Will Britney Spears crash Twitter

A few days ago Michael Arrington over on TechCruch ran a story about Britney Spears joining Twitter, or more precisely, her management team starting TheRealBritney avatar for her fans. At the time of writing this post there were 5,045 followers of @therealbritney for only 26 updates. So what? Barak Obama has 101,133 followers (though with only 238 updates); surely this has been the real test of Twitter over recent months. Well, perhaps not. You have to run campaigns to get people to vote in the USA. Politics is for a select group of very interested people whereas music is for everyone – maybe not Britney Spears’ style, necessarily, but even with her haphazard performances of recent years, more people worldwide would know of Spears, than Obama. How can this effect Twitter?

The Allure shot of Britney that caught Dvorak's attention on TWiT 165

The Allure shot of Britney that caught Dvorak's attention on TWiT, episode 165

A few months ago, during the great Twitter instability, when the platform was losing contacts and going up and down, I was listening to a podcast episode of TWiT (This Week in Tech), and the team suggested that Twitter would fall over when a genuinely international celebrity spruiked the platform. (Leo and Dvorak talk about it again in the current podcast – episode 165) They suggested that Twitter is being pushed to the limit by insiders, bleeding edge adopters and technology geeks who are not only testing the viability of micro-blogging, but seeing how it can be used for communication, business, marketing, social networking and whatever else falls out when you shake it hard enough. It was under this strain of rapid early adoption that the platform was finding it difficult to scale. They went on to say, if someone with real international purchase like Paris Hilton jumped up and said “Hey guys, I heard about this really cool thing called Twitter, you should give it a try”, the whole thing would fall over in a heap from the massive traffic surge – so badly, I remember them saying, that it would never recover.

Is Britney the Paris Hilton of that story? Or has Twitter become robust enough in the past few months to withstand the pop Queen’s assault?


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2 Responses

  1. So true. Great post on Microblogging in general, Sean. I like the facts behind Leo Laporte opening the TWiT Army microblog on Laconica. Cheers, Chris

  2. If twitter turns out not to be able to cope, she could always create her own open-microblogging site. One way or another, adoption by celebrities will give an enormous boost to broader awareness and use of microblogging.

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