Hashtagging for the Cure: Celebrities promote charity through Twitter
“Stars- They’re just like us!” This is what US Weekly, Star, People, and all the other tabloid magazines want us to believe. Now, celebrities are taking a stab at proving that they are in fact regular people who have the same everyday interactions as the general public through social networking sites, such as Twitter. There is an overwhelming response to these tweets by the celebrities’ fans, and by following a celebrity on Twitter, fans additionally have access to conversations between fellow celebrities on Twitter, allowing the average person to feel like they are involved in the lives of those they most admire.
The rapport that is built between celebrities and the public also allows for a successful promotion of causes deemed important by celebrities. One endeavor involves actor Nathan Fillion, who, following actress Alyssa Milano’s example, asked his followers to donate $1 to clean water projects in developing nations in lieu of a birthday present.
Also on a mission, Oprah suggests that everyone participate in her thank-you game on Facebook. The game encourages people to thank those around them and then press the “I said thank you” button, adding their comment to the total thank-yous recorded on Oprah’s Facebook page. Those who press the button are then encouraged to publicize their well wishes on Facebook or Twitter in an effort to spread gratitude all over the world.
The constant interaction on social media with the people we usually see on the screen provides the feeling of a personal connection when these celebrities refer to their followers as “friends” or “buddies.” This kind of intimate address is what inspires fans to become advocates. Nathan Fillion’s campaign goal of $50,000 has already been exceeded by $10,352 just from his wish of “no more than a dollar” per person. Because people feel that they have a relationship with the actor, they react to his request as they would to that of a friend, with acknowledgments like, “[I’m] donating because I should, but also because it’s my favorite actor’s birthday!” and “Happiest Belated Birthday wishes to my favorite person in the entire world.” Fillion’s followers spend time with his thoughts and exchanges on a daily basis and want nothing more than to follow through on his request on his special day. These people then proceed to retweet the actor and the tweet’s message expands beyond just his following.
Josh Duhamel, actor and husband to Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, goes so far as to promote a charity foundation in the bio section of his Twitter account. He also recently shared his story of animal adoption with The PetSmart Charities organization and is encouraging his followers to do the same in the fight to end animal homelessness.
The organization’s partnership with a celebrity – a common strategy – is taken to a new level with their additional Twitter support and endorsing. Not only do these celebrities constantly tweet about their causes, but they reward those who mention donating to these foundations and those who just promote them in general with a retweet or a response. For fans that have been waiting for the day that their favorite celebrity would finally acknowledge their existence, it is a dream come true. As other followers notice the celebrity’s response, an incentive forms for them to spread the message further themselves.
Twitter users who may not be fans of a particular celebrity are still made aware of these causes through their friends who follow the star, or even through celebrities they do follow, who are helping their friends promote a cause. After “Community” actress Allison Brie tweeted, “Good cause alert! Happy Birthday Nathan xoxo,” along with a retweet of Fillion’s original message, donations to the Charity Water organization were not limited to fans of Fillion and Milano, but included those of Brie, her show, and her co-stars as well.
The promotion of charitable organizations through Twitter, ultimately becomes mutually beneficial for both the celebrity and the cause they are advocating. While the celebrity earns a more humble reputation and is seen as more than just a distant god of the screen, their cause gains continuous recognition and support, which substantially contributes to their goal.
The recent number of Twitter interactions with our favorite celebrities has increased so dramatically, that it even surpassed the total of shows dedicated to the Kardashians on the E! Network. As a result, Twitter has become perfect outlet for the rich and famous to promote their various causes. The advocates and their followers work hand in hand to successfully benefit a plethora of organizations. So, the next time you’re stalking your favorite “Glee” character’s Twitter account, and you decide to retweet their message or respond, “Can’t wait to help!” remember that you are taking part in the advancement of goodwill along with the rest of the Twitterverse. Why, you’re practically a celebrity yourself.