Tweet Like You’re Famous
How to hashtag your way into the hearts of millions
Is it just me, or do you sometimes plan ahead for life when you’re famous? I don’t know if it’s my enormous ego or because my friends are convinced of it, but I do consider celebrity status to be a definite possibility.
As such, I frequently wonder how I would conduct myself in the spotlight — particularly on social media, where everything is permanent. Being famous in this day and age means someone will inevitably dig up an ugly middle school photo or an angst-ridden post from that failed blog I’ve been trying to forget about.
The crazy part though, is that this is also true of being any person in the 21st century. Anonymity is extinct and our lives will forever be searchable. And whether we like it or not, we are all struggling to adapt to this new reality. So how do we take control of our online image?
The answer is a bit counter-intuitive. You would think the best approach would be to tighten up our privacy settings in an attempt to protect ourselves from the public eye. But even then, our lives are far more exposed than they ever were before. How do celebrities handle it?
Well, from my observation of celebrities on social media, it’s actually better to take a more open-handed approach. If we think about it, what we love best about following celebrity lives is getting to see their imperfections. Beneath all the glitz and glamor of the red carpet, we find familiar human beings who have fought and stumbled their way into fame. And it’s that down-to-earth quality that we really crave. That’s why the Internet’s obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence gifs and why Ellen’s endearing Oscar selfie literally broke Twitter. In the end, what we want is authenticity.
While social media is too often a place for posers, it can also be a powerful tool for expressing yourself honestly. We may no longer have the benefit of total anonymity, but what we do have is an opportunity to share ourselves and our stories in a way no other generation could.
The best celebrities on social media have embraced this idea and are loved for it. What would happen if we followed their lead?
10 Ways to Tweet Like You’re Famous
If you haven’t figured it out already, humor is the currency of the Internet. Harness it. Everyone loves a person who can see the humor in life — or better yet, knows how to laugh at themselves. I can find no better example than Patrick Stewart’s profile pic on Twitter.
2. Tell stories.
Everybody loves a good story. As human beings, we are wired for story. There’s a reason we love movies so much! So tell a story, whether it’s true or just something you made up. I’ve noticed that Instagram is a particularly good platform for this. Here are two of my favorite examples.
Musician Owl City is known for posting hilarious anecdotes from his childhood, juxtaposed with random selfies or concert photos.
“One time in 5th grade I was at orientation for middle school and I was wearing huge floppy sandals and my best friend and I were walking down the stairs and I tripped and started falling and when I reached out to grab my friend’s arm I actually grabbed the bottom of his shorts and I ended up yanking his shorts down unintentionally with such force that he made this surprised screeching weasel noise that was so loud the entire school stopped and stared in awe at my friend standing there with no pants like an idiot and me bouncing down the stairs wearing floppy clown sandals and this my friends is why I have so much emotional baggage”
Warm Bodies author Isaac Marion is another great example, as he occasionally treats his followers to haunting vignettes like this one:
“Let’s have a corner just for reading. I know you like to be alone when you read, I know I’m distracting and make too much noise, but I’ll be quiet. I’ll just sit and read. You can pretend I’m not there if you want, but I won’t. I want you to be there. If I pretend anything, I’ll pretend you want me to be there too.”
3. Take a selfie.
As much as I don’t want to take social media advice from a creeper like James Franco, he does have an interesting point to make about the impact of the selfie. Here’s what he had to say in an article he submitted for publication in the New York Times:
In a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing. And, as our social lives become more electronic, we become more adept at interpreting social media. A texting conversation might fall short of communicating how you are feeling, but a selfie might make everything clear in an instant… I am actually turned off when I look at an account and don’t see any selfies, because I want to know whom I’m dealing with. In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”
Franco’s thoughts have stuck with me. He’s right to point out the level of vulnerability a selfie requires. In response, I recently took it as a personal challenge to post my first selfie. I realized it was important for me to present myself shamelessly to the world without hiding behind words. Because for better or worse, a selfie is honest.
In many ways, social media is a record of your brain. And in this information-rich era, you aren’t limited to just sharing your own content. You also have the role of curator: gathering and distributing the things that entertain you, inspire you and make you think. In turn, people start to look to you for compelling content.
One celebrity in creative circles has especially embraced this role: artist Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist. His Twitter feed constantly challenges my thinking on life and creativity.
5. Have a conversation.
It’s called social media for a reason. The worst mistake you can make is to treat social media like a one-way broadcast. Instead, be friendly. Take time to reach out to others and be responsive when they do the same.
I’ll mention Owl City again because he is a pro at this. Not only is his feed hilarious, he is playful in his frequent responses to fans. He regularly holds Twitter chats where fans can send him off-the-wall questions.
Another example I love is a recent Twitter conversation I had with screenwriter John August. One of his films is Big Fish, which he recently rewrote as a Broadway musical. My university is one of the first schools to produce the musical, so I tweeted him about it and this happened:
You can imagine my excitement. And you better believe I’ll be scouting the crowd for him.
6. Be kind to your fans.
This one is not hard to do. If someone says something nice, say thank you. I tweeted about a recent concert I went to and some band members favorited my tweet. It was such a simple thing, but it meant a lot to me that they read and appreciated what I had to say. It’s such an easy way to make someone’s day, so hand out those stars like candy!
Also, be welcoming. Invite your fans to create something with you. A great example is Star Trek celebrity and nerd culture ambassador Wil Wheaton. One of the many things he does with his fans is #photoshopwilwheaton.
7. Rant about things you care about.
There’s nothing I love more than a good Twitter rant. Social media is unique to our generation in that it offers everyone a platform to be heard. So speak up. You have the power of voice if you decide to use it.
A great example of this is Emma Watson’s involvement in the #HeForShe campaign on Twitter. But an even better example of a traditional Twitter rant is from young adult author Patrick Ness. His rants on the state of young adult fiction and many other causes are inspiring and true.
Nothing is more endearing than a celebrity fangirling over another celebrity. It’s so attractive to see someone celebrating another person’s accomplishments (and I’m not just saying that because Hugh Jackman is attractive). To me, it demonstrates humility and a purity of heart when you’re able to appreciate something amazing in another person without feeling threatened by their talent. That’s something I’m still learning.
Hugh Jackman is probably the best example of this. He is constantly celebrating his wife’s accomplishments and I’m pretty sure his favorite hashtag is #proudhusband. I love that attitude! Also, check out his admiration of X-men co-star James McAvoy.
Another great example is this post on Mark Ruffalo’s Tumblr.
9. Over-share, but only when it matters.
It is definitely possible to share too much on social media. We all have that one friend on Facebook who exposes way too much personal information and sensitive emotional content. But I do believe there are times when it’s worth it to be vulnerable.
My favorite example of this is Robert Downey, Jr. What I love about his approach is that he treats his Facebook page more like an actual profile. If you aren’t paying attention, he could pass as your fun, nerdy uncle. He even gives updates on his life, like this adorable announcement:
Um. I don’t know if it’s a “man’s world”, but I’m certain women run it.
Susan and I are therefore delighted to announce we are expecting a baby.
One thing to note about this example is that RDJ was the first source, without some celebrity journalist breaking the news through borderline invasion of privacy. Social media allowed him to be in full control of how and when this personal information was to be shared.
A more recent example is when RDJ posted to Facebook after his mother’s death. Usually, you would think that sharing something so personal online would be dangerous or inappropriate, but here’s what he said to preface:
As promotion for ‘The Judge’ kicks off this weekend, I feel the need to run the risk of over sharing…..My mom passed away early this week….I wanna say something about her life, and a generic “obit” won’t suffice…
Over-sharing can be risky, but there are times when it matters immensely. You can read the full tribute here.
10. Make social media your own.
This last one circles back to the original point: be authentic. Too often we let social media constrain us, but it’s actually a brand new platform that’s still evolving. So rather than giving it the power to overtake you, use it as a powerful extension of yourself. Wield it wisely, with creativity and grace.
I love seeing all the different ways people express themselves on social media. Take a look at how these celebrities have made it their own.
Jim Carrey’s Twitter feed is exactly as you would expect: off-the-wall humor with the online version of his absurd facial expressions.
Michael Caine sends out maybe two tweets a year, but they are priceless. It’s like getting a Christmas card from your great uncle Mike.
I could go on, but instead I’ll let you explore for yourself.
Now it’s your turn.
Whether you’re famous or not, it’s time to make your debut. While social media means that there’s no more hiding, I believe that’s a very good thing. Go show the world what you’re made of and I’ll see you at the Oscars.