Rihanna has become one of the most recognized names in the music industry today. The singer, a native of Barbados, has released seven studio albums and has won five American Music Awards, eighteen Billboard Music Awards, two BRIT Awards and five Grammy Awards. She has become the youngest solo artist to achieve eleven number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. But despite her success, she remains a controversial icon, even though mentor Jay-Z may not approve. Her relationship with Chris Brown continues to be a source of controversy in her career, as does her bizarre social media presence.
Rihanna is one of the few celebrities who updates all of her social media outlets herself. She is prominent mostly on Twitter and Instagram, which is what I will be discussing today. On Twitter, Rihanna has 26,400,473 followers and on Instagram 2.7 million followers. In Hugo Liu’s article, “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances,” he discusses four different types of tastes that can be conveyed through a social media profile. I could argue that Rihanna’s social media profiles appeal to all four tastes- authenticity, theatrical, differentiation, and prestige, but I would rather focus on just authenticity. In his article, Liu states that, “Authenticity is important in the eyes of some subcultures, including rap culture, and club culture, so it was not surprising to find that many profiles conveyed this quality.” I would consider Rihanna in these two cultures.
Rihanna’s tweets are relaxed, which Liu says is a component of an authentic profile. As you can see in her verified Twitter profile, she promotes her new song and album and lists her official website, showing that it truly is her. Rihanna tweets often and her raw thoughts. She posts very raw pictures of herself on her Instagram as well, even picture of her participating in illegal activities, such as smoking pot.
In Marwick and boyd’s article, “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience,” they discuss the “imagined audience,” and that Twitter user’s actual readers are much different than the producer’s imagined audience. To be honest, I don’t think Rihanna really cares too much about her audience. She tweets illegal things, profane things, sometimes even offensive things. She knows she is already a huge superstar! She knows her audience is mostly fans, even if some are critics, and knows her fans with stick by her side, no matter what she posts. Surprisingly, Rihanna does have interaction with her Twitter and Instagram followers. She has posted photos on Instagram and Twitter of fan’s direct messages (DMs) to her Twitter account. She tweets at fans and retweets people often as well. This adds to Rihanna’s taste of authenticity as well!
“Twitter affords a platform for condensed yet potentially rich and variably public or private performances of the self,” Zizi Papacharissi states in her article, “Without you I’m Nothing: Performances of the Self on Twitter.” In her article, she discusses the performance of the self through social media profiles. She also states that, “Performances thus enable individuals to traverse from private to public, but also, potentially, from the personal to the political, or from the individual to the collective, and back.” I think this is exactly what Rihanna is doing in her social media platforms. She is making her private life public by constantly tweeting what is on her mind or posting pictures of what she is doing. She is making herself more accessible and relatable to her fans. Her performance of self is exactly who she is, and I respect her for that. This goes back to boyd’s original idea of “context collapse.”
Rihanna participates in a lot of self promotion on Twitter as well. She is currently getting her fans to send pictures that can be a part of her new site promoting her new album, Unapologetic. She is also constantly hashtagging “unapologetic,” and many of her hashtagged phrases have trended world wide.
Rihanna knows exactly how to utilize her social media networking platforms to her advantage. She keeps her name in the press by her constant scandals. To be honest, I really love Rihanna (and not only because I am a huge Jay-Z fan). But I really admire her ability to stay true to herself, even when the business she is in can eat you alive. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, I promise you, you won’t regret it. Even if you aren’t her biggest fan, the entertainment value is through the roof. Also, buy her album November 19th, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.