Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Why I don’t follow Oprah on Twitter

In Insight, Uncategorized on April 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm
See Oprah, listening is easy.

See Oprah, listening is easy.

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.

  1. I like how you qualified how that is not how “you” use Twitter. I tend to use it for connecting and reciprocal exchange as well, and has personally bugged me at times that they do not reciprocate. This was just my personal view, though, but it’s starting to change. Why?

    1. I recognize not everyone has to use twitter the same way. I really shouldn’t be jumping to judge based on whether someone follows me back or not.
    2. Microblogging was one of the main twitter intentions, and many still use it just for that.
    3. What if I was in their shoes?
    If, like Oprah, I ran a mulimedia empire, had to do daily TV shows, maintain personal relationships as well as do a lot for charity, I probably wouldn’t have so much time to engage on twitter either. As for Ashton, he doesn’t follow back, but I’ve seen that he tends to reply to people when he can.

    For all the people he follows back, this is really just a formality, bc Obama doens’t exactly sit on twitter chatting with peeps. He just gives tweeters more mushy happy feelings to be followed back. He (or his advisors) likely recognize that public perception of people who follow back is likely to be better for image, and so we like him better than @Oprah or other stars who don’t follow? I used to feel this way, but I’m starting to think my perception was a bit biased.

    One thing about Obama though, he does directly engage via his White House online platform too. I think that was a great idea.

  2. […] felt about it. So this morning while reading the Advice for Young PR Pros blog I can across a blog by Rick called “Why I Don’t Follow Oprah on Twitter” that I think sums up this celebrity phenomenon pretty well. In this blog he talks about his reason […]

  3. I don’t follow Operah on Twitter because she doesn’t talk about anything I’m interested in. In terms of her follows, she’s been a Twitter user for five days. She doesn’t get any slack to figure it out? Sheesh. If her follow/follower ratio is still like that in three months, I’d say you had a point, but five days? That’s a harsh judgment to pass on someone who’s still on the low end of the learning curve.

  4. Shel, that’s a fair point. I saw that people jumped on her when her first tweet was in all caps. So, you’re right, a little time to learn is fair. Though I would like to think that Oprah could be given some Twitter tips before she decided to jump in.

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