Everyone on Twitter has been talking about it. Even the mainstream media has been aglow over this fascinating new story. In case you didn’t know, actor Ashton Kutcher is waging a battle with television titan Ted Turner and CNN over who can reach 1 million followers first. Consequently, other celebrities that were on Twitter decided to join in the fray. The point? Is there one?
Perhaps the biggest news announced by one of the founders of Twitter was that tomorrow Oprah Winfrey would begin to use Twitter on her show. As a result, everyone jokingly said that we should be aware of the “fail whale” as with a multitude of new users logging on to follow Oprah, it would probably shutter the entire service.Â
But what’s really bizarre is whyÂ these celebrities want to increase their “follower base”. Is there a reason behind it? What’s the instance behind a greater audience? Sure, for CNN, if they have more followers on their CNNBRK twitter handle, they will be able to get people to visit their site for late-breaking news and information in case of an emergency. However, in the example of Ashton Kutcher? Why? What possible motivation would people have to follow him aside from the fact that he’s a celebrity? Does he say anything relevant? Would he gossip about himself on Twitter – something that you wouldn’t find on TMZ.com or PerezHilton.com? Sure, he’s going to give away 10,000 mosquito nets if he hits 1 million followers, but what if he doesn’t? Do you think it’s more of a slap in the face of people by blaming it on the Twitterverse just because they didn’t support him (although it should be noted that regardless of the outcome Ashton will give the mosquito nets regardless).
Social causes on Twitter are a great thing, don’t get me wrong. But I think that for people like Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, Diddy, etc. who decide to jump on board, it seems that they may be diluting the Twitter experience. What those of us who have been on Twitter for a while tell new people, it’s not necessarily a good thing to try and rack up your follower numbers. Those that will follow you are those who find what you tweetÂ interesting or are your friends. Of course with movie fans, any celebrity will automatically gather some significant number of followers. But if you’re using Twitter and are new, don’t succumb to the Hollywood Twitter methodology. It’s notÂ all about numbers. Twitter is stillÂ relevant for business and technology. Don’t exploit it like celebrities wanting more followers.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend about this latest issue and she brought up the fact that perhaps with more followers, these celebrities would seem more interesting for companies wanting endorsements or whatnot. I think that’s a wrong way of going about it. These celebrities (and we’re not talking about those online like Pete Cashmore, Robert Scoble, Shel Israel, Stowe Boyd, etc., but people like Diddy, Tom Cruise, Oprah, etc.) need not go about and gain as many followers because as they have more people following, chances are that they will not meet those expectations and some may not even engage their audience/fan base – which adds insult to injury. But if you’re seeking endorsements, do you think that just by having moreÂ followers will make you any more famous? No…just look at the way people on Facebook are interacting with fan pages – they don’t care how cool certain celebrities are, they’ll follow anyone who’s famous! If you’re famous, you’re not going to be bumped out of an endorsement just because you have 100 less followers than the guy who got that spot. I don’t think the world of sponsorships, movie deals, tv series, book deals and whatnot will hinge on the number of followers.
To what end will this pointless invasion have? I don’t know but I for one am interested in what will happen. We should all support those celebrities that are using technology for social causes like Malaria No More but for other people just to jump in and hope to gather more followers without engagement is a bad thing. What purpose would it serve? Can you answer that? If you’re a celebrity and want more followers on Twitter, what will that do for your profession or how will that increase your popularity in a beneficial way to the world?
Update: According to CNN Breaking News, Ashton Kutcher was the first person to reach 1 million followers on Twitter, beating CNN.