Apr 30, 2012

What Betty White Taught Me About Social Media
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Written by : Rachel Parker| 0 | Social Media

Betty White: TV legend, social media meme

One of my favorite social-media-fueled trends over the last year or so has been the resurrection of Betty White’s career.

For those of you youngsters who may think of Ms. White as a recent discovery, you might be interested to know that she’s been a TV personality since 1939. In the 1950s, she became one of the first women in Hollywood to enjoy full creative control in front of and behind the camera (as producer and star of the sitcom Life with Elizabeth) and has won seven Emmy Awards.

So yeah, Betty White is the sh*t. If you don’t believe me, check out her Wikipedia page … just make sure your scrolling finger’s warmed up first.

Her 73-plus-year career has been an inspiration … and it’s taught me a few things about social media.

1. Know Your Style and Work It

From her double-Emmy-winning stint on The Mary Tyler More Show to her comic genius work on The Golden Girls (the source of three more Emmys) to her SAG-Award-winning role on Hot in Cleveland, Betty White has created one of the most recognizable brands in Hollywod: a sugary-sweet exterior thinly veiling a fierce sardonic edge. She’s never tried to be something she’s not, never tried to emulate anyone else’s style.

Like Hollywood, the socialverse can spot a pretender a mile away, so being you is something you owe yourself—and your fans.

2. You Can’t Go Wrong Laughing at Yourself

In an environment where lying about your age has become the rule rather than the exception, the dauntless Ms. White proudly and publicly celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year.  

And she never misses an opportunity to make her advanced years the subject of her own jokes. In the monologue that headed her Facebook-inspired hosting stint on Saturday Night Live, Ms. White openly mocked her age with the line “People say Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends. At my age, if I want to connect with old friends, I need a Ouija Board.”

Well played, Betty. Not only does making fun of yourself tend to head off your critics—it’s also an engagement tactic that’s been successful since the dawn of language.

3. Don’t Fight Change—Embrace It

I don’t know many 90-year-olds who are active on social media, but Ms. White has eagerly embraced the medium that fueled her latest career resurgence. Just a couple of weeks ago, she tweeted a feisty, flirtatious tweet to Ryan Seacrest, the time-slot competitor for her new show Betty White’s Off Their Rockers:

And hey, if Betty White can attain rock Twitter’s socks off (with over 100,000 followers), the rest of us have no excuse not to try something new, right? So that’s my take on what TV-legend-turned-Internet-meme Betty White can teach us about social media. How about you? Share your thoughts in the comments—we’d love to hear from you!


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Rachel Parker

A self-proclaimed geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations.
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  • Hello Rachel,

    What an awesome post!

    I am a HUGE fan of Betty White’s. Not only is she funny as hell, but she is also a VERY smart lady who can all teach us lessons in authenticity and branding. She is the total package, and she is extremely lovable.

    I have a friend who had the luck of meeting her, and says she is just as genuine in real life as what you see on TV.

    In my mind, Ellen de Generes is the only celebrity that is taking the same path as Mrs. White. I look up to them when it comes to branding. They have it all figured out!

    Thank you!

  • Hi Rachel working on my brand new iPad but anyway just wanted to tell you this post is pure genius and really enjoyed it. I especially loved the embedded tweet from Betty. it definetly resonates! I shareded a link below apparently now you can capture entire conversations from twitter with Tweetbot and Storify…could be interesting


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Rachel Parker

A self-proclaimed geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations.

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