The race to the MegaTweet

The day started like any other day, sitting tired on SkyTrain on my way to work, when I happen to catch the headline on the newspaper of the commuter in front of me.  "Kutcher's race to a million twitter followers."  With peaked intrest I pulled out my iPhone and read some more about it.   Ashton Kutcher had some 9 hundred something thousand followers on Twitter, and was close behind CNN in the number one position.  Both were approaching 1 million so I guess it seemed to be the likely target.  After watching Ashton's YouTube video ( BTW: I love my iPhone 3G ) I was a little perturbed by Ashton's claim that his reaching 1 million followers would somehow signal a new age because (heavy paraphrasing here) "... an everday person has a greater reach than the media conglomerate ... ".  My problem was with the claim that Ashton was somehow representive of 'everone', not that I have anything against him, but he has a great deal more celebrity than most will ever achieve, so he hasn't lived in the 'everyman' world for quite awhile.  My immediate reaction was simple: "Fuck him, I'll do it first! I'll beat 'em both, because I AM everyman!".

When I got to work, I ran the idea past a couple co-workers, and they were supportive, so I went to Twitter and created a new account ( Ashton had used the term 'Power to the people" in his YouTube video ). Next I proceeded to follow everyone I was really following in my other 'real' account, careful not to follow myself first and give away my real identity.

I then sent an email to the team @nitobi and told them what I had started, and giving them a call to action to get the word out.  I got some great recommendations for profile images (#1, #2) from Brian, but in the end chose to go a different way.  I immediately got some follows from the team, and some retweets of my initial messages, and I was off to the races.

I spent some time following people, strangers really, hoping they would follow me back ... and alot did.  I chose people to follow by going after twitter users who had large numbers of followers, jumping to their 'followers' page and haphazardly clicking follow ( I love Ajax! )  I didn't spend a lot of time on this, as I also have a job to do, but did learn some stuff, which I'll get to.

Ashton eclipsed CNN at about 7:00 PM and around 11:00 PM PST, Ashton reached a million followers. This isn't a news report, so if you want the details of what happened, check it out here.  I was able to get 130 followers, including @NitobiMouse.

Okay, the lessons.


  • if you follow a stranger they will usually follow you back, at least for a little while.
  • if you follow someone who has no followers, you might scare them, and they might send you a message saying something like 'Why are you following me?'  ( Oprah's followers are heavy in this category )
  • twitter is still new to A LOT of people.
  • twitter is pretty amazing when you think about how vast the system is. (I only saw ~8 fail whales)
  • does this matter? Who cares!
  • I'm not as popular as Ashton Kutcher ( yet... ) 
  • Ashton is donating Mosquito nets to Africa, so some good is coming from all this.


While writing this I got 8 new follows, so I may still keep the account active, we'll see.  Also, I was not the only person to have this reaction, @TotalNobody had the same idea ...

My final thought.  Tomorrow, Oprah will be posting her first tweet live on her show, so Twitter is becoming less social and more of a platform everyday.  Not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or if it is even a thing.