September 29, 2010
In August 2001 Victoria Beckham went on stage with her lip pierced. The piercing became an overnight sensation, with hordes of young girls (so the papers said) rushing out to get the look.
When the piercing was revealed as a fake, certain echelons of the press branded Posh as a betrayer and hordes of young girls were left with ridiculous holes in their faces.
The question is, if Victoria Beckham had started the lip piercing rumour with a tweet, would it have had the same effect?
A recent scientific study by Northwestern University, Illinois, looked at celebrity influence on Twitter, using mathematical algorithms to measure whether the frequency of tweets and level of followers ultimately impacts the opinions of others.
According to The Daily Telegraph, tens of millions of tweets were sifted through on a daily basis, to decipher who the most influential tweeters were and their impact on trending topics.
The study found that the most influential tweeters were individuals that had low profiles, but high levels of expertise in their fields. In other words, when it comes to social media, wisdom triumphs over celebrity.
This does, however, pose a dilemma for social media marketers. Paying a celebrity to endorse a campaign no longer cuts the mustard – if hearts and minds are to be changed, a brand advocate with expertise needs to be employed.
However, as Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies recently pointed out, in a profession such as his, doctors have to swear by a Hippocratic Oath, forbidding them from using their medical knowledge for marketing or advertising purposes.
Even without the oath, professionals who have worked hard to build a reputation might not be keen to put it on the line for the sake of a brand.
Perhaps it’s time for brands to look a little closer to home for their social media advocates. Celebrities might turn heads, but it’s the hidden faces behind a company that will ultimately sway influence.