According to some, Montel Williams, former talk show host and outspoken celebrity, has a curiously active Twitter account.
He’s been heavily involved in the #DrakeSingForJasmin hashtag recently, and follows more people on Twitter than the average celebrity.
The internet has been abuzz with “regular” people wondering, Why is Montel Williams following ME on Twitter?
One blogger asked, “Am I on some sort of hit list?”
Question of the morning: Why did Montel Williams just start following me on Twitter? pic.twitter.com/55s6ZQ5bc6— Seth Myers (@sethpm) July 16, 2014
There has even been speculation that Taye Diggs and Williams share the same Twitter team, as they seem to follow similar “following” patterns.
Does anyone know why Taye Diggs and Montel Williams are following a bunch of journalists and financial traders?— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) April 24, 2014
After the Taye Diggs/Montel Williams Twitter followstorm, did anyone else get Kevin Seraphin and Silkk the Shocker today?— Barry Petchesky (@barryap1) July 7, 2014
To get to the bottom of it, we went straight to the source.
Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Williams, gave us the lowdown.
Franks shared that first of all, Williams likes to interact with people, period.
According to Franks, Williams thinks it’s hilarious that anyone even noticed.
“Having just spoken to Montel, I can confirm that he’s a little amused that his social media is newsworthy, but we’re glad to have the chance to explain,” Franks said.
Williams has multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. This makes typing difficult for him, he said.
“Montel does not use a computer and he’s worked really hard at this. Typing on an iPhone is not easy when you have MS.”
Q: So, why all the Twitter activity from Montel’s account? It doesn’t seem to mesh with the traditional ways celebrity accounts are run.
A: Montel has been about genuine interaction with his fans since his days as a motivational speaker in high schools. He values the personal interaction over conventional wisdom on “ratios” and thinks one-way communication defeats the purpose of social media. His goal is to promote interaction on a variety of issues.
He’s never fit the mold of a conventional celebrity and his social, since he began using it himself, is reflection of someone who wonders if the notion of what follower ratio a celebrity “should” have was created by folks who don’t understand celebrities are nothing without their fans. The idea of expecting people to follow him without following them doesn’t sit well with him.
Q: Tell me about how Montel’s hashtag #VASurge came about.
A: No one was more surprised by how viral #vasurge became than Montel Williams.
This began with his attempt to address the VA scandal in response to inquiries from veterans in a letter to the editor which was not picked up. He did not realize his speech was being recorded as he doesn’t want the work he does for veterans to become about him. Before his appearance on Cavuto, he wanted to make sure viewers had a way to communicate with each other as well as with him, and thus the hashtag.
In hindsight we should have launched the White House petition the day that the op-ed went live on the Blaze. As someone who spent some time in politics, it never occurred to me that the administration would refuse to acknowledge the idea much less respond to it.
Mr. Williams’ concern is not at being ignored himself, it’s that the administration’s lack of communication on this and many other ideas has led many veterans to conclude the administration doesn’t care about actually fixing the VA.
Q: Why do you think Montel’s Twitter account has become such a “thing”? Is there a PR strategy behind it?
A: It’s been somewhat surprising the extent to which the press has shown interest in Montel’s twitter strategy. The strategy is very simple – “Let Montel be Montel.” He simply decided in late March that he wanted to handle his own social. There is certainly some back end support, but the content is his.
The reaction has deeply moved him, and it’s a shame some in the press, as well as a few “social media experts” insist on making that a negative. At first I think were shocked there were real reporters who paid attention to his Twitter. Quite frankly he was disheartened that some in the press insisted on turning his desire to actually interact with people on Twitter as “following sprees” or suggesting he was, because it cheapened something many of his fans found really special.
Q: How does Mr. Williams feel about all the attention his Twitter is getting?
A: Mr. Williams does not need Twitter ratios to prove he’s famous. The only thing that has changed about our social strategy is Montel took control of it in late March and it is after all his Twitter.
I’ve worked for him for years, this is part and parcel of who he is – he never forgot where he came from or how he got there, and I guess I’d challenge any “social media expert” to explain to him why him being himself is bad strategy – it would be a short conversation.