Shilltastic Doesn’t Work For Celebrities And It Won’t Work For You Either

In the Contest of Authentic to Shill Ratio, Witherspoon Dominates With Ease

Every time I visit a new Twitter profile, I take a moment to scroll down and get a feel for the feed. I don’t care if you’re the president-elect of the United States (realism intended), if I see five Tweets in a row for your new Apprentice season, there’s a high probability I’m not going to follow your feed.

Why? Many of these feeds are curated by thoughtful people, with interesting perspectives. When some kind of major event comes down the pipe, maybe I want Reese Witherspoon’s opinion (for the record, we do follow Reese Witherspoon) on the subject. So why do we follow Reese Witherspoon, but not Mark Wahlberg?

The following observations hold as much water as social media analysis can hold and are dated to the end of 2016:

  1. Reese Witherspoon’s Twitter profile has a broad variety of interesting content. A behind the scenes photo of Carrie Fisher watching her mother Debbie Reynolds perform with an interesting back story. It’s a retweet, but it is also good content.
  2. As I scroll down Witherspoon’s feed, I see more good content. An interesting perspective or take on life and current events.
  3. I visit Mark Wahlberg’s Twitter feed and he’s shilling for his new movie “Patriots Day” hard. There are 5 or more tweets about this movie in the past few days.
  4. But maybe it’s just a celebrity ‘my movie is coming out now’ phase for Wahlberg’s feed? Maybe he usually is posting interesting comments on his Twitter profile.
  5. Leaving out shilling, Wahlberg is not posting a lot of interesting content on his feed. His “Authentic to Shill” (Yes, I just made that up.) ratio is low, devaluing the experience of being his follower.

Therefore Flood will not be following Mark Wahlberg.

A good baseline statistic to determine the quality of a feed’s following is the ‘Likes to Follower’ ratio. Every tweet has this ratio. Let’s do a quick comparison of Mark Wahlberg (3.19M Followers) vs. Reese Witherspoon’s (1.68M Followers). They are a good pair particularly since Wahlberg looks much more relevant based on Followers alone, he has nearly double Witherspooon’s. But let’s look at a couple of Follower to Tweet Like ratios to see what is their fans are saying:

Here are two of Wahlberg’s many “Patriots Day” tweets:

With 519 Likes (at time of writing), the above tweet has a Likes to Follower (LTF) Ratio of .01627%

With 815 Likes, the above tweet has a LTF Ratio of .025549

For engagement contrast, here’s a more compelling Holiday Card post from Wahlberg:

With 2,299 Likes, the above tweet has a much better LTF Ratio of .072069, about 3x the shill tweets.

So that gives us a snapshot of how Wahlberg’s Followers are interacting with his feed. Let’s take a look at how Witherspoon’s approximately half as many Followers are interacting with her feed. Here’s an atypical, highly topical, heartfelt photo Witherspoon tweeted in tribute to the recent death of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds:

With 2,090 Likes, the above ‘cultural commentary’ tweet has a LTF Ratio of .124405%. That is nearly double the engagement Wahlberg got for his family’s personal Holiday Greeting. It also happens to be nearly 5x the LTF Ratio of the better of the two Wahlberg shilling tweets.

Here’s a simple text written, no image, Holiday Greeting from Witherspoon:

With 2,287 Likes, Witherspoon’s Holiday Greeting scores a LTF Ratio of .136131%, nearly double the Family Photo posted by Wahlberg.

These numbers are anecdotal because the full-time number cruncher at Flood has yet to be hired, but the anecdotal trend looks to be fairly consistent: Wahlberg’s tweets are consistently getting less engagement than Witherspoon’s. If I had my choice between having a Flood tweet retweeted on Wahlberg’s cluttered feed or Witherspoon’s curated feed, I’d choose Witherspoon’s more engaged, less media-fatigued audience every time.

To my mind, Wahlberg is a bigger star, and more current. But we are looking for positive exposure to people who are serious about their business, not general popularity. Appearing on Witherspoon’s feed would be viewed by her Followers as an authentic endorsement. If a Flood tweet were to appear on Wahlberg’s feed, as a Follower, I’d either ignore it or assume that his management company is filling out some kind of deal it has with Flood. While we would love to have exposure on either platform, an appearance on Wahlberg’s feed is a less than ideal endorsement for our brand. Appearing before half as many Followers who are more engaged and trusting of their celebrity would be preferred for our business.

Shilling on social media is the social media equivalent of paid advertising campaigns. If you have a social media audience to work with, for the love of all that makes sense, do not treat your audience like they are stuck in front of a television circa 1992, with no choice but to consume your advertisements. The whole point of social media is to escape the appearance of ‘paid’ and to be an authentic voice. Using a 3.18M Follower Twitter feed as a platform to deploy the 2016 equivalent of a 30 second paid TV advertisement negates the purpose of having a direct channel to your audience in the first place.

If I were Wahlberg, whose work I generally like, I’d hire an adviser to deal with this problem, which at the end of the day is a Public Relations problem for the celebrity: Leveraging one’s celebrity as an excuse to slack on communication and frame communication in a top-down way to your audience both looks lazy and feels uncomfortable. I generally like Wahlberg’s work, even if he does seem to suffer from a version of Cage Syndrome, working too much. (Not to be confused with Nicholas Cage Syndrome, an entirely different syndrome attributed to the same man.) However, without his celebrity, Wahlberg’s feed would look like the musings of the worst narcissist in town. The one who just wants everyone in the world to finally realize just how brilliant he is. (I understand this statement presupposes, probably incorrectly, that Wahlberg would have a similar feed without his celebrity, a chicken/egg problem we’ll leave here as bait for Comments.)

So what about that important comment he’s going to post on Twitter about that thing in the future you want to know about? How will you be ‘in the know’ about Mark Wahlberg’s thoughts on the latest big Boston thing? The short answer is that news organizations like Flood Content are out there scanning Twitter feeds for compelling feedback and content all the time. It’s like, our job. We’ll find the relevant tweet for you, and if you’re looking you’ll find the media piece featuring that tweet.

Social media amplification is so fine tuned and functionally self-propagating at this point, that you may find timely information about that Boston thing in a Trending Aggregate as rudimentary as the one to the right of your Facebook feed. From there you’ll get most of the relevant ‘direct from celebs and thinkers’ feedback on the topic at hand.

Sorry Marky Mark, I’m content to just let you pop up in whatever I’m reading or watching from time to time. People like me (who are not me in this case) are scanning for your comments when they are topical, they can follow you. My time is valuable. My feed is my time. And I am not ready to commit to your low Authentic to Shill Ratio.

What are your thoughts on Celebrity Culture, Twitter, Followers? What do you want to see in your Twitter feed? What are your favorite feeds? Please add thoughts in the Comments and thanks for stopping by for a little Flood Business Intelligence!

To our knowledge, these terms have been coined in this article (please link to corrections in the comments):
LTF Ratio: Like to Follower Ratio
ATS Ratio: Authentic to Shill Ratio
Shilltastic: 1. When your Twitter feed is defined predominantly by transparent sales strategies typical of 20th Century media. 2. When your ATS Ratio is very low.

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