February 25, 2014 | Emily Winsauer

10 Celebrity Social Media Prodigies (and What We Can Learn)

10 Unexpected Celebrities who Rock at Social Media

Now that we occasionally see Kim Kardashian’s tweets on the news, it’s easy to feel like celebrity social media activity was inevitable. But just a few years ago, celebrities were more focused on protecting their privacy than connecting with fans.

It may seem like Twitter has changed all that, but the change has been uneven. Some, like Julia Roberts, have profiles but are not active (she has 551,000 Twitter followers but has never tweeted), while others have garnered love from fans that they were never able to earn in the theater or studio.

Certainly, fame will earn you followers, but that’s not the only factor at work.

Case in point: it might not be surprising that Justin Bieber has 49.8 million Twitter followers, but who could have predicted George Takei’s career resurgence as a result of his social media prowess?

Similarly, Ryan Gosling’s status as Beloved of All Women has earned him 1.74 million Twitter followers, but he has only tweeted 11 times – while comedian Louis C.K. has 3.17 million followers as a result of his Twitter activity.

There are scores of articles about celebrity social media listing who has the most followers on different platforms, but those aren’t necessarily the people that marketers can learn from. After all, who among us can be Lady Gaga?

Still, there are lots of things to be learned from celebrities who rock at social media. Read on for 12 of the best, and the lessons marketers can learn from them.

Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart

These social-savvy BFFs have reached a whole new audience by using social media to document their lives, promote their projects, and gain awareness for their causes. Stewart has 1.01 million followers and McKellen has 872,000, but the real strength of the pair, other than their heartwarming bromance, is that they engage well across a variety of platforms. McKellen blogs and is active on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Instagram, while Stewart is active on Twitter and Facebook. Best of all, the pair frequently share photos of themselves goofing off or enjoying a pint as well as greeting fans at premieres. They use humor, interact with fans as well as famous friends, and generally cause the internet to giggle.

McKellen Stewart Tweet

Sarah Silverman

Comedian Sarah Silverman has earned a whopping 5.07 million Twitter followers by posting funny comments, links, and images, and adding an element of offbeat comedy to her followers’ feeds. However, she frequently posts duplicate content on Facebook, which may be why she has only 487,000 Facebook (I say “only” with my tongue firmly in my cheek). Lesson for marketers: tailoring content to the platform can make a big difference.

Sarah Silverman Twitter

George Takei Facebook

George Takei

His stats are impressive:

And he blogs! George Takei doesn’t just broadcast; he’s the best at creating a conversation, even when he’s not a part of it directly. If you think more than 6 million Facebook fans is impressive, take a look at his engagement—he currently has 7,004,885 people “talking about this.” The former Star Trek actor has even written a book about his web success, humorously titled after the meme that made so him popular: Oh Myyy (There goes the Internet).

Neil deGrasse Tyson

His Facebook page says it all: “There’s no denying the public’s appetite for cosmic discovery.” The astrophysicist has 853,611 Facebook likes, but Twitter is his real medium. His 1.66 million followers check their feeds for witty observations, little chunks of science, and funny pictures of Australian electrical sockets. Take a page from his book and embrace your specialty—just do it with personality!

Neil deGrasse Tyson Twitter

Nathan Fillion

The king of retweeting and replying to fans, Castle star Nathan Fillion has 2.18 million Twitter followers. He makes people feel like he’s listening, and sometimes it’s as simple as that!

Nathan Fillion Twitter

Olivia Wilde

By striking a compelling balance of humor, informality, and activism, the actress really communicates her personality to her fans. Following Olivia Wilde adds news, jokes, photos, sustainable product suggestions, and volunteerism opportunities to your feed. No wonder 1.2 million people follow her on Twitter and 755,471 people like her Facebook page.

Olivia Wilde Twitter

Louis C.K.

Comedian Louis C.K. has managed to heavily promote his projects on Twitter without driving away his 3.17 million followers. How? By presenting content in a fresh way each time he posts, usually with a self-deprecating joke.

Louis CK Twitter

Jeremy Lin

For the most part, basketball star Jeremy Lin follows Twitter’s best practices, using hashtags, pictures, links, handles, and retweets like a pro. He uses Twitter to chat with fellow pro athletes, attracting his sports fans, and frequently tweets about his faith and charity work, appealing to people who share his values.

On Facebook, he posts pictures of family and friends and even recently held a “random Q&A” in his spare time. Embracing all the different reasons people like him has led to 1.22 million Twitter followers and 1.95 million Facebook fans. So, marketers—embrace your varied buyer personas, and they’ll love you for it!

Jeremy Lin Facebook Q&A

Elizabeth Banks

Like Nathan Fillion, actress Elizabeth Banks regularly retweets and replies to her fans in a fun and friendly way. She has 1.42 million Twitter followers, and is a growing presence on YouTube, where she posts videos answering questions from fans, interviews with celebrity friends, and more. She also shares content from both on Facebook. See a new medium you think would work for you? Try it out, à la Elizabeth Banks! Elizabeth Banks YouTube

While you're at it, make sure your profiles look good.

Social Media Image Sizes Guide and Templates

Emily Winsauer

Emily Winsauer

As VIEO's content director, Emily Winsauer was responsible for content strategy for VIEO and our clients for over 5 years. She recently moved to Seattle where she's still creating compelling content in her new role.

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