Maggie Shiels

Twitter and The Oprah Effect

  • Maggie Shiels
  • 16 Apr 09, 22:11 GMT

Everyone wants Oprah to endorse their product because her backing usually translates into healthy sales and dollars and cents added to the profit column.

We have seen it with books where she has turned unknown authors into literary stars because of her choice. When Amazon launched the Kindle, Oprah was the one that boosted it from a nice tech toy to a must have item.

Figures just out show that the Kindle 2 has already sold 300,000 since its release in late February. It is selling at roughly double the rate of the first generation device which sold around 400,000 units. Analysts reckon the Kindle 2 will hit the one million sales mark this year.

Well now Oprah is turning her attention to another piece of technology that has long been the darling of Silicon Valley and that is the microblogging service Twitter.

On her Facebook page and her programme website, Orpah has said she will be talking to the "King of Twitter - Ashton Kutcher...and sending her very first tweet!"

The actor is presently locked in a Twitter battle with CNN Breaking News to pull in one million followers. He has offered all kinds prizes to the person who actually becomes the one millionth follower and also said he will "ding-dong-ditch Ted Turner's house while I am in Atlanta."

Mr Turner who founded CNN no longer runs the network. The challenge has 'fired up' CNN Anchor Larry King who has responded with a video on YouTube basically saying bring it on pretty boy.

"Are you putting me on? Are you kidding? Do you know how big a network we are? Do you know what CNN is? Kutcher, you're playing out of your field. CNN will bury you," said Mr King, with a wry smile on his face.

Okay so a fun sidebar to the latest chapter in the Twitter story. But there is no doubt that for Ashton Kutcher, who presently ranks at number 3 behind CNN on Twitter, being crowned the "King of Twitter" by Oprah will boost his following.

For Twitter, it will take the service to a whole new level. Figures show the popularity of being able to tell people what you are doing in 140 carachters is catching on, big style.

According to Compete, a Web analytics firm, Twitter had 14 million unique visitors in March, up from 8 million in February.

When founder Ev Williams' tweeted yesterday that "Tomorrow just became a very big day," journalists and bloggers in the Valley went into overdrive speculating that a deal was about to be announced with Google.

Some might say having Oprah in your corner is an even bigger deal. No doubt the Twitter management will be working like crazy for the moment when Oprah sends her first tweet live on national tv. Could you imagine if she got the famous Fail Whale that shows the service is overloaded?

One person, writing on Oprah's Facebook page, has a $100 bet on Twitter going down in its hour of glory.


  • Comment number 1.

    TWITTER IS STUPID.It only has a news following because of people over 40 and news anchors also of that age want to pretend their not.Middle age people are always making aweful things last longer than they should like boy bands and American Idol and you think you can dance.Twitter has no real use and texting, facebook. twittering is a step backwards technologically speaking to just calling someone you know which are the only people I care to know about anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    Twitter makes chat emails, texts & instant messaging obsolete.

    It also is the quickest way to see what anyone is talking about in the world, from Obama to the G20 summit, from Man Utd to Amazon

    Twitter is now, something else will come along, but until it does Twitter is the place to be, just like email was until acouple of years ago, and Facebook was a year or so ago.

  • Comment number 3.


  • Comment number 4.

    So now it appears Kutcher is the biggest Big Twit. Whoop-de-doo.

    Can we move on from this Twitter obsession now, please? It might appear to be a fun way to communicate, but to my mind it's not improving the sum of human knowledge.

    But then, I'm in my mid-40s, overly cynical, and grumpy after a bad night's sleep, so what do I know?

  • Comment number 5.

    Blue_Blood you are sooo out of date.

    Facebook was cool three years ago and lost its cachet when they let any Tom, Dick and Harry sign up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting comments!

    "It only has a news following because of people over 40 and news anchors also of that age want to pretend their not."

    " are so out of date."

    Well, I'm 42 and I have found Twitter to be brilliantly useful. It has helped me gain a following for my own blog which I would not have gained so quickly without it. I have managed to hook up with a local BBC Radio show to contribute to their 'techie' slot at 'drive time' once a month which has pushed publicity about our business and I have made some great contacts.

    Being cool is one thing, but learning how to make the most out of something is another.

    For me, Twitter has been a breath of fresh air. Twitter is not stupid. People who call them 'social media gurus' are annoying.

  • Comment number 7.

    I finally get Twitter.
    It's not about social networking or micro-blogging, this is all about cheap research for businesses and lazy journalists.
    Using you can see what people are twittering about. You can see what are the top topics or search for a topic to see what people are saying about it.
    Is it any wonder the media are pushing this.
    If they can convince a broad enough spectrum of people (and enough of them) they have got a ready made cheap source of 'public' opinion.
    I can see a business model for Twitter in this too. Through Search the general public get the basic key word search, but why not as Twitter charge companies for an advanced advanced search option that allows you to search by age or gender.
    This could provide very quick access to public opinion (cheaper than sending researchers out on the street and canvassing opinion that way).
    Stunts like above Twitter Battle are just ways that the media are trying to encourage more people to sign up to a service that they can exploit.
    Facebook doesn't cut it for this because peoples status comments are not public, only 'friends' can see them. The groups that Facebook have are slow to grow (and may be repeated) due to the viral nature of how they spread.
    Twitter is open, public and fast. Just what Journalist want, a quick source of opinion.
    Is it any wonder the media are pushing it like crazy, while I only know one person who has actually bothered to sign up - he's a journalist by the way.

  • Comment number 8.

    Shiels - If you think twattering is so 'cool' or 'edgy' or whatever vapid neologism gets applied to things to make them seem 'urban' and 'contemporary' [as if this mattered..] then why don't you save us all a lot of time and not bother posting any more than 140 characters ?

    This surely is the aim of 'Twatter' - to make the attention span of the public so short that they are unable to digest real news about the real problems and challenges the world has to face.

  • Comment number 9.

    Isn't it funny how people who think Twitter is a waste of time waste their time to complain about it?

  • Comment number 10.

    Twitter is a great tool, but I do not agree that this is a micro blogging.

    This is kind of email+ICQ poster.

    Read the reports of most successful bloggers and you will see that the idea of "micro blogging" was just a marketing catch to get attached to a bigger notion - blogging.

    But now Twitter is a notion of itself and can fairly admit that they are not a micro blogging. Just an alternative to massive email broadcasts and ICQ clones.

    I personally use it to update my followers. And it works perfectly as a notifier.

  • Comment number 11.

    at first in the story you have spell Oprah incorrectly in one place as "website, Orpah has said she".Another I caught with a asking the question "Are you happy to have Oprah on twitter?".I think this story is the answer to it.


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