Social Media Controlled By The Magic Of The One-Way Follow?
To follow or not to follow - that is the question? Whether tis nobler in the mind to tweet or not to tweet is an ongoing debate that seems to have built a double-standard in the social media space.
Social Media has only been around for the last seven years or so, and during that time we have learned a lot about communication and user-generated content. We've been told the brands that succeed in social media are those that form a strong bond of two-way interaction with their customers. Those that fall short often receive harsh criticism and public disdain (most notably "United Breaks Guitars").
The double-standard lies with celebrity brands. They appear to live outside the boundaries of what is acceptable by us lower life forms when it comes to tweeting and communicating on any of the social networks.
According to a TechCrunch report, Lady Gaga can generate 390,000 visits to a photo on TwitPic with one tweet, while the Jonas Brothers can attract 2 million views to a stream on Ustream and Internet superstars like iJustine has more than 90,00 followers on a new social networking start-up called Daily Booth.
What's more surprising is as few as 5,000 large influencers can bring and retain millions of users with them - with numbers like Britney Spears' 5.5 million on Twitter and Megan Fox's 11 million fans on Facebook.
Very few of any of these celebs ever communicate directly to their fans in response to any questions they may receive via social networks. The narcissistic milieu of this rarefied space is all about idolatry-building. As much as social media was supposed to be on built on the premise of "pull" versus "push" advertising - where the user was to be in control - this paradigm doesn't apply to celebrity status.
Some celebrities have even gone as far as to make a living off their one-way communication. Advertising Age reported that Kim Kardashian is a “publisher” with the in-stream advertising company Ad.ly. The co-founder of Ad.ly, Derek Rey, told PRNewser that Kardashian can command $10,000 per tweet.
The power of celebrity is so formidable that a guest author's post on TechCrunch even recommended that Google seek out celebrities. With all the rumors regarding Google aggressively trying to launch a social network (after a number of failures), the author believes that Google could get a leg up in competing with Facebook by soliciting celebs to join them.
The report suggests that before launching a new social network, Google could actively enlist approximately 1,000 of the top online celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber and virtually "buy" them. Apparently Google has $30 billion in hard cash they can play around with. With these resources, Google could, "make it really attractive, fun and easy to use for these users and enable a personal publishing platform for them."
While the report notes this is great means to "kickstart Google's social network," this strategy once again goes beyond any of the inherent value that has sustained social media from the start. Buying celebrities to attract users is just another form of traditional advertising that doesn't offer users anything new or different from what they can find on TV entertainment programs such as "Access Hollywood." If we've come this far, to only take steps backwards, what value does social media provide us going forward? Or is this the beginning of the end - and is the new "shiny" thing of this decade starting lose its sheen? Your thoughts?