4/16/09

Ashton Kutcher v. CNN: Social Media Lessons from Celebritude

I am in awe of Ashton Kutcher.

Ok, yeah, he's cute. I admit it; I was charmed by his dopey good looks in That '70s Show.

But after watching the 31-year old Ashton Kutcher on Twitter and the sway he has, I now believe that man is a marketing genius.

Yet another very successful college drop-out, Ashton Kutcher has managed to leverage his own cult of personality into a social media sensation. Right now, Ashton (@aplusk) and CNN (@cnnbrk) are in a race to reach one million Twitter followers.

Followers are basically Twitter subscribers who are tracking Kutcher's own Twitter entries. In the first place, both Ashton and his wife Demi Moore are both on Twitter. Ashton, going by user id @aplusk, and Demi, going by user id @mrskutcher, have made their own little reality show on Twitter.

Every day, Twitter followers watch them interact with each other, their family, friends and, if you are lucky, a Twitter follower. Ashton and Demi are, as @glambert once said, their own paparazzi. But it gets better: Every Twitter profile has the opportunity to link to your web site of choice.

Most people choose to link to their blog or company. Actors will often link to their filmography.

But Ashton, who I believe is at heart an entrepreneur, links to BlahGirls.com. What's Blah Girls? A portal to "an interactive, animated web video series and celebrity gossip blog." Blah Girls is owned by Blah KL-DG, LLC, which is co-owned by Katalyst Media and David & Goliath, Inc. Katalyst, founded by Kutcher and his production partner Jason Goldberg, create original content for digital media, tv and films.

The company has produced the FaceBook Video series "(Kat)al+yst HQ", tv shows "Punk'd", "Beauty and The Geek", "True Beauty" (a co-production with Tyra Banks), as well as the movies "The Butterfly Effect" and "Guess Who." David & Goliath, Inc. founded by artist-entrepreneur Todd Goldman, is a $90+ million teen apparel line.

Kutcher spotted his Twitter opportunity when he noticed that: 1) he was fast approaching on one million followers, and 2) he and CNN were neck and neck. In the fashion of his personna of slacker/football player, Kutcher looked us straight in the eye and promised that if he beat CNN to the race, he would "ding dong ditch" Ted Turner.

Last night I watched as Ashton gained 1,000 followers in 15 minutes, then 10,000 in an hour. So what does one million Twitter followers mean to Ashton and CNN? Two million sets of eyes. Both "entities"--because Ashton is but a brand--are in the media business.

Both Ashton and CNN want you to watch them. Because, as all of Hollywood knows, eyeballs equal dollars. So what can we as legal marketers learn from Krutcher's social media wizardry?

First, social media is about interaction: Twitter is much more interesting when watching two people interact online than a lone person shouting out into the vast TwitterSea.

Second, personality matters.

Third, we, as individuals, make the web interesting. And, as Ashton suggests, in the arena of social marketing, "we actually become the source of the news, and the broadcasters of the news and the consumers of the news."

What Ashton demonstrates with his Twitter War with CNN is that "Social media and social news outlets can become as powerful as the major news outlets." We have the power.



NOTE: (from @glambert): At 10:42 I checked the stats, and was temporarily amazed that Kutcher had not only passed the 1 million mark, but was actually approaching the 2 million mark.

 
But, then I realized this was another one of the Twitter glitches.

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