[Cross-posted] If a Twitter presence is de rigueur in 2009, then who is using it as a tool for generating dialogue and connecting with stakeholders?
A few weeks back, I posted my top 10 reasons for following someone on Twitter. While not everyone agreed with the 10, I dare say that the majority struck a chord. And one of the things many of us agreed on was that certain celebrities wanted the same level of worship on Twitter as they had in the ofﬂine world—and how that wasn’t exactly encouraging for some of us to become one of their followers.
That’s ﬁne: it’s their prerogative, but I see it as rather self-centred. ‘Come, look at me, I am Tweeting,’ doesn’t seem as accommodating—or even human—as, ‘I want to hear about you, too.’ All the ideas about modern marketing—from Christian Gronröos and relationship marketing, to the Medinge Group’s writings about humanizing branding, to Stefan Engeseth’s One—are summed up in the latter quotation.
Part of the reason for President Barack Obama’s campaign’s success was his staff’s use of the service. It should be noted that since winning his election he has been an irregular Tweeter, which suggests to me a reduced desire to interact with the Twitter community, but only he really knows for sure. What is less arguable is that the President has a reasonable following-to-followers ratio: he is following 766,815 people, while 1,044,307 follow him.
It means that if the President ever logs in to his account, he’ll see the latest updates of some of these 766,815. And if he does want a feel of the Zeitgeist, he can do that very easily. As Barack Obama is probably the most tech-savvy American president in history, this would be a good way for him to keep his ﬁnger on the pulse—and ignore any biases in opinion polls.
One can compare this with the other extreme: actor–producer Ashton Kutcher. I recently saw that he had proclaimed himself ‘Mr Twitter,’ which is laughable, considering he doesn’t have a grasp of the service at all. Mr Kutcher follows 142 while he has 1,542,437 followers. If the internet is this great equalizer, one where there’s one-to-one or even one-becoming-one communication, then Kutcher fails terribly based on his ratio: he sees Twitter as a one-way service, another channel to broadcast without needing to hear back from his supporters.
It’s his right, of course, and we all have our ways of using Twitter. I just don’t see his as being particularly fruitful for his personal brand, and I see the proclamation of ‘Mr Twitter’ particularly arrogant. That would be like my calling myself ‘Mr Branding’ just because I wrote and co-wrote a few books.
There are in-between cases, such as actor Stephen Fry, who maintained a very healthy ratio before he gained more followers than he could handle in a very short space of time. Cases like that are totally forgiveable, in my book. I understand, though I have not known of his account for long, that Hugh Jackman found himself in a similar boat.
And perhaps some of us are on information overload. For my ﬁrst year on Twitter after I joined in April 2007, the only people I followed were those I met in the real world, because I didn’t need another thing to follow. After a while I opened myself up to reading more from others—it helps one feel connected to the dialogue on our planet, if that’s what one wants.
So by this reckoning, how are others’ ratios? As of this Friday (this post was written around 1.30 p.m. GMT), we are looking at the below numbers for a few people I can think of. And with the exception of a few politicians, many in that ﬁeld are doing a terrible job of listening to the people: I’m talking about Sens. John McCain and Claire McCaskill in particular. Politicians should be doing better than that.
Gov. Sarah Palin’s account is still, from what I can tell, very new (started April 29, 2009), and I’m prepared to extend to her the same courtesy as I have to Stephen Fry and Hugh Jackman—for now.
With an emphasis on American politicians, here’s how things are stacking up in terms of Twitter ratios. Does it say much about their egos or how much they wish to interact with the public, or does the ratio cease to mean much when we talk about the very well known?
|Congressman John Boehner||johnboehner||9,261||9,845||94.07%|
|Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger||Schwarzenegger||44,263||56,397||78.48%|
|Gov. Bobby Jindal||BobbyJindal||14,344||19,054||75.28%|
|President Barack Obama||barackobama||766,815||1,044,307||73.43%|
|Mayor Gavin Newsom||GavinNewsom||23,809||336,294||7.08%|
|Sen. Barbara Boxer||Barbara_Boxer||482||7,275||6.63%|
|M. C. Hammer||MCHammer||26,048||563,733||4.62%|
|Sen. Kay Hagan||kayhagan||19||512||3.71%|
|Sen. Chris Dodd||chrisdodd||20||1,265||1.58%|
|Vice-President Joe Biden||joebiden||156||21,188||0.74%|
|Gov. Sarah Palin||AKGovSarahPalin||45||11,782||0.38%|
|Sen. John McCain||SenJohnMcCain||43||541,042||0.01%|
|Sen. Claire McCaskill||clairecmc||1||22,619||0.00%|