I recently met Deepika Padukone when she invited me to watch the first international trailer of her upcoming Hollywood film XXX: Return of the Xander Cage. As I came out of the theatre after watching the trailer, the first thing that stood out was the fact that Deepika hadn’t put a twang to her dialect and was speaking in her regular accent.
This stood out because it has become a norm for our actors to put on an accent or suddenly change the way they speak when they visit the West or act in their projects. But the point of this column is not Deepika Padukone or her film, but the sequence of events that followed.
Being an active social media enthusiast I took to my Twitter account and wrote, “In a time where actors change accents to sell out to Western media it was refreshing 2 hear Deepika Padukone not put a twang to her dialect”. It was an opinion and a mere observation that anyone who watched Western film could have made. In a matter of minutes after posting the tweet my personal account was flooded with messages from Priyanka Chopra fans who accused me of taking a dig at their favourite actress, “how dare u even drag PC into this?” was the meekest reaction to the tweet. Little did I know that my tweet would cause a greater divide in an already polarised fan base between Deepika and Priyanka, which leads me to the question, “is social media a bane rather than a boon for some of our leading stars?” and how illiterate some of them are when it comes to managing their accounts.
As someone who leads the biggest entertainment portal in the business (BollywoodLife.com) I browse through celebrity social media accounts on a daily basis. What shocks me the most is the fact that how some of the A list stars have zero social media etiquettes or manners have very little awareness of what their followers want from them. Let’s break it down and look at some of the biggest stars and how well they own their digital domains:
Shah Rukh Khan
Twitter Followers: 21.6 million
SRK is a natural. He doesn’t need to put on an act and that’s the reason why his over 20 million army of followers is so loyal to him. The best interactions with Shah Rukh are not often film centric. There are times when he’s taken a dig at himself and even retweeted jokes and insults poked towards some of his work, other times he’s lost his temper when fans get into an abusive tirade against Salman or Aamir. SRK’s account is a dummies guide to anyone who doesn’t know what to do in this crazy social media universe.
Twitter Followers: 15.3 million
She has the most brutal fan following as I experienced after my tweet on Deepika. Priyanka’s fans are extremely possessive of their favourite actress and ensure that she wins every single digital poll or face-off with a rival actress. While PC engages her fans on a regular basis, it would be heartening to see her do it even when she doesn’t have any project coming up. Priyanka has a global fan following and her fan clubs range from places like Estonia to Malaysia to even cities in Iceland. This Desi girl has truly learnt the art of #winning.
Twitter Followers: 22.8 million
There’s only one Big B and his age and seniority hasn’t come in the way of his social media following. Having mastered the art of reinvention and jumping onto the digital bandwagon before anyone else could, Amitabh Bachchan leads the Bollywood pack when it comes to having the maximum number of followers. Why shouldn’t he? His fans cut across social divides and age groups and certainly nationalities. Mr Bachchan tweets while the world sleeps, slowly and steadily raking up more love and following in this new age media crowd.
Twitter Followers: 19.8 million
Salman Khan only follows 22 people. Yes, this random trivia should actually tell you what to expect from a Salman Khan tweet. His hardcore fans know that ‘bhai’ only tweets when he feels like and when he does you can tell. Some of his iconic tweets have been, ‘challllll’, ‘vashi ka toll on hai’ and ‘thought for today, aaj bhi kuch mat socho’. Salman’s random 3am musings on Twitter are more entertaining than some of his films! The reason Salman tweets is because he feels like and mind you unlike his contemporaries he spends more time promoting his friends films than his own.
These are some of the heavyweights on social media who matter. But what is the art of being social media friendly and how does one master it? Unfortunately for most of our actors their understanding of this space is limited to self promotional activities. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts who promote their films alright, but also showcase a bit of their personality and let their fans get a slice of the person behind that celebrity tag. As a Friday approaches and actors show their films to select few, the microblogging sites explode with reviews and sucky praises that have me make a run for that mute button. If actors had to be film critics then trust me every film would get a 5 star rating!
So here’s a list of do’s and don’ts that every actor should have pinned on their social media managers’ desk…
– “Hey how are you?” sounds better when you say it over the phone (that instrument which you used to type those words can also be used to make a call!). I never get the point of two actors planning to catch up over Twitter when they very well could do it over the phone. Best avoided unless you want to be seen as two out of work actors finding ways to kill time.
– Please do NOT RT (Retweet) every single praise sung for you. Yes you are a superstar, an actor, our job as mere mortals is to worship the land you walk on, but do not spam our timelines on your film release day with retweets from anything and anyone who knows how to frame a sentence.
– Once in a while get that head out of the sand and look around! See that crisis in the Middle East, or the flood situation in your own state? Say something about it and mean it! Use this privilege of million followers to make a difference. Anything, maybe collect one rupee for every single RT and raise as much money as you can to help a situation. Think beyond thy self!
– #ThrowbackThursday is fine when you have stopped being relevant. Do not use multiple hashtags and popular trends just cause the rest of the world is doing it. Create your own hashtag and then go own it!
As print slowly transforms into digital and words become blinks on our mobile screens, the power of social media is only going to increase. If actors don’t (even Lata Mangeshkar tweets thrice a week!) reinvent themselves and adapt to the changing times they will be left behind by those who are smarter.
Andy Warhol once said, “In the future anybody can be famous for 15 minutes”. The future is here and if you don’t get with it then your 15 minutes of fame might not last long!
(This article was first published on Super Cinema)
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