Celebs these days have it so good. They live stylish, fabulous lives and have millions of adoring fans worldwide who pay to buy their music, go to their movies, and promote them into even bigger deals than they already are in popular culture. Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter serve as online platforms for audiences to engage with these stars on a "personal" level...or as personal as it's ever going to get with A-listers. With all the potential wrapped up in these sites, you'd expect celebs to make the most this extra beam of online limelight. Evidently, it's easier said than tweeted.
When a celeb thoughtlessly types out a 160-character-or-less snapshot of his glamorous life, he may not always be thinking about how he has his mass audience literally at his fingertips. If he slips up and angers his fans with so much as one insensitive tweet, his reputation - indeed, his entire career - could take a huge blow. We recently saw this occur in the case of Ashton Kutcher, and many other celebrity Twitterers have made similar slip-ups in the past as well. Calling all clueless celebrities! (i)Pads and pencils at the ready: it's time to take notes on some of the major faux pas and "Twhoops!" moments in celebrity tweeting to come up with a "do"s and "don't”s list for today's celebritwitty population:
#1: The First Lesson Learned from Ashton Kutcher – Stay Well-Informed
Ashton wields so much online influence on sites like Twitter that the LAPD once asked him to tweet about an upcoming closure of the freeway so that L.A. residents would have fair warning. Today, he is lying low, his days of freely posting to his Twitter account a painful repressed memory, as he tries to escape the furious reactions of thousands of Twitter followers to his uninformed post protesting the firing of Penn State coach Joe Paterno. To prevent mishaps like these (especially when your tweets reach over eight million people, as Ashton’s do), it would be highly advisable to gather the facts and think before you tweet.
#2: The Second Lesson Learned from Ashton – Don't Delete the Tweet
Realizing his error, Ashton deleted the offending post but by then it was already too late. In fact, it was the worst thing he could have done, according to TheNextWeb’s West Coast Editor Drew Olanoff in an interview for The Hollywood Reporter. "He misspoke, OK, fine, he's human. The social media mistake was that he deleted the tweet -- then he did apologize, which is great -- then, he erratically wrote that he’s not going to tweet for a while until he had a solution.” What have we learned from Ashton’s gaffe? Don’t shy away from your mistake! Hiding from angry Twitter followers by sweeping the evidence under the rug is not only going to fail epically since the damage has already been done, but also not going to solve any problems. Besides, getting rid of the tweet makes you look like a bit of a coward.
#3: The Final Lesson Learned from Ashton – Own Up When You Screw Up
As Olanoff mentioned, if Ashton did do one thing right in this whole mess, it was to apologize for his insensitive comment in his next tweet. Simply deleting the post and evading public scrutiny entirely without any recognition of his wrongdoing would have been even more condemning for Ashton. He showed that he at least cared about his mistake, which allowed for a slightly more graceful retreat from Twitter than if he had just up and left.
#4: The Lesson Learned from Kanye West – Imma Do Me
Huh? Kanye, really? Yes, my doubting readers, Kanye has something of value to teach us as well. This lesson might be better entitled "Kanye West vs. The World." Kanye is one of those rare examples where outlandish, rude Twitter posts (not to mention similar behavioral tendencies in his day-to-day life) work to his advantage. For example, after a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer left Kanye feeling ambushed, the infamous rapper cancelled an upcoming performance and took refuge in Twitter, accusing the show of being a "set up." He's also tweeted that superstars like Lily Allen or Britney Spears are, in fact, "gold diggers." Except for his one really badly received blunder at the 2009 VMA's when he simultaneously offended Taylor Swift and most of the planet, Kanye has remained a highly successful rap artist. He recovered from that mistake by apologizing to the wronged party, but unlike most celebrities, Kanye is usually accepted by both his fans and his haters as a ridiculous persona from whom such behavior is accepted, even if it is not acceptable.
However, if you're not Kanye West, you should probably play it a bit safer on the social networking site. Twitter has the potential for promotion and happy fan-celebrity interactions, but careless tweets can also cause a great deal of damage. While Ashton’s story cautions us, Kanye reminds us that it is okay to be ourselves online. Whether you are an infamous celebrity or just another average Joe trying to make your way through cyberspace, maintaining your voice as a Twitter or other social networking site user is key for a successful experience. Cross as many lines as you like (it’s clearly working for Kanye) but make sure you do so consciously and responsibly.