Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

Ashton Kutcher And The Social Media Scalability Problem

As many media outlets have reported over the weekend, yesterday Ashton Kutcher (the actor and first celebrity to hit 1 million followers on Twitter), walked past a television and saw that the longtime coach of the football team from Penn State University had been fired. As an alum of a rival school, he immediately tweeted about the firing:

IMB_AshtonJoPaTweetThe only problem with his rapid response was that it was only in reaction to a part of the story. As Kutcher later learned, the coach (Joe Paterno) had actually been fired over a scandal with one of his coaching assistants and child abuse. He quickly shut down his Twitter account, and then restarted it and apologized for his misinformed tweet … but the damage had already been done. He had unintentionally blasted out to his 8 million followers a mistake that demonstrated his disconnection from all the overblown media attention that the scandal had been receiving over the past week.

IMB_AshtonKutcherStupidShould actors be required to keep up with current events? Probably not, and there are plenty of people in America who remain equally uninformed about what is going on in the world – but from a marketing perspective, his reaction to the whole situation in a lengthy blog post was the most interesting aspect of this whole situation:

While I feel that running this feed myself gives me a closer relationship to my friends and fans I've come to realize that it has grown into more than a fun tool to communicate with people. While I will continue to express myself through @Aplusk, I'm going to turn the management of the feed over to my team at Katalyst as a secondary editorial measure, to ensure the quality of its content.”

Could it be that the real problem with something like Twitter comes from the fact that you have an individually controlled media platform that (in theory) could reach more than 8 million followers, without any editorial filter? As Ashton notes in his post, when an audience grows to that size, it may just become too much for a single person to handle.

IMB_MaryKateAshleyUltimately, his experience perfectly illustrates the exact same problem facing any brand which is actively using social media to communicate with their customers. At some point it becomes too much for one person to handle and you need to scale your team. I had an interesting thought about this exact problem this weekend as I went to see the new Harold and Kumar movie. There was a little girl cast in the movie, and the end credits showed that her character was played by a set of triplets. Using twins or triplets in kids roles for movies is nothing new, and it makes a lot of sense. One kid gets tired, you can just swap another one in since they all look the same.

What if we thought about scaling social media along the same lines? Not to create a group of robots who can't think for themselves, but to have a team of people who all work so seamlessly together that the customers can't tell the difference. The trick to doing this well, of course, is to not suck all the personality from your people in an effort to make them appear outwardly the same. It can be done through a combination of great training and empowering your people – but it is still rare to see.

In the meantime, desperate for an easier option, Ashton Kutcher promises to do the same thing that brands are doing … outsourcing the management of his voice and hoping for a better result.

1 thought on “Ashton Kutcher And The Social Media Scalability Problem”

  1. Agree with your take that social media for brands and bigger organization should be managed by a team, not single-handedly. And of course, it has to be managed by someone who knows the brand well, not interns. Unfortunately as you said its rare to see, because not all brands are willing to invest into training their team and there’s always the upper management (corporate) to go through who are mostly likingly to shut the idea down.

    But then again, even with a team, can we know it all? If we wait to fully understand the “bigger story”, won’t we be losing the oppourtunity to break the story or atleast be the first few to share an opinion when the story is out (instead of being the one to know after everyone else knows about it).

    What Ashton did was human, don’t we all jump into conclusions? Why the double standards? And Ashton already admitted that he posted the remark a little too soon without knowing the entire story, so why still fuss about “the damage”. It was an honest mistake obviously, let’s not punish the guy so much =)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)

Speaking

Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object

Contact

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message