Connecting with your idols has never been this easy. Before the big boom of the internet, fans had to parkour their way through many hoops and obstacles just to send their favorite artists a sweet little note. Snail mail was the way to go, and it took months to get a signed postcard or headshot print in return (if you're lucky).
Ours is a reality that anyone pre-Twitter would pretty much find outlandish. Just think about it—in what world could you actually say that a Billboard chart-topper likes your fan art, that a member of a GRAMMY Award-nominated group thanked you for making their day?
These days, all it takes is a little click-clacking on your keyboard and hitting "tweet". And it's all thanks to Twitter.
Twitter has become that wonderous bridge between artist and fan. You can easily check in with your favorite artists, and they can even check in on you with a simple hashtag. They've become more human—though still extremely unattainable to most of us—but for sure, more real than ever before.
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"Sometimes the fans can experience this kind of surprise on Twitter Space," YeonJeong Kim, Head of Global K-Pop & K-Content Partnerships at Twitter, shares with Bandwagon.
Earlier this month, GOT7's Youngjae joined a fan-hosted Twitter Space. Next thing ahgase (GOT7 fans) realized, his bandmate Mark Tuan was also in the Space with them. "It was a really, really rare situation. And more human and so fun as well," YeonJeong says. She recounts how fans requested Youngjae to do a live stream from his end, but he preferred to interact with everyone through conversation on Space.
Twitter Spaces let fans hear their idols' voices and speak with them directly as if they're on a conference call. The likes of GOT7's BamBam, NCT, and TWICE have made Space their own, encouraging fans to have an open conversation and interact. ITZY even made a game out of it with their Who's Who game, where fans had to guess which member was speaking, as part of their promo for their Guess Who mini-album.
"Spaces is more human, more emotional, and more organic, without any kind of preparation or big promotions. It's very natural," YeonJeong adds.
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Besides Space, Twitter also has room for live video sessions with artists at the Blueroom. According to YeonJeong, Blueroom can connect fans with artists through live video experiences.
"Blueroom actually became a critical link for K-Pop bands, especially for fourth generation acts. [It's] kind of a big promotional stage," YeonJeong shares, adding how Blueroom isn't meant for live peformances, but more to connect fans globally for exclusive interviews with their favorite artists. So far, over 200 Blueroom live sessions have taken place with the likes of EXO, NCT, GOT7, BLACKPINK, Red Velvet, SuperM, SEVENTEEN, MONSTA X, and so many more.
#FanTweets have also been on the rise in the world of K-Pop Twitter. The first K-Pop #FanTweets event took place with BLACKPINK's Rosé under the spotlight. She answered a bunch of questions sent in by fans, running through her experience working on her solo album R, performing, and her dog, Hank.
#FanTweets with ROSÉ #SingleAlbum#ROSÉ #로제 #BLACKPINK #블랙핑크 #R #OnTheGround #Gone #YG pic.twitter.com/axn3gSTqkR— BLACKPINKOFFICIAL (@BLACKPINK) April 15, 2021
More recently, GOT7 member Yugyeom did a #FanTweets event to build a connection with fans.
Twitter's Topics feature is everyone's go-to for relevant news and content fans crave for. This is where you can find things that trend, which shows what's going on around the world, what people are talking about, and topics that interest you. "If you look at trends on Twitter, you will always see K-Pop trending," YeonJeong says. "Trends for music video, birthday or anniversary promotions, awards, and everything in between."
With Topics, fans can keep up with news featuring legendary artists like Psy, BIG BANG, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation, and 2NE1, and today's superstars.
BTS are one of the most-followed Topics in the world, ranking higher than all other artists, all movies, TV shows, and sports teams.
Over the past 10 years, K-Pop has dominated Twitter on a monumental scale. Together they've become "a true dream team," according to YeonJeong, who says, "K-Pop's 10 years of growth history show how passionate the global K-pop community share their love and connect with their favorite artists around the world."
Fans have caught the K-Pop wave, making noise and raising engagement from every corner of Twitter. Right now there are efforts created by fandoms to bring EXO, BTS, and GOT7 to the top of the platform. It's a friendly and collabortive competiton to keep their favorite artists trending.
They've covered everything from BTS winning the Top Social Artist Award at the Billboard Music Awards in 2017, EXO opening their Twitter account with the release of 'Ko Ko Bop', Seo Taiji hosting his 25th anniversary concert (with BTS as his special guests), to GOT7 winning an award for #TwitterBestFandom and making it into the Guinness World Records for "the most tweeted hashtag for 24 hours" with 60 million tweets.
K-Pop has already generated over 7.5 billion tweets since July last year. "In the last 12 months, third generation artists like BTS, NCT, and BLACKPINK have been very outstanding on a global scale," Yeonjeong says. "At the same time second generation artists such as 2PM and SHINee made comebacks, and also fourth generation acts who continue to grow around the world."
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It's the relatable content that wins the gold, actually. When fans get to see the more candid side of their idols, engagement rises to a whole other level. Fans love seeing their favorite artists being normal and these kinds of posts garner more likes, retweets, and replies than official announcements.
Yeonjeong cites BTS member RM's comment in an interview with Good Morning America back in 2017 as an example for heightened engagement. He said at the interview, "We've been using our Twitter before our debut, we always post our photos, real-life contents, like video, our fans really get used to it. And so they look at what we are doing what we are eating and what we are making. So using Twitter was so powerful."
"In fact BTS were the first artist to manage their own account, among the third generation," YeonJeong says. "It's usually the artist management company that uses Twitter, in a very formal way to announce the news and schedules. So like BTS, third generation artists open accounts run by their members before their debut, and begin to communicate with the fan in a sincere manner, and through everyday content, like real life."
워썹! 방탄소년단입니다.드디어 방탄소년단 트위터를 공식 오픈하네요~짝짝짝!데뷔 전까지 상상 그 이상의 이상하고 재미난 것들이 업로드됩니다.— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) December 17, 2012
SEVENTEEN and ASTRO also communicate with fans like BTS did, except used their companies' accounts to give their fans updates.
"It became natural for fourth generation acts to open an account on Twitter before their debut. It gives the fans the opportunity to share in the growth of the artist," YeonJeong says, adding that their official platforms offer looks into their daily lives—from doing things like eating, sleeping, to putting massage masks on. It's really all about relatable content.
In terms of the average number of Tweets per day, today's K-Pop artists tweet 5.8 times more than second generation K-pop acts, and twice as much as third generation K-pop artists. With their unrelenting force, fourth generation artists round up to around 323 tweets and 562,377 followers before they even make their debut.
One of the most interesting Twitter interactions just before their debut was Bluedot Entertainment's six-piece boy group JUST B. Everything about JUST B’s debut was kept confidential—even the number of members, their names, or photos weren't revealed. Instead, JUST B took to Twitter Spaces to let their voice be heard for the first time.
The K-Pop phenomenon traces back to 1992 with Seo Taiji and Boys, who are positioned as zero generation in terms of the media landscape and industry trend. K-Pop exploded in a time before the internet, launching the likes of first generation acts H.O.T., Sechskies, S.E.S., and Fin.K.L., who rivaled each other in the mid '90s.
By the time Twitter launched ten years later, Super Junior, Girls' Generation, SHINee, and 2 PM, and more had made their debut. These first and second generation K-Pop artists held offline events, appeared on TV broadcasts, and had cafe visits to communicate with fans.
Soon enough Twitter became the hot spot for all things media, so today the likes of TXT, aespa, TREASURE, and ENHYPEN have made their mark on the platform, holding a wider reach without any boundaries due to distance and language barriers thanks to Twitter translations.
It's because of these new features that today's artists are able to go global quicker than previous generations. "Twitter is the kind of platform that enabled them to go global," YeonJeong says.
In our current digital climate, the fear of stranger danger is no more. A lot of internet users have even found their greatest friendships online, but parallel to this, there has also been a rise in cyber bullying. It happens in any platform, but to Twitter, one of their highest priorities is keeping fans and artists safe in their space.
"Our purpose is to serve the public conversation and we’ve made healthy conversations our No. 1 priority," YeonJeong explains. "This includes rolling out product features to keep people on the service safe and implementing policies to protect the health of conversations."
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These days, users have more control over their Twitter experience as the platform ensures everyone's health and safety. People can choose who can reply to conversations they start and have also seen consideration prompts that encourage them to reconsider potentially harmful or offensive replies before tweeting it. "Once prompted, people had an opportunity to take a moment and make edits, delete, or send the reply as is," YeonJeong explains.
Twitter on its own has already launched a number of initiatives through its AI to better detect and take action on content that violates its policies. There has been a 142% increase in accounts actioned, compared to its previously reported period of 964,459 accounts in total.
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It's fair to say that there's nowhere else to go but up for K-Pop Twitter. The connection and community the fans have built on the platform is only going to keep growing as their idols continue to top the charts and change lives around the globe.
There's really no need to go old school and turn to snail mail anymore. Now it just takes one click to get connected with your favorite acts, and that's a reality that isn't so crazy to think about anymore.