The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Jun 11, 2009

Although it may appear that celebrities get hoards of “instant” followers whenever the sign up for services like Twitter, the phenomenon is a byproduct of hard work done long BEFORE they opened that new channel. Celebrities spend their entire careers building a fan base, and they know that those fans will “follow” them wherever they go. This post takes a look at some of the things that companies can learn from those who are experimenting with a new way to interact with their fans.

The first part of any New/Social Media strategy is to create compelling content that draws an audience–an effort that takes time. Celebrities like Oprah, Ellen, or Shaq, don’t have this lead-time problem. Since they can mobilize their existing fan base quickly, they can skip over the “building an audience” phase and go straight to the “interacting with the audience” phase.

A couple months ago, your New Media Evangelist described how Shaquille O’Neil interacts with his audience through Random Acts of Shaqness. Recently, I witnessed another one.

On May 27th, my Tweetdeck/Twitscoop window displayed two words looming large: “Kirstie” and “Alley.” At first I feared that something terrible had happened to the actress who I’d come to know as a neurotic barkeep on the television show Cheers. Thankfully, however, instead of reading of her untimely demise, I found that @kirstiealley was in the middle of a Twitter experiment with her then 28,838 followers.

Ms. Alley sought a name for her new reality show. Instead of going through the traditional route of hiring professional communicators, focus groups, etc, she posted the following job offer onto her Twitter account at 8:57 a.m.:
The answers arrived fast enough to register with Twitscoop as the trending topic that caught my attention. At 9:31, she announced an end to the contest, but couldn’t yet choose a winner, reporting that she was still working her way through 2000 responses to choose from.

At 9:50 a.m., exactly 53 minutes after posting the challenge, she announced the winning entry:

@Boomstone AND THE WINNER IS….”DON’T CALL ME KRISTIE” YAYYYYYYYYYYYY tough call (a few versions of this so went verbatum) yayyyyyyy
For the Traditionals out there, what’s the ROI of that?
  • $300 per new show title?
  • 15 cents per entry?
  • 37.7 entries per minute?
As your company works hard to create content that attracts fans, don’t forget that they like you and are willing to help.  Chris Brogan likes to say that, “I ask Twitter everything, because it’s smarter than me.”

So, what are you asking of your audience?

Filed under: Social Media

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