It’s Twitter Time

Social media is quickly becoming a vital tool for brands, especially those driven by a celebrity. The use of social media outlets effectively shortens the distance between the content that is created and produced for a brand and the consumer like no other medium.

The same is true with celebrities, artists and entertainers like me who are now closer to fans than we’ve ever really been before.

While new social media platforms seem to pop up every day, I’m strongly behind Twitter, a micro-blogging tool that has become a game changer for me. The platform offers celebrity brands the means to build and develop relationships in an intimate and personal way.  The friendly and efficient interface links to video and audio and integrates with various other social media outlets with ease. That means my brand can live on a wide variety of platforms where fans might find me.

The short, 140-character tweets give brands the power to quickly bond with consumers, point them to projects or products that they can interact with without  interpretation or personal interjections messing up the communication flow.

Additionally, Twitter gives power to the users by allowing them to track the brands and celebrities they choose, whether or not they follow back. Twitter followers tend to be a loyal and engaged audience who are more likely to continue to spread the brand’s buzz when they feel they are part of it.

I was an early adopter of Twitter and currently have more than a million followers. I have used my Twitter feed to discuss events in my personal and professional life, to encourage various behaviors, causes and initiatives that I get behind (i.e., “Respect Women Wednesday” and “DJ Appreciation Day”). Additionally, unlike many celebrities and brands, I follow many of my followers back, encouraging one-on-one dialogue. I follow more than 26,000 people, which I think is pretty atypical of a celebrity or brand account.

My love of social media is being integrated in a big way into my A&E reality series Hammertime. We are displaying my tweets on screen so viewers can see how I interact with the platform, and my Twitter account is a major feature on the official Hammertime Web site — www.aetv.com/hammertime — which also includes videos, some of my wife’s recipes, a fun online board game, a widget and plenty of other digital bells and whistles.

Digital media has become such a strong part of my life that it was a given to put Twitter to work on the series. In fact, I am working closely with the network to use social media to bring attention beyond the show itself to promotional efforts around it, like a recently posted YouTube video that features 60 people dancing, dressed up in “Hammer pants,” during a recent flash-mob stunt at a Sunset Blvd. store. That little clip went viral and is nearing 2 million views.

According to Guy Slattery, senior vp of marketing for A&E, who I talked to for this column, the watercooler has been virtually replaced by social media. “Word of mouth all starts online these days, and for a new television series to succeed, it needs to become part of that conversation,” he told me. “For Hammertime, we had the Hammer pants, the Hammer dance and MC Hammer the Twitter feed. We knew that if our campaign was done right, people would be buzzing about the show before it even hit the air.”

Amen.

Understand that the value in marketing and promotion dollars that a brand with substantial followers brings to the plate is immense. Brands and celebrities can benefit from utilizing the platform in the days leading up to an opening weekend, a premiere or release date by connecting fans with links, trailers, contests, video and photo content, and each other, just like we did for Hammertime.

Brand marketing, promotion and distribution via 140 characters…a digital triple threat!

Threat in the negative sense is the fear of the unknown. But while social media may be seen as a daunting and unknown to some, the most savvy businesses, brands and celebrities are adopting the platform to establish a one-on-one dialog with their consumers and fans. Those who aren’t will surely be riding the “fail whale” in the near future.

Don’t forget to check out my series Hammertime and follow me at w.ww.twitter.com/MCHammer

I’m a tweet away.

MC Hammer stars in the weekly reality series Hammertime on A&E.