Monday's premiere of Two and a Half Men scored 28.7 million viewers — the best in its nine-season history. Did the addition of social media rock star Ashton Kutcher and his 7.7 million Twitter followers have something to do with it? We'll probably never know for sure, but there's no question that harnessing the power of a loyal online fan base is an invaluable asset for any celebrity. We asked Kendall Aliment, a digital strategist at ID-PR, for five ways for actors to better engage their fans.
1. Think about more than New York and L.A. People who live in major cities on the East or West Coast probably already know the ins and outs of the business, but for a kid growing up in Iowa (Kutcher's home state) or North Dakota, it's something that they've only dreamed about. Your job may be old hat to you, but it is fascinating to your fans. When you're sitting on set, we get to see you, but what do you see? For example, little things like the fact that the shower doesn't actually work or the drawers in the kitchen can't open are the tidbits that fascinate fans.
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2. Let your fans participate. If you're an actor or actress who gets to make decisions about what you wear on set, tweet a picture of three different pairs of shoes you're deciding between, and crowd-source a winner. Make the fans feel like they have a say in what the character wears, even if it's just her nail polish. Give them that insider access. They'll want to tune in to see what was decided, and they'll feel like they got a payoff for weighing in.
3. Tweet for yourself — and prove it! A lot of celebs have other people tweet for them, but if you can prove through photos and videos that you're the one tweeting and you're authentically involved, that's always amazing. There's no doubt that Russell Brand's tweeting — he famously posted a photo of his wife, Katy Perry, with no makeup on. On your Facebook page, create a one-minute introductory video explaining that this is your verified page and you can't wait to interact with everyone online.
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4. Watch the show with your fans. Following actors' live tweets when they're watching their own show can be fascinating. Similar to a director's commentary on DVD, this gives you the opportunity to share the behind-the-scenes details, dish out juicy gossip from the set and answer viewer questions in real time. Kyra Sedgwick, Sasha Alexander and Jeff Probst have all seen a huge surge in followers by doing this and are sharing information that fans could never get elsewhere.
5. Highlight your passions other than acting. Why are you interesting? An actor is always behind the shield of the writers, but in your everyday life, what makes you different and what sets you apart? If you're a fantasy football fan, live-tweet games. If you have a unique point of view on fashion or photography, share! Tracee Ellis Ross is a self-described fashionista and her fans follow every tweet to get the scoop on what they should be wearing and how to perfectly style their hair. If you're just talking about yourself and your projects, people won't care unless they're a super-fan. Share who you are with fans, and not just what you're working on.
Kendall Aliment works on the Digital Strategy team at ID-PR, a digital, entertainment and brand communications agency.