About a year ago I remember saying to myself, “Damn. This Twitter thing has really hit critical mass. Who knew?” I was right… and horribly wrong simultaneously. The popularity of the strangle little mini-blogging/instant messenger mash-up that first reared its head in 2006 has continued to grow leaps and bounds in only the last 12 months. Dramatically. Amazingly. Ridiculously. Frighteningly. It’s a true monument and testament to the continuing evolution and power of both social media and the internet. And the un-ashamedness with which hundreds of thousands of employees screw the pooch while they’re being paid to do other things.
I tweet about 3-4 times a day and I like to keep it a nice mix of business-related and plain old silly fun. If you follow me you already know you may learn about Dumpling Butts and corporate mergers in the very same breath. You’ve been warned. I do find it useful and I do enjoy it, and one of my guilty pleasures is having a celebrity-only column on my customized TweetDeck dashboard – because everyone who’s anyone seems to be contributing to the dense tweet smog we have to sift through every day. And who doesn’t want to know what they’re favorite porn stars are doing in real-time. Let’s be honest.
Directors like Jon Favreau are tweeting about the movies they are working on and even sharing exclusive set photos and other production details (In his case from Iron Man 2.) First-time sitcom stars like Joel McHale are single-handedly improving the likelihood that their new shows will score high enough in the Nielsen’s to be picked up for a second season (in his case, NBC’s Community). And R&B/Rap musicians practically paved the way for celebrity contributions to the network. MC Hammer of all people does a great job marketing his new music and reality show via tweets – when he isn’t praising God for something or other. People who think Twittering can’t be linked to tangible revenue and brand recognition are simply wrong. The challenge is making it appropriate and relevant for your own business – but that’s a separate post.
Movie studios and their many executives, sports teams and TV shows, however, are not particularly comfortable or excited about this new level of transparency. Versions of contracts prohibiting stars from giving away too much too soon, or sharing information the higher-ups just don’t want to disclose, are becoming commonplace. The Hollywood Reporter shared some examples earlier this week:
A recent talent contract from Disney includes a new clause forbidding confidentiality breaches via “interactive media such as Facebook, Twitter, or any other interactive social network or personal blog.”
Dreamworks writers, while we’re driving down this road, now have to sign contracts that specifically state they will not leak any plot or script-related information via “a social networking site, blog or other Internet-type site.” If you haven’t been paying attention these new clauses may seem like paranoid overkill – but there have actually been more than a few instances over just the last couple of months that have left a few studios and teams looking very stupid as a result of loose-cannon celebrity twitter posts:
- Paula Abdul used her Twitter account to announce she would not be returning to American Idol. 12,000 13-year-old girls had the news prior to Simon Cowell. Who was probably out trying on tight t-shirts.
- Last week John McCain’s daughter Meghan posted a photo of her funbags on TweetPic that could not have been a delight for the Senator to discuss with his Arizona constituents.
- Fox was understandably horrified when the executive producer of their hit show, Bones, let loose a tweet which declared “First time in ‘Bones’ history we are shut down from production. Damn swine flu!”
- After Donte Stallworth discussed his DUI arrest and subsequent incarceration via Twitter, the NFL banned tweeting at functions and before, during and immediately after games. Full stop.
…and the list goes on. And it will get worse. And I can’t blame Hollywood one iota. Or Ray Liotta. Please share some of your own favorite celebs to follow on Twitter in the comments.