5 lessons your business can learn from celebrities on Twitter

Read the original post published on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog on April 12, 2011.

Have a Twitter account for your business? Watch out – a recent study by ExactTarget-CoTweetidentified many reasons why people will stop following your business on Twitter: your messages are repetitive and boring, you are inundating your Twitter stream with blatant marketing pitches, or you are tweeting too frequently, to cite a few factors. But never fear – I have good news for marketers who want to do a better job engaging people and incorporating Twitter into your marketing outreach. You have free access to a seasoned pool of experts for advice, mentoring and education: celebrities.

Celebrities? Really? Yes, really.

While some celebrities earn headlines for behaving badly on Twitter, many others use Twitter intelligently to build their personal brands and to perform acts of altruism. I am not talking about celebrities who simply shout about their latest movie or concert tour; I mean the Alyssa Milanos of the world who use Twitter to build a global community and give you a glimpse into their lives, thus making their brands more transparent and accessible.

Businesses, as well as individuals, need to look to the right celebrity tweeters to build their knowledge and shape their marketing mix. Here are some lessons from the most active celebrity tweeps:

1. Be the First

Celebrity example: Ashton Kutcher claims to be the person who brought Twitter to the general public in early 2009. His was one of the first Twitter accounts to be mentioned in mainstream news when he took on CNN in a challenge to see who could get to 1 million followers first. He knew the value Twitter could provide, and he used it to break Twitter away from the online geeks and into millions of households around the world.


Business application: While your company may not be the first company to adopt Twitter, there are still plenty of firsts you can own on your corporate account. Be the first to award a follower the chance to follow your CEO in real life for a day. Be the first to document each step of the web design process via photos uploaded to Twitter. Do something unique, and it’ll get everyone talking.

2. Tweet for Yourself

Celebrity example: It’s true that some celebrities and their publicists use Twitter as a dedicated way to promote their upcoming appearances. However, there are plenty more who tweet for themselves and, in doing so, share unique glimpses of their personalities with their followers.

Shaq is one of the most authentic tweeps out there. Shaq likes to tweet about what he’s up to, where he is appearing and even promotes some of his friends as well. He also tweets in a unique shorthand that is not only humorous to read, but also proves that he is the one tweeting each and every time.


Business application: If it’s not you behind the voice of your business, who is it? Is it someone you trust? Someone who gets the message out appropriately, and who is deeply involved in your messaging and corporate structure? If not, you need to rethink this practice.

It is a great idea for those deep inside your business to hold the reigns of your Twitter account so the messaging is always on brand. And if you need to outsource your tweets to a third party, make sure you go with someone you can trust. Find a digital marketing agency who knows social media, and who can dive deep into your business. Make sure your team and your agency work closely together to understand your business and develop a social voice that reflects your brand. Keep your Twitter messaging authentic, and your followers will respond.

3. Focus on the Message, Not Sales

Celebrity example: In the late night talk show race, Jimmy Fallon tends to receive quite a bit of praise from both show biz execs and viewers alike. Jimmy, ever the trendy, hip dude, turns to Twitter as a way to share his thoughts and connect with his viewers, while also smartly promoting his show. Jimmy shares punch lines from his opening monologues via his Twitter account, and tags them with “#FallonMono”.

He also incorporates follower tweets into his shows by requesting they play the “hashtag game” and send him tweets containing a specific hashtag, which he may read on the air. All of this is mixed with his humorous tweets about New York, music, TV shows, sports and anything else that strikes his fancy. In its entirety, Jimmy Fallon’s Twitter stream exudes his personality, his character and his profession in a quality way that keeps followers interested and viewers engaged with his show.


Business application: Just as you don’t want to talk about your business in the impersonal third person, you don’t want to overdo it with the promotional speak. Things like “Buy, Buy Buy!” aren’t going to cut it on Twitter, but offering something of value to your followers is. You can announce special deals via Twitter or share your plans for upcoming events, like Whole Foods does. You could also share news that people can’t find anywhere else.

If you offer something of value to your followers, your followers are more likely going to stick by you and buy from you. Make sure you focus on the messages you want to send out, and what benefit it provides in the long term.

4. Have an Integrated Marketing Mix

Celebrity example: While most people I know wouldn’t call Charlie Sheen a role model, there is something to be learned from his recent social media success. Sheen, who had been all over the news in February of 2011 for his wild antics and manic behavior, joined Twitter on March 1st.

In 25 hours and 17 minutes, Sheen earned the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers”. Because the world had been following his bizarre actions on television, radio and in print, they quickly tuned into his Twitter account to see what else he had to say. Since then, his tweets have been exemplifying his *ahem* interesting behavior, but he has taught us a couple things: Be consistent, and have exposure across all media for increased Twitter success.


Business application: Employing an integrated marketing mix will have a great impact on your brand. Using the same campaigns in your PR strategy, advertising language, social media messaging and website content creates a familiar feel with your customers that builds brand awareness and increases the success of your brand.

And you can receive as many followers as Charlie Sheen in a short amount of time. The main difference, though, to prove the ongoing success of your business, is to use this new-found Twitter fame correctly.

5. Be Passionate

Celebrity example: Not all celebrities are focused on partying and making money hand over fist. Some have a real passion for life and all the goodness that can come with it. Alyssa Milano, actress and activist, uses her Super Twitter Powers for good rather than evil. She tweets multiple times a day about her personal life, her upcoming movies, interesting news articles she’s read, world events and opportunities for charitable donations.


Her feed is never redundant, and she graciously accepts the praise she receives for being a celebrity Twitter guru. Alyssa is passionate about her life, her followers, and the benefits Twitter can provide, stating “[Twitter is] the closest thing that we truly have to a global community. There are no boundaries. We are all the same on Twitter.”

Business application: If your business is passionate about something, whether it is a charitable foundation or a major sports team, speak up! Show that you’re a real person with real beliefs behind that corporate name, and make some noise. Use Twitter to connect with those who have similar interests, shed light on major events, and communicate with others. This passion will show in your tweets, and will help build your brand’s reputation online.

The biggest thing to remember is the “Golden Rule” of Twitter: Tweet unto others as you’d have them tweet unto you. If you don’t want advertising messages shouted in your face, and meaningless drivel showing up in your Twitter feed, chances are you customers don’t want it either.

It’ll be interesting to see where Twitter moves next, but at least one thing is for certain: Celebrities and businesses alike will always look for a way to connect with those that can improve their brands. Twitter is an excellent way to do just that, and businesses can look to successful social media celebrities for answers to improving their reach and their message’s effectiveness.

What other celebrities are showcasing outstanding Twitter qualities? Give our readers some great tweeps to follow by posting them in the comments below!

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