It is said that no president owed as much to television as John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was perhaps the first telegenic American politician who made an impact on American living rooms like never before. More than half-a-century later, another president wrote history when he used Twitter and the social media to mobilize grass root support for his campaign. Both put themselves out there, but the difference is that today amazing achievers like President Obama are more approachable thanks to Web 2.0 tools.
There are hardly any Greta Garbo’s anymore. Today, if a celebrity is using Twitter and Facebook to extend their fifteen minutes of fame, some are also using it to spread awareness about their pet causes with the rest of the world. And we can catch them while they are it. Here are 4 ways we can talk to amazing people online.
Start a Conversation on Twitter
I wonder how often I have to drink black coffee before I miss it with milk? I shall set myself the task and see. Boarding for LA now. Bye x
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) March 17, 2013
Twitter is a better bet than a famous person’s website or even Facebook because it is more instantaneous. Twitter is perhaps just made for the who’s who of the world. Keeping up with 140 characters does not take much effort and can be fitted in amidst a really busy day. The Top 100 most followed list is almost a Hollywood roll call list. But there are notables like Barack Obama and Bill Gates on it. It is quite possible that it could be the office or publicist and not the individual himself who is doing the tweeting, but it’s a chance you have to take if want to talk to these amazing people on Twitter or elsewhere.
Follow the person on Twitter and go through their tweets. Usually you can make out the real deal by a person’s involvement with their tweets and followers. Bill Gates is a fine example and he is known to reply his followers (not counting the fake Bill Gates scam emails). If you are following him and it is likely he is not following you, you cannot message (DM) him directly on Twitter unless he follows you back. But you can get their attention by using their Twitter name and adding the @ symbol before that. This is a public message and everyone can read it.
Intelligent Twitter conversations are happening all around us. You can use good old fashioned Twitter Search, or sites like InBoxQ and Followerwonk to locate key influencers by their bios. Then, you just have to jump in and contribute. Maybe these power Twitter tips will help you to follow the A-listers and start a conversation on Twitter. Remember, everyone has a voice on Twitter.
Ask Me Anything – Reddit
Reddit is a website for everything. But Reddit’s IAmA (“I am a”) is one of the icings on the cake. Perhaps, Barack Obama himself give it bit of viral publicity when he went online and answered questions thrown at him in a live session by the Reddit community. But there have been others before him and continue to be. These are like open forums where anyone (yes, even you) can open himself up to the Reddit community. They are listed as either IAMA or AMA and there is a slight distinction between the two.
The first confirmed alien sighting in space: It must mean it's time for my Reddit AMA! Hope for intelligent life! pic.twitter.com/0nR753eC
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 17, 2013
Notable people constantly use it to get closer to the web community. Earlier this year, you had Bill Gates and even Chris Hadfield from the International Space Station. One of my personal favorites was with the guy who designs and runs The Oatmeal. If you are a Redditor, you can join in and talk to some amazing people online. As you will notice from the IAmA sessions held before, these amazing people really take the pains to answer the more intelligent questions. As a Redditor noted in the IAmA session with Chris Hadfield – It’s almost unbelievable that we live in an age where wireless communication between me on my couch and you in orbit are possible!
You can easily keep track of upcoming IAmA’s from the right sidebar on Reddit. You will see a table of upcoming AMAs scheduled for the month featuring some interesting achievers from all walks of life.
Oh yes, if you are new to Reddit, do catch our awesome guide to Reddit.
Hangout on Google+
There are reasons why Google Hangouts are cooler than anything else on web video. You can keep track of public Google Hangouts with services like GPHangouts. You can also check Google’s page on upcoming Hangouts for the latest schedule. I recently wrote about how you can chat up well-known photographers on Google+ and improve your skills with the camera.
A look at the recent history of Google+ reveals quite a few well known global faces have been on it. President Obama did a hangout session when he won the re-election. A search on YouTube reveals celebrities like Tyra Banks, David Beckham, Tiger Woods, and even the Muppets have interacted with their fans on Google+. Even President Obama went to one after his re-election.
NASA held its first hangout in February this year. The event connected NASA’s social media followers with astronauts on the ground and those living and working aboard the International Space Station orbiting 240 miles above Earth. NASA asked for video questions and also selected real-time questions submitted by fans on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.
Quite a few hangouts are invite-only because there can only be ten people per session. But you can ask for an invitation by leaving a note on the personalities Google+ page or follow any instructions if any. If not, others get to watch the live broadcast and the interactions that happen with some amazing people online.
Ask Away On Quora
Though to a much lesser degree, you can find a few famous people on Quora, the Q&A site. I spotted the likes of Stephen Fry, JJ Abrams (though not lately), Mark Zuckerberg, and Jimmy Wales. But as one reader asks, “Why hasn’t Mark Zuckerberg answered any of the questions asked about him here on Quora?”, a few personalities could be case of hit and miss.
For the rest, follow the Celebrities on Quora thread.
It’s often great to listen to amazing people speak on forums like TED Talks; read their interviews online; but quite obviously it’s the best feeling in the world to get to really talk to amazing achievers online while you are sitting half-way across the world. It is quite like the fan mails of old, except now there’s a better chance of having a face-to-face interaction in real time. That’s it for today. Maybe, in a latter article we will explore how to build up a relationship with someone famous or a champion of any cause online and with time.
For now, do tell us about your experiences – have you ever had the chance to speak to a celebrity or any other headline maker online? Do you know of any other means other than these one can use?
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