Twitter losing its cool

03 February 2009

Eli Manning

I’m worried about Twitter. Worried because it’s going mainstream. The celebs have arrived and with them the media in their droves. You can’t turn on the TV or radio or read a newspaper without some presenter or journalist talking or writing about it. And that can only mean one thing…

It’s no longer cool.

The big problem is that it’s now just another channel for “audience interaction”, just like the telephones, texting and blogging before it. A way to “connect” with the ordinary man and woman on the street. Only that’s exactly what these Twitter-loving celebs are not doing.

Take a look at The Times’ list of the top 50 most popular Twitter celebrities. Popularity! Is the biggest number really best?

I don’t think so. In fact, there are only 15 of that 50 who are following more than 10% of the number of people following them. The first, Eli Manning, is unbelievably following more people than are following him. Now that’s humility. I’m calling this the Twitter Reciprocity Index. I think it’s a fair measure of the two-way nature of member interaction. 10% seems like a reasonable average for the normal person. Interesting to see politicians in this list – maybe they can teach the slebs a lesson or two about engaging with the audience. Their rank in The Times’ list is at the end.

  1. Eli Manning (@elimanning) – 43rd
  2. Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) – 24th
  3. Karl Rove (@KarlRove) – 23rd
  4. Arnold Schwarzenegger (@schwarzenegger) – 18th
  5. MC Hammer (@MCHammer) – 9th
  6. Yoko Ono (@yokoono) – 42nd
  7. Rick Sanchez (@ricksanchezcnn) – 4th
  8. Will Carling (@willcarling) – 34th
  9. Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) – 1st
  10. Regina Spektor (@reginaspektor) – 44th
  11. Toby Young (@toadmeister) – 50th
  12. Roots Manuva (@rootsmanuva) – 49th
  13. Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) – 38th
  14. Xzibit (@mrxtothaz) – 47th
  15. Jimmy Carr (@jimmycarr) – 19th

The booby prize goes to Alan Carr (@AlanCarr) and London Mayor Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) who, despite all their followers (13,552 and 2,796 respectively), haven’t yet lowered themselves enough to follow anyone.

What do you think – does the presence of celebrity and the media furore make you like Twitter more or less?

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7 Responses to “Twitter losing its cool”

  1. Gail Nelson

    Saw your post on Twitter, and I couldn’t agree more. A community thrives on shared values. Not only does this lack of reciprocity make Twitter less cool, but eats at its social norms in a very visible way. I will continue to use Twitter, but not to follow celebrities. (I’ve already stopped following the Mad Men characters, although I must admit, they are still kinda cool.)

  2. Al Shaw

    Fair point, however – I’ve been lobbying colleagues and friends to get onto Twitter for an age, usually being met with a ‘Twit-what??’. Now it’s getting a bit of publicity and they’re suddenly curious. The key bit is the quality of the follows. I only recommend comms people to colleagues and ones that are, say, music-related, to friends. They’re closer to signing up than ever now, thanks to Wossy, Fry and – on Sunday morning – Richard P Bacon!

  3. Laurel Papworth- Social Network Strategy » Blog Archive » Famous Twits: 50 Celebrities on Twitter

    [...] Who else? Any soap stars, minor B grade stars, Cafe Tropicana hangers on?   Kevin Rudd is not on my list in the same way that Obama is not on The Times list – it has to be really them, not an aide. So none of those faux Agency run Twitter accounts for musicians/bands either. Agreed?  I noticed that Drew Barrymore only twittered a few times, and even though Ev helped her, she stopped. Niall Cook at Hill and Knowlton has a good take on the “celebrity broadcasting following but not following back/no engagement” thing. He calls it Twitter losing it’s cool. [...]

  4. Xian

    As Dan Akroyd often said, “Jane, you ignorant slut!” ;)

    Since when has celebrity action (or inaction) had any real effect on the inherent “coolness” of utility? Sure, the T-Mobile sidekick was cool because Paris Hilton (and other celebutards) used it, but Twitter? I don’t care which celebs are on it (publicly), nor do I care what they post or who they follow, especially when calculated as a reciprocity index.

    Twitter is cool because because Metcalfe’s Law reproves itself every day. Twitter is cool because you can participate in the daily musings and thoughts of your friends and cohorts without having to leave your desk. It’s more productive than getting locked in a conversation at the water cooler with the one co-worker whose inane stories have no end or point. Twitter is cool because Twitter is cool, regardless of the TRI.

    As one who lives in LA with several celebrity friends, I think you fail to recognize that many have public and private faces. Public figures can have a difficult time balancing the demands fromhttp://blogs2.hillandknowlton.com/niallcook/2009/02/03/twitter-losing-its-cool/ the public. Twitter “follows” are no different. I imagine several — if not many — of the celebs you castigate have private twitter and facebook pages that are restricted to their friends. Shouldn’t they enjoy the same privileges as the rest of us? Communication with a defined, known group of people instead of the random hordes?

  5. Niall Cook

    Of course they should. But if they are going to show their public faces, then they should at least engage with people.

  6. ftmf.info » Blog Archive » Twitter’s demise has started… apparently

    [...] Check out a great piece on why Twitter is so over… [...]

  7. I Don’t Care When You Joined Twitter | davefleet.com

    [...] the new people using the tool they’ve been advocating for for months. Post titles like “Twitter Losing Its Cool” and “Twitter Has Jumped The Shark” became [...]

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