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Twitter On Oprah: Will It Be A Boon Or Bust?

imageAn endorsement from Oprah is like the holy grail for an under-the-radar author, inventor or wanna-be lifestyle coach — but will it be a boon for Twitter, or will the inevitable surge of new users overload the service right when it gets the biggest break in its three-year history?

Twitter-fiend Ashton Kutcher will appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show tomorrow, talking about his race to the million-follower mark with CNN, and Oprah is scheduled to make her first tweet on-air. Given the tremendous influence Oprah has on her viewers (they practically bought out Amazon’s entire supply of Kindles late last year, after she endorsed the reader), Twitter is all but guaranteed to get thousands of new users tomorrow. But the startup has already been struggling to handle the constant flow of new users coming from its surge in popularity (see the Twitter Status blog, which records issues like disappearing tweets, people losing followers and missing avatars for the past few weeks). And those service outages were what had naysayers wondering whether Twitter would even make it through 2008.

Co-founder Evan Williams hinted at tomorrow being “a very big day” in a tweet earlier, so the engineering team is likely in crunch mode — but the service is already running slowly today. Coupled with the rash of account-jacking worms over the weekend, if Oprah’s endorsement and the ensuing traffic jam does cause Twitter’s service to grind to a halt — the downtime could send core users to rivals like Tumblr, someting Tippingpoint Labs’ Andrew Davis says is a credible risk.

Staci adds: A little after 2 a.m. eastern, CNN Breaking News sent out an alert that Kutcher broke through the million mark first. Best thing about it all: Kutcher’s $100,000 to Malaria No More. Maybe Oprah will match.

8 Responses to “Twitter On Oprah: Will It Be A Boon Or Bust?”

  1. Tameka Kee

    @Glenda @MLDina, that's sort of where I'm at. I think it will definitely help Twitter reach a new demographic, but not sure the infrastructure can sustain all that new traffic. Tried to sign on this morning and it has been very slow (it's actually been buggy for the past few weeks). We'll see.

    @Armand I think she'll get quite a few followers, maybe even the million mark — but I wonder how many of them will remain after the initial "buzz" wears off, or how many of them will interact with other users that aren't celebs (like Ashton, CNN, etc.).

  2. I was hoping Oprah would join the challenge. I mean, just on breaking news of Oprah joining twitter she already had over 26,000 followers (and 62,812 in counting) she's sure to beat a million mark in no time.

    Twitter better work overtime! :)

    My bet is Oprah will reach a million followers in about 3 weeks or less (after her show).

    Any bets?

  3. Oprah's endorsement is probably both a blessing and a curse to Twitter. They certainly can use some techical improvements, but the flood of new users the site will receive after the show probably aren't familar with the service issues avid Twitter users experience. They'll probably stick around for awhile. While I already consider Twitter well past the tipping point, I think they'll get a GREAT boost from Oprah's endorsement.

  4. linnie toh

    well Oprah I wish I had ur staff to train me on twitter….I have been spending a few months and thinking I have been breaking hte dang thing each time it goes down! I did afterall cause the first NYC blackout when I turned on my stereo…I saw it myself from my NJ apt. overlooking the GW bridge…I was 13!
    II know I can catch onto this I am afterall bowling on wii and reading on my sony….I intend to start a blog…especially if my state cecedes! so much to keep up with…so glad to be out of the workforce….NOT. Linnie

  5. John T.

    Twitter is past the point where they have to worry much about people jumping ship to competitors. A year ago when they were down for hours everyday there was an opportunity for a competitors to come in and steal user's away. FriendFeed seems to be the only one left standing and they are, as Michael Arrington put it, fast becoming "The Coolest App No One Uses."

    Also, someone needs to tell Andrew Davis that Posterous is the new Tumblr.

  6. I like this site and so far it has been a great thing. I am having fun with friends and making new friends in far away states. It is all good.