Priyanka Chopra is down with flu, Gul Panag is leaving on a trip to Masai Mara, Karan Johar is looking for a title for adaptation of “stepmom”, Dino Morea had a KFC burger this weekend, Pritish Nandy is in Delhi today and Preity Zinta is currently reading ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.
The social networking phenomenon has taken us by storm. Within less than a decade our world has come to be defined by tweets, status updates or scraps. Why should our celebs be left behind? Gone are the days when fans stalked celebs for just a glimpse or an autograph if they were extremely lucky. They still follow their idols but in a more acceptable and less creepy manner. The Indian celebrity brigade has joined micro blogging and that is what these networking sites are mostly about.
In my opinion, twitter is probably the most popular social networking sites for them celebs. It is easy to access, popular and precise. You don’t have to sweat to tweet, just 140 characters to express what it is that you feel. For journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai, twitter is another means with which they can engage with the viewer and share news breaks, while Priyanka Chopra and Sharukh Khan use it as a tool to promote their upcoming movies and to be in touch with their fans. Karan Johar uses it to receive feedback about his movies or a name that he intends to use for his next production. Recently Tiger Woods posted a video of his block party golf clinic, in which he gives advice on how to swing more effectively. Algore, the former vice president of the United States uses it as a platform to propagate new ideas and reforms in governmental as well as environmental policies of the state.
Even Facebook allows you to stay updated on policies and initiatives from French President Nicolas Sarkozy or receive campus updates from Stanford University. You can even root for Lance Armstrong as he trains for his next big race.
Politicians aren’t far behind as Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, perhaps inspired by Barack Obama’s success on Twitter, has been a regular micro-blogger. Infact he uses it to connect with the youthful, educated middleclass faction, a constituency that he naturally identifies with and those who use such mediums to stand up against a system they have lost faith in.
While Twitter may be the primary resource for many celebrities to blast out updates to their fans, celebrities are turning to Facebook to manage their actual relationships. Twitter-loving celebrities also appear to be turning to Facebook. With the privacy settings provided to users, celebrities also have the opportunity to post updates without worrying about the wall posts ending up in magazines.
Social networking sites are opening up new avenues for the celebs to voice their opinions on critical issues, exercise personal branding or simply express themselves. Gul panag, a regular tweeter says “I feel I am very opinionated and can express myself without any dilution in form on this site. Besides, the bonus being that on twitter one is able to connect with interesting people. Though it’s very difficult to evaluate twitter with respect to other networking sites but I enjoy micro blogging”
However, it isn’t always a welcome change. Technology, especially the internet has always been an eye sore for some. Due to the fact that people can now actually interact with these famous personalities, question them to encourage transparency and keep constant track of their activities, celebs have often landed themselves into trouble.
The hype around celebrities using such sites is inherent. Recently, Tharoor’s tweet on the government’s visa policies generated much fuss among his ministerial colleagues. Congress like most political parties thrives on being an exclusive club of the power elite, with minimal contact with the masses, while twitter is fundamentally based on the principle of having an open and constant conversation between a mix of anonymous and influential people and is designed to bridge social divides. Congress was very miffed by his apparent irresponsible behaviour, but he seemed to have resolved the issue with his sensible demeanour
To think about it, considering the influence which celebrities have on Indian consumers and twitter becoming twilmy, I’m wondering if the next trend will be celebrities endorsing brands on such sites or promoting services amongst their followers. After all when Gul updates all those lovely photographs from her iphone, tweets about booking her international tickets at Cleartrip or Sonam posts about spending her free time with Xbox, aren’t these indirectly working positively for these brands. It would be great if they promote products they actually utilize and put this medium to good use.