07 Jun Executive Spotlight: How Rihanna Uses Social Media to Work Work Work
Profile pictures are crucial to an executive’s social media presence. Not only do they serve as a form of digital identification for a brand or person, but they also serve as an unspoken first impression. For influential executives such as Rihanna, a simple change in her profile picture recently symbolized a progression in her image and career.
With over 70 million Instagram followers and 90 million followers on Twitter, Robyn Rihanna Fenty has successfully used these two social media platforms to distinguish her two main brand identities: on Instagram, she brands herself as Rihanna, the pop icon, and on Twitter, she is Rihanna, the face of the Fenty fashion empire.
Fans have witnessed the famous popstar’s ongoing success as she continued to take on diverse projects such as releasing the body-positive lingerie line Savage x Fenty, landing an acting role in blockbuster heist-comedy Oceans 8, and disrupting the fashion scene as LVMH’s first original woman-created brand.
In this special edition of Executive Spotlight, we will take a look at Rihanna’s overall social media presence, and how the recent change of her Twitter profile picture has become a symbol of her transition in the businessworld.
A Symbol of Change
Last week, fans quickly noticed that the singer had changed her display picture on Twitter from her stick figure alter ego Rhenna to a more professional headshot of her from the recent Fenty launch party in Paris.
The stick figure’s awkward expressionless face has been a staple inside joke to the singer’s fans on Twitter since the release of her most recent album “Anti” in 2016.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) September 2, 2016
However, in her new profile picture she sports a crisp white blazer. Just as Rihanna is stepping it up in the business world, so too is her Twitter headshot. Seen most frequently on business networking platform Linkedin, a headshot can become the first and most important impression made on potential connections and networks, as well as clients.
To some, the beautiful, yet powerful, headshot of Rihanna symbolizes the end of “Riri” the singer.
This viral tweet jokingly made the observation that since Rihanna is currently focusing her career on her new fashion house, Fenty, fans shouldn’t expect new music coming anytime soon.
soon she gonna change ‘badgalriri’ to ‘robyn fenty’ pic.twitter.com/ZCF7QxzBSj
— michelle (@MichelleWanha) May 28, 2019
Described as being the intersection of fame and fashion, Rihanna has made strides in the industry as a woman of color in business, and is successfully transitioning from a popstar to a savvy businesswoman. She is anticipated to help infuse a new way of thinking from her entertainment background into the more “aristocratic and European world of LVMH” as stated by Forbes.
Therefore, it is important for her digital presence to reflect the progress in her career through an elevated social profile. Rihanna and her team strategically use Twitter as the main platform to market Fenty, which garners more followers than her Instagram and thus reaches a wider audience. Meanwhile, on Instagram, her social presence is synonymous with her personality as a performer. Her Instagram profile includes story highlights centred around personal and entertainment topics, such as music, makeup, selfies, and insightful Bible verses.
On Instagram, she has kept the Rhenna profile picture, an ode to her fans. Even her handle @badgalriri speaks to her playful Instagram character.
Even when she promotes Fenty, her Instagram posts present it in an informal, authentic way. For example, in this Instagram post, Rihanna puckers her lips in a selfie promoting the latest Fenty Beauty lip gloss.
On Twitter, Rihanna’s social presence showcases her role as creative lead at Fenty. Her handle is simply @Rihanna, and the majority of her tweets are promotional.
We’re comin’ in hot this summer as #FBSUMMERTAKEOVA continues with THREE VIVID EYELINER trios in #BAESIDE, #BAECAY, and #BAEWATCH! Take your pick when this drops on May 10! @fentybeauty pic.twitter.com/zRZGKYtfiY
— Rihanna (@rihanna) May 2, 2019
Seldom does she tweet off-the-cuff, however if she does, it often has relevance to her brand. Here is an example of one of her more informal tweets, seemingly coming from the artist herself. In this tweet Rihanna addresses her gratitude while promoting Fenty as being the magazine’s first digital cover feature.
so excited to be on @tmagazine’s first digital cover!! here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come from @FentyOfficial💪🏿 Written by @JeremyOHarris, photographed by Kristin Lee Moolman,
makeup: Lauren Parsons, hair: @yusefhairnyc, manicure: @JennyLongworth, set design: Andrew Tomlinson pic.twitter.com/ukNhvfYHY8
— Rihanna (@rihanna) May 20, 2019
On social media, we have watched the icon transition from a pop singer to the CEO of a burgeoning global beauty-and-fashion empire. In a candid interview with The New York Times, Rihanna expresses her understanding of the power of branding as an influential executive as she continuously defines herself throughout her career as an artist and entrepreneur. “Every collaboration I did outside of music, I used Fenty so that you didn’t have to hear the word ‘Rihanna’ every time you saw something that I did,” she said. “So Rihanna stayed the music, the person. But these other brands are called Fenty.”
Regardless of the platform, profile pictures on social media serve as a powerful symbol that represents a person or business. This can set the tone for the level of professionalism associated with the person or business, and the content we can expect. Her new Twitter profile picture not only symbolizes Rihanna’s career growth, but represents how Rihanna has successfully capitalized on the difference between the social media platforms Instagram and Twitter to distinguish her brand identities.