Will Smith uses Instagram to rebrand, personalize image
The "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is back, and this time, he has his eyes set on becoming the king of Instagram. With the help of posts including comedic videos, family and daily inspirational messages, Will Smith, like many other celebrities, has found a way to constantly interact with fans. This ultimately allows him to maintain relevance in today’s digital age and control how he is seen in the spotlight.
Before the social media era, many celebrities were seen as mysterious and had little control over how they were presented in the media. Although seclusion from the fans, to an extent, allotted more privacy to public figures, the way they were depicted in the media at the time may have had detrimental effects on their careers and how fans viewed them overall.
Now, due to the popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram, celebrities like Smith have been able to showcase more personal aspects of their lives without the help of big media. Because of this, celebrities have regained some control of their image, which has contributed to their social standing.
For example, Smith made his Instagram debut in December of last year by posting a picture of himself as a guest on "The Ellen Degeneres Show." At the time, this wasn’t really a big moment, but now, viewers get a firsthand look into the day-in-the-life of the "Fresh Prince".
Smith’s posts, including comedic videos such as him doing Drake's “In My Feelings” challenge on top of the Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary, have made Smith seem human and become more likeable. Not only is this type of social media presence funny, but it also gives celebrities the power and control that once was allotted solely to media outlets.
By being open, honest and as transparent as possible, celebrities not only permit viewers to see a side that they wouldn’t normally see, but also allows them to regain control from media outlets that may intentionally spread fabricated stories just for clicks and views.
Additionally, being active on social media allows celebrities to paint their own narrative. For instance, if a celebrity is involved in something that is controversial, such as past tweets that may have been racist or tweeted out of anger, those that are heavily involved with social media can either post videos or messages directly to their Instagram, allowing fans to make a better judgment regarding their favorite public figures, instead of media outlets painting the picture.
On the other hand, if the presence of a celebrity is absent from social media and there is a controversy surrounding their name, then the image of that entity is left at the will and mercy of media outlets and fans, which allows media outlets to regain control over a celebrity's image.
After the death of rapper Mac Miller, many felt that singer Ariana Grande used her ex-boyfriend's death as a way to promote her new single "thank u, next." If it wasn’t for Grande's active presence on social media, the media outlets would have been in control of her image, which may or may not have been depicted in a positive way.
Overall, being absent from social media ultimately allows fans to combine preconceived notions about the celebrity and what is depicted in the media, which eventually becomes their reality. By being active on Instagram and Twitter, celebrities are not only interacting with their fans, but they are also reclaiming control over their own narratives and images by showing the public personal aspects of their lives, showcasing that they are human and that they make mistakes just like everyone else.