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Move over Ashton Kutcher. While he was the first Twitter user to get one million followers, many other celebrities have joined the Twitter bandwagon and many of them now have several million followers. Justin Bieber (46 million), Katy Perry (46 million) and Lady Gaga (40 million) reign as the top three most followed Twitter users. There is undoubtedly no single traditional marketing vehicle that is able to reach such a wide audience, and celebrities have been able to capitalize from the attention they gain from Twitter by using the social media site to build their brands. One way Twitter helps users draw attention is through the use of the hashtag to bring important pieces of the message out. While some may need to be censored at times (Alec Baldwin, anyone?), here are some ways celebrities are using Twitter to leverage their brands: Creating brand awareness Who would have thought that Twitter could help launch celebrities into the world? One Direction fans did. What started as a group of British followers on Twitter trying to garner attention for the band has led to worldwide recognition and awareness. The boys of One Direction have a combined 70 million followers for their individual accounts, plus 16 million followers for the group account. The speed at which celebrities, such as One Direction, have been able to launch their careers using Twitter is unprecedented. Celebrities realize how much their success is driven by their fans and how important it is they share it with them. #followthatceleb Building emotional relationships People define brands by their emotional connections and how the brands make them feel. Twitter gives celebrities a platform to connect on an individual level with their fans, with the fans becoming heavily invested and loyal. Followers get a chance to see that celebrities are actually human and relatable by getting a glimpse into their personal lives, making them closer than ever before. Earlier this year when Justin Bieber tweeted about being ill, it was retweeted 130 thousand times and there was an outpour from followers sending him get well messages. I guess 'Bieber Fever'? is real, no pun intended. #bestfansever Maintaining brand image Some celebrities employ teams to manage their Twitter accounts because 140 characters are too much for them to handle. For those who monitor their own accounts, they get the chance to address rumors and defend themselves against negative criticisms directly. When someone questioned Oprah, the Queen of Daytime herself, about not giving back enough within the US, she took to Twitter to clear up any doubts about her philanthropic efforts. Some of her followers even came to her defense as well. It's no surprise that celebrity gossip and news sells, but Twitter gives them the chance to get their truth out quickly and to the point. While gossip columnists are hard-hitting news reporters who claim that their 'sources confirm'? the information, readers and fans get to hear directly from the source. #sooverit Staying relevant I hear show business is not easy and so it is important for celebrities to maintain their spotlight and stay relevant with their fans. From tweeting about wearing the latest fashion trends to posting infamous selfies to being a trending topic, celebrities build buzz around themselves. Twitter gives celebrities an opportunity to get fan feedback on products and projects, so that as their fans grow so can their brands. One way is through live tweeting which has become popular for actors and reality stars to do while their TV shows are being aired. Of course I couldn't mention shameless celebrity self-promotion, without referencing the Kardashians. From tweeting about their shows to their clothing lines to their wide range of products, the Kardashian sisters have a combined 37 million followers who literally follow their every move. Singers can use Twitter to drive iTunes sales, actors can use Twitter to get fans to their movies, and the Kardashians can use Twitter to promote whatever it is that is making them famous. #intheknow Even though some celebrities have shut down their accounts at times (Welcome back Miley Cyrus), Twitter creates a unique opportunity for celebrities to build their brands and gives them more control over their brand messaging. Twitter allows followers to show their loyalty towards celebrities, as following a celebrity shows commitment. So while it's true that Lady Gaga has more Twitter followers than President Obama, celebrities have been able to successfully use Twitter to maintain their brands and draw fans in. Tell me, which celebrity has best used Twitter to build their brand?