To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question…

When asked by a client, boss, executive or personality you represent to advise on their decision to jump into the social mediasphere, a number of questions, considerations and sometimes doubts would be considered when looking at the pros and cons of “going social”.

“To tweet, or not to tweet, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the twittersphere to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous followers,
Or to take arms against a sea of trolls,
And by opposing end them” (Rebooted Hamlet, Act III, scene I)

For many in the public sphere…whether they be corporate leaders or celebrities, the decision to become “social” is an important one, and one that can have significant implications (both positive and negative), on their ability to work effectively in their chosen fields in the future. When done properly, tools like Twitter offer a fantastic opportunity to connect with fans and advocates, respond directly to questions and amplify your profile and good news. When done poorly, a mis-tweet can land a celebrity, high-profile politician or business person in hot water (and headlines!)

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” (Hamlet, Act II, Scene II)

In the November issue of Esquire Magazine, actor George Clooney speaks of his concerns around the instant, broadcasting nature of platforms like Twitter, and the risks they pose to image and reputation for celebrities like him:

‘‘If you’re famous, I don’t – for the life of me – I don’t understand why any famous person would ever be on Twitter. Why on God’s green earth would you be on Twitter? Because first of all, the worst thing you can do is make yourself more available, right? Because you’re going to be available to everybody. But also Twitter. So one drunken night, you come home and you’ve had two too many drinks and you’re watching TV and somebody pisses you off, and you go ’Ehhhhh’ and fight back. And you go to sleep, and you wake up in the morning and your career is over. Or you’re (a jerk). Or all the things you might think in the quiet of your drunken evening are suddenly blasted around the entire world before you wake up.’’

Whilst in a traditional media age, a big night on the town may have resulted in a few bad paparazzi shots in News of the World, today a drunken or angry celebrity tweet will be amplified instantly by a celebrity’s network of followers, landing them on the front page of TMZ, Perez Hilton and no sooner be mentioned on Entertainment Tonight and E!. Hooray new media age!

Yet for a new generation of A-listers, social media is the tool that is working as a fundamental element in helping them build and maintain their position in the media and public spotlight.

Exhibit 1: Miley Cyrus (yes, I’m unfortunately going there).

Harmless enough tweet right? When you’ve got fifteen million followers, this isn’t just a tweet, but a publicity stunt. Proving the increasing interconnectedness of traditional and social news and with Miley’s continued “wild girl” media profile, the news of this nude selfie tweet and pic was instantly amplified via outlets like USA Today, MTV, E!, Huffington Post and local sites like Ninemsn. More than 19,000 retweets and 30,000 favourites too? Publicity stunt achievement unlocked.

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark…” (Hamlet, Act I, scene IV)

Or is it? Miley’s not only using social media as a play thing to manipulate the media and punk her profile; she’s also driving the success of her core product – her music. Twitter is a key way she amplifies the news of her new songs, video content and media appearances to drive views and downloads. In her appearance on the UK’s Alan Carr: Chatty Man program in the weeks following her much-debated VMA performance, she was blasé in her response to the furore the performance has caused, choosing to otherwise promote the fact that the buzz contributed significantly to the 12.3 million views her new Wrecking Ball single had secured in the 24 hours since launch on Vemo (a music video network similar to YouTube/Vimeo).

“You know I’m going to get a crazy reaction out of everybody no matter what I do, so you might as well keep people talking about it as long as you can,” she said in the interview. When challenged about the public statements from Hollywood peers following her VMA performance, she responded in kind saying “if you could have people talking about your performance three weeks after you did it you would too right?”

She has her detractors, but she marches on regardless, rallying her social army to support her art and “coming of age” journey. Even tonight she was rallying her army to further drive her socially-qualified success as she aimed to break further online video records following her LiveLounge appearance on the BBC:

…and driving almost 100,000 views in the hour since posting. For both corporate and celebrity communications, audience making and engagement is the first major hurdle in building and maintaining a social profile. A challenge that Miley has taken on and achieved in spades.

“This above all — to thine ownself be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene III)

Authenticity is both social media’s biggest opportunity, but also its biggest challenge when taking on social media as a profiling and network building tool. Fans and followers connect to personalities and even business leaders to get real, authentic insights into the way these people think and operate. The challenge for any individual – whatever their level of fame – is to consider the risk vs reward of revealing too much of one’s self on social media. Is your following friends, business contacts or fans? Would you quickly and easily say what you are about to tweet to these people in person?

The challenges of the socially connected self!

What do you see as the biggest challenges (and similarly opportunities) in counseling clients or personalities in building and maintaining their social profile? Should everybody be on Twitter (or other relevant social networks)? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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