Becoming More Famous Than…

Last year I asked people on the internet who the most famous person they know was. I was a bit shocked by one of the replies, which said “You’re the most famous person I know!”

Erm… I’m in no way famous. At all. I don’t mean that in a “feed my ego and tell me I am” kind of way, I’m genuinely not. My only claim to “fame” is appearing briefly on Genius, a BBC TV programme. They didn’t air me speaking, so my idea didn’t get passed on to the viewers, and my appearance was reduced to around 5 seconds of clips of me laughing at other peoples ideas and Tim Minchin’s jokes.

(My idea, for those interested, was to speed up worldwide communication by getting rid of phrases that related to amounts, and if you wanted a lot of something or a large something, just say that word louder. Rather than go into a bed shop and say “I’m looking for a large bed” you just go in and say “I want a BED.” You sort-of replace volume (quantity) with volume (noise). Every time you used my technique you’d save 3-4 seconds, which you could bank up and cash in at night and have 10 minutes to yourself. The writers obviously liked it as after reading my idea they invited me to be on the show, but I guess the programme editors didn’t like it quite as much…)

So I’m not famous. But then I got thinking, is there an order to fame? Are some people more famous than others? They MUST be! Arnold Schwarzenegger is obviously more famous than your local TV weatherman, so there should be a system to work out who is the most famous. If there wasn’t a method of working out who was the most famous, a method needed to be invented.

Now, I use Twitter quite a lot. Many celebrities also use Twitter quite a lot too. Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the time of thinking about this, had over a million followers on Twitter. Fred Talbot, my local TV weatherman, had 42. Arnold is obviously more famous than Fred, and his follower numbers reflect that.

I decided to make a list of celebrities along with their follower numbers and see if I could systematically get more followers than them. The plan was to gather followers, hopefully at quite a quick rate once word spread, and have a list where I could tick off celebrities that I had “outfamed” whenever my follower numbers surpassed theirs. IF follower number are a reflection of fame, then when I got more followers than a celebrity technically I would be more famous than them. The list should have, I decided, the celebrity name on it, their Twitter username, and the number of followers.

I asked online if anyone knew of any places that listed Celebrity Twitterers. Someone suggested a site called Valebrity. I took a look and it seemed ideal! It had celebrities, their location, and showed quite clearly how many followers each celeb had. As I am in the UK I wanted to focus mainly on UK celebrities, so I clicked to filter the celebs by “English.” The first result came up. It was Jackie Chan. This site was possibly not the most accurate.

After much clicking I managed to get quite a big list of “celebrities” and their follower numbers. Most of them had way over 10,000 people following them. With my list of celebs, I headed off to Twitter and created a new account. I needed a new username that instantly let people know the point of what I was doing. Something succinct. I decided to use the username @MoreFamousThan. The plan was to outfame celebrities by getting more followers than them and become More Famous Than them, so @MoreFamousThan was ideal.

After setting up my new account and seeing that the “least famous” celebrity on my list had over 10,000 followers, I realised I needed lesser known celebs too. If my first target was 10,000 followers, the first few months of @MoreFamousThan would look quite dull.

Friends volunteered their suggestions for lesser knows celebrities. I added them to the end of my list.

The best place to have the list would be online. That way people who wanted to give support and follow me could see how far off each celebrity I was, and they could keep track too if they so wished. So I created a background picture for my new Twitter account, to chart progress.

After uploading the list and chatting to a few people, and with 60 new followers under my belt, I soon became more famous than both weatherman Fred Talbot AND newsreader Moira Stewart! Woo hoooo!!!

Over a few days my follower numbers increased steadily, partly as word obviously got around, and I shortly passed Julia Hardy, presenter of Gameface and Radio DJ. I sent her a message saying I was more famous than she was, and she sent back such a nice reply that I did feel a little guilty about outfaming her. I asked my followers to consider following her too, but I emphasised not to follow her too much.

The method I was using to gain followers was to follow other people and hope they followed back. When you follow 10 people, the chances are that maybe 3 or 4 will follow you back. Unfortunately when I reached 2000, I was unable to follow any more. Twitter limits your following number to 2000, until you yourself have more than 2000 followers. Unless I gained followers by other means, I was a bit stuck.

Slowly, though, my follower numbers crept up. Within a few days I had become more famous than Alex Conran, from TV show The Real Hustle, and shortly after my follower numbers surpassed Paul Wilson and Jessica Clemments, the other two members of The Real Hustle. (Within the month I became more famous than ALL of The Real Hustle combined!)

Erkan Mustafa, Roland from Grange Hill in the 80s, had proved hard to outfame, as his numbers kept increasing. Eventually I did pass him. I sent him a message. He didn’t reply.

A few celebrities took it in the spirit it was intended. When I was approaching the same follower numbers as Chloe Madeley, I sent her a message saying “Look out Chloe! My follower numbers will soon pass yours, so I’ll soon be MoreFamousThan you!” She replied with “back down! U’ll never beat me! Accept defeat and have a kit kat break x”. I replied with “Big thanks to @chloemadeley for taking this in the spirit it is meant. Follow her, by all means, but then follow me twice!” Chloe replied with a simple “*:-)”

Also, as I said earlier, I messaged Julia Hardy when I had surpassed her follower numbers, and she wished me good luck. These were the nice celebs. Other celebs, however, didn’t take it quite as well.

Tracy Ann Oberman seemed to take offense when I messaged, warning her I was soon to outfame her. She believed wholeheartedly that there was no direct correlation between her follower numbers and the fact she was famous. I haven’t kept a copy of our chat, so I’m afraid I can’t show you what was actually said, but it went something like this:

I said I was trying to get more followers than her and become @MoreFamousThan her.

She replied that her follower numbers had absolutely nothing to do with fame.

I replied saying of course they do – you wouldn’t have so many followers if people didn’t know of you – you don’t “know” or interact with all the people who follow you.

She replied saying something along the lines of “it is the quality of your conversation that gets followers,” (I read her tweets from the previous month, it obviously wasn’t,) …lets continue this argument less publically.” I assumed that meant by direct messages. To send a direct message to someone, you have to follow them. As Tracy wasn’t following me, and would be adding to my fame by following me, I think she backed down.

A few days later Michelle Ryan joined Twitter. Michelle used to also be in Eastenders and had recently appeared in the US TV programme, The Bionic Woman. Tracy Ann Oberman sent her a welcome message. Within hours, and after publishing just 3 tweets, one of which was an obligatory “How do you use this” tweet, Michelle had 4,000 followers. I pointed this out to Tracy Ann Oberman, asking if all 3 of Michelles tweets were that good quality that they were really worth 1,333 followers each, but she didn’t reply.

Rachel Elnaugh was also a little put out. I sent her a message saying “Hi Rachel. I’ve just become @MoreFamousThan you!”

She replied, “I suppose next you’ll be bragging that your willy is bigger than mine…” which left me a little perplexed.

“In all honesty, Rachel, it probably is…” I answered, a little confused.

She retorted, “Size isn’t everything…” She was right, but for such odd reasons that I felt a little uneasy continuing the conversation.

Within 3 months I had reached 8000 followers and was FAR more famous than proper famous people like The Hairy Bikers and Chesney Hawkes! I even featured in the newsletter at work.

Next in my sights was Tony Blackburn. His follower numbers were going up steadily, as were mine, and I decided to challenge him to see who would get to 9000 followers first. If I were to surpass him, I would then be so close to being @MoreFamousThan The Royal Opera House. I called upon my followers to mention my quest. They did, because they’re great!

At 8600 followers, with Tony at just 8515, I sent him a message informing him. “Hi Tony. Just to let you know I’m WAY more famous than you are!” He didn’t reply.

It had taken around 3 months to become as famous as Tony Blackburn. In a way, I had achieved a lifelong dream. I’m a huge fan of the 80s, and I own, arguably the most popular 80s site on the internet, so to outfame such a prolific 80s icon was, for me, the pinnacle of fame.

I looked up the “celebrities to outfame” list and I couldn’t see anyone who had between 8,600 and 20,000 followers who I really wanted to outfame. There were celebs with over 25,000 followers who I would have LOVED to become MoreFamousThan, but it had taken 3 months to get 8600 followers; getting up to 25,000 would probably take a further half a year at least. And then they would probably have got more followers in the mean time, further extending the time it would take to catch up…

So I decided to call it a day. I was more famous than Tony Blackburn, and that was good enough for me. And so I left that account alone for a few months. Every so often I would log on and see if my follower numbers had increased, but without my endless plugging follower numbers were inevitably falling. In a month and a half they were down by 1000 people as they, like me, had lost interest.

It seemed pointless keeping a Twitter account that I had lost the spark for and I had no further use for, and so I decided to give @MoreFamousThan away. I didn’t mind if the new owner used it to continue the search for fame, or if the new owner changed the name completely and just benefited from having 7500 followers. I asked the people of Twitter..

I had a few people reply to me saying they would like it but wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I also had a few suggestions from people who gave me real suggestions. @Hallmork suggested that if she had it, she would turn it into a shrine for photos of street art, or graffiti as the majority of you may know it as.

Now, I love street art. Actually, no, I love GOOD street art. I don’t like messy vandalism with no clear message, but I DO like intelligent, well drawn, thoughtful pieces or art.

So I gave @MoreFamousThan away, and overnight it became one of the most popular Street Art feeds on Twitter, @StreetCrews. It still has 7500+ followers, after almost half a year, so the content of their tweets is obviously very appealing. I do suggest you check them out.

And I am content to know that, for a tiny part of 2011, I was more famous than Tony Blackburn.

3 thoughts on “Becoming More Famous Than…

  1. I wondered how I’d found @StreetCrews – now I know. I’ve also had a couple of conversations with them. I’ve also got an album on Facebook full of graffiti that I’ve seen.

    Once again, Mr A, you’ve written a fab blog post and thanks for including me in it.

  2. Thank you Craig for giving me the Twitter account.
    Its good to get the “Decent” Street art out to more people, and judging by the response and retweets Theirs a few of your old followers liking the pics.

    I think there were more than a few confused followers and seemed to have a big unfollow for a few weeks but its settled down now and will hopefully grow.

    Cheers on a great Blog post.

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