Are Celebrities Causing Twitter to Evolve or Devolve?

Attracting Thousands of Followers, But Following Few

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[ Social Media]

You’ve no doubt been exposed to mass hoopla surrounding Twitter and celebrities starting Twitter accounts, racing to get the most followers, etc. There’s no question that celebrity Twitter use is good for expanding the social network’s user base, but what’s it doing to Twitter as a communication tool?

Is Twitter evolving or devolving as a result of celebrities taking it over? (Tell us what you think.)You have celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Jimmy Fallon, and Oprah who have gained massive amounts of followers, but are not following too many people themselves. Is Twitter just part of their respective PR machines?

Twitter Followers for OprahAre they actively engaging in conversations with their fans? Maybe a little, but how many of Kutcher’s million plus do you think are regularly getting responses from him when they send him tweets? Look at Oprah’s account. Granted, she’s only been on since Friday, but she’s already got nearly half a million followers and she’s only following ten people. So far she’s sent replies to Demi Moore, Shaq, Larry King, and Evan Williams. Hardly communicating with the fans I would say.

To be fair, I’m not saying that there aren’t celebrities using Twitter who do communicate with their fan bases. Perhaps even Oprah will if given enough time. Some celebrities (like Arnold Schwarzenegger, MC Hammer, and Britney Spears have thousands of followers themselves (though who knows how many fans were manually followed back and how many were simply added as a result of some auto follower).

I think Neville Hobson puts it well when he says Twitter is for listening. When Oprah joined Twitter, Twitter’s daily market share of Internet visits skyrocketed. Jason Miller discussed this at WebProNews.

Daily Market Share of US Internet Visits

Oprah has a lot of fans, and they flocked to Twitter because they are interested in listening to what she has to say. Twitter the company is certainly happy to have celebrities participating. But if Twitter was once about two-way communication, it seems to be more about one-way listening now.

Don’t get me wrong. Two-way communication is still an option, and there are still many people doing it, but some celebrities and marketers are changing the face of Twitter.

Luckily, there is still value in listening. Twitter has often been referred to as microblogging, and that’s really a good way to look at it. You read blogs because you’re interested in what the bloggers have to say. You read tweets for the same reason. They’re just smaller. Blogs have comment areas for two-way communication that can go two-way or one-way depending on whether or not the author takes the time to respond. The same applies to Twitter.

There is plenty of value in listening from the business perspective as well. Hobson writes:

Neviile HobsonDon’t think of the increasing user numbers we keep hearing about as just so much more noise you have to filter out if you’re on Twitter yourself. Remember, Twitter is an opt-in idea: you decide whether or not to open an account and then who to follow or not. You’re in control!

Instead, think of the stunning growth in people signing up to Twitter as more amazing listening opportunities to find out who’s saying what about you, your product, your brand, your client, or whatever it is that interests you in finding out what people are talking about online.

I can tell you that a good place to find people in your niche to listen to is our own Twellow. Just don’t go too crazy because Twitter has placed a limit on how many people you can follow in a day (1,000). If you’re really there to listen, this probably will not affect you too much. There is a bit of a debate going on about whether this limit is a good or a bad thing too.

Do you think celebrities are changing Twitter for the better or for the worse? We’d love to hear your opinions. Share them.

Are Celebrities Causing Twitter to Evolve or Devolve?
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  • Guest

    I have to defend Kutcher to some extend. You don’t have to follow a person to @ them, and he often does respond to ‘regular people’ (though often with a RT in front so everyone will see it). Same thing with MrsKutcher.

    Honestly, I wasn’t a fan before the dude hit Twitter but my opinion of him has actually improved by the fact that he *does* interact with his fans. Same thing with Shaq.

    Celebs like Ms Spears with her staff of people to twitter for her don’t bring much to the mix, though. We’ll see how Oprah does over time.

    • Chris Crum

      Good point about not having to follow someone to @ them. I did see that he does communicate with people to some extent, but even still, I’d be interested to know how many of his million plus followers who have spoken directly to him he has responded to, but I hear you.

    • http://www.brazilianbikinis.us BrazilianBikinis

      I don’t understand why anybody would follow a celebrity anyway. What is the point? You don’t know them and they are not important.

  • http://fameofshame.com Fame of Shame

    I have no desire to use twitter, but I can understand why people like it. Of course, celebrities like Ashton Doucher like to bastardize everything for their own egos. “Hey, look at me, I’m the best at twitter! High score pwnage.”

  • http://stores.ebay.com/tonyas-dynamic-designs?refid=store http://www.TonyasDynamicDesigns.com

    Yes, I agree that Twitter has alot of celebrities twittering. I am sure that they can not follow all of their followers because then the celebrities would not be able to keep track of their own group of celebrity friends that they like to keep up with.

    For me, I follow over a 1,000 or so twitterers and I have around that much following me. However, there are a few close friends and business associates that I want to keep in touch with—so I have those few selected people SAVED in my favorites, so I can easily find them and send them a direct tweet like I see the celebrities doing.

    I like the way Twitter is set up, but I would love to see Twitter have more options to where we can follow all of our followers, but have our FAVORITES showing in a box at the top of our HOME PAGE and then all of our other followers below our FAVORITES BOX, that way we can keep track more easily of our FAVORITE Twitter Followers and then still have easy access to our other followers as well.

    If definately would be nice if we could all hear from our favorite celebrities more than we do. It would be really nice if Twitter would allow us to make perhaps “recorded messages” and send them out as tweets to where our celebrity friends could record a message on their cell phone or microphone in order to respond to some of their twitter fans and have the celebrities to call their fans out by their twitter names to give their fans more recognition.

    Either way it goes, it would be very hard for the celebrities to speak to all of us one by one, but some sort of acknowledgement would be greatly appreciated from them and would also make us feel more connected to them.

    I will have to check out your Twellow! Sounds very interesting! =)

    Have a great day,

    • Chris Crum

      I think you’ll find Twellow to be a valuable tool for finding people interested in the same things that you are. There’s a feature called Twellowhood that will let you find people on Twitter in your own town (or other towns) that is pretty cool as well.

  • http://www.usfreeads.com/1765632-cls.html john

    The celebs are bringing lots of attention to Twitter. Everybody on tv is talking about Twitter….even Charles Barkley was asking Kenny Smith if he Twitters. It’s helping out.

  • http://www.neutralsystems.com www.neutralsystems.com

    Twitter is a great tool for measuring certain social attitudes on many issues. However, for it to be accurate you must not include celebrity followers in the sample population. The standard normal distribution is forever skewed by celebrity participation.

  • http://www.FlexOffers.com Koki Mourao

    It sure is helping kids in need so it is worth it… Celebs have by nature a huge amount of followers. it is only natural for it to be replicated online… I have no problems with it

  • a regular person

    Celebs don’t tweet regular people, when they have the numbers,they are done with you. They don’t reply back when you send them a message. I think I’m tired of twitter already

  • Jenny DeRosa Bergeron

    I’m not so sure if celebs are doing twitter any good in the sense that what does it matter how many people follow you if it’s just for the sake of reaching a number? I am new to Twitter and I’m disappointed by the lack of genuine sharing. have to admit that tweeting takes time — time I don’t always have so you probably get out of it what you put in… but I have seen some followers who are clearly just trying to sell stuff — ewe.

    As I think this through, if celebrities are not dialoguing with fans, their tweets mean nothing and it’s better if they don’t have an account. Having an account an getting followers is definitely making Twitter of lesser value and relevance.

  • http://www.sebastyne.com Sebastyne

    Even though I am not really the type that goes fanatic about anyone, I do follow a few celebrities. Especially I enjoy comedians, because they have the power to make you giggle while you’re really concentrating on the tweets of everyone else. I would not expect them to reply to me or follow me back, and should they follow me, I would not expect them to do it manually. I also do understand why celebrities wouldn’t follow back everyone that follows them, because what possible value would that have to them? Sure, they could follow MORE people, by hand picking who they follow, but to them it is natural to be the broadcaster instead of a communicator.

    I follow about 350 people and about a hundred less follows me. I’m already having difficulties keeping up. If I was a celebrity, I would probably occasionally review my followers and see if there’s anyone in particular I find interesting, but I doubt that I would spend an awful lot of time there, after all, I have a job to do and I didn’t become a celebrity by tweeting… Although it probably helped. ;)

  • http://www.melbourneonline.com.au/Search-Engine-Optimisation.asp mark – Melbourne Search Engine Optimisation

    Does Oprah even have time to tweet? What’s the bet it’s not even her doing it, it’s some PA following her around. That goes for many celebs.
    They don’t follow people because they don’t care about Twitter but for humouring the fans who do.
    I wouldn’t care about it either. Twitter is a waste of time for anyone who is actually busy unless they stand to gain direct PR or publicity from telling people when they need to pee.

  • Felipe

    I follow twitter celebrities here:


  • http://www.pioutsource.com PI Outsource

    Britney Spears is following me! I am one step away from ruling the land of retards!

    • http://hughzebeezlaughs.blogspot.com Hughze

      Yup! She’s following me too. For the second time.

  • http://www.bubbila.com Steve

    They have not earnt the right to get these followers. They have nothing to give or bring to the table and what ever they do say is worthless. Yet they are followed.

  • http://www.panews.org Twitter Me Down

    Twitter is just like any other social network. People will use it legitimately while others will just it for their own agendas.

    MySpace, Facebook, etc. Anyplace where there is huge traffic people will have a profile to attract others or gain traffic to the product or site the have.

    Google even has a Twitter account

  • http://www.excaliburgeneralcontracting.com Gary Wisniewski

    All should be able to use.We are all just people no one to small or large for the whole

  • http://www.thesocialgrind.com julian

    Theses celebrities have gained that following long before Twitter and life is more than twitter. You think even a regular person has time to interact with everybody on twitter?

  • http://www.bloggingshed.com Arwen Taylor

    I don’t follow celebrities just because they are celebrities. They really have to bring something more to the table than just their fame. So, needless to say, I don’t follow very many celebrities on Twitter.

    Additionally it’s not just celebrities who have this one way broadcasting to the masses mentality. I’ve met many people on Twitter who will do everything they can to get you to follow them but once you are a follower they forget the meaning of two way conversation and don’t reply to tweets even the ones sent directly to them.

    But there are people who do get what Twitter is about so I hope this recent infusion of celebrity accounts doesn’t change how people view/use it.

  • http://cellpals.com Alice Stephenson

    I use twitter to comment on things that interest me, and I follow people that say things that I want to know about. If all we used twitter for, was to converse back and forth with people we know, we can IM on Hotmail. If a star has something to say, ( doubt very seriously if Oprah herself gets on twitter and responds to anyone, other than her personal friends…as I imagine her staff does it.)…I would follow it, if I was interested. I also use it to promote my site, and I have to assume that the people that follow me, are interested in the Criminal Justice system in America. and I know they aren’t Liberal, Democrats because I’m very Conservative, not extremely REpublican, but in the face of the options….of course, I am Republican. …..I guess I’m saying that if our person blathering bothers some twitterers, they might consider going back to IM to converse with the people they like.

  • http://twitter.com/kemengr kemengr

    Celebrities neither follow you nor tweet. They just are into Twitter to satisfy their egos. Moreover, they should understand it’s no running race nor popularity contest on Twitter. I have found only Mr Barack Obama following me back though I am sure the President will not spend his valuable time twittering!

  • http://hotsites.in gargville

    I like to follow celebrities. Infact i love to see their tweets . Dont matter much to me if they reply to their fans or not , afterall he/she is a celebrity and you could never expect them to say hi to you personally every morning.
    Catching their tweets is better than on their blogs/sites. You are getting realtime tweets , u know they are online that makes a good feeling like they are with you.

    • http://www.littledazzle.com dazzleUp

      exactly! it doesn’t matter if i’ll receive a vice-versa benefit, i would expect it would come because that’s a fact… They’re celebrity and they don’t know you but we know them.. :)

  • Guest

    For more than a month now anyone who trys to join twitter and put up a profile pic or background pic is out of luck. Twitter has an automatic response when you place a ticket with them sure, it acknowledges the glitch but has done nothing to fix it. Here we are more than a month later with no change. People join twitter to also post, many more are professionals in their field who need to be photo ID to avoid the squatters that pretend to be you. I find it interesting that any of the big name celebs who have joined in the last month have had no problem with their pic but the rest of us slobs get nothing. There are hundreds of posts on twitter from new members about this. We all have been ignored. Many in my profession and just about everyone on the posted complaint list on twitter are looking elsewhere for a more reliable network like twitter.

    We can’t wait.

  • Susan

    I don’t feel celebrities add to Twitter since they don’t respond to Tweets from others, their Tweets are typically dull and/or related upcoming programs or projects.

    I have a Twitter account but don’t see where it helps me or anyone else, except the celebrities. I believe most regular folks don’t care what’s going on at “XYZ Travel; The Quilting Diva; Sky Diving Champ, etc.” but, as is proven by the many programs and magazines dedicated to watching celebrities, celebrities get more viewing.

    Ultimately, I hope Twitter evolves into something more ‘down to earth’ ‘or’ a way you could really get a response from celebrities; perhaps limit amounts of Tweets per person.

    Just my humble opinio.

  • http://www.ceirysdesigner.net Nick

    Some of the few celebrities we follow on twitter are actively interacting with their fan base and when you read their posts it makes you realise that they are just ordinary people too. things such as what they are about to watch on T.V. and what they had for breakfast etc.
    I think personally it is up to the individual twitter on what kind of celebrity they want to follow. a down to earth normal person or a prima donna. I know which ones I like best !

    Follow us here http://twitter.com/Ceirysjewellery

  • http://www.latterkursus.dk ejvind

    Of course the celebrities cannot follow that many – it’s not their job either. When you are a “famous” person, people are naturally looking to follow you, and this way the celebs have their own – instant – pipeline for news and updates outside the normal mass media – that is amazing and it will change the power of the media over celebs…

  • http://www.movie666.com/ Deke Thornton

    It doesn’t seem like Twitter has been around long enough to accuse it of once being about two way versus one way communication. At least the stars have something mildly interesting to say once in a while (“I’m back in rehab”). Most tweets I read from my friends (god bless ‘em) are completely boring messages of no interest whatsoever. “Picked up my kids from lacrosse,” “ate a bagel,” yadda yadda yadda. My advice for Tweeters: if you life isn’t as exciting as Oprah’s… 1) join a mercenary group and tell us the nitty gritty; 2) have an affair with a deadly blonde who decides to stalk and kill you; 3) or just find something spicy to lie about!

  • http://www.onlinetv.us/guide/ Randy Penn

    From what I gather here some think Opra talking about her sandwich is less boring than some other. If such insipid uses evolve from the tools then the fools that use them will fund the more important facets this presents.

    An incredible tool for control I would say.

  • http://www.overfiftydating.co.uk Stewart

    I don’t understand why you should feel obliged to follow people on twitter just because they follow you. (Celebrity or otherwise.) Just because someone wants to follow you, it doesn’t mean you will want to follow them. Oprah doesn’t care what each of her fans are twittering about. If you are going to actually read your twitter feed then you have to have some discretion over who you are following, to avoid it becoming a irrelevant stream of nonsense from random people.

  • http://www.liveambitions.com Steve Baik

    No opinion on whether celebrities are helping or not, but what we do know is that they are definitely bringing more attention to Twitter at the moment. Who knows what may happen to Twitter in the long term. Twitter may be the biggest fad right now or the hottest idea to hit the internet this decade.

    Regarding celebrities and their lack of followings, it makes sense. Celebrities, like Oprah, are usually way too busy to follow 100’s or 1000’s of people on Twitter so they are going to be more choosy about who they follow.

    Read my blog post about Twitter: http://www.liveambitions.com/business/is-twitter-just-a-fad/

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au Australian Online Bookshop

    I think Twitter is completly missued by celebs. Most celebs us it as a defacto fan club rather than the purpose for which it was meant, that being the dissemination of relevent information. Who really wants to receive a tweet from your fav celeb letting you know they just visited the bathroom!

  • http://facebook-google.synthasite.com freedishtv

    I think celebs are attracting more followers, but are not adding any good or informative tweets to twitter.

    I agree that most celebs are on twitter just for the PR and ego boost.
    I try to follow those that really interest me or have something in common.

    Good article!

  • http://www.umanota.com Studio 139

    For the most part all social networking sites and services
    are used for self promotion, for the famous, near famous,
    wannabes, corporations and the rest of us.
    We live in an age where everyone is talking and no
    one is listening. These are novelties that will be
    replaced by the next tool of meaningless information.

  • http://hughzebeezlaughs.blogspot.com Hughze

    I use twitter. Usually I go through my following account once and awhile. I unfollow those that are not following me.

    What has this got to do with it? I found that, like people who aren’t following you, following celebrities is a waste of your twitter space. Why follow someone who is not listening to you? Though most celebrities don’t, there are a few who will follow you for a short time before they cut you lose. I’d only advise following celebrities if you want updates on what they are doing day after day. I haven’t found any that will return your replies. And if you think about it, it’s understandable because they are probably receiving thousands of replies and DM’s a day. Who can read them all. They’re celebrities not superheros.

    Twitter has some very useful applications. I don’t think we’ve discovered exactly what all of them are yet. Stalking your favorite celebrities shouldn’t be one of them.

  • http://www.NationalShowTickets.com DavidD

    Well Twitter has caught on and with all the publicity they can evolve into something more and benefit from it. If you had celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Jimmy Fallon, and Oprah all on your site, and confirmed Arnold Schwarzenegger, MC Hammer, and Britney Spears all where logging on even if time to time, what an endorsement.

    Makes me want to tweet

  • http://www.seosean.com SEO Services

    It’s cool that at least some Clebs are responding to fans in this manner because we can see then interacting with people which gives us an interesting side to this people’s lives.

  • http://www.kingstonlifeandhealth.com martin kingston22

    Celebrities are indeed busy and I don’t think they are going to spend time updating there account!

    • http://www.notasscontent.com Susan

      Twitter is a narcissist’s playground and I would certainly say that celebrities in general, possess a higher level of narcissm than the rest of us. Check out http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1551580/twitter_a_narcissists_best_friend.html

  • http://vur.me/lcobra/teampower Lauren

    I don’t see a whole lot of interaction with fans from any one celebrity. It gives me the feeling that most of the celebs are on their own frequency above all the “ordinary people”. I don’t particularly like that. Twitter was created for the internet user so all users should use it, but it should be a level playing field. In my opinion.

    If there were no fans, there would be no celebrities, so before the beautiful people start separating themselves from everyone else-cyberwise-they need to remember why they are who they are. It’s not like they’re being mauled on the street, they can log off anytime they want.

    If celebs just want to twitter only with their colleagues, and not be “annoyed” by fans then someone should get started on the Glitter Twitter site, just for the rich and famous.

    • Jer der

      I think it is just another example of celebrity PR and come uppance with other celebrities. I seriously doubt celebrity twitter accounts have anything to do with fans, more likely that this is a competition between celebs to see who can get the most followers. Me, I’m not following any of them.

  • Jeff

    First of all, I don’t have a twitter and don’t plan on signing up for one. I use Facebook and Myspace and that is enough. I signed up for those because I was looking for some of my High School friends. All of the reunion.com’s are now a paid membership and I am not paying for that.

    Now to answer the question. I have a few celebs on FB and MS. Granted they are professional athletes. They interact and even chat with me from time to time. The other celebs are music artist and I have one that will email and very rarely chat with me. Updating your FB or MS is very time consuming and most do not have time to mess with this. For me, I do not add people just to add so I can say wow, I have XXXX amount of friends. That is not why I signed up for this type of site. I have friends that do that very thing and they boast about it.

    So I say, Twitter is becoming a PR service for the celebs. Their agents are the ones that run their sites. I would be very surprised if Oprah actually operated her Twitter site. I am sure it is one of her paid staff and if there is anything of interest they print it out so she can see the material and air it on the show for popularity. Why not? Twitter is free. Even the News agencies are now saying catch us on twitter. Daytime talk shows are saying, “Tweet us and tell us what you think.” Which I think is great…a way to express yourself. But to add people just to add for a popularity contest, I hate it. It will be the downfall.

  • jarrod

    Is it enough to have celebs on yer myspace as yer friends….I am starting to wonder!
    Okay so you are so excited when they except you as a friend but they don’t even write you back! Not on your comments to them, not on the messages and not a reply at all…so the real question is “do they care”? I really dont know! I get these messages hey add me to your twitter and no personal thank you or I don’t have the time to write you back because I am touring……So here is my message to every celeb out there….DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR FANS, IF WE ADD YOU TO OUR PAGES WE DO EXPECT A REPLY AFTER ALL WE ARE YOUR FANS AND WE HELP MAKE YOU AND WE CAN SURE HELP BREAK YOU!

  • ml

    same tired argument by someone who doesn’t get twitter and has to make other people feel bad for using it. Lame.

  • http://www.getridoftonsilstones.com/ Kite Guy

    Neville Hobson says it rightly

  • http://www.dogseizures.net Sam@dogseizures.net

    This is absolutely not an issue no matter it’s twitter or any other social networking sites. In short, no big deal if they don’t follow anybody. Anyways, celebrities open twitter accounts to benefit their career. Nothing more than that.

  • http://www.scalpmed-reviews.com Scalp Med

    When people watch Oprah on TV they don’t get to interact with her. Twitter is just an extension of her show to some extend. Of course it’s mostly PR. But if you get a kick out of following a celebrity that’s OK. Different strokes for different folks is what I say.

  • Guest

    You were an autograph collector & “this constant fascination with celebrity lifestyle just doesn’t make sense” to you?

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