Forbes says Lady Gaga is the top celebrity for her social media skills.
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Winfrey is now putting her efforts into her Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) cable TV channel. Despite bearing Winfrey's name, OWN is struggling to find an audience.
Suddenly, a cable channel seems like a relic from the 1980s. It is worth noting that Winfrey has fallen from the Forbes top spot before and has reclaimed her throne. Even in second place, the magazine says Winfrey earned $290 million, so she's a long way from being yesterday's news.
But these rankings demonstrate the power of social media -- not just for fame, but fortune. In years past, Lady Gaga's persona may have scared away any corporate endorsement deals. But today, Polaroid is using her as its face for a line of electronics while Coty prepares to launch Lady Gaga's signature perfume. Both of these companies are icons in their industries, not trendy startups like you would expect to find connected to her.
Lady Gaga isn't alone in the next generation of celebrities to master social media. Jessica Simpson could earn $1 billion this year by promoting her clothing line through Twitter, 140 characters at a time.
Anyone in business should think twice before dismissing Facebook or Twitter as poor substitutes for a website or advertising campaign. If you hope to build a media brand through the internet, developing a social media strategy is now a requirement, not an afterthought.
Winfrey built her empire using traditional media -- television and O, The Oprah Magazine. Regardless of the performance of her cable channel, she will always be a powerhouse until the day she retires because she's already established.
As for Lady Gaga, the outrageousness can only last so long before the audience yawns and looks for the next big star. Cher and Madonna eventually became parodies of themselves.
But that day hasn't yet come. Whether Lady Gaga's face is used to sell magazines or she's eating paper on Late Night with David Letterman, her millions of fans and followers are awaiting her next move and are ready to spend money to be part of the act.