In just five months, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart attracted over 1 million followers on Twitter (she's now nearing 2 million). Even more remarkable is how little time she spends on the service. "I only tweet five minutes a day," Stewart told the audience at TwtrCon this week, explaining that it's a rule she rigidly follows. "It's too addictive!"
Stewart spoke with New York Times columnist David Pogue about her popularity on Twitter, and how she's using the 140-character platform to boost her business. She believes that authenticity is crucial to successfully communicate on Twitter. "Yes, I really am me—I write all my own tweets," she said. "To me, that is the best use of the medium."
This is not the case for many other celebrities who use Twitter. 50 Cent, for example, openly employs a ghostwriter for all his fan tweeting. "He doesn't actually use Twitter," the rapper's online-scribe told the Times last year. "But the energy of it is all him." Britney Spears and Kanye West are also known to employ Twitter ghostwriters—even President Obama has staffers running his feed.
Stewart, who often Tweets entire recipes in just 140 characters (a very impressive feat, if you think about it), has created an identity on the service that perfectly matches her personality, and it's easy to hear her voice with every tweet. A recent example: "Do you use Hellmann's Mayo or Kraft Miracle Whip, and why?? Answer asap"
Stewart and Pogue even jokingly vowed to launch a national campaign to encourage authenticity online and end anonymity. "You have to be you!" they agreed.
This was an especially timely discussion given that fake-BP exec @BPGlobalPR was the very next guest, and would soon hop on stage, cloaked in anonymity and mock authenticity. And he's not the only one who has developed an inauthentic Twitter identity.
But to Stewart, her authenticity—the fact that she's actually tweeting—is the reason she connects so well with her fans, who are, after all, her customers. Indeed, many of her tweets are directly related to her business empire, from touting a recent issue of her magazine to providing real-time updates to her TV audience.
She also stresses that Twitter is an excellent source of research. "I can do surveys instantly," boasts Stewart, citing how she asks her followers about which products they want to see from her company. "It's always accurate, informative, and to the point."
From her quick questionnaires, Stewart often immediately receives hundreds of responses from Twitter, which enable her to push products out the door with confidence.
Stewart also took time to talk about Facebook and its head Mark Zuckerberg, exalting the social network founder for being "so mission-oriented, so directed, and so intense." But she also expressed concern over the service's privacy issues, especially for younger generations.
"We have to teach our children, when they are 3 or 4," she warned, "We have to teach them the correct uses [for Facebook]."