Michael tops Forbes list of most popular dead celebrities on social media
The Social Networking Lives Of The Dead Celebrities
Just because a celebrity is dead doesn’t mean he can’t tweet. Just look at Michael Jackson. The pop star (who earned $140 million in the last 12 months) has 884,000 followers on Twitter, where he has sent out 572 tweets, including, “RETWEET if you’re bad! #whosbad.”
Obviously it’s not Michael Jackson sending out these tweets. The singer passed away in 2009 at the age of 50.
But the people who manage the estates of dead celebrities have realized that if you want to keep your star relevant, it helps to have a social-networking presence. A surprising number of the stars we looked at for this year’s top-earning dead celebrities list have active online social lives.
We turned to Starcount, a Singapore-based firm that tracks social networks, to help compile a list of the dead celebrities with the biggest social networking footprints. Starcount tracks 11 social networks around that world. Of course Twitter and Facebook are in there but they also look at sites like Renren and Orkut.
Michael Jackson tops our list of the Most Social Dead Celebrities. Jackson’s biggest presence is on YouTube, where his channel has attracted 1 billion hits. The most popular video on the site is for “Thriller“, the short film Jackson made in 1983 with director John Landis.
But Jackson’s team also uses the site to promote new Jackson projects like Bad25, a reissue of Jackson’s iconic Bad album. The release will coincide with a documentary about the album from director Spike Lee which will air on ABC Thanksgiving night.
Living stars need to use social networks to keep in touch with fans. Stars like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga have shown how powerful it can be to have fans feel like they are friends with a celebrity.
It’s a slightly different story for dead celebrities. It would be extremely weird if a dead celebrity replied to a fan’s tweet or Facebook posting. Instead, the estates use the sites mostly to keep fans up to date on any new products and to give fans a place to interact.
“A few years ago, it was rare for deceased stars to have official presences on social networks,” says Daniel Dearlove, head of data at Starcount. “The accounts can serve as communities for fans of the dead star.”
On Tupac Shakur’s Facebook page, for example, there are images of Shakur murals from around the world submitted by fans. The site recently shared a photo by Abdul Kashem of a mural in Birmingham, England, of Shakur’s face. It attracted 1,000 shares and 57 comments.
Shakur ranks third on our list of the Most Social Dead Celebrities. Like many of the musicians on our list, Shakur is most active on YouTube where his channel attracts more than 100,000 hits per day. The channel has been viewed 39 million times.
Musicians do well on our list because fans can watch their videos and listen to their music through their fan sites. Ranking second in between Jackson and Shakur is Bob Marley. The reggae singer is having a resurgence thanks to a marketing push from his estate, which now sells a Marley-branded “relaxation” drink, as well as Marley headphones, speakers and bags.
The singer has 41 million fans on Facebook and is the most popular reggae star, living or dead, on social networks, according to Starcount.
John Lennon ranks fourth on our list. The singer’s YouTube channel has been viewed 21.9 million times. Yoko Ono recently put up a video thanking fans for their devotion to Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday. Fans can also watch videos of Lennon’s music on the site.
Rounding out the top five is Elvis Presley. The King has legions of passionate fans who can read about his new music on his Facebook page. And no, that’s not a mistake. Presley is featured in a duet of “If I Can Dream” with Celine Dion on the Canadian singer’s latest album, which hits stores this week.
"The starcount score is simply the number we get from counting and adding together public social media data from the top11 social media platforms and applying our ‘smart’ formula.
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Where available, we count 2 measurements on each platform:
• Popularity (P)
• Engagement (E)
Then we apply a weighting to each network which reflects scale and reach of the network and adjusts for the different behaviours and metrics."
The way I understand it, the starcount is a score they use that reflects the popularity of the artist based on things like Twitter followers, Facebook likes and Youtube views, but it's not the exact number of Youtube views, Facebook likes etc. combined.
So for example Michael has a starcount of 220 million, which doesn't tell us much about how many Facebook likes etc. he has exactly. But it does tell us that he's much more popular on social media than these other very famous people on that list, since the second person on the list has a starcount of only 42 million. In fact, Michael's score is bigger than the rest of the top 10 combined.