Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds. Its following grew by an unbelievable 75% from February to March this year, with site visits doubling. The site has its celebrity users to thank for this sudden growth spurt.
Over the past few months a number of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and Barack Obama, to name only a few, and mainstream media companies such as CNN, BBC, The New York Times and many others have joined Twitter and are trying to out-do each other by collecting the most followers.
A few months ago, Stephen Fry and Barack Obama’s PR team led the most popular Twitter accounts, with a couple of hundred thousand followers each. Until yesterday, no single user account on Twitter had crossed the magical figure of one million followers.
The three hottest contenders for the million-follower mark were Ashton Kutcher, CNN and Britney Spears. The race actually started off when Ashton Kutcher announced, through a video, that he intended to beat the popular news channel CNN and be the first to have one million followers on Twitter.
Kutcher had started out on Twitter in a very modest way, but later he was joined by his equally famous wife Demi Moore and that really helped to generate a huge fan following. He also posted photographs of her bending down in her underwear on popular Twitter photo-sharing site, Twitpic, which brought a lot of public attention to his Twitter account.
Ashton has now succeeded in being the first to have a million followers on Twitter, and to celebrate his victory he has announced that he will donate $100,000 to the ‘Malaria No More’ fund, to help fight the rampantly prevalent disease in Africa.
While this gesture is definitely commendable, it seems quite silly that celebrities and the media are trying to beat each other at this game of winning more and more followers on the network. Other celebrities and media publications will reach that target soon enough, and each of them will probably make it sound like they have created history.
Twitter does not seem to mind. In fact, they were reported to have created a special position in the company to cater to their celebrity users.
This obsession with celebrities could destroy the original essence of the site, which had been started by a group of computer geeks, to keep in touch with each other.
Today, Oprah Winfrey posted her first tweet ever, and she already has 100,000 followers, more than double what the most popular geeks acheived after 3 years of using the service! Ellen DeGeneres posted her first Tweet only last month, and is already close to having a million followers.
With Twitter quickly turning into the average person’s hotline to the stars, the number of spam accounts is bound to rise. If the company does not handle its growth and the growth of associated spam on the service appropriately, the original users that helped bring up the service could leave and find greener social media pastures very quickly.