by Michelle Lentz

There are really two questions here: Will Oprah make tweeting so amazingly uncool that our parents will be doing it? And, can Twitter handle an Oprah effect?

Yesterday, Oprah announced on her Facebook page that she’ll be sending her “very first tweet” today when she hosts Ashton Kutcher, who won his recent (and silly) race against CNN to have 1 million followers.

Ashton, who does love Twitter, will no doubt evangelize the product. But I am still cringing just a little.

A few weeks ago, Ellen deGeneres issued a challenge to her watchers to help her get to some crazy number of followers. And I got a phone call.

Apparently if you Google “Twitter write tech support” you get one of my tweets, from my blog. So a woman in Evansville, Indiana, was able to follow a trail from my blog to my contact information on my business web site and call me.  And because I felt sorry for her, I spent the next hour trying to walk her through how to set up a Twitter account. It was the equivalent of a “CD-ROM drive is not a cupholder” conversation.  Since I wasn’t exactly billing out at my normal rate, I cut the call off as best I could after an hour.

My point is that this is a non-technical woman who wanted to join Twitter just to help out her favorite daytime talk show host. What’s going to happen when Oprah gets people to sign up? I’d love to hear the stats about the number of people who sign up today -v- the number of abandoned Twitter accounts in one month. Since Twitter uses Get Satisfaction, I can’t exactly say that Twitter Tech Support is user-friendly for someone like my dad – or my caller from Evansville.

That said, the Ellen/Oprah effect is cool in a way. I often preach that Twitter flattens the org chart. This is people trying to connect with celebrity.

But here’s the next question. Oprah can have an amazing effect on things. If she’s twittering, and if large number of users are driven to the site to follow her, then can Twitter handle it? Or will we be seeing the fail whale today?

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Contact Michelle with news, stories, events, and more.
Email: michelle[at]writetech[dot]net
Twitter: @writetechnology, Friendfeed: michellel
Sites: Write Technology, Wine-Girl.net

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