You can learn a lot by following people on Twitter -- which is probably why talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres rack up thousands of new followers each day. Each woman joined the micro-blogging website earlier this spring, writing periodic (often daily) tweets that clue fans in on upcoming show topics, how they spent their weekends, or their thoughts on current news events.
So, we decided to compare and contrast the two daytime dynamos, based on their Twitter skills.
Each host probably joined Twitter to seem relevant and promote their products -- and both do exactly that. Ellen's posts reflect her show, which has a more relaxed vibe:
"Today, I lie down on a piano while someone serenades me with 'Let's Get It On.' Tune in to find out who!"
"Did you know Vanessa Hudgens has a really big toe? I'm told it's freakishly big. You'll see it today on my show."
Also, Ellen promotes almost every day, sometimes several times.
Oprah's notes are more serious and infrequent. "Woke up smiling. Hugh Jackman is on live Friday with us!"
"Another must-watch ... McCann interview on Monday. My heart broke for them."
Anyone who's ever taken a writing class knows that it's infinitely more interesting when you "show" instead of "tell." Ellen shows; Oprah tells.
Now, I don't update my tweets all day long like some celebs (ahem, Demi Moore), but I probably would if my day job were as interesting as Oprah's or Ellen's.
That being said, Oprah (44 tweets since April 17) needs to beef it up a bit to catch Ellen (231 since March 10), who updates frequently. I mean, it's only 140 characters, Oprah -- it won't take but two seconds to toss a few more sentences to your fans.
Here, I'll do a sample one for you, O: "I am No. 1 on Forbes recent list of wealthiest black Americans. I just made $250,000 in the time it took to write this."
While we don't expect Oprah or Ellen to dish any tabloid-worthy secrets on Twitter, part of the appeal of being a follower is that they might throw us a little personal bone every once in a while. And sometimes, Ellen does. For instance, we know from her tweets that she watches American Idol, that she's lost watching Lost, and that she followed The Apprentice; she also bid on a trip to the set of The Pussycat Dolls' new video because proceeds benefitted the Humane Society.
Oprah has doled out a few as well. She loves Stella McCartney's fashion; she recently attended a friend's Bar Mitzvah, and she cruised in a convertible in California singing along to Seal. Also, at one point she posted "No, I'm not wearing a weave," which made us laugh. And for that, we'll give this round to Oprah.
There is more to life than work ... and sometimes the talk show gurus tell us what else is on their agenda or what current events are on their minds.
Ellen celebrated on May 5 ("Just hanging out enjoying Cinco de Mayo. Couldn't decide between a margarita, a Corona, or a double shot of Patron. So I had all three.") and gave the commencement speech at Tulane University.
Oprah spoke at Duke University, wrote about the California wildfires, and set the record straight on her alleged endorsements of acai berries ("BUYER BEWARE: I have NOTHING to do with acai berry scams on internet. Have tasted only ONE time on my show.")
Technically, Ellen could take this category, simply because she updates more frequently, but we'll call it a tie.
FOLLOWERS/WHO THEY FOLLOW:
Oprah has 1,126,394 followers and keeps an eye on 14 people, including Jimmy Fallon, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O'Neal, Larry King, and of course, her bestie, Gayle King.
With 1,590,753 followers, Ellen follows 24 Twitterers, such as Stephen Colbert, Hammer, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Diddy, John Mayer, Jon Stewart, Demi and Ashton, and numerous news organizations.
Ellen uses Twitter to keep track of more than Oprah, taking another round. (Plus, anyone who has the patience to read Hammer's strange, oft erratic tweets earns an extra credit point. I had to unfollow his ass.)
Bottom line: To keep people interested, you have to give them something new on a regular basis. Oprah has a huge fan base, and she could easily turn this battle around if she would dedicate perhaps 10 more minutes to her tweets each day.
We know she's a busy woman, but so is Ellen. And Oprah does everything else full-throttle ... so we'd love to see her take the power of Twitter a little more seriously. It's not an essay. It's a sentence.