BAD boy actor Charlie Sheen (of the top-rated television sitcom Two and a Half Men fame) is the latest Hollywood celebrity to take Twitterverse by storm.
He raked in 1.3million followers on Twitter within a day of signing up for an account with the social networking site.
That earned him his second Guinness World Record, for gaining the most Twitter followers in the shortest span of time (in 2010, he made the list for being the highest paid TV actor per episode).
This follows what many people are calling a very public meltdown following the hiatus of Two and a Half Men in January, when Sheen checked into a rehabilitation clinic. In late February, Sheen criticised the show’s co-creators and support group Alcoholic Anonymous, leading to production for Two and a Half Men to be halted.
The rest, as they say, is very recent history.
At the time of writing, Sheen has 2.1 million followers and has been responsible for one of the more popular Twitter hashtags in the past week – #tigerblood. The hashtag came about following an interview where Sheen declared that he is not susceptible to addictions because he has “tiger blood”.
Twitter isn’t the only social network Sheen has taken to. In the past week, he has uploaded two videos – titled Sheen’s Korner – onto video site Ustream. On his Twitter account, Sheen claims to have broken another Guinness World Record for having the most Ustream viewers (100 million viewers in two nights), although there is no mention of it on the organisation’s website.
There is no doubt that Charlie Sheen has bulldozed his way into social media phenomenon territory. However, what is happening is a social media case study – the good, the bad and the very ugly.
Sheen doesn’t have to worry about his publicist resigning a few days ago. He has such a huge following on social networks that he wouldn’t need to rely on old fashion ways of making it into news (although, many would say that having a public meltdown is the most effective way of gaining publicity).
But if this is really a meltdown – a CNN report has suggested that Sheen’s behaviour is reminiscent of Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix’s own two-year long “meltdown”, which was later revealed to be a stunt – then he’s in for quite a shock when (or if?) he snaps out of this “insanity”.
The cliché about what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet will never hold more true.
Sheen can delete his accounts, but the number of retweets now safely locked in million’s of people’s timelines will forever haunt him. Oh, you can bet many people have also downloaded episodes of Sheen’s Korner.
There are more factors to Sheen’s sudden popularity on social media than him just signing up and going crazy on it.
Sure, his antics on Twitter – such as the creation of hashtags like #tigerblood, #teamsheen and #winning – and his rants on Ustream draw a huge audience to his social networks, but his popularity on social media is also because:
1. Charlie Sheen is a Hollywood stalwart
2. He went on a publicity spree on numerous TV and radio shows just before he hit social media
3. There is hardly a media outlet in the world that has not reported on his behaviour in the last fortnight.
Purists may disagree, but at the end of the day, social media remains just another medium.
However, put together with a brilliant strategy, and in tandem with more conventional media, and the results – as Sheen has showed – can be rather explosive.
There is already an indication of this.
Although Warner Bros Television on Monday terminated Sheen’s services, he is hiring an intern “to work closely with Charlie Sheen in leveraging his social network”.
If this is not already a sign, the tweet that Sheen sent to publicise it was using a #ad hashtag, which indicates that he was paid to sent the tweet. Los Angeles Times quoted a spokesowman from Ad.ly, a firm that updates celebrities’ social networks, confirming that the tweet was indeed paid by Internships.com.
At least he’s got some income coming in considering he had just been axed from Two and A Half Men.
If it’s true that Sheen has lost his marbles, then I feel really sorry for him. But if CNN reporter Breeanna Hare is right, and we’re all being “Joaquin-ed”, then hats off, Mr Sheen, you’re definitely #winning. Can I have some of your #tigerblood, please?