@CharlieSheen, Tastemaker

By Jared Keller

Sometimes, an epic fall in real life is accompanied by a meteoric rise in the digital world.

Since Charlie Sheen joined Twitter, the Two And A Half Men star and current hot mess has witnessed an explosion in popularity on the ubiquitous social network. Sheen gained more than 100,000 followers in the first hour without tweeting a single comment; at the time of this writing (11 a.m. EST), Sheen has more than 800,000 followers.

Does this make Charlie Sheen one of the most influential celebrities on Twitter? His follower count is nowhere near already-entrenched celebs like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) or Alyssa Milano (@alyssa_milano), although his growth rate is impressive. At the same time, there's no consistent metric for measuring online influence in the social space. I decided to consult Klout, one of the most popular tools for "identifying influencers across the social web."

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Charlie Sheen, tastemaker? According to Klout, Sheen's audience includes more than 58,000 users who actively engage @CharlieSheen through mentions, retweets and other actions. This is somewhat surprising, since the man's only tweeted 12 times, although his short-form musings do foreshadow the lifestyle of every young man's dream (i.e., partying with P. Diddy):

@iamdiddy Get dressed my man... sending the driver..!less than a minute ago via web

But given the media's current fixation with Sheen's ongoing hijinks, it's no surprise that @CharlieSheen can be a rising star on Twitter without lifting a finger. Perhaps Sheen's new digital soapbox is part of a larger act, an Andy Kaufman-esq spectacle for the world to bask in. Still, the instant spotlight created by Twitter, highlighted by Sheen's instant online "influence," doesn't necessarily bode well should the star be undergoing a serious mental crisis, as some have speculated. Forbes media reporter Jeff Bercovici sums up the problem nicely (and, appropriately, via Twitter): 

Congrats in advance to whoever gets 1st interview with Charlie Sheen's next of kin after his media-enabled self-destruction is complete.less than a minute ago via web

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/03/-charliesheen-tastemaker/71927/