By: Molly Arnay
When The Beatles landed at JFK airport in New York in 1964, nearly 3,000 fans were eagerly waiting to greet them. Two days later, when they made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, about 40% of the American population tuned in to watch.
What if social media had been around during Beatlemania? Would John Lennon be tweeting at the excited fans? Would Paul’s cheeky Twitter responses to fans show up on your Instagram popular page?
Social media has forever changed celebrities’ relationships with their fans. What used to feel like an untouchable figure is now accessible through a number of platforms, from a DM on Instagram to a retweet on Twitter.
This change has received criticism from some, the argument being that it disunites fans. If you could have watched the highlights of the Ed Sullivan performance on your smartphone at any given time, would as many people have tuned in to watch it live? Perhaps fans have less of an incentive to see their favorite artists in concert because they feel connected enough to them through social media.
However, social media seems to be an overwhelmingly positive PR tool. Statistically, concert revenue has never been better. Concert revenue in North America has gone from $1.1 billion in 1990 to roughly $8 billion in 2017. Social media has arguably played a huge role in this increase, as artists can now easily spread their music.
Social media has also helped celebrity- fan interactions become more personal. Now, fans can see and reach their favorite celebrities through a number of direct platforms. These direct interactions help celebrities grow their appeal and their following. It also takes away the elusiveness of a celebrity and let fans feel connected to stars by seeing them in a more real light.
Many stars have utilized social media in this way. Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Demi Lovato have all been known to tweet at their fans regularly. Chrissy Teigen is known for her candid and funny tweets. People have taken note of Ryan Reynolds’s sarcastic making- fun-of his wife, Blake Lively on Twitter.
All of these celebrities realize the power of social media that lets them appear more real and relatable to the public. As a celebrity, your social media presence has become your “brand.”
There are always going to be people who rail against the social media movement. People don’t like change, so this shift from newspapers and magazines to smartphones is unsettling for some. To that I would say, having a celebrity respond to your tweet makes you feel a lot more special than if you were to simply watch them on television.