Is Ashton Kutcher the King of Community?
Ashton Kutcher is known for his use of digital media and social platforms. He has an expert ability to jump in with both feet while others approach with caution. Much like brands should do, Ashton humanizes his fan outreach through social media. With an army of fans, Ashton is in an element where he can feasibly be hired for a role based on his socially charged community. He can guarantee viewers in prime demographics.
Ashton Kutcher succeeds where few actors go, but there are some that do… a few come to mind, Zooey Deschanel, Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean and the rest of Odd Future and also Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Using a branded presence across all platforms with his “A+K” logo (aside from YouTube), while managing them with a constant flow of content that users actually want to see, he wins! However, last year he said that he was giving up his Twitter management to his production team. (A Jo Pa/Penn State gaffe led to an onslaught of angst filled tweets directed at him.) Whether he actually committed to this or not, I can’t verify. But what is to be seen is that his account continues to be regularly updated with fresh content, albeit less personal than his heyday.
In regards to his other used platforms, YouTube has not been addressed in a year. However, a total of 13 videos amassed more than one million views. For Facebook, he continues to update with posts concerning his interests. Facebook, as well as his Twitter profile, have over 13 million followers, each. Any brand would love to have those numbers, provided the users are engaged.
For blogging, Ashton has (or had, he hasn’t posted since July) his own Posterous account, which is much like Tumblr.
Do a Google search, the list goes on. If it’s a socialized tech platform, Ashton has demoed it. Foursquare (366 check-ins), Formspring, Instagram and the list just continues. It should be noted that he has a considerable amount of money invested into Silicon Valley startups, he truly lives and breathes the culture.
There’s no doubt that over the past year, Ashton’s social media usage has taken a bit of a dive. However, during the height of his social activity, I have every reason to believe his onscreen antics created many viewers out of a digital community that felt connected (even if only digitally).
Twitter’s Growth and APlusK’s Success
From January 2010 through June 2010 Twitter exploded. In fact, it went through an astonishing 95% increase over this period. But before Twitter hit the mainstream, Ashton was already there, working
diligently and creating a community. In April of 2009 he declared a public Twitter follower war on CNN and challenged them to see who could become the first to gain 1 million followers. He won. He won, most likely because CNN is a massive news organization that can’t humanize in the way that Ashton can. He’s a face, a unique soul with emotion, connecting deeply with his fans. CNN, well, they are CNN.
Following this, Twitter blew up mainstream. Subsequently, in 2011 at the height of Ashton’s social dominance he was hired to replace Charlie Sheen on the show Two and a Half Men. Ashton’s debut pulled in the most attention of any of the previous eight seasons episodes. In addition to this, the 2011-12 season saw an increase of 13% and 27% viewership rise in the key demographic of 18 – 49. When you look at Twitter’s established user base among all internet users, the dominant users are between the ages of 18 – 49… coincidence? I think not, good reader. You move where the customer moves. Look at the Super Bowl ad prices.
A smart marketer knows the customer base. With social media delivering more data than one could possibly imagine, personalities can now use this to their help their name. Ashton gets this. He understands that
you move where the masses have moved.
Budding Brands and Social Empowerment
Currently, there are companies who are rushing to make a move like Ashton. Unfortunately, many get tied up in legality/communications issues. Worse, companies make archaic minded decisions such as folding social media under one department, failing to recognize that several departments could contribute to the success of the awareness goals. Ashton, like what brands should do, uses social media multi-dimensionally.
Budding brands/personalities could do the same. Here’s where I call out my college roommate, my great friend, Grant Harvey. He is most known for his role as Grant in Secret Lives of the American Teenager. But he has zero control over the digital conversations that are naturally being held, in fact, I’d link to his site giving him the inbound link credit but he doesn’t even have a website. To add to that, the digital platforms he does use aren’t built on public consumption but more or less a very private function. To that, I say… President Obama has found a way to maintain a sense of privacy while doing Reddit AMAs, tweets, YouTube videos and more. Whether you are a brand, a public figure or a growing actor you have to find a way to empower your supportive community.
Social community empowerment has proved to work for Ashton. It’s also seen as the driving force behind Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election victories. It can, and will, most undoubtedly work for Grant Harvey and brands as they grow their fan and customer base.
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