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Will Oprah Get the Creaky Crowd Tweeting?

Will Oprah Get the Creaky Crowd Tweeting?

Twitter may be in for some growing pains as super-celebrity Oprah Winfrey leads her herd of boomer-plus followers to the microblogging network. Oprah fired off her first tweet during her TV show last week, and Twitter's already stratospheric traffic shot up even higher. However, the newcomers were mostly not the Gen Y or Millennial types the site typically attracts.

By Erika Morphy
04/22/09 3:22 PM PT

"HI TWITTERS. THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOME. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY."

So read Oprah Winfrey's first tweet last Friday.

Given Twitter's wild success, the addition of one more devotee ordinarily would not create much of an impact -- even a celebrity like Winfrey. However, Winfrey made her Twitter debut on her TV show -- another, albeit more established, cultural icon.

Traffic to the microblogging site skyrocketed after the broadcast by a whopping 43 percent, according to the market tracker Hitwise. What's more, 37 percent of the surge represented new visitors.

The Oprah Effect

The Oprah Effect -- on anything -- has been well documented. Her book club has been credited with making reading popular again; indeed, she has propelled any number of novels to the ranks of the best-sellers. Her magazine gets thicker each year, even as other consumer-oriented print publications fall by the wayside. Her endorsement has been credited with giving U.S. President Barack Obama a crucial boost during the early days of his campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Given all that, the jump in Twitter traffic is understandable, David Erickson, director of e-strategy for Tunheim Partners, told the E-Commerce Times.

It is interesting, though, because Winfrey's show will accelerate -- perhaps faster than anyone expects -- a growing social media and Web 2.0 trend: adoption among baby boomers and even older generations.

Merging Demographics

To be sure, the trend has been steadily building on social networking sites such as Facebook and niche sites devoted to specific topics such as health or employment.

The demographics for Twitter, however, have remained solidly in the Gen Y and Millennials' columns, Erickson said.

With Oprah leading the way, that may change. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" no doubt can claim viewers in just about every demographic, but most watchers are likely older than the typical Twitter users, said Erickson.

Changing Content

At least initially, Winfrey fans will log in primarily to read her tweets, which have the tone and consistency of an enthusiastic newbie to the site ("In the makeup chair, reading script for today's show. SHOCKING video! Don't miss the beginning.")

Eventually, though, these fans are bound to begin following other tweeters and perhaps set up their own accounts. One thing that can be said about Twitter -- there is something for almost everybody on the site.

Indeed, the recession itself is a unifying force for content, Erickson suggested. "I've noticed a lot of tweets about the best sites for coupons. That is something sure to interest boomers."


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