Entertainer Will Smith unquestionably is one of the most popular and successful actors since the early 1990’s. The rapper turned actor gained fame on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air sitcom for six seasons, before transitioning into one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.
However, in recent years his star has dimmed a bit. Questionable movie roles and lack of audience interest finally caught up to Smith. His days of grossing $100 million+ for eight straight films in the 2000’s were long gone. Fast forward to 2018 and the movie industry has a new generation of fresh faces that have exploded onto the scene. Even an established, charismatic and charming personality like Will Smith has seen his fair challenges. The two-time Oscar nominee found his career at a crossroads with not so stellar box office receipts in recent years.
Instead of fading off into the sunset and walking away from the movie industry, Smith recently turned to social media to remind fans about the Will Smith brand. Let’s look at what he’s done with digital in just a few short months.
Leverages social media influencers
On the December 14th, 2017 taping of the Ellen show, Will Smith promoted his new Netflix film, Bright. With the assistance of day time talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres, she playfully got Smith up to speed with how to use Instagram and take the best images. One of Will’s signature traits is his humility, being able to make fun of himself on screen and in this case, he demonstrated it flawlessly. It also didn’t hurt to have Ellen’s combined social media presence of over 180+ million followers help welcome Will to the ‘gram.
A little over one week later, Will Smith teamed up with YouTube star Lilly Singh aka IISuperwomanII to help produce a comedic video on Internet lingo. The playful sketch saw the Independence Day actor poke fun of himself again, learning the ins and outs of social media language that his children Jaden and Willow use on a regular day basis.
Creates must see content
Even at age 49, Will Smith has found his way into reconnecting with his fan base. There was already a coolness factor built into him and even as a parent, he has found many ways to stay relevant. For instance, he uses his Instagram platform to share great life stories. Instead of showing off materialistic items, he inspires millions by providing words of wisdom to everyone from all walks of life. Smith might be older these days, but he’s still charming, he still has your attention and he continues to generate a positive light with his presence.
Will recently launched a YouTube channel to document his behind the scenes access of upcoming projects. The channel is basically an extension of his IG platform, with a more vlog like feel that documents his comedic side, as well as travelling and exploring other countries around the globe. While many might have thought Will had lost a step or two and was out of touch with his core audience, him joining these two social platforms allowed him to remind others of his iconic personality. His not so lucky streak of under performing films in the entertainment headlines became his identity for a while. Was he washed up? Did he still have what it took to entertain the millions? Now with his emergence on social media to such huge fanfare, the new strategy allows Smith to reconnect with fans and help launch his next projects with better leverage.
10 Million – THANK YOUS to my New Instagram Fam! . Obrigado | Gracias | धन्यवाद् | Grazie | شكرا | Merci | Danke Sehr | 谢谢 | Спасибо | ありがとうございました | תודה | Ευχαριστώ | Mahalo | Gràcies | 감사합니다 | ขอบคุณครับ | Tak | Hvala | Děkuji | շնորհակալություն | Dankie | Faleminderit | Takk | Dank je | Tänan | Kiitos | Köszönöm | Ngiyabonga | Terima Kasih | Paldies | Ačiū | Благодарам | Grazzi | Баярлалаа | Dziękuję | Mulţumesc | Ďakujem | Tack | நன்றி | teşekkür ederim | Дякую | Diolch | Murakoze | ممنون | გმადლობ | Asante | Sag boluň . (Extra special thanx to you @roger.avary)
If you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em
With someone with such a vibrant personality like Will Smith, him joining Instagram and YouTube was a long-delayed process. Originally he refused to cave in and join the trend. But once he saw the power and success that the medium could have on an entertainer’s career, he finally gave it a shot. The days of promoting a product were no longer surrounded by mystique – but rather by providing the consumer with more insight and access to the endorser.
Probably one of the greatest examples of this is Dwayne Johnson. The former pro wrestler known as The Rock saw his film career elevate to unprecedented heights by being building his fan base with social media marketing, by being transparent with his audience and listening to them. Upon entering the acting world in the early 2000’s, Johnson aspired to have a career like Smith, different but bigger. 18 years later, he recently surpassed Smith in total career box office gross numbers.
While Will Smith continues on with his two new platforms to get the public re-energized for his film career (he already had a Facebook page ran by his management), the key take away is that it allows him to connect to an entirely new generation of followers in the smartphone era.
In addition, the strategy behind Smith’s decision to star in a studio like film on Netflix was brilliant. Some might have thought it was a demotion or a risky career move, but in the long run it could prove to be a future trend among other actors. Netlix is the new medium and cultural trend. And while consumers still watch movies in theatres, the water cooler conversations that take place the next day are centered by which Netflix content they consumed at home.
To stay relevant and to be consistent, you must take on an adapt or perish approach. Will Smith knows his strengths as a personality, so while his staying power value fell may have waned, he quickly got it back on track thanks to social media. By mid-February, he landed number 1 on the Top Actors Social Media Ranking list in just eight weeks. We will see how Smith does with future projects going forward…it’s safe to say he’s on the right path.