Conan O'Brien: a Man, a Brand, a Twitter Account

(Conan’s March 2nd Tweet)

Conan O’Brien tweeted for the first time on February 24th, 2010 and already has close to 600,000 followers. Unlike other celebrities who tend to tweet either too much, too little, or inconsistently, he only posts one message a day. If you’re a follower, his single tweet stands out to you. Why? For the same reasons things are collectible — scarcity and quality. He’s only sending one a day and he makes it worth it. In fact, the picture in the post came from a tweet he made about how many people it takes to write his daily message.

He didn’t follow anyone for the first few days. Not listening to others is a newbie mistake brands make and seemed a little strange. Then on Friday, Conan did something that is a combination of altruism and marketing genius. He picked one person to follow at random. We all had to know who this lucky person, Sarah Killen, was and her followers went from 3 to over 10,000 in a day. Conan’s tweet said her life would change and it looks like it will. She’s engaged and like any bride-to-be, she’s been overwhelmed by the costs. Now she’s got offers for free invitations, dresses, and more. She’s Twitter-famous and every wants to be a part of it.

What makes this brilliant is that Conan probably thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to make one of my fans famous so they can experience what it’s like?” We feel like we know him and over the years and he’s proven to be a really nice guy who recently got a raw deal. I don’t think he was thinking, “Let me show the world that I’m so famous, I can make anyone I want famous.” You know, like in “She’s All That.” If we thought that’s what he was up to, we’d be turned off by the lack of authenticity. The sincerity of his intention is important.

With that sincerity of intention, his success in lending his fame to another person, and innovative approach, Conan’s Twitter account is telling us a story about who he is. If it were a brand statement, it might be:

Conan O’Brien uses innovative media approaches to build connections between fans, celebrities, and sponsors.

If you’re a fan, he’s the everyman who allows you to experience celebrity. If you’re a celebrity, aspiring celebrity, or advertiser, he’s the trusted gatekeeper to his engaged, loyal fans. And his innovative approach to a medium (formerly TV, now Twitter) keeps us all tuned in.

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