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April 17th, 2009

Will Oprah Impact Your Day on Twitter?

In case you’ve been on vacation for the last couple days and are just now checking the news you might have missed while you were out, there are two big Twitter-related stories everyone has been buzzing about:

  1. Kelso has succeeded in beating CNN in the race to one million Twitter followers. This is important, but I’m not exactly sure on the reasons why.
  2. Oprah will, today, post her very first Twitter update when founder Ev Williams visits her show, an appearance that has some people speculating he’ll use that massive platform to announce he’s selling the service to Google (There are a list of reasons I don’t think that’s likely, but I’ll save those for another time.)

I said yesterday that I’d be taking today off from Twitter (in an update that I posted to Twitter, of course) because I wasn’t eager to see everyone’s retweeting Oprah’s first update clogging my feed.

But as I thought about that statement I eventually realized that’s as far as her impact would be felt by me. And I wasn’t one of those who had helped Kutcher reach his one million follower milestone so that didn’t really have any impact on me either.

While there’s sure to be a fair amount of hand-wringing and commentary about how celebrities are taking over Twitter it’s important to remember that you are stil in charge of both who you follow and who follows you. If you don’t want to see Oprah’s every utterance there all you have to do is nothing. Just don’t follower her. If whoever manages her account decides to follow you and you don’t want that to happen, just block that account from receiving your updates.

Like an RSS reader, Twitter is a self-selected channel. There’s nothing that’s going to enter that filter that you don’t put into it or allow to be put into it. If you don’t want celebrity updates mixed in with your technology-related ones, that’s your choice and you can mold your Twitter profile to reflect that desire.

The influx of mainstream audience attention to Twitter – or any tool you might be using – is ultimately going to be a good thing for your experience, though. The influx of traffic and activity that Oprah or whomever else brings to something means those in charge of the service will have to make infrastructure improvements in order to handle the load. Analyzing the behavior of new people might also result in usability tweaks that enhance your use as well.

Ultimately Twitter might be heading, as John Ratcliffe-Lee speculates, toward the Trough of Disillusionment but that’s alright. Those who see real value in Twitter and its potential as a communications tool will stick with it while those who don’t leave. Just like what you read on Twitter, that’s up to each individual user to decide for themselves.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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