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How Warren Buffett scored big on Twitter

May 3, 2013, 5:14 PM UTC
Fortune

How do you collect more than one thousand Twitter followers per minute?

If you’re Warren Buffett, all you need to do is send your first Tweet:

Fortune (and I) ushered the world’s most famous investor into the digital age on Thursday. During my live video chat with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, he joined Twitter and then sent a followup Tweet to promote his essay, “Warren Buffett is Bullish on…Women,” in this year’s Fortune 500 issue.

This was big: the first deep-dive interview on Women and first-ever “social” interview — incorporating questions from Twitter and Facebook — for a man so notoriously untechnical that he once missed out on a multi-billion-dollar deal because he didn’t check his cell-phone voicemail until 10 months after the opportunity passed.

In Twitter history, Charlie Sheen holds the world record for racing the fastest to one million followers; bad behavior helped the TV actor reach that milestone in 25 hours and 17 minutes two years ago. After his lightning start on Twitter — 10,000 followers within 10 minutes– Buffett, 82, figured he might be in shape to beat Sheen’s record — and even joked to me that he might enhance his odds by Tweeting an announcement that he would give an investment tip exclusively to @WarrenBuffett followers before midnight.

Alas, Buffett decided not to stoop to unscrupulous activity.

By 9 a.m. EST Friday morning, he reached 277,000 followers — his progress hampered somewhat by fake Warren Buffett accounts that diverted thousands of his fans to the incorrect Twitter site. Note: The real @WarrenBuffett includes a blue check mark, Twitter’s emblem of authenticity, next to the name. Here is the authentic @WarrenBuffett. (I’m @pattiesellers.)

As Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting extravaganza commences in Omaha — where Buffett tells me he is expecting some 32,000or real-live followers — he is getting lots of lift from famous friends with established Twitter followings.

Bill Gates, who has more than 11 million followers, Tweeted: “Welcome to Twitter @WarrenBuffett. First ever Twitter bridge tourney starts now. I bid 3 hearts.”

Tyra Banks and Chelsea Handler, who met Buffett at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, Tweeted their regards and urged their millions of followers to read his Fortune essay about Women.

Bill Clinton’s Tweet: “@WarrenBuffett Welcome to @Twitter. What took you so long?”

Click here to watch my exclusive interview with Buffett — “Warren Buffett on Women, Work and Other Wisdom” — and clips from our historic chat.