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Hill Harper makes history using social media. Hollywood takes a back seat to the web.

For Real Solutions

Tonight I felt like I was watching history in the making. I sat at my computer, watched James Andrews @keyinfluencer , host a live video show with famed movie, star and current CSI actor Hill Harper (@hillharper) and participated in an online chat with many other online friends who I’ve communicated with previously through the popular social networking site twitter. The show took place on Hill’s For Real Solution Ning social networking site along with a Meebo chat. The entire setup used, Ustream.TV for the live show, meebo embed chat, blogtalkradio for audio recording and viewer call-in. I originally heard about the live show via an email from the ning website as I’m a member their but then I was reminded again by @TheJennTaFur on twitter. You can say she’s was the unofficial marketing person for the event.  The show started at 9:00 p.m. EST but I started visiting the site around 8:45 and was surprised to see many of my virtual friends already online chatting including:

I left the live show before it ended but while watching, the free meebo chat reached it’s limit of 80 users, viewers were redirected to the blogtalkradiochat room and the count was up to 167 people watching Hill Harper engage with friends, family, fans, followers about topics that such as politics, eduction, entrepreneurship, giving back to the community, youth, social media, support for single home families and more.  I even had a chance to call-in and talk to Mr. Hill Harper himself which lead to Mr. Harper asking me about how he could grow his twitter following (I was put on the spot) in which I suggested he tweeting about his life, do Q&A with other of his celebrity friends and about his day to day activities. After that I asked Mr. Harper about how he got involved with social media and why don’t we see other actors using it. To hear Hill’s answer you can listed to the entire show here:

For Real Solutions

So why was this history in the making? For one, how many actors do you know willing to take the time to do a live Q&A via the web about almost any topic from any caller? I know their are a few but not that many. Also during tonight’s show I didn’t feel as though as I was watching Hill Harper the Hollywood actor but Hill Harper a friend who has some of the same concerns and passions as I do. For those of you who have been on twitter for at least 9 months then you know transparency, relationships and conversations are three buzzwords that everyone is saying when we talk about social media, well tonight we saw all three in action. But this method of using social media won’t work for everyone and just because you’re an actor or NBA player or rap star or country boy from the tobacco field doesn’t mean you’re going to start a twitter account, host a live show and have thousands of followers on twitter or other online projects, it takes work.
Tonight’s question from Hill had me wondering why Mr. Harper doesn’t have more twitter followers than I do? Mr. Harper currently has 1,229 followers when I last checked. He’s a famous actor, played in various movie rolls, TV shows, written a book, been a guest in music videos and I think he is close friends with President Elect Barack Obama.

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Not only have I seen Mr. Harper on twitter but I’ve seen him record Youtube videos and engage with online users using other digital platforms as well.

In a time we’re we have seen Britney Spears and TylerPerry being called out for not using twitter or social media correctly by having their PR team doing their only promotions here is Mr. Harper engaging the community, having a conversations with his followers the right way. Could Mr. Harper do a better job tweeting, yes but so could the other 100,000 or more new twitter users just signed up in the last few months. (see techcrunch post).  Will Mr. Harper grow his followers online, yes, just as long as he keeps doing projects like he did last night.

Well, me being the twitter guy that I am, I asked on twitter: How would you like to see actors use twitter & social media?

Twitter / Wayne Sutton: Question: How would you li ... - Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 (Build 20081007125523)

Here are a few tweets from the 16 replies I received:

@kinalcorp: @waynesutton actors can use social media to promote and support a cause-maybe my cause?! social networking + purpose
@brotherjesse: @waynesutton empowering their following at the same time sharing the behind the scenes work it take to be where they are
@z3rr0: @waynesuttonJust like everyone else. No PR – real things.
@KristenEJ: @waynesutton -It’s great when they use it for positive means like Hill, not as a way to get more junk publicity for themselves.
@jdawkinsatl:@waynesutton I would like to read about the other things they may be passionate about. Fav charity or org, craft or hobbie?n My 2 cents.
@3rddeadline: @waynesutton 1st like the rest of us. Engage. Don’t come trying to upsell us on your “brand”. 2nd let us inside ur world as best u can.
@urbaneimagery: @waynesutton I would love to see actors use Twitter and social media to talk about their upcoming projects and community involvement
@ProfAlliHost: @waynesuttonFor updates to live chats, like Harper. They are busy, but occasional interaction would be nice. We pay their salaries 🙂
@jrmozart: @waynesutton i’d like to see actors talk not just about appearances, films, etc. but abt what they’re doing in their daily lives
@james3neal: @waynesutton In all seriousness, I think actors should use Twitter/social media in the same manner us “regular” people do. Tweet reality.

Most people of the people are saying actors or stars however you want to call them, should just uses the tools like everyone else. Engage, and don’t try to just sell us your brand or ask us to sign-up for your newsletter but let us into your daily lives. Sometimes it is about what you are doing and who are doing it with. With social media you may be on the West Coast but I can be sitting at my desk felling like I was right their by reading your tweets, watching your behind the scenes live stream or participating in a live chat. Can you the busy movie star do it all yourself, no but with the right training or a team you can have as many people going to see your movie on opening night or watching your Thursday night TV show, seeing you online talking about the production of the movie or watching you in between episode takes.

hill harper

Mr. Harper, I admire you, you’re a community leader, a trend setter, and when others in your industry start to copy what you are doing I’m going to say Hill Harper was doing it first.  Keep twittering, recording youtube videos, and growing your social network and I hope I get a chances to chat with you during the next live Hill Harper Q&A video show. Thanks James Andrews aka @keyinfluencer , Liz  @calinative and others who made history last night.

Question: Who are some other actors using social media to extend their brand?

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