Monday, April 20, 2009

Twitter is buzzier than Facebook thanks to Celebrity push!

Ashton Kutcher won the much hyped race to reach the count of a million followers on Twitter, beating CNN by a thin margin. This was no ordinary race. This was a race between an individual and TV network. It was a race between a fairly (not very) popular actor best known for his role in That 70’s show & being the husband of Demi Moore v/s the hugely popular news network. The victory of Ashton Kutcher does give a bit of solace that one individual could take on the might of a media giant on a democratized social media platform like Twitter. There was a bit of controversy followed by this with naysayers calling it a pinnacle of attention economy & that it was a PR stunt. Some people also allege that offline campaigns (Outdoors & Radio) were also carried out to make people follow Ashton while on the other hand CNN was asking its viewers to follow them for news updates.
But there seems a huge marketing/publicity side to it. Twitter knowingly or unknowingly has been getting a lot of celebrity endorsements (of a different type!). Twitter has turned out to be an ideal platform for celebrities (like brands) to interact with their fans. There are hoards of celebrities from different fields likes Movie stars, Television actors, Sports personalities, Celebrity Activists for Causes(like Lance Armstrong) & Businessmen with thousands of followers on Twitter.

Oprah is the latest one to join the bandwagon & she already has over 3,40,000 followers in less than 4 days time. Her first Twitter message has already created a lot of news & she also did a special show ( dedicated to her entry on Twitter! Twitter will surely bring a completely new set of users of a different generation on board thanks to Oprah!
The buzz being created is so phenomenal that Twitter has overtaken Facebook in the Google Search News reference volume (indicating the number of times word Twitter was mentioned in the news items that Google News tracks v/s Facebook).

All this is leading extremely fast growth of number of users on Twitter(It is roughly doubling no. of users almost every month). But the in terms of number of users, Twitter is nowhere near the Facebook’s 200 million+ users.
Even in the Search volume index (indicates no. of times users searched the word Facebook vs Twitter), Twitter is way behind Facebook. This shows that despite all the buzz, far lesser number of users are looking for Twitter compared to Facebook. Twitter has a long way to go & lot to prove to meet the heightened expectations from the media, marketers & people in general
The buzz & the celebrity endorsement will surely help increase the sampling of Twitter upto certain extent. However, it will be ultimately the experience it provides to it users which will decide the fate of Twitter in the long run.

The fact that Twitter is the most compatible to be used on a Mobile phone compared to other Social Networking sites including Facebook holds a huge promise for its growth & penetration especially in markets like India which are low in PC penetration & high on Mobile penetration. This can be the game changer for Twitter & it has the potential to take Social Media to the next level with number of users reaching unthinkable levels.

This brings to me to the point that, which celebrities in India should be on Twitter for it to be reach that critical mass of users in India? My vote goes to Shahrukh Khan (There is already an alleged fake SRK on Twitter). If & when the real SRK comes on Twitter, it will not take much time for him to reach the mark of a million followers! Ofcourse knowing the shrewd businessman that SRK is, he might take a hefty endorsement fees to be on Twitter!

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