127 Hours star James Franco has closed his Twitter account and declared "social media is over". Does he have a point?
After closing down his account, he told American magazine Politico: “My thought was ‘this is my Twitter. I can do whatever I want.’ But certain companies I work with contacted me about what I was saying.”
The Drum asked a panel of social media experts for their view on whether social media really is "over", and how celebrities should approach online channels.
Daniel Ashcroft, digital marketing executive at KMP Digitata
James Franco isn’t really in a position to proclaim social media over. How is he even defining “social media”. Twitter? Facebook? Any place where a celebrity can broadcast their every thought to their fans and stalkers? Social media is more than this, it is anywhere an individual is able to find a voice, communicate with peers and share content and experiences with their network. It’s not platform specific and it’s not based upon celebrities comparing the length of their follower lists.
So some studio has slapped Franco on the wrists about revealing a plot and he spat his dummy out. He and countless sportsman, politicians and other public figures caught out on Twitter and Facebook need to take some responsibility and understand that anyone and everyone has access to what they are saying. The fact that that is more of a problem for well known personalities isn’t the death of social media.
Tom Cleeland, founder of The Cool Commentator
Social media might be over for James Franco but it certainly isn't dead for everyone else. I think this is another case of an ego arriving on Twitter, uneducated in what works and what doesn't, getting it wrong and storming off Christian Bale style. What James Franco won't understand is that it isn't his use of Twitter that has caused a back lash of negative comment, but his appalling attempt at hosting a stuffy award show.
Even the best comedians will struggle to keep an audience at the Oscars entertained, let alone an actor. Twitter was simply the vehicle for fans, and foes, to share their opinions of his performance. Surely anyone entering the film industry in Hollywood learns to take negative criticism and turn it into a positive reaction, but maybe Franco's leap to super-stardom has left him feeling a little vulnerable? Either way, Twitter is a tough mistress and you need to learn how to tame it.
Nicola Peate, social media manager at McCann Eriksson
It is clear that 2011 is proving to be a massive year of growth for social media and the suggestion that it is “over” may imply sour grapes on the part of a disgruntled actor rather than a true reflection of the industry.
With ASOS announcing the launch of their Facebook shop earlier in the year, bringing social shopping to our screen, and Makro Wholesalers UK proving that engaging with business customers can be successful through social media with their quirky initiatives, it is clear to see that for many, if not all brands to some extent, social media is the future of their digital progression.
What James Franco might be right about is that the “social media ego” could be over. Gone are the days when Twitter was just used by celebrities as a self promotion tool. Instead Twitter has given the public a voice that they would not have without social media, which has proved crucial during world events such as the Japan earthquake and the Iran elections.
Social media has given people power and control over their communication, purchases and news consumption and has shifted the power to the consumer. I can’t see people wanting to give that up any time soon.
David Prior, head of digital marketing at Delineo
In the great pantheon of sweeping statements, James Franco’s contribution barely passes muster. He probably doesn’t remember that Bill Gates once proclaimed “The internet? We are not interested in it”, or that Decca Records once declared that guitar bands were dead (shortly after turning down the Beatles).
Coming as it does from a notoriously ‘unpredictable’ actor, Franco’s utterances can probably be passed off as a hissy fit. Social media is here to stay and will outlive Franco and a thousand other control-freak celebrity huffs. It’s for the people and by the people, folks, and the people will decide when to administer the last rites.