UPDATED 16:53 EDT / APRIL 17 2009

Preparing Social Media for the “Big O”

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As you’ve probably heard, if you’ve opened a web browser or watched CNN at all today, Oprah Winfrey is on Twitter today. This comes on the heels of a follow-count battle between the entirety of CNN and That 70s Show star Ashton Kutcher.

What does it mean, though?

Very simply, it means that social media has arrived to the mainstream. What’s more, the velocity at which Oprah, Ashton and CNN have arrived at their respective connectedness with their fans once and for all proves the superiority of the medium over any other form when it comes to direct connection to a fanbase or personal audience.

To dial it back a little, let’s look at what Twitter is becoming in the context of this mainstream invasion.  Twitter is many things, and has been described in innumerable ways because it’s a very versatile tool.  In the context of how it’s being used by Ashton, Oprah and CNN, it’s showing itself to be the real McCoy in terms of a one to one relationship between brands (i.e. a recognizable name or personality) and those that identify with it.

How is this applicable in a new way?  It establishes the viability of the medium with the mainstream now, as opposed to the niche community of tech early adopters and the concentric circles around them. For those without an audience, it remains a great way to build an audience and build good connections within that audience.

For those looking to cut out the myriad of middle-men between them and their large audiences, Twitter provides just that (are you listening, newspapers?).

This has been the promise of social media since the inception of blogs, though. What makes Twitter different? One thing: lowered barrier-to-entry.

Blogs and other interactive forms of social media are great and still provide methods of deep impact on the communities and audiences around those personal brands, but Twitter still holds a unique position because the device required to access the network are almost universal. There are 6.7 billion people in the world, and as of last month, there are an estimated 4.1 billion active mobile phones.

Chances are, who you want to talk to has a mobile.  And chances are, they can grasp the mechanics of Twitter, and pretty quickly at that.

Given the financial and communicative advantages to Twitter, is it any wonder it’s become the media phenomenon it has?


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