Last night, I watched the very last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. As a life-long Oprah devotee, I felt like I was losing my best friend. I am not ashamed to admit that I sobbed to my bewildered husband as she left the stage a final time: “I’m just going to miss her so much!”
Of course, while her talk show will be gone, Oprah will not be far from us. In fact, I think she might be closer to us than ever before. Throughout her show’s 25th season, Oprah’s team has been leveraging the web to engage her devoted fans on a new level.
What’s notable isn’t that Oprah uses Twitter or Facebook – that’s par for the course these days. It’s the #OprahLiveTweets where she @replies regular fans talking about her shows on OWN, her new network. It’s the TwitVids from her home office, reading glasses and all, to prove, yes, it really is her tweeting. It’s the YouTube videos she creates, sometimes while on the treadmill, answering fans’ questions. And it’s the fact that she spent much of her last show talking back to viewers who had used social networks to reach out to her. Oprah’s understanding of the potential and power of social media engagement shows exactly why she is one of our culture’s most seminal figures.
Whether or not you’re an Oprah groupie like me, you can’t deny that she has transformed the medium of television and it’s influence over the past 25 years. But beyond the show, Oprah continues to be an innovator. Whether it’s TV, a magazine or the web, Oprah finds new ways to connect with more authenticity and relevance.
In her final show, Oprah said, “Your real job in life is to figure out what your calling is and get about the business of doing it.” It’s clear that Oprah’s taken whatever means necessary to get about her business – inspiring her followers. Are you?