The impact of social media on imaginary social relationships with media figures/celebrities who appear in advertising

Authored by: Neil M. Alperstein

The Routledge Companion to Advertising and Promotional Culture

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415888011
eBook ISBN: 9780203071434
Adobe ISBN: 9781135095574


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In May of 2011, when Lady Gaga tweeted to her loyal fans, “10 Million Monsters! I'm speechless, we did it! Its [sic] an illness how I love you. Leaving London smiling,” she became the first social media user to top 10 million followers on the micro-blogging site Twitter (Bennett 2011). This accomplishment accompanies her acquisition of 10 million fans on Facebook and over 1 billion views on YouTube. The sheer number of fans reached by Lady Gaga demonstrates the alliance between a media figure and fans who use social media to seek closeness, perhaps friendship, or more. The type of social connection, which I refer to as an imaginary social relationship, is exemplified by a woman in her early 20s, who says:

I sometimes believe I know enough about her [Lady Gaga] to be one of my good friends. I know every day where she ate her lunch in Hollywood, who designed her latest outfit, and where her next appearance will be. If Lady Gaga is promoting a certain new product then it has to be cool and of course I want to try it.

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