Note updates below.
Foodies on Twitter are all abuzz with the rumor that Alton Brown has joined the 140-character fray, appearing Thursday, May 5 with the handle @Alton_Brown.
His first day (as were many of ours on the Twitters) was a little clunky, with tweets ranging from self-reminders (“Remember to pick up foil tape”) to resignation that, with no followers yet, at least his agent will be “off [his] back.”
By Friday, as the mentions started appearing from his chef friends, he had nearly 7,000 followers and has started the flow of conversation with famous and fans alike.
What makes this so interesting is that Brown is famously insistent on not doing “fan stuff,” including social and digital media beyond his sparse website.
An article posted in October of 2009 at Austin 360 gives writer Addie Broyles’ account of innocently asking Brown about social media. He apparently all but spins his head at the mention of Twitter and Facebook, ranting about all the work he has to commission just to oust fakers claiming his persona.
A link appears to this article at a FoodNetworkFans.com thread titled “Why you’ll never see Alton Brown on Twitter or Facebook,” where others chime in with personal accounts of meeting Brown and hearing a similar disdain for online doings.
Brown is famously leery of overzealous fans, which may explain his caution in joining social media. He even not-so-subtly jabs at his most obsessed followers in the 2002 Good Eats episode, “This Spud’s For You, Too,” in which a crazed fan takes him hostage in her home.
If @Alton_Brown is indeed AB, his first interactions on Twitter were mainly with his Food Network and chef-world cohorts: Giada de Laurentiis, Michael Chiarello, and Food Network’s The Hungry Detective host Chris Cognac. Before his own show, Cognac had appeared on Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt series.
A tweet from Cognac:
Well, he would know, I guess.
Best wishes to AB on his first social media adventure. Here’s hoping he is able to capture all the marketing and educational possibilities Twitter has to offer, and stay sane doing so.
Update, May 8, 2011:
On Saturday, May 7, Brown made a surprising announcement: He would be deleting tweets. Daily.
The exact announcement, I can’t exactly produce, because I didn’t think to capture it before said promised deleting occurred. But, basically, it said he’d be deleting all his Twitter feed daily, because there was “too much stuff out there.” Or something.
Those of us who have been in the Twitter world a little while and respect its code of ethics have been a little shocked. A handful of followers have tried to give AB the heads up… it makes you look awfully strange, if not worse. Plus, if you reply to a follower (which, so far, he has been good about doing), they may never see your reply if you delete it first.
Here’s hoping he changes his mind. I often read backlogs of tweets when I haven’t had the chance to read someone’s feed for a few days.
Your thoughts? Would love to hear from tech/marketing/publicity folks on this one.
Update, May 10, 2011:
I swear, this will be the last I have to say on the matter, but the changes in this story fascinate me. I’ll end it here, lest look like one of the psycho-stalkers out there in the AB fan world.
Yesterday, @Alton_Brown disappeared. His amassed 9Kish followers were greatly confused, and new folks trying to follow were disappointed. Just as I was about to go off on above mentioned psycho-stalkers for scaring him off (OK, I did, on Twitter), I saw mentions from other foodies.
“Eeeeek! @AltonBrown is on Twitter!!!” And some such. Note the missing underscore.
At the new abode, AB (or whoever it really is, if not him) announced the ending of the Good Eats empire. After the next, new half-hour episode, there will be three one-hour specials, then, done. He promised new things in the future… “‘Good’ things.”
So, why would a well-loved food celebrity swear off social media, appear, use strange tactics like tweet deletion, switch handles altogether, then make a fairly major announcement?
Sigh. Probably just like all of us our first week on Twitter. Except, we’re not famous.