When Oprah Talks Twitter, Traffic Happens

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-04-22

Oprah Winfrey has come a long, long way from being an unknown actress in Steven Spielberg's 1985 feature film "The Color Purple" to exerting worldwide influence on such things as book sales, education, health care, self-help-even presidential elections.

Winfrey's support of Barack Obama for president in 2008 may well have delivered enough votes to decide the election for him, some political analysts have said.

Recently she used her television show and Website to examine the Twitter phenomenon, and of course it boosted the popularity of the 75-person, San Francisco-based IT company in incredible fashion.

On April 17, the super-popular talk show hostess devoted her entire show to a discussion and demonstration of the instant-message social networking site. Afterward, traffic to Twitter shot up a whopping 43 percent, market tracker Hitwise reported.

On her Chicago-base show, Winfrey synced her laptop to an on-screen monitor and "tweeted" for the first time with actor-producer Ashton Kutcher at his office in Southern California. Kutcher, who also was talking on-screen to Winfrey on a Skype video hookup, had just attracted his 1 millionth "follower" on Twitter in a well-publicized race to reach that plateau before CNN's Twitter site did.

Later, on Larry King's nightly CNN talk show, Kutcher was congratulated by CNN news hound Anderson Cooper for the Twitter accomplishment.

Winfrey's show is syndicated everywhere English is spoken, and CNN is worldwide, so Twitter had the public relations day of its short life that day.

Also on April 17, 37 percent of hits to Twitter.com were by new visitors, Hitwise said. Facebook's ratio of new visitors in March was a mere 8 percent, the service reported.

Finally, Hitwise said that "Oprah" was the No. 7 searched-for term of the day and "Oprah Twitter" had come out of nowhere to be No. 35.

Never underestimate the power of a popular media celebrity.

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