Twitter Followholic: Ellen DeGeneres

Follow me, please, follow me!

Follow me, please, follow me!

At Social Media Jungle Boston this week there was lots of discussion about Twitter. Many people, including myself, feel that many new Twitter adopters become obsessed with collecting followers.

I call them followholics.

These are people who join Twitter (or Facebook) with one goal: get big fast. They immediately start to follow and friend everyone in order to build up an army of followers and friends. They don’t care who — they follow or friend everybody. Audience, they think, I need audience.

But this strategy (if it can be called thus) flies in the face of the value of social media: which is one-on-one engagement. The goal should be to find like-minded people so you can interact, teach and learn, and discover new ideas. Even brands on Twitter should be interested in finding followers that want to interact with them – followers that have an interest in their products and services. The primary goal of any social media platform shouldn’t be about collecting as many followers as possible – its about connecting with the right followers. Be they a little or be they many.

Chris Penn, CTO of Edvisors, articulated this quite well at the Social Media Jungle this week. Chris talked about an airplane manufacturer having 10,000 followers on Twitter – but none of them were buyers of aircraft. So what good did the 10,000 followers do him? But if he only had two followers and both of them were in the market for airplanes and one of them purchased an airplane because of information he found on Twitter – well, then that was a much better Twitter strategy than just collecting random followers.

Maybe we should adopt a motto: “It’s not the number of followers, stupid, it’s the quality of them.”

Now along comes Ellen DeGeneres and The Ellen Show. Ellen joined Twitter on March 10 at 2:03 p.m. PST (yesterday!). She even took a picture of it (see above). As of this blog post she had amassed 31,074 followers. She’s tweeted a grand total of 9 times. And do you know how many people Ellen is currently following? Thirteen. And more than half of them are other celebrities (Stephen Colbert, Ashton Kutcher, etc.).

Now Ellen is going to collect lots of followers because of her celebrity. But today she really took Twitter to a new low. Here’s her tweet: It’s 11:48 PST: tweet & call everyone you know & tell them to follow me- I want to see how many I can get by the time I’m on Leno tonight.”

Oh, boy.

Yes, I understand the difference among celebrities and brands, businesses, and “regular” people. Celebrities want mass appeal – they want everyone to love them. Twitter and all social media networks have a dark side – and one of them is tapping into the super ego. It’s easy to fall into a trap and become a shameless self-promoter. Stress on the word “shameless.”

I think Ellen has reached that point. Dare I mention the “shallow” word? Ellen wants followers – not so she can interact – but to show-off to Jay Leno and his audience. I don’t know who to be more disgusted with: Ellen or the several hundred people who opted to follow her while I wrote this post.

UPDATE: Two hours later after I wrote this post Ellen has 35,043 followers – an increase of nearly 5,000 people.

UPDATE #2: The next day (after Jay Leno) Ellen now has 52,680 followers. She has tweeted 13 times and is now following just 12 people.

3 Responses to “Twitter Followholic: Ellen DeGeneres”

  1. George, I too am new to Twitter, but I have come to the realization that I am not that social, I don’t want 10000 followers.

    It’s not that I don’t want to feel wanted, or smart, or popular, but what do you do with all of the squawks, I mean Tweets?

    IT’S WEDNESDAY and someone is asking me what I am doing this weekend, for cryn’ out loud will you leave me alone while I finish my work. I went to the gym today, there was an infomercial on how to be an internet millionaire, I come home fire up tweet deck and 20 people are discussing the methodology and want to be part of my gang. I just went back and read my deck, just to insure I am not over reacting, I’M NOT, someone is talking about his socks that his grandmother knitted for him.

    I better end it here, in case this seems like a rant, but George, you brought it up.

  2. I did indeed. That’s why it is important to be selective in who you follow on Twitter. For example, I follow people who are interested in social media, public relations, and marketing. I also follow people in the media, clients (potential clients) and friends. I’m not interested in following real estate moguls, get-rich quick zealots or Ellen DeGeneres (not that I have anything personally against Ellen!).

    It’s not about numbers (unless of course you’re the New York Times or USA Today), but about the quality of the relationship. There should be a some reason why you’re following someone and a reason why they are following you.

  3. I have to agree, ol’ chap. If I get one more email from someone selling sneakers or a Twitter member that only speaks Spanish that would like to follow me (and have me follow them back), I might lose it.

    There has to be a rhyme and reason behind the people you follow… it’s all about getting in front of the right audience, where and when they want to be met. If my knowledge of Spanish really only to the words “hola” and “gracias,” chances are, I am not going to form a lasting or mutually beneficial relationship with you…


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