Actress Alyssa Milano's expert use of Twitter as a social, promotional, and business platform offers lessons for us all.
I probably follow as many celebrities on Twitter as the average user. Most are disappointing, filling their Twitter streams with inanities. And few are as plugged into the Twitter zeitgeist as actress/businesswoman Alyssa Milano.
Star of Who's the Boss?, Charmed, and Melrose Place, as well as numerous other roles (check out her IMDB page for the full list), Milano grew up before our eyes. She's still acting (most recently as a guest on the TV show Castle), and she now runs a successful line of sportswear. And, she tweets. I started following Milano for the same reason I follow a lot of people: she tweeted about something I was interested in—baseball. Milano is a rabid Los Angeles Dodgers fan and she tends to significantly up her baseball-related tweets during the season.
Over time, I noticed that she mixed in baseball tweets with others on social activism, her general interests, social networking tools, technology, and more. Plus, she tweets almost as much as me (and that's saying something). She follows others celebrities, but Milano also follows so-called regular people, those who add something of significance to Twitter. Her celebrity status may account for her over 700,000 followers, but it might also be that Milano, a devout Mac user, is an expert tweeter who knows how to engage and keep an audience. Milano is currently ranked 41st out of over 6.2 million Twitter users by TwitterGrader.
I recently e-mailed Milano some questions about her Twitter status and why she thinks she's become a de facto queen of this still-young social medium.Do you consider yourself a tech-savvy person?
I'm more of a tech-curious person. I try to stay up to date on what's happening in the world of technology. I find it all fascinating and inspiring.How did you get into Twitter?
My mother and brother convinced me to join Twitter, but I'll admit I didn't quite get it at first. When I first signed up, I followed mostly just celebrities. Then I decided to do some research on other users who were using Twitter in a different way. I started following more content curators and social media enthusiasts. I've based my tweeting on how the users I admired were tweeting.Why do you think it's a valuable platform?
It wasn't until the protests in Iran that I truly understood the power of Twitter. To get real-time reports from Iranian college students being impacted, right to my Twitter homepage, was pretty mind blowing. It made the experience more personal. There are no geographical boundaries on Twitter. All the ideals that I try to live by (like "We are all the same regardless of where we are" and "We are all connected") ring true on Twitter. The people of Iran were part of my Twitter community. The protests were also a personal revelation of how I could use Twitter as a platform to raise awareness, empower, and share ideas regarding topics that are important to me.What do you use it for?
I have three accounts that I tweet from: my personal account, which I try to use as I just mentioned. I do very little self-promotion on my personal account. I use it as any responsible community member would. I have an account for my clothing line, Touch by Alyssa Milano. My clothing line is league-licensed sports female fan apparel. On the Touch account, the staff and I tweet not only about the brand but also about sports news. And my third account is for my upcoming show for ABC, Romantically Challenged. I share this account with the other actors on the show and the writing staff. We tweet behind-the-scenes updates, news about the show, and funny links about love and being romantically challenged. By having the two other business-related accounts, I'm able to keep my personal account as the account where I share a little bit of who I am as a person and things that inspire me. If anyone wants to hear about what I have going on professionally, they can follow the other accounts for updates.How do you integrate it with your other social activities?
Twitter has just become part of my life, but like anything else, balance is key. If I'm doing something of interest, along with sharing the details with my friends via phone or text, I tweet about it to my followers or share a Twitpic. Of course, there are some experiences that are sacred that I don't share. It's about finding the balance.What do you love about Twitter?
I love that Twitter can be anything the user makes it, and that it makes me feel like I am a member of a community of like-minded people. I love that it gives me a platform to use my voice to inspire positive change.What do you hate?
Nothing yet...Do you think it'll last?
I think if Twitter continues to adapt to how the users grow and use the service, there's no reason for it not to last.