Now, listen, I mean that literally, so if your mind’s in the gutter and you think that’s a sexual euphenism or something, well then your problems are your own.
Of course, I understand you might think that the only reason I’m bringing up Alyssa Milano is that she’s a beautfiul, brilliant, philanthropic goddess, gliding among the rest of us like an Elfin Princess from Lord of the Rings. And sure, that’s part of it.
There’s also the fact that I feel like I actually know her, since I used to eat Doritos upside down on my couch watching her on Who’s The Boss when I was a kid. Back then I calculated that she and I would probably be happily married by now. But that’s life – things seldom work out the way you plan.
No, the reason I’m talking about Alyssa Milano is that I just read this article about Twitter by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, in which the power of tweeting is analyzed by having three different people do it once each.
Apparently, Alyssa Milano is quite renowned for her tweeting, so I looked her up and followed her, and it’s true. She has an unprecented sixteen kazillion followers, and the article describes how despite all this, when she tweeted the link to their book’s Amazon page, nothing happened in terms of additional sales.
Seriously, they weren’t trying to be mean or anything. It’s just that their book is called Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, and it’s about exactly what it says it’s about. And Alyssa Milano must have liked the book – which is good enough for me, by the way – so she tweeted the link.
Since Alyssa Milano has more followers than there are people on Earth (not really), it would seem intuitive that there would be a spike in their book sales that day. But instead, there was no effect, except a slight downward turn of one or two copies.
Did they compensate mathematically for other factors besides Alyssa Milano’s online activities? I don’t know – I would certainly hope so.
Now, nobody was suggesting that Alyssa Milano did any harm, it’s just more of a comment on what kind of effect a tweet has on the behavior of the people to whom it’s tweeted, and the answer appears to be – if this one tweet out of several million trillion is any indication – not much.
To be fair, they then had a few other Twitterers tweet the same link, including Fox News, which has maybe five thousand followers (old people don’t do the Twitter, you know), and when Fox News tweeted the link, they sold an extra five books.
Are they suggesting that Fox News is somehow cooler and more important than Alyssa Milano? I don’t think so – and if they are, they need chained up to radiators like savage werewolves, because they’re out of their motherscratching minds.
Destroy Fox News with a series of missile strikes or even mildly inconvenience Alyssa Milano on a Tuesday night, well, I don’t have to tell you which way I’d be leaning, if those were the only two choices in front of me.
Clearly, these guys were not suggesting that Twitter is worthless in terms of marketing – that would contradict the book they wrote. And it is true that when you don’t know anything about Twitter, you kind of assume that tweeting something to eighty-five billion people would probably be a big deal, so maybe they’re trying to clear up a common misconception.
But you know, taking three people and having them tweet a single link once each really doesn’t seem like a sufficient amount of information from which to draw any kind of meaningful conclusion. Sure, I know, I’m not a professor and I don’t write for CNN – it’s probably just me not grasping something.
To my untrained eye, it seems akin to getting in a canoe, sticking an oar in the water, rowing once, then asking two other people to do the same thing, and then concluding, man, that’s weird. Rowing boats doesn’t have any effect on whether or not they move.
It does, you know. Of course, not if you’re just going to do it once.
I mean, they make excellent points about how the type of followers matter more than the number of followers, in terms of getting people to actually react to your tweet (i.e., buy a book). And there is no question that if you poured a liter of whiskey into each of these guys and then had them talk using only hilarious sock puppets and Kermit the Frog voices, they’d still be a lot smarter than me.
But fellas, I think you are missing the point: Alyssa Milano thought of you.
You crossed her mind. You occurred to her. And sure, you guys are smart, but you’re probably a couple of dorks, just like me. Showing up on Alyssa Milano’s radar at all ought to be enough. Stop analyzing it and start fainting – this is really happening.
I mean, sure, Ashton Kutcher has way more followers than she does, but he’s a dude, and he wasn’t in Commando, so who cares?
I’ve been smiling dreamily at Alyssa Milano on my television screen all the way from Who’s The Boss to Charmed – I have three daughters, God bless my little Excuses To Watch Charmed – and then on into My Name is Earl. So if she wants to tweet the link to my book’s Amazon page, well the last thing I’m going to do is check the sales board.
The first thing I would do is become just about impossible to live with. Good luck getting me to shut up about it.
And you can be certain that she’d get a thank you out of me, instead of a grade.
Update: Boggling my mind, one of my overseas readers showed up not knowing who Alyssa Milano is, so here’s a picture of her: