And The First Twitter Account To One Million Followers Is…

… probably going to be CNN (@cnnbrk). And, all being well, it should happen within the next 5-7 days.
What happens next?

At the time of writing, @cnnbrk is the number one most-followed account on Twitter with some 933K followers. Readers of this blog may recall my prediction that Britney Spears (@britneyspears) was going to be the first to edge past the one million mark. That looks unlikely now, simply because we’re running out of time, but Britney is right on the 900K mark and definitely closing on @cnnbrk.
In third place is Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) at about 881K. Larry King (@kingsthings – I believe this is genuine) of CNN recently responded to Kutcher’s claims that he would be the first to hit the million mark with this funny video.
It’s a bit of a cheat, of course: both @cnnbrk and @britneyspears have Twitter accounts that are updated by different teams – it would be great if they swapped for 24 hours or so to see if anybody noticed – and so in many respects as Ashton is the only authentic account on there, inasmuch as he updates himself, he probably deserves the plaudits.
Incidentally, have you noticed how bug-ridden the top 100 tracking sites are of late? Twitterholic has always been a bit like a stumbling drunk (appropriately) and lags the real counts by large amounts. And now Twittercounter, which used to be really accurate, seems to insist that everybody in the top 100 list is losing tens of thousands of followers a day. What’s up with that?
Whoever wins out of these top three, it doesn’t really matter. Sure, there’ll be a bit of fanfare and some popping of champagne corks (from the Twitter founders, too), but these guys are famous enough already. The leverage they will see from reaching the million-follower mark won’t make any difference to their lives at all. As I’ve written previously, having a million followers is a huge deal if you’re the kind of account on Twitter that has something to promote or sell. Sure, Ashton and Britney have movies and records to market, and CNN is a global brand, but the actual impact on their produce is fairly negligible, at least relative to other accounts like @mashable and @techcrunch (currently #23 and #34 in the top 100 respectively; @kevinrose of Digg is at #18).
Ultimately, the entire top 100 most-followed users on Twitter will be all brands and real-world celebrities, meaning people who are famous everywhere, not just on the internet. The controversial suggested users list on Twitter will always give individuals a big push but they can’t compete with the Shaquille O’Neal and Coldplays of this world (especially if they make the list, too). Possibly you’ll eventually be able to buy your way on to the list, but once half a dozen or so folk creep over one million, it’s going to be old news.
The race then, of course, is on to one billion followers, but unless Buddha himself starts Twittering, I wouldn’t hold your breath.