From posting personal pictures to chatting with their film colleagues, Bollywood celebrities these days are increasingly gung-ho about Social Networking. From Amitabh Bachchan to Kamaal R Khan, almost every Bollywood star is increasingly using social media to ‘connect’ with their fans across the globe. But that’s just one way of viewing this phenomenon. From a business and marketing angle, concealed behind these trends of ‘networking’ and ‘interaction’ is the strategy of enhancing one’s Personal Brand by making use of tools that can spread information like wildfire. In essence, each of these Bollywood stars tends to gain a lot of personal attention, through the power that lies within social media platform.
Apart from promoting their films via channels like Facebook and Twitter, these Bollywood stars also create space for enhancing their individual Brands. A classic example of this case would be actor Priyanka Chopra, who is almost 2 years old on Twitter – @priyankachopra. She is one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities with more than 1.6 million followers. The credit of reaching over one million followers goes to Priyanka’s superstardom of course, but a part of it also belongs to her expert team, managed by Vitcom Consulting, a communication consultancy firm that handles Priyanka’s online presence.
The company is responsible for creating new platforms of interaction and engagement for Priyanka’s fans from across the world. While Priyanka personally manages her Twitter account, there is another twitter account @TeamPriyanka, which is managed by Vitcom team to provide timely updates on this Bollywood diva. Besides this, the team has also created and manages an official Priyanka Chopra Facebook page and her website . Unlike most celebrities, Priyanka has taken advantage of professional help to build a strong online presence. If the goal was just plain interaction with her fans, the need for a professional management team might not have been as strong. But by taking this step, Priyanka has successfully managed to create a strong Personal Brand that gets talked about not just in newspapers or TV, but in online world too.
We now move on from commercially successful star to a less commercially viable celebrity like Gul Panag. Gul may arguably be one of the most tech savvy Indian women. She is an actor,social activist and an automobile enthusiast (see her twitter bio, for more at @GulPanag) and has managed to create a successful Personal Brand on Social Media with her prolific blogging and tweeting. In 2009, she became the first Bollywood star to be the ‘Twitter Face’ for the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WLIFF). During this process, she was responsible for posting live event updates in the form of tweets. By building this strong online presence, the actor has also managed to create a lot of awareness for her social work projects like www.soap.in and www.gul4change.com. From openly endorsing or bashing products to replying to every single tweet she gets, the actor has created quite an impression regardless of what ‘star’ status she holds.
Perhaps, the most sought out example of ‘how to increase the value of your Personal Brand’ is marketing genius Aamir Khan. One may wonder whether a well-established star like him really needs a social online medium to promote himself. In 2007, Aamir became that rare Bollywood celebrity who chose the medium of Blogging to interact with his fans, globally. His regular blogging spree became a huge hit, as people got to interact with the star on a personal level. Soon, he ventured on to the medium of social networking and this was started mainly to promote the film’3 Idiots’ which released in December 2008. During this process, the actor went on to do a ‘live chat’ with his fans from around the world. Furthermore, the actor had strict instructions for his ‘3 Idiots’ marketing team (handles by Spice PR) that he wanted the campaign to spread across every region, small town and city. With the help of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogging, a successful viral marketing campaign was created. From a broader perspective, the aim here was to promote the film, but because of the immense star persona that Aamir exudes, his brand image also got a lot of positive influence. After all, in today’s times, Bollywood celebrities and Brands have forged a close relationship and everything they endorse or do has an impact on the minds of an Indian consumer.
A big branding truism is that a positive personal brand image would influence marketers and advertisers to rope in that celebrity to endorse products. In the recent times actors like Shah Rukh – @iamsrk have relied upon the powerful scope of Social Media for not only promoting their film projects and for enhancing their Personal Brands. On the other hand, we have Salman Khan, who uses a platform like Twitter to share his thoughts and views rather than for just posting pictures or links of his movies as a part of a promotional stint. One glance at the actor’s twitter account @BeingSalmanKhan and you’d know what I am taking about. He tweets like an ordinary person, promotes his counterparts more than himself and believes in ‘word of mouth publicity’. In branding world, all this helps in structuring a positive image amongst his followers and fans.
How one uses Social Media is highly individual and immune from judgements about its usage. However, studying how these celebrities use the Social media certainly can provide insights to budding social media enthusiasts as well as social media experts about how Social media’s increasing influence and power.