Ashton Kutcher -- with almost three million followers, the world's most popular Twitter user -- says social-networking and other online collaboration has forever changed media.
"You can broadcast to millions of people, who can respond and influence that media," Kutcher said today at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena, California. One voice has as much, if not more influence, than the voice of a network, he said. And the change is permanent.
In April, Kutcher famously amassed more Twitter followers than CNN; he remains ahead of the network. "I thought it would be pretty profound if i could pass CNN as an individual, as one voice," Kutcher said. "I didn't realize it was going to become a media show, but i did, and that's all right. Whether or not I'm more relevant than CNN, I highly doubt."
Kutcher, who co-founded production company Katalyst Films, said billboard-type advertising, such as display ads, will decline on the Web: "People who have grown up on the Internet have trained themselves not to see it." Advertising somehow folded into content will become more popular, he said.
And Twitter, he said, may eventually be beaten at its own game by another real-time microblogging site that improves real-time search and pushes information to its users more effectively. That said, Kutcher's an avid Twitter user -- he Tweets as often as 20 times a day -- who sees huge value in the way Twitter has widely allowed messages to spread quickly.
Kutcher, star of TV's That '70s Show, the multiplex's Dude, Where's My Car?, and creator of the MTV celebrity-prank show Punk'd, was the first Tweeter to amass 1 million followers, under his handle, aplusk. Celebrities have helped make Twitter popular, Kutcher said.
"There is a little bit of a curtain between people who are on big screens and their fans," he said. Twitter helps push that curtain aside somewhat. He uses Twitter because, he says, "I find it fun, I find it entertaining. I gives you the ability to stay in tune with your audience and trending topics and gives me a great platform to syndicate content."
He started using Twitter to "stay close" to his fans, Kutcher said. It's not about selling, he said, it's about communicating. "People don't want to be sold something. It's not a very advertising-friendly community just yet." But the collaboration happening on the Web, he says, "has and will forever change media."
Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.
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