At right: Ellie Brightmore's portrait of Ian Somerhalder, which he found and posted on his own Twitter. (Photos from Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Ian Somerhalder, and Ellie Brightmore)Ellie Brightmore doesn't exactly study art in school. In her words, the 14-year-old British Vampire Diaries fan is mostly a "self taught" artist. But a few weeks ago, her art found a very influential fan in Ian Somerhalder, the star of the show that sits at the center of Ellie's online universe.
Ellie's Twitter handle, @ellie_salvatore, is an obvious nod to Vampire Diaries' central brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore, both of whom she's likely stared at long enough that drawing them wouldn't seem like much of a leap. She just didn't expect that when she posted her drawing of Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore on Twitter, he'd really take notice.
After all, getting Tweeted by the actor didn't have anything to do with her reasons for drawing him. Ellie told us via email, "I decided to draw Ian because he's my favorite actor, and I think he's absolutely beautiful inside, and out! I love him so much!"
But he did notice when Ellie posted the picture, with the message, "I drew a picture of you. I hope you like it!" He posted his response soon after: a four second video in which he says, "I don't like it. I love it." That four second video brought Ellie about 400 new followers and 100 @ tweets in one day. In her words, "It was insane!"
Obviously not all fan art gets a direct reply from someone as high profile as Somerhalder, but Ellie's experience sheds some light on how to get a celebrity to tweet at you, even if it was all sort of an accident. So here are some of the basics on how to get famous users to notice you on Twitter.
1. Choose the Right Celeb
Right away if someone has gone for months without tweeting, rarely tweets @ anyone, or follows fewer than 100 people, it's unlikely they're going to interact with their fans. Look for obvious signs of fan engagement. The more interaction the better. Justin Bieber, for instance, goes on Twitter sprees that are packed with fan retweets and replies. While few celebs reach his level of engagement, others like Kristen Bell, Olivia Wilde, and Jimmy Fallon regularly look for fans to interact with.
2. Be Funny and Interesting
That's easier said than done, right? But famous tweeters consistently say they won't retweet the many thousands of fans who simply ask for an "RT." Shaquille O'Neal, whose Twitter has crossed over into non-sports fans, pointed out to the Daily Mail that with millions of followers, there's no chance he can get to all his fans. But he does tend to reply to 20 or 30 of them in 10 minute chunks. "Especially if they say something funny. A lot of people think they can say anything. I just ignore that." He adds that he's looking for "whoever’s funny," when he's on Twitter.
3. Look for What They're Interested In
Read a person's Twitter to get to know his or her personality first. Do love pictures of sloths? (Like Kristen Bell.) Do they favor certain hashtags? (Mindy Kaling played along with #fakesxsw and sometimes retweets people tweeting about #TheMindyProject.) Or are they vocal supporters of certain causes? Ian Somerhalder, for instance, is big on animals. He created the Ian Somerhalder Foundation as an extension of his charitable work, and often tweets about helping no kill animal shelters, fighting animal cruelty, and sterilizing pets. It doesn't take long on his Twitter to see that he's a very big animal lover.
It's like getting to know a new friend. If Taylor Swift was actually your friend in real life, what would you IM her? Probably pictures of cats and tiny pianos. So if you've got a kitten, dress him up in a sweater vest, and tweet that picture at her. (Bonus Tip: Her lucky number is 13, so if you can work that into the photo somehow, all the better.) If you volunteer at a no kill animal shelter, tweet info about it to Ian Somerhalder, and if you live in Costa Rica take as many sloth pictures as possible for Kristen Bell.
4. Timing Is Everything
A lot of people tweet at celebrities, so their @ pages are basically endless scrolls where your messages are buried within hours if not minutes. So keep a sharp eye on your chosen celeb's feed. If you can quote tweet them or tweet @ them within a couple of minutes of them getting online and writing their first post, then you stand a much higher chance of being noticed.
5. And Lastly, Show Some Respect
Just like you wouldn't annoy a personal friend by bombarding them with IMs, it's a bad idea to constantly send requests for an "RT" to your favorite celeb. At best it makes a tweeter look desperate, and at worst it makes them look like a spammer. It's okay to tweet at them often, but keep the messages interesting and engaging. And while you're showing respect to those famous actors, musicians, and models, show the same respect to your fellow fans.
"On Twitter, a fan should NEVER be disrespectful towards anyone," Ellie, who says she follows about 20 verified accounts, told us. "If their favorite celebrities or followers ever witnessed this, they probably wouldn't tweet them. Also, if I were them, I wouldn't be too clingy with the tweets, just act cool."
After all, it worked for her.