Many of you probably don't remember me, but some of you who have been here for a long time will. I haven't been around for a while, but I still have a close group of MFC friends who I talk with regularly on Twitter, MSN and email.
I wrote them an email this morning... some ramblings about Twitter that I just woke up thinking about for some reason. We've been having some back-and forth discussion about it, and they've encouraged me to come back and post it here.
Keep in mind this was meant as an email between a few friends, and I've said a few things you may not agree with. That's perfectly fine... the reason I'm posting it here is because I'm hoping it will spark some interesting debate. Please feel free to discuss (and disagree if you wish!).
I hope everyone's well,
All the best,
For some reason it just really struck me this morning just how much of an impact Twitter has had on the celebrity-fan relationship in the past 2 years. I think maybe it was the Katy-Calvin dirty laundry thing that did it for me.
It's really been a massive shift in the way the world of celebrity works. It's the great equalizer. It has completely leveled the playing field...
Every celebrity has the same chance, the same 140 characters, the same formatting, the same rules of communication, and it's up to them to use it or not, to use it well or not, and to use it often or not. They can tweet by themselves or can have staff tweet for them (make it personal or not). They can tweet about random personal things, work related things, keep it at the level of simple news/tour updates, or just say good morning a la George Michael. It's up to them. They'll benefit from it in exact proportion to what they put into it.
I think a lot of them resisted at the beginning because of the nature of it. Like a conversation with a friendly coworker - sometimes you can get a bit too comfortable and say too much & then regret it later, but what you've said is already out there.
When you have zillions of followers (or just those 1000 core fan followers), every tweet has weight. Every tweet is open to interpretation and scrutiny, and that's scary when your reputation is your career. Your words have the potential to be misinterpreted & misconstrued, retweeted with comments that might be negative, etc. That's always the case with celebrities, but now they have a platform that's more direct (unfiltered by publicists), much more casual, and with more frequent interaction. It's easy to get lulled into letting your guard down and saying things you might regret a bit the next day, whether it's drunk tweeting or airing dirty laundry when you're angry. Everyone sees everything and often your tweets are published in the rag mags the next day if they're noteworthy.
In the end though, I think the majority have realized that it's an incredible and historical new level of connection, personalization and communication with your fan base. It makes the most untouchable celebrity seem accessible. It gives the struggling up-and-comer the opportunity to reach thousands of new people who otherwise wouldn't have heard of them. It encourages word-of-mouth in an unprecedented way. It gives ALL of them, regardless of status, the chance to show their personality. Or to not show it.
You can be charming and friendly and interactive if you have that in you.
You can put tons of effort into it and word of mouth will spread - like Sam Beeton & Imogen Heap, perfect examples.
You can be friendly yet professional - I think Jimmy & Imma have done a phenomenal job of this... they've really embraced it and endeared themselves to us via Twitter.
You can be inconsistent and confuse your fanbase - Mika.
You can be goofy and win back public opinion - George Michael.
You can let it all hang out and not give a hoot what people think of your tweets - Katy & Calvin.
You can have verbal diarrhea and people will write songs just to mock your tweets - Kanye.
I think most of the ones who recognize the opportunity are already on Twitter... anyone who jumps on now (if they're not a new star) is probably just being pushed there by their managers because it's "the thing to do".
The ones who have been on for a while are still figuring out their balance. Others just don't care and have an "I am what I am, take it or leave it" attitude... I like those. It's open & sincere which is appealing even if they make some blunders. The ones who hold back a bit more to maintain professionalism can still be very appealing as long as they're somewhat consistent and/or interesting.
To me, Mika has been communicating like the boyfriend who might be breaking up with you... you're not quite sure. Sometimes he calls, sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he says things that you're sure have a double meaning or that are so vague that you know he's not telling you something. He throws you a bone every once in a while and you're all happy again, convincing yourself it's just like it used to be. He knows he has you on a string and he knows how to pull those strings just enough to keep you around. You're not his main priority anymore.
On the positive side he was on Twitter relatively early and has tweeted a lot, although sporadically. He has experimented with Twitter's potential with things like the secret Roxy gig. He tweets by himself, not through Team Mika. He doesn't edit in terms of running it past a publicist first - which I think is great - so we see all his spelling mistakes & drunk tweets. That's more authentic and personal. I love it when he really interacts with us and when he actually keeps us updated on what he's up to.
What I don't like is when he either tweets some useless two words to keep us satisfied (which works for a certain segment of the fan base, sure). Or when he vaguely says "oh I'm working so hard on my new album, I'm hiding away from everything to work so hard for you, my fans". That's obviously a load of fluff if he then disppears from us but we find all sorts of other random people around the world tweeting that they've just hung out with him or seen him doing such and such. That only serves to make us feel like it's us, his fans, that he's 'hiding' from... not hiding away in the studio making a new album. It was so much nicer last time around when we had those lovely semi-regular blogs & vlogs to fill the gap. Even his old bare-bones blog site was much better (on WordPress I think?)... the MikaSounds site is not user friendly and is left unattended to whither away. His original vision of it is long gone and he needs to understand that content is king - not gimmicks. Given all of that, he should really be using Twitter more effectively to keep himself in our hearts until he revamps the site.
The great thing about Mika's twitter style is one and the same as the downside of Mika's twitter style... we see his personality, the good along with the bad. I really wish he'd wise up and realize that if he wants longevity he needs to nourish his fan base in a more effective way. He's always been creative, well-intentioned and wanting to give his all to his fans, we know that, but the follow-through is really lacking. Even in the Magic Numbers gig it looked like he couldn't get out of there fast enough after. Wasn't there supposed to be a champagne reception with him (ie not just amongst the fans themselves before he got there?)
When he comes on Twitter and takes a passive-agressive shot like "Twitter bitter" and then runs away because we didn't like his clown picture, he's acting like a child who's saying "Humph! Fine! I'm not playing with you any more!" - and he's not even saying it directly, he's hiding behind a vague response! He's missing the opportunity to reevaluate what's working or not working in terms of his interaction & communication with his fans.
I'm not trying to blindly or randomly criticize him here... I'm saying he has a massive opportunity to evolve and grow right now as an artist who, let's face it, wants and needs his fans. We all still love him and he's done some incredible things, but if he opens his eyes and sees the opportunities here he could really take it to the next level. He needs to stop focusing on gimmicks, homemade costumes and abundance of props, and get back to basics. Keep it simple. He's got a voice of gold and great songwriting skills. He needs to get back to the core of it, what really matters, and the rest will fall into place.
But I'm getting off track...
I give him a grade of C- on his use of Twitter as a tool for cultivating his artist-fan relationships.
Anyway guys... sorry for the loooong and rambling email! I don't know what got into me! Talk to ya soon.