Twitter wins, big.
This contest raises a big question. Does Twitter challenge the credibility of old and new media?
The Personal Twitter Experience
Our group has been quietly blogging for 14 months. In six months, Google Blogsearch listed this particular blog as the top answer for 'Economics of Advertising'. A belated thanks to all the cross-links from thousands of followers.
We've influenced ideas used by leading blogs, without their acknowledging the source. As a new source, these brands did not bother to crosslink - and perhaps it's understandable as they maintain Google pagerank parity among legacy blogs and websites.
We did receive thousands of compliments from readers. Again, a belated thanks to the loyal readers.
Now, our Twitter followers have grown to #3 position in Silicon Valley. We've passed 95% of the technology blogs except Techcrunch, Mashable, and AlleyInsider.
What does this have to do with Ashton versus CNN?
@aplusk @cnnbrk - First to one Million
In humor, Ashton characterized the contest as personal versus the bureau credibility. He appealed to his audience to overcome a following, brand, and distribution disadvantage --- and won.
Is there an issue that legacy media cannot deliver results? Why did the broadcasts of the contest to millions not influence the advantage for CNN?
Let's come back to this.
Live Tweeting the Contest
Last night, we called the contest with technical details.
- Some blog reported a bug preventing the unfollow of these contestants. This was repeated throughout the blogsphere. It was not a bug. Twitter planned the pre-emptive challenge to accurately measure the one million-th user. If thousands unfollowed and followed again to become the one million-th, the answer won't be definitive. We did tweet the right information to our followers.
- Ashton and CNN both gained about 100 followers per minute. Thus, we predicted crossing the million mark at 10:30pm PST. It occurred at 10:15pm.
- New users provided 99% of the growth of followers. Most followed both without knowing the consequences of the contest. Thus, the numbers reflect the growth of Twitter, not the relative popularity of these brands. Why didn't these new users know about the contest?
- Ashton had a live video broadcast and appealed to his followers to get the word out. The Twitter feed was filled with tweets about Ashton Kutcher Live and Oprah, little about CNN. That made the difference as @aplusk caught and passed @CNNbrk.
- We unofficially identifed and twittered the one millionth follower. Let's wait for Twitter to announce the formal answer.
During the live tweet, thousands read and RT'd to pass on the information.
Passing Major Media with Followers
Our efforts have led to dramatic growth of followers at Twitter, passing what I had considered major brands. However:
- We discovered some major brands following us at Twitter to get us to return the follow. This is not unusual, but they dropped the follow to make themselves look popular at our expense. Stupid pet tricks. Narcissistic behavior at it's worst.
- Most don't even return the follow of their faithful readers. These actions block their followers from crossing the 2,000 follower level themselves. No media has reported this mathematical and social flaw at Twitter.
- Many brands are clueless with Twitter etiquette, simply connecting an RSS feed to their twitter account.
Raising Credibility Questions
If someone writes about social media and Twitter, do they need to demonstrate competence?
- How can one write and express opinions about a subject where they have no successful experience?
- With their legacy publishing advantage, shouldn't they be able to drive readers to follow them at Twitter?
- If they can't, are they showing weakness with their readers? Are they under-serving their advertisers in the same way? Is that why eCPM's are so low?
Ashton beat CNN, but CNN fairly presented the story as human interest - without pushing their own interests.
However, does Twitter present a new challenge to media. Without success at Twitter, media credibility among advertisers become issue one?
I don't know the answer, but the future of Twitter is assured.