April 20, 2009

Oprah takes Twitter into the mainstream

Ayelet NoffDeep down I guess we all wish the start-ups whose services we like to use would stay as they are forever. Take for example Vimeo, a really great service with an awesome community that never quite made it into the mainstream.

It is basically clear now that Twitter will not be one of those services. If the recent Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk)/CNN (@cnnbrk) race to 1 million followers taught us anything it’s that Twitter is only going to get bigger.

It was probably inevitable as the actor and comedian Kevin Pollack (@kevinpollak) said; “I love Twitter because it’s not like Facebook where you have to maintain a profile, it’s just there if you have a thought, a question or an idea.” When you couple that simplicity with a service basically built around vanity counting the result is a service perfect for celebrities keeping in touch with their fan base. And celebrities represent nothing if not the mainstream.

Let’s now take a look now at Twitterholic’s 100 most followed Twitter accounts list. Most of the accounts on this list are either celebrities or large news organizations (who seem to be increasingly using Twitter as an RSS killer) with few “internet famous” people left in a club they used to dominate. Slowly but surely the ubiquitous tool of the digerati is crossing the chasm.

Then came Oprah. This isn’t the first time Oprah has given a huge burst of exposure to a Web 2.0 start-up. She made her first YouTube video in March 2007 nearly two years after YouTube launched. Now after two and a half years of Twitter we now have @oprah.

Two things were really obvious after seeing Twitter on the Oprah show:

  • Celebrities who are not comedians or geeks tweeting doesn’t really work. You either get it or you don’t. Seems like Oprah should hire someone to do her tweeting (Oprah, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship).
  • My mother will probably start using Twitter soon.

This almost certainly means that Twitter is now officially “mainstream,” and perhaps the old school Twitter geeks will remember the time B.O. (Before Oprah), in the way many remember the more wild Facebook (where they could freely list their hookups) before their parents discovered it.

I once saw a shirt that read “I Had an iPod Before You Knew What One Was.” Now Twitterers can go to herebeforeoprah, a site that tells the world you were “here before Oprah” to get that kind of affirmation. How will Twitter change now that it has gone mainstream? Only time will tell.Ayelet Noff is a partner in Socialmedia.biz and founder and Co-CEO of Blonde 2.0, an award winning digital PR agency with branches in Boston and Tel Aviv. Contact Ayelet via The Blonde 2.0 website , email, or follow her on Twitter and Google Plus.

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