Just Look At Who’s Tweeting Now

I just signed up for Twitter and I already have 12 followers. 12!!! Never mind that I had to badger a few people into signing up just to follow me, that’s not the point. The point is I am now ready and able to tweet – er, twit? Which means my tiny posse will be able to communicate instantaneously as long as we don’t exceed 140 characters. Is that even possible? Guess I’ll find out.

Why Twitter? Well, why not? If you are clueless about this form of social networking, it’s fairly simple. You sign up by selecting a user name (mine is JadeMoon1) and password, fill in a fairly simple profile page, and you’re ready to tweet. Once you’re signed up you can follow other twitterers and they can follow you. It’s like being in the biggest high school club in the world, only a lot of people are using Twitter for grown-up enterprises.

The microblogging service is popular – very, very popular – 25 billion tweets were sent out into the universe in 2010. Yes, people, 25 billion. Globally, the top-tier twitterers (say it real fast) with the most followers are, according to the website twitaholic.com, Lady Gaga, who has a mind boggling 7,790,218 followers, teen pop star Justin Beiber and Britney Spears. Our president, Barack Obama, comes in fourth and Oprah rounds out the top 10.

I found a site called WeFollow.com that tallies up local stats. It has two lists for Hawaii: Most Influential and Most Followers. It is a little outdated, as Nos. 2 and 3 on the “Most Influential” list are the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, which merged into the Star-Advertiser in June. At the top of the “Influential” list: Hawaii News Now.

Topping the local “Most Followers” list is a person named Ron Hagenhoff, who goes by the Twitter name triviani4life and who has 50,795 followers. Riding high in the top 10 are radio personality Dave Lawrence (davelawrence, 44,084 followers), and surfer CJ Kealoha (gotCJ, 29,419 followers). Andy Bumatai is No. 8 with 15,693 followers. Our new governor, Neil Abercrombie, is No. 20.

Twitter is the newest playground for advertisers, politicians, professional athletes and entertainers. Businesses are on the bandwagon, as are print and broadcast news organizations. The assignments editor at Hawaii News Now, Brenda Salgado, tells me her Twitter goes crazy whenever something newsworthy happens, such as an earthquake or an accident. People tweet her and she’s on it. It makes phone calls feel obsolete. It’s a tool most news organizations must learn to use.

Interesting trivia: The top news events on Twitter trends for 2010 were the Gulf oil spill, the Haiti earthquake and the floods in Pakistan.

Nowadays social networking allows us to experience history as it happens. During the recent upheaval in Tunisia, TV was useless and mainstream news agonizingly slow. But people in that country texted and tweeted what was happening, and we knew before we saw it on CNN. Same with that awful shooting in Arizona.

And Twitter can be a charity’s best friend. Local organizations such as the Hawaii Foodbank are still working out the kinks in the system, but most realize Twitter has real power and potential to raise funds. I recently wrote a MidWeek cover story on singer Adam Lambert and decided to follow him on Twitter. For his 29th birthday he asked fans via Twitter to support “charity: water,” an organization that gives people in developing countries access to clean, safe drinking water. Lambert asked them to donate $29 toward a goal of $29,000, and gave them 85 days to do it. Enthusiastic fans reached that goal and exceeded it in a mere five hours. Asurprised Lambert has since increased the goal to $290,000 and donations are up to more than $75,000 so far. That’s effective. That’s powerful.

So why Twitter? For all the reasons stated above and one more: I’m curious. But darn it, I need more than 12 followers! Again, I’m JadeMoon1. I promise I’ll follow you back.

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