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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Is celebrity online presence reflective of their celebrity status?

Forbes has recently released its 2012 list of top 100 The World's Most Powerful Celebrities with Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, and Justin Bieber taking first, second and third place, respectively.

Forbes bases its annual ranking of the most powerful celebrities on their earnings, TV/radio, press, web, and social media presence. However, when you have a closer look at some of the main criteria - earnings, web ranking, and the overall place on the list - they demonstrate significant discrepancies. For example, Jennifer Lopez who's No.1 on the list, earned $52m last year (poor girl!) and took 13th place in the web ranking. Oprah, the No.2 on the list, was the highest earner with $165m and 19th place in web ranking. The first place in web ranking belongs to Johnny Depp, 56th on the list overall. Having investigated the web ranking a little, it appears that it is based on the number of celebrity mentions online. Hence, the more a particular celebrity is mentioned on the web, the greater their online exposure. Forbes, for example, measures celebrity online exposure using Google blogs and never even looks at the fact whether a celebrity has an official website or not. Johnny Depp doesn't. 

What is particularly interesting for moi! in all this, therefore, is how the celebrity status translates onto their online presence. And by that I mean the online presence that is managed, controlled or contracted to external parties by the celebrity. That will include celebrity's official website, social media presence, e-commerce, and any other online activity used by celebrities whether it is to connect with their fans, to channel their image, to promote their brands or to communicate any messages that are important to them. Does the celebrity's online presence match their status? And, how does it relate to their web ranking on Forbes' list?

For that purpose let's have a look at the way celebrities, in this case chosen by moi!, manage their online presence and see if we can answer the above questions.



Lady Gaga



Ladygaga.com

Social Media integration


+Lady Gaga takes social media integration into the next level. Gaga's online power is mainly, and rightly so, known for her social media empire with almost 54m Facebook fans, 32m Twitter followers. As the first artist ever (first that I know of anyways) she has established her own social media network LittleMonsters.com. This allows her to create a niche community independently from other platforms, which connects her fans with each other in the way Facebook or Twitter could never do. You can read a great article about Little Monsters in 'What Can Marketers Learn From 'Mother Monster'' on Smart Insights website.

But what's really unique about Gaga is the way she engages with her fans online and the way her fans can engage with her. Every aspect of Gaga's image, activity, music, or business is available in some way or another for her fans to connect with online. For example, each upcoming concert listed on her 'Events' page has a link to the corresponding Facebook event. Every part of ladygaga.com is filled up with ways to share, like or join social communities. Gaga's Tweets and followers' comments take the main stage on her website's home page so that you can be immediately involved in the conversation! Through Lady Gaga's Skype Application on Facebook, you can become a Monster Ball Reporter, win a Skype chat with Lady Gaga, or feature in the Skype video booth. The list is huge.

E-commerce excellence


All roads lead to BUY! Every scenario of user experience is carefully planned out to lure you into somewhere you will eventually purchase stuff. Entering Lady Gaga's site, you are just a click of a button away from 'Lady Gaga Official Merch' (noun: merch - a slang for merchandising), tickets for her concert, as well as her perfume 'Fame' and Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson photo album, both, of which have designated websites. In addition, the store is fully integrated into her Facebook page where you can complete the purchase of Gaga's merchandise without leaving the social network.

Lady Gaga  store on Facebook page

On the UK site ladygaga.co.uk you are immediately presented with the pop up of her latest Born This Way collection available to buy from Amazon, Play.com, and HMV. And you will see the pop up every time you navigate to Home Page whilst on the website. You could almost argue it's an aggressive strategy. But hey! Who cares? I don't!

Ladygaga.co.uk

Gaga takes ownership of her online presence like no other artist. She provides you with Gaga content online covering every aspect of her brand, answering any question you might have, regardless whether you visit her Facebook page, her website, or LittleMonsters social network. She owns the big slice of Gaga's online pie and is cashing in on her online presence to which she has given the same level of attention and importance as to any other media. While other pop stars advertise L'oreal beauty products, Gaga features in the advertisement of Google Chrome. I think it says it all.

Jennifer Lopez




Jenniferlopezonline.com

Ok, so being No.1 on the Forbes' list brings my expectations up a little. However, as I learn more and more about +Jennifer Lopez online channels, I can't help the feeling that not much attention is paid, either by Jennifer Lopez herself or her management team.

Firstly, why two websites? We have jenniferlopezonline.com (above) and jenniferlopez.com, and it seems they're both US sites serving similar purpose. On both websites you can view photos, videos, follow Jennifer Lopez on social media, find out about news and events, and buy albums. Either the objectives of each one of the websites, if different, are not clear enough or there are no objectives at all. 

Social Media integration 


At first glance, social media takes centre stage of Jennifer Lopez online presence with Facebook and Twitter feeds and icons displayed on home pages of both websites. The Facebook page is updated regularly and fan engagement boosted by attractive competitions. But that's as far as it goes. And, compared to the depth of Gaga's social media tactics it seems that the aim of whoever manages Jennifer Lopez online presence was to tick the main boxes and leave it at that: (1) have a page on every major social media platforms - tick; (2) include the social media feeds and icons on websites - tick. 

E-commerce


Ok, first. Did you know that Jennifer Lopez released clothing lines, perfume and cosmetics lines and possibly other JLO branded merchandise? You couldn't find out about it from any of Jennifer Lopez websites or her social media channels, where their promotion is very limited to none! Yes, you can purchase Jennifer Lopez albums or songs by clicking on the link that will direct you to iTunes. However, if, for example, you wanted to purchase a T-shirt from her latest Teeology Tees collection you wouldn't know where to go. All you get is a photo with no 'Where to buy' section or a link to any buy options.

Teeology  collection

Don't believe me? Read one of the comments where Christine from Germany is asking for help in finding out where she can purchase JLO's clothing online.

Another opportunity missed is no mention of JLO's cosmetics. I found the jenniferlopezbeauty.com which is a website owned by COTY Inc. and none of the JLO's official channels is linking to it. Not only there is no Store on any of the Jennifer Lopez websites nor there is information where to buy.Wait, I lied. There is a store on jenniferlopezonline.com but it doesn't work. When you click on it, you get to the home page not the store.

As Jennifer Lopez has an opinion of being very business oriented,  it puzzles moi! why the world of online channels that is there at her fingertips is simply not utilized to her own benefit as much as it could be. And by benefits, I mean money! Assuming that the store is available but simply not functioning for some reason, there are still tactics that could be implemented, i.e. including links on product pages to shopping sites, but also including the information about the products in the first place? If I was to give any advice to Jennifer (assuming she would give a **** about what I've got to say) it would be to prioritise an integrated promotion of JLO's merchandise through re-focusing all of her online channels.

Ellen DeGeneres



Ellentv.com

Right, I am going to try to contain my love for Ellen and be as objective as I can! However if this part of the article does seem like a 'song of praise', that's because Ellen DeGeneres show is a masterpiece! I am not going to brag about the same aspects as above, just believe me, it's all done well... very well. The only small negative I found is no presence on Google+.

But what is really unique about Ellen is how she embraces and uses online technology and makes it a part of her show. Some of her permanent show spots are the 'Clumsy Thumbsy', showing funny iPhone autocorrect messages, or 'Ellen is in your Facebook', showing funny Facebook posts. She also encourages her fans to engage with her on Facebook before the show so that their photos and their stories are shown during the broadcast. Below is a little taste that should also put you in a good mood.


My own celebrity ranking



So having analyzed some of my favourite celebs online presence, I feel I have sufficient grounds to propose my own 'home made' celebrity ranking. For that I've added Kim Kardashian and Beyonce to spark a little competition and make this race more exciting. He he!

So how are Kim and Beyonce doing?


Kim Kardashian does not have an official website, merely a blog on celebuzz.com. There are no signs of website for the famous DASH store of the Kardashian sisters,or for any of the range of cosmetics released by Kim. No e-commerce by Kim whatsoever. Kim has a substantial Facebook and Twitter fan base, however without the websites there is no room for real integration of social media. Beyonce has recently published a new Tumblr website Beyonce.com along with the previously established Beyonceonline.com. Social Media presence is substantial, however the e-commerce is not very well managed. I could not enter the clothing line's website houseofdereon.com and the Dereon Facebook page is poorly managed with very few updates and not much information provided.

Here is the result of my analysis. A very basic chart with simple scoring system based on criteria such as website, social media, and e-commerce. These are rated on the scale from 0 to 10:

Website: (0 no website; 1-3 basic website; 4-5 more than one websites; 6-7 clear objectives; 8-10 excellent!) Social media: (0 no presence; 1-3 basic presence; 4-5 integrated into website; 6-7 clear objectives; 8-10 excellent!) E-commerce: (0 no sales online; 1-3 sale via third party; 4-5 website store; 6-7 sale on social media; 8-10 excellent!)

In conclusion


The above criteria, although basic, outline few valid conclusions particularly regarding e-commerce. E-commerce should play a vital role for any celebrity who's business might be localised (i.e. based only in the US) but who's fame is global. Let's be honest celebrities are there for money, it's their career, it's their job. The way a celebrity realises and embraces the current trends of online media and technology, showcases how business oriented they are and professional in managing their own image which extends to online media, like for any other business entity. So I guess if I were to answer the question whether the status of a celebrity's online presence reflects the celebrity status, I'd say yes it does. Sorry Kim.

And last piece of advice. If you do have a website, have a purpose of it in mind. Otherwise you're gonna end up like Nicole Kidman - with the website about absolutely nothing! Here, you'll know what I mean.