Social Network Games and Twitter: MediaHunter very cleverly points out how fake the “Gosh, I’m almost as big as CNN” video from Ashton Kutcher was. The blog post outlines the time line and the “spontaneous” (read:NOT) nature of engagement from all concerned, including the company that donated just so happened to be able to donate over 1000 billboards for the stunt.

To me, this week’s Twitter activities appear to have been a very well orchestrated publicity stunt with several beneficiaries. In fact, you only need to look at the beneficiaries to begin realising how all this came together.

Heh, but it worked:

hitwise oprah

CNet’s coverage – 37% increase of UNIQUE  traffic

Twitter’s much-publicized appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show last week did a real number for the microblogging tool’s traffic, a report from Hitwise indicates.

On April 17, the day of the show–when CEO Evan Williams appeared on-air and Winfrey herself began Twittering–a whopping 37 percent of visits to the Twitter.com home page were new visitors. That’s a high number even for the fast-growing Twitter. Keep in mind that many avid Twitter users rarely even visit the home page, instead relying on desktop- or mobile-based third-party applications, so the jump might not look quite as drastic if you factor all those in. But it’s still high: Hitwise says that in comparison, recent counts of new Facebook visitors as a percentage of overall traffic are more like 5 percent.

Perhaps the real non-event was the rumours of Google purchasing Twitter. I still think it might happen, Evan Williams is not Mark Zuckerberg. And this sort of attention just put the price up.

Companies that engage in extensive stunts like this in the future to gain attention will either been seen as manipulative or playful. Probably both, as people love to wage war and take sides. 😛