Social Media Stars Are A Million To One: Kutcher vs Sheen

The Twitterverse is home to many and like the real world, it allows for different opportunities dependent on your rank, file and serial number. In the case of celebrities it's proven to be fertile ground for real-time soap-box messaging, instant ego gratification as well as becoming a lucrative revenue-generator. Racing to a million followers has become sport for the elite and us mere mortals seem to enjoy watching it from the sidelines - even though most of us have no shot at ever reaching a million followers in our lifetimes.

Our story begins in early 2009, when Ashton Kutcher became Twitter's first self-proclaimed poster child when he engaged CNN in a popularity contest to see who could reach 1 million followers first. He promised the world that he would "ding dong ditch" Ted Turner, and sure enough in less than a month's time, he reached his goal and was crowned 'King of Twitter.'

Flash forward two short years, and it looks like there's a new Sheriff in town. In a previous post, titled, "Charlie Sheen's Record Speed On Social Media Highway Sets Guinness Record," it became evident that if you have enough star power, you can generate enough hype to not only amass 1 million followers, you can accomplish that feat in less than 26 hours.

In comparison with Kutcher, now at 6.4 million, does he still maintain staying power, or is this a case of the "the king is dead, long live the king!" And, if so, did this recent development come as blow to the "dude that can't find his car?" 

Some are speculating this is the case. With only five other Twitter celebrities having more followers than himself, Kutcher's account was hacked while the movie star was attended a TED conference on March 2. According to the Huffington Post, the hack appears to have taken place over a local network at TED by someone close to Kutcher.

Accessing the account, the hacker posted tweets that played off of the actor's previous accomplishments, in a not so flattering light. The two tweets coming in under 140 characters were: "Ashton, you've been Punk'd. This account is not secure. Dude, where's my SSL?" and "P.S. This is for those young protesters around the world who deserve not to have their Facebook & Twitter accounts hacked like this. #SSL." At first blush, not knowing any differently, all 6.4 million followers began to question why Ashton would be "punking" himself.

SSL - for those that don't know - refers to 'Secure Sockets Layer' which protects the privacy of data exchanged by a Web site and its individual owner. In this case, it's a somewhat embarrassing outcome for Twitter whose onus it is to explain why a celebrity's account could be so easily hacked.

In a recent TG Daily post, they believe they know the answer. In a post titled, "Was Ashton Kutcher's Twitter hack a publicity stunt?" the reporter described Kutcher as an "alleged fame-whore" who is "fighting for his space on the corner these days because there's a new man in town: Charlie Sheen."

Do you think Kutcher has been undone by the "train wreck" known as Charlie Sheen? Do the catch phrases "#bi-winning" and "#tiger blood" rally true support for the Twitterati's lastest new member? Would Kutcher stoop so low as to enter into this fray? 

Bottom-line, does rubber-necking a melt-down taking place in real- time warrant all of this attention? I guess it does to some extent, since I am writing about it.

However, in retrospect, perhaps it's time for all of us to reflect on the importance of followers and whether or not there's a case for quantity to trump quality? From where I sit, I think not.  While I have several thousand Twitter followers to date, I think have more meaningful interaction with them, then a celebrity could ever have in speaking from a mountain top, only to hear the echo of his own voice. Engagement is key in social media, and while the side shows of Kutcher and Sheen are good entertainment, they are fleeting in nature, adding very little substantive matter to our daily discourse.