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Despite having nearly 3m followers on Twitter within three weeks, Charlie Sheen is on the lookout for a social media intern.

With all the coverage in the media at the moment I want to come from a different angle: is Sheen already in the middle of a social media strategy? If so, what can we learn from it?

Sheen has gained more attention on the internet than ever before, using his fame and behaviour as a catalyst for his successful online presence. His already famous interview with Good Morning America made people question his state of mind. From a social media point of view, he's executed his personal brand perfectly.

Within two weeks he has amassed nearly 3m followers on Twitter. Here's some more statistics (as of 17th March):

  • He's ranked 35th on Twitterholic (who gain ranking by number of followers). Every other profile above him is at least 18 months old.
  • He's only made 111 tweets. That's an FPT (followers per tweet) of around 26,000.
  • Has uploaded 8 photos to his Twitpic account, with a total of 7,641,030 combined views.
His internship within itself received a lot of attention. Over 82,000 people applied for the "Tiger Blood" social media position powered by internships.com, who have boasted over 1m unique visitors to the site.

There doesn't seem to be any official number on who got into Round two (myself included). Whether or not he needs this intern is a good question. He seems to have it sorted already. His internship landing page even states that "Charlie Sheen has attained in setting the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to reach one million followers on Twitter'".

Is Sheen already in the middle of his social media strategy?

Patricio Robles covered how ad.ly acquired his profile and how Twitter made an exception to verify his account within 24 hours. 

With a little pep talk on how to use hashtags and uploading pictures to twitpic.com, Sheen has been able to prove that he is indeed winning, online that is. His personal brand is more popular than the show he was fired from.

My theory on Sheen's strategy:

Thinking more and more about the recent interviews I've watched and heard made me realise this could be one big strategy to increase his personal career. And what is his job? He's an actor.

This may be true considering that people such as Joaquin Phoenix faked, for over a year, that he was retiring from acting to instead pursue a career in music - all whilst having a mental breakdown that was questioned after his infamous interview with David Letterman.

If this is all true and Sheen is in fact acting, he's utilising the internet to it's full potential and 'hiring' a social media intern has been the perfect way to enhance his profile within the social networking community.

What is clear is that what Team Sheen are doing right now is a case study of what to do if you're at a certain level of celebrity, it doesn't always matter what is said or done. Whether the publicity of the role is a strategy within itself is for us to evaluate once the intern's time is complete.

What can we learn from Sheen's strategy?

Taking my opinion that Sheen is acting and is already in the middle of a successful social media strategy, what can we learn from this?

These lessons may not be useful in all circumstances, but have certainly worked for Sheen:

  1. Do something big just before you execute your 'real' strategy. Do something worthy of online chatter. Once that's done, you can have a head start once you finally start your social activity.
  2. Be vocal/passionate. Not happy about something? Verbalise it in a way that may cause some shock value but still keep people interested in what you have to say.
  3. Use imagery. Twitpic, yfrog and other services can let you easily show images to the masses. Even if it's not that interesting sometimes people will already be interested in what you have to share.
  4. Think long-term. The internship is a wonderful example of this. It has its own hashtag (#TigerBloodIntern) and will keep people tweeting for the next few months.
  5. Create a catchphrase that anyone can use. This is a hard one. Whether Sheen fell on this by accident or planned it beforehand, "winning" is a phrase anyone can use, and now the very generic #winning hashtag will be connected to him from now on.

With 3m followers on Twitter and nearly 1m 'fans' on his Facebook Page, Sheen has just, conveniently, opened up an online shop at charliesheen.com and announced he will be touring with tickets already available.

His social media 'strategy' is already going very well...

Alex Moss

Published 22 March, 2011 by Alex Moss

Alex Moss is Director at Firecask and a contributor to Econsultancy. Find him on TwitterGoogle+ and Linkedin

6 more posts from this author

Comments (16)

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Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

If Sheen is just "acting" mad, does that include the numerous felony and assault charges on his various wives and partners? I'm pretty sure he's not acting here, Alex...

over 5 years ago

Mike Essex

Mike Essex, Marketing & Comms Manager at Petrofac

I was quite amazed when he posted the position for an intern as it seemed like he had the worlds best social media strategy already.

Given the speed at which Charlie Sheen went from 0 to 3 million it's as if everything was deployed with surprising planning. Perhaps he is just making it up as he goes along, propped up by the social buzz, but he certainly seems to know how to stir up a good controversy and monetise it.

over 5 years ago

Alex Moss

Alex Moss, Director at FireCask

I didn't imply that his acting falls within these charges - only activity around his drug use and his exit from Two and a Half Men.

over 5 years ago

Henry Elliss

Henry Elliss, Digital Marketing Director at Tamar

Thanks Alex - I was only being facetious really, not actually accusing you of it :) I'm just tired of the hype around Sheen - people constantly cashing-in on a man who is clearly having serious issues. But that's the way of the world I guess!

over 5 years ago

Alex Moss

Alex Moss, Director at FireCask

@Henry - exactly. I was trying to put a different spin on the coverage as nobody seems to have pointed my theory out.

over 5 years ago

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Grant McAllister

Hey guys, just to clear up he is not acutally looking for an intern. It was a marketing effort he was paid for.

There is no intership but simply an ad for the internship site.

(All tweets finished with #ad)

over 5 years ago

Michael Jessop

Michael Jessop, Head of SEO at Bluestorm Design

Great post Alex! Congrats on your first econsultancy post! Whether you like Charlie or not (probably not) you can't deny that the pick up of followers is phenominal.

over 5 years ago

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Dave Blackburn, support at Marketing Quotes

Indeed it is an interesting post - and he is getting great publicity. However he has the advantage of being in the media eye and celebs can use their 'behavior' for boosting their PR.

over 5 years ago

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Mr Chimp

Hello Alex here at Chimp Enterprises we salute you for a wonderful post and being such a handsome man, if anyone is Winning its me Mr Chimp and you to a slightly less degree. Brava Brava

over 5 years ago

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Phil Draper

A very interesting article.

Your line questioning whether this was 'one big strategy to increase his personal career' and not a genuine fall from grace reminded me of the questions that surround Britney Spears all too similar decline a few years ago. I was always sceptical that hers wasn't quite the car crash it was meant to be - it almost seemed like it was being planned and executed from a far.

Whilst her record sales declined, in truth they already were. However she maintained a huge internet following regularly being one of the most googled people for years.

over 5 years ago

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David E

Superb article Alex.

over 5 years ago

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tigerbloodtv

@Mike Essex It seems to me that the word "intern" implies an administrative assistant level performance expectation rather than that of social media strategy architect.

And as I see it, they (TeamSheen et al) have failed at numerous junctions to actually leverage their traffic and momentum. Their brand is scattered and haphazard. They are tweeting & youtubing from multiple accounts. They have an anemic Live Nation page. They are constantly pushing their traffic toward third-party solutions (i.e. Live Nation, You Tube, Internships.com, Yfrog, twitpic etc.) when with his level of capital they could easily have developed a centrally branded site to manage all of these functions in order to harness their market/traffic entirely for themselves.

It doesn't appear to me that they have a #winning strategy at all. In my view their social media strategy is weak. It appears they are being managed and advised by people who are of an "old media" mindset. (i.e. hawk some T-shirts on a live tour like the Rolling Stones and oh yeah then tweet about it...)

At the beginning of March when Sheenmania was cresting, I built a brand and site by myself on a shoestring in less than a week. Imagine what could have been done if they threw 250k at 5 decent Drupal developers. They aren't pioneering anything in the realm of social media. They appear to be running entirely off of existing popularity and piece-mealing their thing together as it unfolds.

They easily could have bought a Tricaster, built an online "Network" through their own website and began developing/curating shows that fit the Tiger Blood ethos. On their new network (Tiger Blood TV perhaps) they could have launched a #charliesheen channel, brought Charlie in to guest on the other channels/shows. Then used the site analytics to lure advertisers to his kingdom. They could have also built their own merch shop to limit sharing proceeds from sales to just the manufacturers. Spreadshirt anyone? Duh!

The anticipation of that first episode of SheensKorner was #Epic and IMO a complete disaster of a missed opportunity. The decisions since have revealed a total lack of understanding of the power of new media and how for the uber-popular the headstart toward establishing a media empire of their very own is just begging to be tapped into. Capital and existing popularity + pioneering understanding and use of new media = massive disruption to the established order of "old media".

Unfortunately it seems Charlie's handlers instead decided to contractually obligate their golden goose to an exhausting live tour that will maybe payout half an episode worth of 2.5 men. And in the process they've failed to genuinely advance the "new media" paradigm by any substantive measure.

#thatsnotwinning #shortmoney #mytwocents http://tigerblood.tv

over 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Can't wait to read what we can learn from Lindsey Lohan, and Gaddaffi's PR strategies.

Well the of part of the strategy that most people will have a hard time following is to get 24/7 coverage on US network TV. So maybe this article is useful for other Hollywood celebs having a meltdown and needing to find another revenue source.

And while I am talking about revenue.......so is Twitter following is bigger than his show, but I am guessing is revenue from his Twitter efforts don't quite meet the $1 million a show :-). Look I am not saying that he hasn't made creative use of a bad situation but the bad situation was screwing up a multi-million dollar gravy train. So I think we've yet to see the return on investment!

over 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

By the way Alex, a lot of this strategy falls into the greatest PR maxim of all time "Be controversial". For example, Rush Limbaugh laughs at Japan earth quake victims and the dollars just pile up in his bank!

over 5 years ago

Alex Moss

Alex Moss, Director at FireCask

@Guy If we stick to Hollywood actors/actresses - Sheen's individual eccentricity mixed with his "be controversial" strategy works well. Lohan's "let's just lose it" strategy doesn't work as well.

When Lohan was released from prison for the XXth time, I am not sure if her manager was waiting outside with a pile of offers from production companies.

Other than this, I also compare this to "celebrities" in the UK who thrive on becoming more successful using the "let's just lose it" strategy. Do a search for Kerry Katona and you will see how it doesn't work in the UK as well.

You have to be of a certain level of fame & eccentricity mixed in order to pull off behaviour such as laughing about the Japan earthquake/tsunami.

over 5 years ago

Guy Harvey

Guy Harvey, Marketing Consultant - Social Media and Media Relations at Human Factors International

Well I guess Charlie is entertaining. Let's face it, he's the cool of stupid. Lindsey is the uncool of stupid. Not knocking either, have compassion for both of them.

Gaddaffi has potential to capitalize on the Iraqi Information Minister brand strategy - the so over the top it's cool dictator brand.

So what could Lindsey do? I think she should have affiliate links to shops that sell the sexy dresses she wears to court. The dress sold out in a day. I also recommend she has an online store with cheap knock offs of the necklace she borrowed. Also selling fake finger nails with FU on them would be good (like she had in court). Anyone got her agent's number?

Linsey's fall out is making big bucks for someone, just not her!, That's the genius I guess of Charlie, he is diverting some of it his way!

So that's key, when massive pub is generated, how do you get a slice and the more I think about it Alex, Charlie knows what he is doing. He has the midas touch. He has tiger blood. He's a winner!

PS

Do I have to search Kerry Katona? :-)

over 5 years ago

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