Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O’Neal and Britney Spears are not taking over Twitter. A well publicized event like Oprah tweeting on her show won’t help. Ashton vs. Larry King, in a contest to see which account, @aplusk (“a plus k”) or @cnnbrk can reach a million followers first is a publicity event that had lots of benefits for both in terms of building large networks, but they are not taking over. Any way you slice it, their efforts are futile. They can’t take over Twitter because of one simple fact: people choose who they follow.
Twitter is a social network that allows a member to choose who to follow, and followers choose whether they follow back. Follow who you are interested in. Ignore spammers or folks who don’t interest you. It’s that simple.
The major benefit of all the celebrity activity around Twitter is that more people will be drawn to use the service. For a concept that is so simple, Twitter is not the most intuitive network to navigate. Understanding how to start and join in a conversation online is a little outside of the comfort zone of many people. I’ve seen many people join Twitter and 6 months later they are following 10 people, no one is following back and the only post on their account is “Joined twitter, trying to figure this out.” Take a look for yourself.
I will still contend that Twitter is not for everybody, but as more people figure out how to build their own communities on the platform, the more valuable content and discussion will be aggregated. I like to think of the volume of content on Twitter as an unstructured Wikipedia – it’s not precisely accurate but directionally correct, and the more sources that contribute the better it gets.
Here’s an example. I had a conversation last night with someone who had just joined twitter and had trouble convincing a friend why it is valuable. I asked what that friend did for a living – the friend was a user experience designer, and very skeptical about Twitter. I pulled up search.twitter.com and searched for “UX” – and immediately found UX job listings, informative blogs of well known people in the industry and a lot of people talking about user experience design. I clicked through to a couple of twitter profiles and quickly identified the lead of user experience of AutoTrader.com. Within a few minutes I could identify a dozen valuable resources that would help that friend in his career.
I’ve been using Twitter for nearly two years, and the community has changed and evolved. I still keep to the core of interacting with folks who share common interests, whether it’s the Red Sox, social media or the fun of a lazy Saturday morning with the kids at home. I’ve come to heavily rely on Tweetdeck to manage groups of friends and contacts that I don’t want to lose in the sea of “tweets,” but I am also continuing to find value by identifying interesting people who have something valuable to share. With valuable contributors, searching Twitter has become an increasingly relevant way to get to content. Celebrities joining twitter can only bring more interesting people to follow right along with them.
Are you using Twitter? Do you think celebrities joining is positive or negative, and has it changed how you use Twitter? Feel free to reach out to me @adamcohen on Twitter to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.
Photo credit: Neon23 via flickr