Celebrities Acting up: A Speech Act Analysis in Tweets of Famous People


Twitter has become very popular among celebrities. It is the main platform used by them to publish press releases and, especially, to reach out to their fans. Given the pervasiveness of celebrities on the site, people with related interests may be especially likely to start using the service due to the perception of direct access to a famous person. As for the celebrities, it is a way of being close to the public and giving them an insight in to the life of a celebrity. Although most celebrity Twitter accounts are only used for promotion purposes, many celebrities use their personal accounts for the purpose of communicating with their fans, friends and other celebrities. These celebrities tweet personal photos and share their inner thoughts for various reasons and to different audiences. Thus in this study I ask: What are celebrity speech patterns on Twitter? Are they talking mostly to fans, and if not, who are they talking to? How are they talking to these different audiences? I address these questions by analyzing the tweets publicly available on four active celebrities’ Twitter timelines. The findings support that these celebrities indeed address different audiences on Twitter, including fans, friends, family and other celebrities. The findings further reveal that celebrities tend to communicate using different speech acts when talking to these different audiences. In light of this evidence, I attempt to highlight patterns that may be relevant with regards to the celebrities’ gender.

Share and Cite:

Nemer, D. (2016) Celebrities Acting up: A Speech Act Analysis in Tweets of Famous People. Social Networking, 5, 1-10. doi: 10.4236/sn.2016.51001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Kwak, H., Lee, C., Park, H. and Moon, S. (2010) What Is Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media? ACM: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web, New York, 591-600.
[2] Twitter Blog (2012). http://blog.twitter.com/
[3] Munten, N. and Petersen, A.H. (2009) Celebrity Twitter: Strategies of Intrusion and Disclosure in the Age of Technoculture. M/C Journal, 12.
[4] Marwick, A. and Boyd, D. (2011) To See and Be Seen: Celebrity Practice on Twitter. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17, 139-158.
[5] Ferris, K.O. (2001) Through a Glass, Darkly: The Dynamics of Fan-Celebrity Encounters. Symbolic Interaction, 24, 25-47. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/si.2001.24.1.25
[6] Hargittai, E. and Litt, E. (2011) The Tweet Smell of Celebrity Success: Explaining Variation in Twitter Adoption among a Diverse Group of Young Adults. New Media & Society, 1, 170-179.
[7] Wigley, S. and Lewis, B.K. (2012) Rules of Engagement: Practice What You Tweet. Public Relations Review, 38, 165- 167. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.08.020
[8] Francis, G. and Hunston, S. (1992) Analyzing Everyday Conversation. In: Coulthard, M., Ed., Advances in Spoken Dis- course Analysis, Routledge, London, 1-34.
[9] Honeycutt, C. and Herring, S.C. (2009) Beyond Microblogging: Conversation and Collaboration via Twitter. Proceedings of the 42th Hawai’i International Conference on System Sciences, Los Alamitos.
[10] Markham, A. and Baym, N. (2009) Internet Inquiry: Conversations about Method. Sage, Thousand Oaks. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483329086
[11] Quintanilla, C. (2011) The Oprah Effect. CNBC. http://www.cnbc.com/id/29961298/
[12] Moodie, C. (2011) Britney Spears Pictured Backstage at Rock of Ages with Shane Ward. The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/britney-spears-pictured-backstage-at-rock-89309
[13] NBA.com (2012). http://www.nba.com/playerfile/shaquille_oneal/bio.html
[14] Time Magazine (2012).
[15] Time Magazine. The 2011 Time 100 (2011).
[16] Herring, S.C. (2004) Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis: An Approach to Researching Online Behavior. In: Barab, S.A., Kling, R. and Gray, J.H., Eds., Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning, Cambridge University Press, New York, 338-376. Preprint.
[17] Das, A. (2010) Social Interaction Process Analysis of Bengalis’ on Orkut?. In: Taiwo, R., Ed., Handbook of Research on Discourse Behavior and Digital Communication: Language Structures and Social Interaction, 66-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch004
[18] Herring, S.C., Das, A. and Penumarthy, S. (2005) CMC Act Taxonomy.
[19] Glaser, B. and Strauss, A. (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine Pub. Co., New York.
[20] Bach, K. and Harnish, R. (1979) Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts.
[21] Herring, S.C. (1993) Gender and Democracy in Computer-Mediated Communication. Electronic Journal of Communication, 3. http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~herring/ejc.doc
[22] Lambiase, J. (2003) Codes of Online Sexuality: Celebrity, Gender and Marketing on the Web. Journal of Sexuality and Culture, 7, 57-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12119-003-1003-9
[23] Kapidzic, S. and Herring, S.C. (2011) Gender, Communication, and Self-Presentation in Teen Chatrooms Revisited: Have Patterns Changed? Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17, 39-59.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.