Without social media, the Kardashians would be just another family. But, the members of TV’s reality show royalty have used all avenues of staying linked to fans to promote their every move to reach the heights of celebrity.
Is this a good thing? Or does so much exposure lead to a celebrity losing too much privacy or, worse, becoming vulnerable to stalking?
Celebrities have different ideas when it comes to whether social media is vital or dangerous.
‘Pretty Little Liars’
In the case of the Freeform series “Pretty Little Liars,” social media is a major part of the show’s success. It was the most popular show on social media in 2016 with more than 256 million interactions. That’s up 25 percent from a year ago. The Aug. 27, 2013, episode, “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t,” set a record at that time with 1.9 million tweets.
Series creator I. Marlene King calls the social media attention a “perfect storm” that started with Sara Shepard, the writer of the “Pretty Little Liars” book series, who was active on social media. The cast and crew joined in on the social media connection from the first day but not as a way to promote the show. They were just having fun.
Either way, it worked. A full 24 hours before the first episode of “Pretty Little Liars” aired, it was a trending topic on Twitter around the world. That was a sign that there was an appetite for this kind of connection and all parties involved have been feeding it ever since.
Lucy Hale, who plays Aria Montgomery, suggests that the timing was perfect as “Pretty Little Liars” launched at the same time social media was becoming big. Social media gave fans of the show around the world a way to share their thoughts, ideas and theories.
“Pretty Little Liars” executive producer Oliver Goldstick describes it as a “sense of community” – one that’s heard by series writers who take note how much a character is liked or disliked as they prepare episodes.
Not everyone is convinced that this kind of connection with fans is right. Famke Janssen, star of the upcoming NBC series “The Blacklist: Redemption,” doesn’t use any kind of social media.
“I don’t have much fan interaction other than that I live in New York, and people are very outspoken about everything,” Janssen says. “So generally if they don’t like something, I know from the policemen around me and the firemen and everybody who I’m among, and the deli guy. I will find out if they’re happy with it or not.”
I’m more in that immediate old-school environment of I see it face to face, I hear it from somebody, than knowing it through the internet kind of thing.
Janssen continues: “I can’t understand constantly turning the camera on oneself and having to express an opinion about the coffee you drank this morning or your opinions about the president. We all are just bombarded by all this information and I don’t know what to do with it other than to hide from it.”
‘This Is Us’ and more
Others have a different view and embrace social media as a way of getting immediate feedback. Dan Fogelman, the man behind NBC’s “This Is Us,” loves to watch the reaction on social media after a big reveal on his show.
Some actors use social media to promote their show while also using it to voice opinions.
“Scandal” star Joshua Malina says: “One of the great joys of being criminally underrated as an actor is that I feel that I’ve asserted (myself) below the radar. I can give (comments) online because I try to keep things always positive about ‘Scandal’ because I feel tremendously positive about ‘Scandal.’ Otherwise, I just talk about whatever interests me.”
The series that could take over the top spot in social media when “Pretty Little Liars” ends after this season is “Shadowhunters,” also on Freeform. It was the top new series for interaction with viewers.
Katherine McNamara, who plays Clary Fray on “Shadowhunters,” says she uses social media to share information about the show with fans and to get feedback from them.
“We love making the show and pouring ourselves into it,” McNamara says. “But, to see how much people love the show, I love that.”
McNamara says she likes being active on social media but also realizes that there are lines she should not cross when revealing information about herself. What she’s found is there is no definitive point where the social media goes from inclusive to intrusive.
“It’s what feels right for you,” McNamara says. “You can’t live your life for the post. You can’t plan your life around the post. If something happens, great. But if not, don’t worry about it. It can’t be what controls your life.”