Lady Gaga uses Twitter to turn fans into friends

Lady Gaga uses social media not for promotion but rather as a communication tool with her fans, says Melissa Click. "She shares personal and 'insider' information through social media and develops feelings of intimacy with her followers." (Credit: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones/Flickr)

More than 175 million tweets are sent daily, and 11 Twitter accounts are created every second, statistics show. With more than 40 million Twitter followers, Lady Gaga boasts the highest number of global subscribers.

“Our work tends to focus on studying audiences who are maligned or consider themselves awkward,” says Melissa Click, assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri.

“In our study of Lady Gaga followers, we found that she uses social media not for promotion but rather as a communication tool with her fans. She shares personal and ‘insider’ information through social media and develops feelings of intimacy with her followers. By revealing her embrace of her own differences and unusual behaviors she allows her followers to embrace their own differences.”

For a new study published in the journal Popular Music and Society, researchers interviewed several fans who identified as gay, who had eating disorders, who considered themselves different, or who were taunted relentlessly.

They reported that Lady Gaga instilled strength in them through her acceptance of their differences. Also, the social support network Lady Gaga fosters encourages her followers to be more charitable to each other, Click says. Often fans create support communities that allow her followers to encourage and inspire others in times of difficulty.

‘Little Monsters’ unite

Researchers conducted one-on-one interviews with 45 self-identified “Little Monsters,” or followers of Lady Gaga, who ranged in ages from 14 to 53, were equally male and female and who equally identified as gay or straight.

Using software, including Skype and Google Chat, to communicate with followers from the US, Australia, Europe, Asia, and Africa, among others, researchers asked how social media affected their interest in and relationship to Lady Gaga. Researchers also asked interviewees about their feelings toward Lady Gaga’s social activism.

“We found that among the more salient themes that emerged from our research was that participants’ perceived relationships with Gaga affected how close they felt to her,” Click says.

“They felt that she is the voice who celebrates their differences instead of mocking them, and this was a very positive thing.”

Source: University of Missouri