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Twitter acts weird

March 12, 2009

So, I did a presentation yesterday on Twitter to my agency. Blah, blah, this is Twitter, this is why it’s neat, this is how to use it. It was real Twitter 101 stuff, meant to educate.

Anyway, in the presentation, I did a case study on Whole Foods. I happen to think they are a thought leader, so I talked about them. On my presentation slide, I had their follower, follow numbers as around 8K. The screenshots were taken about a month ago. So, in the course of updating, I went to their site. I was rather astonished to see that they were at 60K.

But then I saw this:

Twitter Suggests

Twitter Suggests

This is Twitter’s suggest tool. And Twitter suggests that new users (or old ones) follow these people, or brands. So Whole Foods manages to go from 8K to 60K. Virtually overnight.

This isn’t earned media anymore, is it?

Now, I’m not suggesting that Whole Foods paid to get in here. in fact, I’m confident they didn’t. Still, this is Twitter picking people that you and I should follow, and propping them up. It’s the 2009 version of the cool site of the day.

And it’s weird. Because in my presentation, I say that Twitter is the ultimate earned media. followers come based on the things that are tweeted. Sure, some memes like FollowFriday help add to followers, but that follow was offered based on a history of tweets by a person. This is a case of Twitter picking people. Somewhat arbitrarily. And in the case of a brand like Whole Foods, it turns into something rather profitable.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2009 1:34 pm

    I saw the Twitter suggests tool as well, and I also looked into Whole Foods to see how they are using Twitter to promote themselves…but I did not follow them. I decided that despite what Twitter “recommends” I still wanted to find my own people to follow.
    Of course, I am sure that many people take the advice of Twitter and start to follow the big names just because they are popular, but I don’t think we should give up on earned media just yet. There are still discerning individuals out there.
    Thanks for the post!

  2. March 13, 2009 6:48 pm

    I’m not ready to give up on earned media. I think blogs and Twitter are classic earned media (whereas Facebook isn’t).

    Still, it was weird to see Whole Foods jump by the magnitude they did.

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