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Conan O’Brien Wields Some Power

Today Conan decided to finally follow someone on Twitter. His choice was random (so he says), but the lucky Sarah Killen has no doubt felt the power of his action. And it's an interesting case study in the power of celebrity in the new digital participatory culture.

When Conan O'Brien first created a Twitter account we students of social media had a fun new game to play: Guess how many followers Conan will have after each refresh. When I got into the game, he had around 71,500 followers and jumped up to over 72k in less than a minute. And kept climbing. That was eight days ago.

What's really interesting is Conan's foreshadowing: Conan Decides to Follow Someone

Today, Conan has 535,275 followers as of this writing (and climbing, no doubt). Sarah, the one person he decided to follow, gained over 2000 followers in a matter of minutes. And, as in Conan's case, that number is still climbing.

Behold the power of celebrity in participatory culture. This makes me wonder if Conan and his crew realize the amount of influence they have on the web. I'm sure they do. Now, Sarah Killen's life probably isn't changing all that much. But she has been brought up alongside Conan's image and, holding onto his coattails, so to speak. Pretty fascinating. I wonder if NBC is noticing this and realizing how incredibly bad their move to get rid of him was...