Chris Brown Leaves Twitter
This weekend’s Twitter furor involving Chris Brown and his misogynistic tirade towards a comedian who instigated an online slapping fight, has seen further petrol added to the fire which so, so many want to burn Brown on. As a result, the “foul-fingertipped” musician has deleted his account, leaving his fans attacking the comedian, Jenny Johnson, through the network. Many critics point to his tweets (not just from this weekend) as a clear representation of his character as a whole. Even if they are not a clear representation of the true person, then this is at least how many perceive him to be, or at least it gives substantial evidence for him to be viewed in this way. It just shows the power that Twitter and social media has in shaping identity. Reputation management by agencies like us, has become it’s own service, thanks to the proliferation of social media in the last decade, because now, people can talk about your business, publicly (the horror!).
This got me thinking about how careful one must be on Twitter today, whether an individual, public figure, or organisation. If you asked 20 people to give an example of “Twitter gone wrong” where a private tweet has been made public, an account has been hacked, or someone has simply tweeted something they shouldn’t have, I’m sure all respondents would give a different example they’ve heard about or seen (with many, many more out there). It’s understandable when you involve factors like consuming too much alcohol, getting caught up in a “flame war” from the safety of your bedroom, or simply not being able to navigate the tiny keys on your phone.
The Aftermath for Brown and Johnson
Brown, for the time-being, has lost a key promotional tool, having dropped off the light blue radar. He hasn’t been forgotten about by any means, as he is still being discussed both on Twitter and elsewhere online (in fact screencaps of his tweets to Johnson were saved and are floating around). Though he is currently on a big European tour, his name has a lot of mud attached to it due to his previous crimes against girlfriend Rihanna. Something like Twitter is incredibly important to preserve the bond a figure has with their audience, especially for Brown and those who still support him. This is probably because Twitter is so direct and personal. Perhaps we will see someone in his management team take the reigns of his account, should Brown return. It would seem incredibly odd in 2012, for a contemporary, popular musician to not be on Twitter.
But what if you’re public profile is limited at the moment? Jenny Johnson has exponentially increased her exposure from where it was, just a week ago. Out of all those comedians out there who has made a crack about Brown in the last three years, her 144-character tweet has made the loudest noise because it got a reply from her target. She’ll be known as the comedian who led to Brown’s Twitter-exile. While she has received an enormous backlash from Brown’s fans, Twitter has proven once more to be a platform for anyone trying to make a name for themselves in our celebrity-obsessed culture;. It will be interesting to see how many of these new followers she can keep, by either exploiting the situation and making it a key focal point of future tweets; or converting those new followers into fans by promoting her material and projects correctly via this platform (and naturally).
How To Use Twitter
The approach one takes to Twitter can be viewed as a choice of several “magical” mirrors into a person’s life; each with a different level of distortion of the public image they have already carved out for themselves, through their work. Below we look at these different approaches, weighing up the pros and cons:
The Straight-Forward Handles
There are those handles which are a tad boring. If you’re already a fan of this person, and have them liked on Facebook, subscribe to their newsletter etc., don’t expect to get anything juicy by following them. Tweets won’t stretch further than being a promotional tool, with little creativity in the language, so it feels a little static or robotic (very Stepford Wife-esque). They may not even tweet themselves, instead having a “Tweetmaster” tweeting on their behalf; perhaps their management, a publicist or a close friend they trust. The reason for this might be that the individual has little to no clue about social media or technology, and are simply on Twitter because they’ve been told that it’s essential today. Tweets will be strictly about upcoming or ongoing projects, like a new episode of their TV show airing that night, or an upcoming gig. If someone looks after the account for them, they’ll be upfront about it, referring to the figure in the third person. Charlie Sheen has recently revealed that he has a Tweetmaster, which is probably a good thing!
Handles That Go A Little Further
These individuals score higher for effort, embracing Twitter to promote themselves, but will go a little further to put their own personality into their activity. The account may still be managed to some extent, and perhaps verge on being a little too promotional at times, but this kind of Tweeter does try. They might conclude a tweet with a unique sign-off, to indicate it’s actually them tweeting on that occasion e.g. Hulk Hogan signs off with a ‘HH’. These are sometimes the best kind of Tweeter, as while they promote their projects they give you just enough insight or peek behind the curtain, so you feel valued as a follower.
These handles mean business. Perhaps to the point where you wonder how they possibly have time to do their job and live the lavish private life that goes with it. You might even get a little sick of seeing their tweets appear so often in your feed. One positive is that (depending on how popular they are of course) there is a slightly better chance they’ll reply to you, if you mention them. What’s also great about these more extensive handles, is that they often give you a completely new perspective of someone, if they’re synonymous with a certain character or image they portray. For example, Rainn Wilson, from The Office, is actually very philosophical which might strike you as odd when compared to his rigid and unsociable onscreen character. Joseph Gordon Levitt heavily promotes his side-projects, often more so than any of his film releases (his handle even takes the name of said project). Zach Braff is another tweeter who is very active on the social network, tweeting pretty much every day. For particularly engaging personalities who hold strong views or can articulate them in a funny or thought-provoking way, like Stephen Fry, these are terrific handles to follow.
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