I make it a habit to check Google news, Twitter, and facebook on a regular basis just to make sure I know as much as I can about the world around me. At around 6pm yesterday, a tweet from Biz Stone caught my eye. Bill Gates is on Twitter? I guess that's cool. I used to be a heavy apple addict, but I can appreciate what the man has done. I figured what the heck, I'll follow him.
I expected that to be the end of it.
Today, I've seen at least a dozen headlines showcase (google search link)how excited the world is that Bill Gates can express himself in 140 characters or less and/or that he cares what an actress from High School Musical thinks. I could really care less how many people reported on it. After all, there are tons of not-so-major sites that reported Bill joining Twitter, but I don't understand what the fuss is about. In his first five posts, he has talked to @RyanSeacrest once, retweeted him once, expressed concern for Haiti, had a extremely short dialogue with Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), and made an in-joke concerning basic computer programming. There have been no deals to his followers, no promises of upcoming software or hardware, pretty much almost nothing of value in a tweeter at all.
I'm not saying he won't have value. I could never pass judgment on a person in such a manner. I'm merely asking what he's done for us as @BillGates. If you want a news story, ask the tweeters with no inherent value in the real world how they place so much value in what they donate to the twitterverse. Ask those of us of whom you've never heard of in the news, but maintain a strong following. Personally, I would love to figure out why almost 400 people, most of which I've never met, think that I'm interesting enough to follow.
As @Jason_Pollock says, the value of your twitter account is not in how many followers you have, but how strong your following is, as in the conversations and inherent value that tweets may have. I think my strongest achievements on Twitter have been finding a link right after the Joe Wilson incident that showed his supporters as insurance companies that was retweeted several times, and the time I may have helped @Shaq get a blip.fm account (September 7, 2009 at around 1:45am). It's kind of difficult to tell if it was actually due to me, since Shaq decided not to @respond to whomever was helping him or thank them... Already, I've trumped Bill Gates' effectiveness and I've never even written a program.
Basically, I think the news media should just chill out for a bit before thinking that Bill Gates is the most exciting tweeter to follow. RT it for sure, but don't stop the presses.