Tying Michael Jackson’s record of number one singles from one album is no easy feat, yet Katy Perry swiftly achieved it with her third studio album Teenage Dream. However, with this success also comes the influx of fans and the consequence of becoming a popular, public persona always on display. Thrust into the world of celebrities and idol-ship, the “I Kissed A Girl” singer has taken on the sometimes heavy burden of appealing to fans at all times. Thus, Katy Perry strives to maintain a consistent and broadly-appealing social media presence (having about forty-six and half million followers on Twitter makes this last point very important) in order to keep her fans happy.
One way Katy Perry attempts to keep from alienating any of her fan base is by tweeting to the lowest common denominator. Authors Alice E. Marwick and danah boyd define the lowest common denominator as “individuals only post[ing] things they believe their broadest group of acquaintances will find non-offensive” in their article “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience” (9). In other words, Perry tailors her tweets to appeal to the masses, instead of following the more controversy-ridden route of fellow musical artists Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor. If, for example, she tweeted with a complete disregard for anyone else, she’d probably run into the problem of what Marwick and boyd call “context collapse” in which the tweet posted may not be interpreted the way the producer (Perry in this case) wants it to be interpreted. Context collapse then becomes perfect fodder for the likes of TMZ and Access Hollywood. But forty-six and a half million people obviously all have differing perspectives on what’s socially acceptable and different opinions on issues, so Katy Perry takes the lowest common denominator tactic, but takes it one step further: she tweets incessantly about something she knows everybody will have in common, her music.
Her new album Prism has become, with barely one or two exceptions, the one only topic that she talks about, using this platform more as a way to gain fans then to really express what she’s thinking. It’s very apropos that her Twitter presence takes on this characteristic, as it mirrors her Billboard Top 100-type, mainstream music style made more for the facade of fame than sending a message.
In addition, Katy Perry works hard to maintain a consistent brand for herself that spans across the online and the offline record label world. While in the essay by Sarah Banet-Weiser “Branding the Post-Feminist Self: Girl’s Video Production and YouTube” she argues that the previously-exclusive-to-celebrities idea of branding an individual has seeped over into the world of the average individual, she articulates that a self-brand is an image used to market yourself to the world. It’s important for her to maintain a consistent self-brand so that her followers know what to expect when they choose to get her tweets in their tweet deck. For example, in a Rolling Stones article called “Sex, God & Katy Perry” the author Vanessa Grigoriadis labels Perry “America’s sexiest pop star”. This throne, however, doesn’t come lightly and requires maintenance on Perry’s part to upkeep this persona. It is at these moments when she takes to Twitter and posts pictures of herself seductively glaring into the lens or an upshot of her legs spread, leaning over a microphone, with a proactive lip pout as she purportedly sings the lyrics to her new song “Roar.”
However, Banet-Weiser sees a problem with branding as it also entails shaping ourselves to fit a commercial imperative or a social norm all in the attempt to gain capital. Katy Perry is guilty of this, defining her capital as both her fans and the subsequent money that comes from these fans in the form of record sales. She crafts her Twitter profile in such a way that she knows will please her fans, transferring their interest into tangible cash. Her self-branding is a way to please the record label and a way to please the fans.
In conclusion, Katy Perry’s Twitter is less about being an avenue in which she can post her thoughts and become an wholly authentic self and more about maintaining her public fan base. Her tweets have become so sterile, so monotonously about the same subject, so uniform with what the media has labeled her that there’s no room for getting anything than what is expected. Thus, her fans aren’t going anywhere and, judging by her newly named title of most popular person on Twitter, neither is she.