Gabby Douglas Set to Shine Bright in Social Media Age

There are times when a new celebrity emerges and the public and major corporations immediately concur that the fame is warranted and the branding of that star just makes sense.

So as new American sweetheart Gabby Douglas came into the homes of millions via London this week and showcased her talents as she became the first African-American to win the gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition, her marketable smile lit up the faces of new fans as well as communications executives.  

And it lit up social media channels as well.

At 16, Douglas has emerged as a household name in the age of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets—she is among the first generation of Americans who will be unable to recall the pre-smartphone era. As of Aug. 3, the gymnast from Virginia Beach, Va., had 399,778 Twitter followers. Throughout the games, Douglas has been tweeting messages and engaging with fans, increasing her visibility away from the floor mat and promoting her personal brand.

This has also been the first Olympic Games in which social media activity related to the games has been a major topic of news coverage in itself. Look no further than the reaction to Douglas’ gold medal-winning performance on Aug. 2 for proof. A USA Today report documented the celebrity tweets directed to @Douglas. With tweets from Oprah to Lil Wayne to fellow Olympian Michael Phelps, Douglas became an instant star on social media.

With “Gabby” still trending well after her performance, the sound of consumer brands lining up was loud and clear. According to Forbes, Douglas’ success during the London Olympics not only secured her a spot in the history books, but also ensured that multimillion dollar endorsement deals will be coming her way. Expect these endorsement deals to have social media strategies at their core to match the lifestyles and habits of their star and her fans.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson