#AlexfromTarget – The Double-edged Sword of Internet Fame

Last weekend a young man working in a Target store in Texas was happily packing groceries when a storm of unwanted attention descended on him. A local girl who thought he was hot tweeted about him. Later her friend was in his checkout line, took his picture and posted it online.

It could have ended right there.  However, someone with a larger following saw the pic and re-tweeted it and suddenly it took off and went insanely viral.

visible alexThanks to Visible Technologies and Cision for the analysis of the tweets.

 

When all this started Alex had only 144 followers on Twitter.  Two days later he had over 500,000. He was invited to appear on the Ellen show and he now has 670,000 followers.

An analysis of his followers shows that 72% are in the US – 15% on the West Coast and 19% on the East Coast. The biggest cluster of followers are in the middle of the country.

Ellen asked Alex if he feels that he now has an obligation to tweet to these followers.  He said he feels overwhelmed and pressured by the whole event and he would not know what to say.  She asked if he has any talents – can he sing or dance?  His answer was “I can apparently bag groceries pretty well.”

He seems like a delightful young man and I sincerely hope that he copes well with this flood of attention.

THE GOOD

This is an amazing opportunity.  He now has a following – an audience of teens who would listen to him. If he gets the right direction and assistance, he could leverage this into a career and a fortune. It’s not surprising that agents and managers are courting Alex.  He is a hot property today.  For any brand that sells to young teenage girls, Alex is a dream-come-true. He has their attention – at least this week.  However, that audience has a notoriously short attention span. If he doesn’t grab it and run with it right now, he might find they have moved on to the next shiny object.

If he has a genuine desire to act, or be in the spotlight in any way, this is his chance.  He could start a YouTube Channel, but he will need a strategy and a direction, so that  he has a valuable steam of content to deliver to his fans. If he does that he could grow that audience and become even more interesting to brands who market to teen fangirls. There is indeed a pot of gold a the end of that rainbow. 

THE BAD

Alex has been ripped from obscurity and put in the media spotlight. If he has no goals or desires to be famous, and no idea how to control this roller coaster ride, this could be the worst thing that could possibly happen to him.

Once you step into that spotlight you belong to the world. The entertainment media has no regard for privacy or sensibility.  The  paparazzi will hound him and delight in taking photos of every misstep he makes. It’s very easy for that kind of fame and fortune to disrupt the life of a young man like Alex.  Hollywood is littered with child stars gone bad.

THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY

While the storm was raging online, Alex was none the wiser.  He did not even know his photo had been taken.  He did not give permission for this to occur. Suddenly Target is posting We love #AlexfromTarget too.  Really?  He’s been working there for 3 months and you never even so much as glanced in his direction.  Now that he is an Internet sensation, you love him. 

A marketing company (who I will not name – I am not going to give them any more exposure) claims they orchestrated the entire campaign as a social experiment. Funny that none of the players who started this know anything about that firm.  And when queried for proof, they had none.  We deleted the conversations, they said,  Yeah, right!  Any marketing company that does a case study of this nature keeps scrupulous records.

#AlexfromTarget has two choices now:  either he steps back and say this is not what I want, or he embraces it and uses it to further his own goals.  I hope that whichever path he chooses, he does what he really wants to do, not what is being forced upon him by others.

 

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