ORLANDO, Fla – These days, it is difficult to imagine a world without social media, and at this year’s Star Wars Celebration V, it seems as though the influence of Twitter has never been more strongly felt.
In a panel, titled “Fandom in 140 Words or Less,” bloggers and social media experts discussed how Twitter has brought the “Star Wars” community together, and shaped the fan experience throughout the world.
“At Lucasfilm, we try to do as much fan outreach as possible,” said Bonnie Burton, editor of StarWars.com. “It’s a good way to connect with us, and it’s a good way for us to connect with you.”
Burton also handles the official “Star Wars” Twitter account and avidly “tweets” and engages with fans of the franchise. [ Graphic: Light Sabers in Fact and Fiction ]
Kyle Newman, director of the film “Fanboys,” which is an ode to the world of “Star Wars” fandom, explained why Twitter is a convenient and easy way to make connections with people.
“When you’re following people, it all comes right to you,” Newman said. "You can customize what kind of information you’re interested in, and it is all filtered through the personality of the person tweeting.”
Newman, who described Twitter as a “mail-order service of awesome,” explained that the micro-blogging site is not only a way to efficiently distribute information to an online community, but also a way to receive updates on a variety of topics.
He took advantage of Twitter and other social media as a way to promote his film, in order to compensate for the studio’s small marketing budget.
Burton also discussed how Lucasfilm is embracing social media, which has helped to engage the “Star Wars” audience, and create dialogue amongst the fans.
She and other panelists (and even those in attendance at the event) were live-tweeting as the discussion occurred.
“This is how we connect with fans who couldn’t be here,” Burton said.
She also noted that it was a way to connect with “Star Wars” enthusiasts who live in other countries and other time zones.
Engaging in social media has fed the discourse within the fan community, as it allows people to provide instantaneous feedback.
“Companies use it and they pay attention,” Newman said. “Your voice is probably being heard. It can help shape 'Star Wars' and what’s coming out. It allows you to have your finger on the pulse.”
Each panelist, however, emphasized that social media should be fun, and encouraged it as a way to make new friends and connect with people all over the world.
“I’ve met amazing friends on Twitter,” Burton said. “It’s just a great bonding experience.”