I just read a relatively entertaining piece on Oprah’s abandonment of Twitter. Apparently it’s been four days since @Oprah sent her last tweet – in this case, asking Hugh Jackman if he wanted to catch dinner.
The post goes on to explain that she’s sent 20 tweets in 11 days with almost half from her April 17 dalliance with Ashton Kutcher and Twitter CEO Evan Williams.
So is the sky falling? Is the mainstream fascination with Twitter officially over?
No way. In fact, most certainly not! To those who use Twitter, and I mean really use it based on the fundamentals of the service, won’t be so quick to abandon it.
The sad truth is that celebrity tweets are the antithesis of what Twitter’s members pre-Oprah built its foundation on: responsive, relevant messages between parties of similar interests. Twitter beckons you to be part of the conversation – which is the crux of social media. Sure there is a novelty in consuming messages from high profile members of Twitter – but it’s the call and response of the service that makes it more than a novelty. Speaking to yourself isn’t nearly as fun as speaking to others, right?
And that’s the argument I’m sticking to. The wear-out minutia of Twitter conversation (i.e. I just ate a hot pocket) may sound like a credible rebuttal but I’m not buying it. It has little to do with tribble and everything to do with engagement. The reason why Oprah lost (or is lost) on Twitter is because of her lack of commitment to engage her community.
Without getting too theoretical, look at Moore’s Law and its application to social media. Brett Borders had an interesting thought on the subject:
“The more deeply you get involved in the social web… the faster the volume of personal messages, signals, interactions and relationships — which demand your attention and response — seems to multiply…”
So in Oprah’s world, it’s no surprise she walked away. How can she possibly manage 700,000 followers and give them the personalization they deserve? Oprah has made a living using mass communication as a platform, but her ability to leverage mass communication has never required her to personalize it. She could give away a G6, sell subscriptions to her magazine, and bring huge A-Listers to her show every day – but being asked to participate in mass conversation is much different than being asked to spark conversation.