Businessmen -- even iconic businessmen -- don't show up as trending topics on Twitter all that often. So it was a bit worrisome to see Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and chairman-CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, trending on Twitter on Monday, given that he's 80 years old (and turns 81 on Aug. 30).
Happily, Mr. Buffett is not only alive and well, but became a trending topic -- and stayed in the Top 10 for much of Monday -- for the best of all possible reasons: He wrote a smart and noble op-ed about U.S. tax policy that tons of people wanted to share. Yes, Twitter -- which as of this writing on Wednesday early afternoon has a Trending Topics list clotted with such hashtag follies as #IWishTheyWouldBringBack, #OnlyRealJamaicans and #ReplaceMovieNamesWithVoldemort -- actually served as a conduit for public-minded discourse on Monday.
Buffett's op-ed was published in Monday's paper edition of The New York Times (it went up on NYTimes.com Sunday night) with the title "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich." It begins with these three sentences:
Our leaders have asked for "shared sacrifice." But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
If you haven't read the whole piece yet, please click over to it now.
Buffett's surprising star turn on Twitter had me wondering: What did it take, in terms of tweet volume, for him to surge into the Trending Topics list -- at least on a sleepy August Monday? The answer comes to us from our editorial partner, social-media monitoring firm Trendrr. Here, the data and some related notes:
- Warren Buffett was averaging 600 to 700 mentions in tweets each day -- generally less than 30 per hour -- earlier this month. On Monday, in one peak hour, he was name-checked in 2,127 tweets, a surge of roughly 7,000% over his normal hourly Twitter buzz.
- By the close of the day on Monday, Warren Buffet had been mentioned in a total of 23,339 tweets. (He racked up mentions in an additional 6,505 tweets yesterday.)
- The top five cities tweeting about Warren Buffett lately are New York, London, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles.
- Keep in mind that plenty of people have been sharing Buffett's op-ed by simply tweeting the headline of the piece and a link -- without mentioning Buffett himself.
- One additional must-read: Reuters blogger Felix Salmon's take on the right's backlash against Buffett's op-ed.
- Bonus link: the full transcript of Buffett's Monday appearance on Charlie Rose.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.