If you heard the news this week about Charlie Sheen quitting Twitter, you may have had the same reaction as me: who cares? But then I started to wonder why someone would abandon an audience of 7.5 million? When I dug a little deeper into his Twitter account, I was surprised to see how effectively he was using it as a means to showcase his personality (somewhat) and promote his projects.
Charlie Sheen. Television’s (formerly) best paid actor for his role on “Two and a Half Men,” he had one of the most public meltdowns ever seen – he was fired from his job, his drug induced videos on UStream were a thing of legend, his interviews were like watching a car wreck, and he treated fans to a nightly rehash of his meltdown during his tour of the United States. “Tiger Blood,” “Adonis DNA,” “Winner winner chicken dinner,”and “winning” became part of our collective lexicon. In other words, he was a mess.
When Sheen started using Twitter it was hugely reported. He reached a million followers faster than anyone in the history of the site topping off at 7.6 million last week. He was brash, unapologetic, and weird – even saying some unflattering things about his ex-wife which got him in hot water. But something changed. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time of the transition, but clearly Charlie Sheen wasn’t managing his Twitter feed anymore. His tweets were promoting his new show “Anger Management” in really fun ways, he retweeted many tweets that were flattering to him or his show, and even interacted with some of his fans. Charlie Sheen’s Twitter proxy was doing a phenomenal job engaging – not nearly as endearing or genuine as Alyssa Milano who is the benchmark for celebrity social media savvy – but Charlie 2.0 displayed really solid brand management.
Ashton Kucher is one of the more prolific Twitter celebrities today, boasting 11.4 million followers. One of his biggest claims to fame was adoption of the platform, until last year when he replaced Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men.” I speak often about how admirably Kucher used Twitter to advocate against teen prostitution throughout the country, especially in my hometown of Seattle. But when he made a remark late last year in support of Penn State Coach Joe Paterno after he was fired from his position, he handed responsibility for his Twitter account to his publicists.
Since I hadn’t followed either account, my big revelation was that Charlie Sheen’s Twitter account was far more interesting than Ashton Kutcher’s. Charlie Sheen’s publicists were promoting his stuff in fun ways, showing pictures of him at baseball games, finding fun angles to show what Charlie was up to. Ashton’s tweets are a bit banal, with the calculated distance of Guy Kawasaki’s tweets. There are some interesting tidbits but nothing that is particularly personal.
I really have no idea why Charlie Sheen would quit Twitter. He could be doing what nearly every rap artist does by “quitting” and re-emerging later. He may genuinely dislike Twitter and want to stop. But whatever the reason, the fact of the matter was that he (or rather his publicity team) was populating a really interesting feed by sharing some personal pictures, interacting with fans and promoting his television show. The people most angry about this should probably be FX (the home of Anger Management), who is now getting a lot less free publicity.
I could care less if Charlie Sheen uses Twitter again or not, but that decision will be an insight as to how savvy he is with his brand. Sames goes for Ashton Kutcher.