Curse of overtweet: stars 'lose mystique' by sharing too much
Friday 13 May 2011
Think before you tweet, dear celebrity. That is the warning to stars: their over-exposure on Twitter is causing them to lose their lustre as fans tire of being on the receiving end of their one-time idol's every half-formed thought.
Audience research has found that incontinent tweeters who use social-media sites to enter into daily communication with their fans are shortening their shelf life.
The survey of 1,500 magazine readers by Bauer Media, which owns Q and Kerrang! magazines, said: "In this social-media age, it's all too easy to follow your musical icons on a minute-by-minute basis." This new accessibility is producing exhaustion with tweet-happy stars. "There's a consensus within the industry that this ease of access is leading to artists losing appeal more quickly," Bauer said.
Celebrities, fed up with "misrepresentation" by traditional media, have seized upon Twitter as the perfect promotional tool. They can converse directly with an army of followers that feels its heroes are now within touching distance.
When George Michael was asked about his turbulent personal life at a press conference this week, he replied that he would only answer on Twitter. A prolific tweeter since signing up to the site two months ago, the singer regularly fields questions from fans. But when he asked his followers to buy his "Comic Relief" single, it proved to be his biggest chart flop in two decades.
Entertainment-industry experts agree that the novelty of Demi Moore sharing pictures of her every red-carpet appearance or being told that Justin Bieber had stayed up all night appears to be wearing off. Federico Bolza, a Sony Music marketing executive, said: "The industry now needs to encourage some artists, if not all artists, to hold back, to not broadcast on a daily basis. To make sure they have something special to say."
The Bauer research found that younger fans were initially thrilled by the idea of having constant access to stars through blogs and social media. But older magazine readers hankered for the days when pop stars like David Bowie and Marc Bolan felt "more special". Record companies are now advising artists to restrain themselves on social media to maintain some mystique. "David Bowie hasn't tweeted in two years – this has to be a good thing," said Frank Tope, head of A&R (talent-spotting) at Universal Publishing.
Adele abandoned her personal Twitter account two years ago. Cheryl Cole has taken advice not to tweet, partly because it would make it harder for her to argue a privacy case if she revealed personal details online.
But no one would dare tell Lady Gaga, who is approaching her 10 millionth follower, to lay off Twitter. Aaron Bogucki, digital campaign manager at Polydor, Gaga's label, said: "She's not on there every day in her dressing gown, but she gives her fans enough access to get them excited. Gaga is very good at always bringing it back to the message that 'I'm doing it for you'."
It is often a battle for record companies to keep stars like Amy Winehouse, whose life is an open book, away from Twitter. Mr Bogucki said: "It's easy to take a tweet and turn it into a headline."
The relationship between stars and Twitter followers has been further soured by celebrities using tweets to endorse products. Lily Allen, famed for her online honesty, sullied her brand when she plugged Grey Goose vodka, which provides drinks to her store.
The record industry increasingly believes that Facebook is a better forum for artists to build long-term relationships with fans than Twitter.
The actor James Franco deleted his account and declared social media "dead" after an online feud with a critic of his presentation of the Oscars.
Biz Stone, Twitter's co-founder, understands the objections. "I didn't think celebrities would want to use Twitter because I thought that part of their allure was that you couldn't get close to them," he told Piers Morgan, himself a Twitter addict.
"That was part of the reason why they were celebrities."
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