The only thing trendier for celebrities than adopting foreign babies right now is jumping on Twitter. Oprah, Ashton, Shaq, Hammer, President Obama, everyone’s on the Twitter Twain.
Twitter is still in its earliest stages as a communications vehicle and different people use it in different ways. Some people, like Guy Kawasaki, use it promote their businesses. Because of perceived over-zealousness in that regard, Guy has come under attack recently for his methods. Others use it as a virtual Caroline’s comedy club.
Personally, I think of Twitter as the network breakfast at the world’s most amazing marketing conference. I pick up bits of conversations and information from some of the smartest people out there. Where I can I add to that conversation. That’s why people like Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher don’t really interest me from a Twitter perspective. Let’s take a quick look at their stats, as of April 20, 2009*:
Oprah: Followers – 380,494; Following – 10
Ashton Kutcher: Followers – 1,246, 841; Following – 84
Again, this is only based on my interpretation of how I use Twitter, but what they are doing would be the equivalent of going to a marketing convention or cocktail party and doing plenty of talking, but very little listening. Sure, if I yell long enough and loud enough directly at Oprah, there’s a chance she’ll respond. But she’s not actively listening.
By contrast, look at the Twitter feed of President Obama:
Followers – 901, 519
Following – 762, 490
The Obama campaign earned many plaudits for their understanding of Social Media throughout the campaign last year. This is a strong example. He’s working on two way dialogue and at least putting out the perception that he’s actively listening.
You don’t have to follow everyone who is following you, but having some level of balance demonstrates you respect not only other people, but the channel as well.
UPDATE: Check out this article on Mashable about the different ways people use Twitter.
*Even while typing this the numbers change amazingly fast for these people.