It’s hard to escape the buzz about Ashton Kutcher beating CNN in the “Twitter Race.” Opinions abound on the subject:
1) I DON’T CARE!!!
2) Power to the People!
3) Twitter has turned into a popularity contest
4) Twitter is now officially – heaven forbid – MAINSTREAM
5) This is Changing the Face of Media
6) Twitter is dead (meaning either it has caused its own demise or for the more dramatic among us: “you are dead to me, Twitter, sob, sob, dead to me”)
And Oprah will talk about web phenom Twitter with Ashton on TV today. Ah, the synergy.
I admit I was one of the people egging Kutcher on. On Facebook, I even posted updates of the “race” in an effort to get people to “follow” Kutcher on Twitter. Was I motivated by “beating the man,” namely the corporation CNN? Nah, for me it was all about the malaria nets.
The cynical among us will call Kutcher’s promise to buy 10,000 anti-mosquito nets for Africa a marketing ploy, a cheap trick, etc., to get his Twitter followers to a million. Is Kutcher just looking for more publicity? Or is he really trying to show the power of the people on social media sites?
In the end, does all that matter? Not to me. For me, it was always all about the anti-mosquito nets. If even one life could be saved, it was all worth it. And 10,000 malaria nets will surely save many lives. That thought makes me feel all warm and happy. Sure, Kutcher could have donated that money anyway without the contest. But I give him credit for turning what could have been just a publicity stunt or ego race into a humanitarian act.
Recently Kutcher was lagging behind CNN in the race, even with the promise of the nets, before Electronic Arts stepped in and offered to put the one millionth “follower” in their new video Game SIMS 3. At first, the percentage of new followers being added actually dropped off, as people were apparently waiting for others to join so they could be closer to the one millionth mark and possibly hit it. So Electronic Arts added more prizes to random follower numbers to encourage participation. And it worked. So self-interest induced many to “follow” Kutcher on Twitter. But whatever the motivation, things worked out great for the people who will never get malaria because of the promised nets.
So kudos to Kutcher for reaching out to people on Twitter. He has been taking questions and comments and responding to tweets, so he is being a good social media user.
But kudos most of all to Kutcher and to us for saving lives. Now that’s the real power of the people.