Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Man (Ashton Kutcher) takes on The Man (CNN) and is winning!

If you are not familiar with the twitter race to one million followers between Ashton Kutcher and CNN, you can get caught up by watching this, this and this.

I don't know why I am in to watching this unfold, but I am. It's emerging technology showing itself (in an odd analogy) of like the anti-John Henry story. One man is beating the steam drill juggernaut that is CNN. The representation of Ashton Kutcher (John Henry) taking on the new (old)establishment (broadcast media). About there the analogy breaks down, but it can be fleshed out better than that if I spent time with it.

For now I just want to show you something.
I'm sitting here hitting refresh on my browser on both the CNN Breaking News twitter profile and the Ashton Kutcher profile.

I started this little experiment and CNN had 953,969 followers while Kutcher had 931,056.
I hit refresh periodically over the next several minutes. Sometimes it was 30 seconds later, sometimes it was a couple of minutes later. The refresh rates were being tracked in a parallel way.

Ashton - moves from 931,056 followers to 931,079 thats +23 followers
in that same time
CNN - moves from 953,969 followers to 953,982 thats +13 followers

periodically over the next several minutes
Ashton - 931,079 - 931,130 +51 followers from previous benchmark (ffpb)
CNN - 953,982 - 954,006 +24 followers from previous benchmark (ffpb)

Ashton - 931,130 - 931,199 that is +69 ffpb
CNN - 954,006 - 954,029 that is +23 ffpb

Ashton - 931,199 - 931,399 that is +200 ffpb
CNN - 954,029 - 954,124 that is +95 ffpb

Ashton - 931,399 - 931,589 that is +190 ffpb
CNN - 954,124 - 954,206 that is +82 ffpb

Ashton - 931,589 - 931,860 that is +271 ffpb
CNN - 954,206 - 954,276 that is +70 ffpb

Ashton - 931,860 - 932,060 that is +200 ffpb
CNN - 954,276 - 954,375 that is +99 ffpb

Do you see the trend? Ashton is adopting followers at a rate more than twice that of CNN. With the gap between where they are and 1,000,000, Ashton will surpass and win this little race.

The overall lesson...
In the social media arena, authenticity will beat out press releases every time. If Ashton starts to use his twitter feed as a press release, he will get dropped by many of those followers. Keep it real, Ashton, and people will continue to follow. CNN can't keep it real.

Hey, Non Profit Organizations, keep it real in the way you use your feed. Cultivate your following audience. Don't press release or solicit them. Until you recognize that "donor loyalty" is about you being loyal to the donor, you won't use social media in it's most effective way.

Interesting news, CNN recently acquired the news feed hosted at from James Cox. James is a random dude from San Francisco who has nurtured the account on his own for the past couple of years. Read the Silicon Alley Insider news story here. Turns out, the race is exposed as John Henry vs. Jon Henri.
It will be an interesting footnote in the overall story.
Now that CNN is operating the account, it is now officially your old steam drill.

LA Times broke this story this morning. Turns out that although CNN didn't "own" the feed. They had contracted with James Cox to maintain it for them since mid 2007. In that sense, one man vs. THE MAN is back on!