As pointed out so eloquently in Brian Solis' blog post, perhaps it us true that Ashton Kutcher @aplusk reaching 1 million followers signifies a change in the power distribution between corporate media channels and individuals.
This said, it may be that the only individuals who can transcend the power and influence of corporate media are celebrities. Andrew Keen says, in this video interview with Tech Crunch, that social media as a platform will create great imbalances of influence. Everyone can join the conversation but a “popular” few will have a disproportionate amount of power.
So as this event signifies a milestone of relevance for social media, it simultaneously signifies the imbalance of power inherent within.
The challenge for us — as as a social media tribe — is to monitor those with great social media power and let them know whether or not we are pleased or displeased with how they are using their power. With Twitter we “vote” by choosing to follow. The beauty of this is that our vote can be taken away or recast at anytime. Collectively, we can group together to exert our influence.
I propose a test of our power: For a single day we chose to unfollow Ashton Kutcher. The next day everyone can follow back, but for that one day we say to Ashton, and others with disproportionate influence, that they only have influence because we choose to put our trust in them to use their influence responsibly.
So Monday 4/20/2009 is Unfollow Ashton Kutcher Day #ufapluskday — you can exert your power and unfollow Ashton here
Our Goal: Bring Ashton’s follower count down below 1 million by the end of day on Monday.
Feel free to follow Ashton back on Tuesday, but wait until Monday to Unfollow!
For the record, I have nothing against Ashton! I think his efforts are mostly noble and good, regardless of the fact that this is a brilliant publicity move on his behalf. In fact, If Ashton were to pledge another 10,000 mosquito nets to be the first to reach 2,000,000 followers, I would work to help him achieve that. This is not about Ashton Kutcher, this is to test to see if the inherent power imbalances between a “popular” few and the masses make twitter just another media channel or something much greater.
Success in this effort would be good for everyone, including Ashton. He seems to believe in the relevance of social media and this is an effort to demonstrate the relevance of social media. Ashton will get his true followers back very quickly, and people would see how social media can be used by people with relatively little power, to influence the powerful.
For Twitter, if effective, it would show that Twitter narrows the power imbalance between those with popularity and those without and thus is truly a game changing platform.
Update Sat April 18: It appears that Twitter has is still preventing people from unfollowing @aplusk. It would be a shame if this was still in effect Monday as it would render this experiment invalid.