In 24 hours, Athar went from someone who jokes with friends on Twitter and invites people to his coffee shop to someone who broadcasts his thoughts to more than 86,000 followers.
How did he become so influential so quickly? How does anyone? It takes the right piece of information at the right time, passed across small overlapping social circles, starting with just a few hundred people.
Poynter is typically pretty well written stuff, and this article is actually quite good, but on this point they fall into a common trap that attracts so many commentators on social technologies…. having a lot of followers does not make one influential.
Influence is power, it is a currency that is devalued when printed on cheap paper by the ream. Having a large number of followers is secondary to who those followers are and your ability to transform broadcast into action. This context is what is lacking in social networks today and why social analytics (aka socialytics) is one of the most interesting technology research areas pursued today.