It is hard to ignore the teen heartthrob Justin Bieber; he is on magazine covers, billboards, television, and most definitely plays a very present role on social media. He has an active Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and several other networks. I wanted to focus on Bieber’s Twitter and observe the activity that happens on this social media network.
Justin Bieber is currently one of the most famous artists in the world. At only eighteen years old, he has a fan base of more than fifty million people, and has a net worth of a hundred and ten million dollars. Justin Bieber started his career when his videos were noticed on YouTube when he was thirteen years old. It has been found that, until recently, Justin has a greater user influence across his social network than Barack Obama. On Twitter, he has 29,393, 971 followers, and the number is constantly increasing by the second. Despite his immense fame and recognition, Justin Bieber’s tweets represent him as any other person. Sure, there are times he tweets about events, broadcasts, shows, etc., that remind people of just how big he is in the world, but there are also very random and personal tweets that would be written by any other everyday Twitter user.
Justin Bieber’s Twitter can be characterized by the taste performances that Hugo Liu discusses in his article “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances”. Specifically, Bieber’s Twitter can be seen as one utilized for prestige and authenticity. Followers and viewers can assume or be confident in Bieber’s Twitter being authentic because of the way he formulates his Tweets, and the information he provides. A lot of tweets are embedded with pictures that Bieber posts on the spot, or through his linked Instagram.
Tweets like this show that Bieber is proving that it is really him without intentionally trying to. Liu defines authenticity as “associated with a relaxed style and the display of slight imperfection”, which Bieber successfully displays (Liu, 264). He meets the criteria of projecting his interests in a relaxed manner, and not making it too overwhelming. He also uses shortened language like “u” and “r” which furthers this casual approach. Another taste performance that Bieber’s Twitter encompasses is one of prestige. Despite the casual tone he uses in a lot of his tweets, there are definitely ones that speak on him being a celebrity and an artist. His Twitter about me section speaks on his latest album that is on iTunes, and thanking his fans for his success. The fact that he has several albums on iTunes, and a fan base that is far larger than a lot of celebrities, shows his status.
In order to maintain his fan base Bieber uses Twitter as a means of publicity and marketing. Recently, he started his Believe Tour, which was blowing up his Twitter.
Marwick and boyd discuss the uses of Twitter and the way individuals use it to target certain audiences in “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience”. Bieber’s Twitter is catered towards his fans. Even though he may post personal tweets about how he has a new hamster, or is tired, he still utilizes his Twitter to market and publicize his work and appearances. As Marwick and boyd share individuals “with 100,000+ followers suggested that they imagined their audience as a fan base or community with whom they could connect or manage” (120). Knowing the audience allows for Bieber to successfully use Twitter to “establish a presence online” and engage with his audience (121). Bieber creates a group community through his Twitter where fans are constantly able to interact with him. Something to notice with his Twitter is that as many followers he has, he is also following quite a number: 122,625. He involves himself with these followers by re-tweeting and replying to others. Sometimes he will tweet something like “What r u up to?” knowing there will be an influx of responses. Zizi Papacharissi examines how the Twitter community is dual-faceted and is personal and collective at the same time. Bieber posts a lot of tweets that are just about random things he is doing, but he also tweets about his professional life that many of his followers would be very interested in. He is aware of his community, and caters to them with what he posts. He utilizes hash tags and links to expand conversation and the community he is talking to.
I do not doubt that Justin Bieber’s Twitter is his own, and that he actually tweets his statuses himself, but I cannot help but question the level of authenticity that is being portrayed in his Twitter. As Papacharissi discusses, I feel everyone on social media is in a process of redaction and is editing themselves. Justin Bieber has a level of prestige in society that he needs to maintain, so the identity he portrays needs to be appropriate for his audience. He needs to be careful with what he posts on his Twitterfeed because people will notice. However, I was surprised that I could not find moments where it was not Justin Bieber posting the tweets himself. I really do think he has a lot of care and respect for his fans, and wants to have some kind of personal connection to them.