Wyclef JeanWhen Twitter founder Evan Williams and investor Chris Sacca set up a Twitter account for multi-platinum recording artist Wyclef Jean on stage during an April performance in San Francisco, Jean’s followers on Twitter proceeded to grow rapidly to well over 600,000 in just 12 weeks.

There is no denying the amazing power of what Fast Company calls the “viral expansion loop” where one user on a social network like Twitter or Ning multiplies very quickly like the Tribbles on the old Star Trek episode.  Because each Tribble was born pregnant the little furry creatures multiplied so quickly that they took over The Enterprise in a short span of time.  It’s like that with social networks because everybody and I mean everybody knows someone else who knows someone else and so on.

Jean — who came to prominence in the 1990s as part of a hip hop trio, The Fugees — is one of a growing number of celebrities who have embraced the idea of building an online network.  In May to celebrate reaching100,000 followers, Jean treated his Twitter fans to a virtual jam session from his Platinum Sound Recording Studio.  The session was broadcast on his wordpress blog via youtube. It’s not just about getting people to “follow” him, Jean says he really wants to connect.   “I love telling y’all stories” he said during the brief performance. “What can I say, I’m a Twithead.”

Take a look at Jean’s Twitter page and you know he means what he says.  The “@” symbol in front of his posts shows that he’s not indulging in a one way advertising blitz, he’s actually engaging his Twitter network.

Regarding his success on Twitter, Jean explained in an email to TNJ.com that
“It happened so quickly because I actually engaged in the interest of other people.  One girl got raped in Spain, I helped get them to the hospital. One person had cancer, I went to visit them. I think it is a success story because I really care about what people are asking me. If I send you a song, you get it immediately.  I like it because you can see who is on line. You begin to know who they are.  I met one of my ‘wyclef warriors’ in a studio in LA. I had no idea he worked at that studio, and he didn’t know I was coming. Last week, I was in line at JFK at the Swiss Air check in counter, and one of my Twitter Warriors was in front of me.”

As a result of this personalized attention Jean has gained worldwide praise and recognition for his new and innovative ways of communicating with his music fans, and for his candidness and willingness to share thoughts on spirituality and politics.

While Jean is a musician there is a lesson here for the small African American owned business.  While your niche following might not quickly reach the heights of the rock stars and athletes, you can reach thousands as in the example of Beverly Davis — who drives traffic to her cosmetics website by tweeting 140 character success stories to over 6,000 followers. And as blogger Melinda Lewis told us, if you’re a small business you have to have a “face” and let people know the story of you and your business.  With Twitter there is no bar to entry.  Anyone can set up an account and distribute a message to thousands free of charge.

In his song, “Fast Car,” Jean sings: “You don’t have to be a billionaire/to get a ticket up to the moon.”   And you don’t have to have a dime to build a following on Twitter.  For more information visit www.wyclef.com or https://twitter.com/wyclef.

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