Monday, April 20, 2009

Trendsetter or Sucker with HereBeforeOraph.com?

Non-Twitter believers were aflutter last Friday when Oprah posted her first tweet. God bless her, no one had versed her on email or Twitter etiquette - typing in all caps is the equivalent of shouting. Lucky for her, the Twitter community is a forgiving one and tweets from then on were in non-caps. To date, the media queen has more than 410,000 followers and growing.

With a single keystroke, all those non-Twitter believers who thought all we Twitterers posted were tweets documenting our bathroom usage, became believers when Oprah carried the micro-blogging site into mainstream society.

What about me? And what about the more than four (or is it six?) million Twitterers who were cool PTO (Pre-Twitter Oprah)?

A site recently popped up called HereBeforeOprah.com and was created by @oliyoung and @radiostarelle with assistance from @sinatra and Passenger. The site claims users can enter a Twitter handle to determine if that user was hip PTO (maybe geek is appropriate). Of course I ran my name to verify the system knew I was cool before Oprah.

*phew* What a relief and see the above screen shot. The results ask if you'd like to tweet this PTO claim which adds the hashtag "#herebeforeoprah." I opted not tweet it but check out the search query to see all who have been staking their claim about as quickly as Oprah's gaining followers.

I was expecting more than just an option to post the tweet. I was hoping for a date indicating my sign up date (Nov. 2007). Being a little suspect, I entered a Twitter handle which had its first tweet on Friday, April 17, Oprah's Twitter launch. Same thing popped up on the screen "@so-and-so was here before Oprah." [Note: @so-and-so does not exist, I changed the name of the Twitter handle to a fictional one.]

Hmm. Maybe they registered PTO but didn't tweet 'til April 17. Needing more proof HereBeforeOprah was actually crawling Twitter stats to determine if a user was PTO or not, I created a Twitter account tonight for my new site and guess what "@solotravelgirl was here before Oprah." (See screen shots of new Twitter account and HereBeforeOprah.) Um. Not true!

My conclusion: Unless the creators aren't finished tweaking whatever needs to be tweaked to pull data to determine registration dates, HereBeforeOprah is fun for those of us who want to prove to the world we were cool PTO. But, it's not a source to determine whether a Twitter user was hip before Oprah. At least not at this point.

Even if it doesn't determine if a Twitter user was PTO, HereBeforeOprah is brilliant marketing. It's a bit of fun but also an exercise in how easy it is to manipulate masses of people who don't question but follow.

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