The race to a million Twitter followers (2009)

Actor Ashton Kutcher and CCN are in a semi-competitive duel right now; a race to 1 million followers on Twitter.

There is a page tracking the number of followers for each in real-time (link), it is in the news (link), Kutcher has been providing updates on Youtube, and CNN’s Larry King even got in the mix (link).

For the record, they both have around 985,000 +/- followers at the time of this post. Kutcher is going to donate mosquito nets to an anti-malaria charity campaign if he wins, and other companies and celebrities are starting to take advantage of the situation.

So other than just being a strange break from watching more depressing news about the economy, what does this mean for PR if anything? Is it a “Where were you when” moment? Of course not.

If you listen to Kutcher’s Youtube video, his interest in this is that he see’s it as being important in the world of social media and being a significant sign of the times when one individual can have just as many, if not more, followers than a big corporation like CNN.

He is basically saying that one individual armed with all the new social media tools we have available to us can be just as significant as a major news company like CNN.

For one thing, Kutcher is a celebrity and as long as we have had celebrities on screen, their opinions are heard more because of their popularity. He has an automatic one-up on most other people because he is a celebrity. People are fascinated by celebrities, and celebrities take advantage of that popularity to sometimes advance a charity or run for politics, but many times just to further advance their own popularity.

Celebrity and popularity aside, the gist of what he is saying is true. Average people now have an enormous amount of tools available to them to reach out and communicate with large audiences. Some are better at it than others, but the tools are available to all.

As a PR professional, it is important for us to be aware of and intimately involved in how we use these tools. The better we understand how to use social media and the more practice we have at it, the more likely it is that we will be successful. It is not just to be aware of these social media tools, but to experience them and use them.

You may not get the number of Twitter followers as CNN or Ashton Kutcher, your website or blog may not have huge amounts of traffic, but you may still be able to effectively communicate with whoever your primary audience is.

Social media is going to be, if it is not already, a primary method of communication with our audiences.

So if you are feeling behind in the area of new media, jump in and get to work.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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