly needs to be drawn somewhere.

Comment 3:

By Jae Moran (N7157266)
Are Celebrities using Twitter as a form of Privacy Control?
Sarah’s post on Celebrity use of Twitter and Wanda’s comments in relation to this issue prompted me to investigate the possibility of celebrities using Twitter as a form of Privacy Control. Has social media provided a platform for celebrities whose privacy is often compromised as a result of their ‘celebrity status’ to fight back? It seems that the well advised celebrities certainly are.
On 10 November, 2010 Brittany Spears tweeted that her son Jayden had been hospitalised for food poisoning. This kind of news was once the currency of paparazzi, who make their careers selling and trading in the secrets and private lives of celebrities. That kind of sharing may seem like self-inflicted privacy invasion, but it isn't a mistake, says Laura Fitton, a social media consultant and one of Twitter's most-followed users. In some cases, it's savvy media control [9]. These social media tactics reveal a strategy based in the belief that the focus is about controlling personal privacy, rather than giving it up. By sharing these details personally, celebrities are devaluing the power of the paparazzi and their ‘cheap news economy’.
In Shaquille O'Neal's (Shaq) case, creating a Twitter presence was originally a tactic for shutting down an impostor. Last September, O'Neal's media consultant, discovered an anonymous Twitter user posing as the famous basketball player online. Her recommendation was for Shaq to start micro-blogging. The result - more than 213,000 users now follow his Twitter feed which provides cost free publicity for the star [9].
No. 1 Most Influential Identity on Twitter
Guy Kawasaki holds the Forbes Magazine accolade as No.1 Most Influential Identity on Twitter [10]. Guy has gained his celebrity status through a simple formula for his rise to the top of the micro-blogging heap: post interesting things and post as many of them as possible. The business professional, venture capitalist, website developer and former Apple employee ‘retweets’ a large majority of his online content, mostly linking to interesting news and occasionally plugging his own website [10].
How Organisations are using Social Media to Build Relationships with their target publics
Another example of strategic use of social media such as Twitter is emerging through public relations campaigns. Social media allows organisations to capitalise on their existing relationships with publics and target key messages for their campaign objectives. New Media 2.0 Platforms allow individuals to self organise around organisational causes through collaborating with each other [11]. For to access a case study with details of how the American Red Cross utilised social media as a public relations tool follow the reference [11] listed with this comment.

Comment 4:

By Amie Milton (N7200862)

Sarah stated that social media 'gives the celebrity the ability to manipulate which aspects of their personal life they choose to make public.' This raises the idea of self constructed identities. When using social media networks such as facebook and twitter, the ability to manipulate facets of personality is heightened. People are able to choose which traits, friendships, beliefs and images they portray, giving them the ability to construct a false image of self without recognition from outsiders. "Seeing someone within the context of their connections provides the viewer with information about them. Social status, political beliefs, musical taste, etc, may be inferred from the company one keeps." [12] Thus through the connections one keeps, an image of the person is constructed. Choosing the connections you keep in social media gives you the opportunity to construct an image of yourself different to reality giving outsiders insight into you, as a you want to be viewed.


[1] Marwick, Alice and Danah Boyd. 2011. “To see and be seen: Celebrity practice on twitter.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17 (2): 139-158.
[2] Warner, Michael. 2002. “Publics and counterpublics.” Public Culture 14 (1): 49-90.
[3] Herrera, Monica. 2009. “Justin Bieber, The Billboard Cover Story”. Accessed Ausgust 27, 2011.
[4] Twitter Counter. 2011. “Justin Bieber Twitter Statistics”. Accessed August 27, 2011.
[5] Perez, S. 2010. Can you Get Paid to Tweet? (part 1). Accessed September 12, 2011.
[6] Gornstein, L. 2010. Do celebs Get Paid to Tweet about Products? Accessed September 12, 2011.
[7] Thomas, O. 2009. How Twitter Saved the Celebrity P.R. Accessed September 12, 2011.
[8] Fisher, L. 2011. How uses Twitter and celebrities for massive growth. Accessed September 15, 2011.

[9] Greenberg, A. 2009. Why Celebrities Twitter. Accessed September 17, 2011.

[10] Greenberg, A. 2009. By The Numbers: Most Influential Twitterers. Accessed September 17, 2011.
[11] Briones, R. L, B. Kuch, B. F. Liu and Y. Jin. 2010. Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Accessed September 17, 2011.
[12] Donath, J and D. Boyd. 2004. "Public displays of connection." BT Technology Journal 22(4): 71-82.