EXCLUSIVE: Wondering why singer Lady Gaga ended up on the next American Horror Story? Or how Vin Diesel is driving massive interest in the upcoming Furious 7 movie? For some quick clues, take a look at our annual compilation of Hollywood’s biggest performers on social media, put together by RelishMix, which tracks film and TV properties across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for studios and networks.
This year’s Top Ten compilation shows three of the Furious 7 stars skyrocketing in social media, including Diesel, newcomer to the Facebook top 10 Jason Statham (No. 8 with 48.1 million page likes) and Dwayne Johnson (No. 9 at 46.4 million), notes RelishMix CEO Marc Karzen. Diesel, of course, is Facebook royalty, with a whopping 90.5 million likes of his official page.
Together, the three Furious 7 stars have seen their Facebook followings explode over the past year, adding nearly 50 million followers in the past year combined, which is great news for Universal when the film debuts April 3. The movie’s own Facebook presence is also huge with 54 million likes.
Not surprisingly, a performer’s social media footprint is strongly considered when studios start strategizing a film’s marketing campaign, so it’s not surprising that late last year Universal took to social media to debut a trailer on the film’s FB page which quickly drew 100 million views.
Gaga, who sang at the Oscars last month (where her performance was the most talked about thing on social media all night), is a two-platform threat: No. 5 on Twitter (with 17.2 million followers) and a fast-growing Facebook presence, with another 18.7 million likes. In fact, she’s tops among all “actors” on Twitter, with 44.6 million followers, and No. 3 on Facebook, with 67.3 million likes of her official page.
Three other performers also known as much or more for their singing as their acting are just behind Gaga on the Twitter top 10, including Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez. Timberlake also had the single biggest jump in Twitter followings this year, adding 10.7 million to grow to 42.5 million followers, a one-third increase.
The seemingly omnipresent comic actor Kevin Hart made social-media marketing waves with Think Like A Man 2 and still has a formidable presence, including a No. 5 spot on Twitter. Last year’s hit film Ride Along helped drive awareness for the film on social media and Hart himself is heavily engaged with his fans. Diesel is the same way, while other stars like Emma Watson has an entire social media team behind her.
“Regardless of whether an actor is posting (online) themselves, have a social team behind them, a publicist or a hybrid, the key ingredients of the biggest social actors are crystal clear: They are posting consistent, quality content that you can ONLY see on social platforms that are entertaining and sharable,” Karzen said. “And for talent who thrive on audience feedback, especially stand-up (comedians) and musicians, social-media engagement is a comfort zone.”
Even small changes, such as Diesel’s change of his profile photo this week, can drive a lot of attention, Karzen said. That little tweak to his FB Page drew 1.8 million likes in less than 48 hours. Diesel went on stage at a Romeo Santos concert in late May to announce new additions to the Furious family, a video that pulled in 5.3 million views.
Interestingly, neither Diesel nor Will Smith has a Twitter account, Karzen pointed out. Their followings are 100% Facebook driven. Will Smith is the No. 2 star on FB with 76 million likes.
Of course, having a giant online following is no guarantee of on-screen success for a star’s projects. A trifle such as The Boy Next Door, which starred Twitter powerhouse Lopez, scooped up $39 million worldwide on an estimated $4 million budget. Lopez reportedly worked her online following pretty hard to drive turnout to the low-budget erotic thriller.
But look at Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, which proved lethal mostly only to its backers, pulling in less than $40 million worldwide despite a big-name cast filled with notables far beyond Gaga, including other online stars such as Jessica Alba (8 million Twitter followers).
And Smith would love to have had more of his Facebook following show up last weekend for his latest movie, the con-man caper flick Focus, with Margot Robbie. He won the weekend, but given the film’s anemic $18.7 million first-frame take, it was something of a Pyrrhic victory, denting Smith’s veneer as possibly the last movie star who can open a movie in a big way.