“Until we meet again.” Those were Oprah Winfrey’s penultimate words on the last episode of her iconic talk show. After 25 years and 4,560 shows, Winfrey ended her reign as the Queen of DaytimeTalk and arguably the Queen of All Media. It is rare for a television show to be able to go out on its own terms and at the top of its game, and Winfrey and company brilliantly pulled it off (ratings for the final broadcast were highest since 1994). The last three shows encapsulated the Oprah era. Two were A-list celebrity-studded bashes that were all about the “O.” The final show was all about the audience, with Oprah waxing eloquently and emotionally about how much they meant to her.
And now, after 25 years and 4,560 shows, Oprah has left the building. But not really. She has her OWN network, and her magazine. Though late to the party, she is a formidable presence on Twitter with more than 6.1 million followers. She also remains connected to her audience through Facebook (“Hello my friends, Thank you for the kindest words I've ever heard,” she recently posted while on vacation).
Oprah’s influence is very much calculable. Forbes estimates her own net worth at $2.7 billion. Sales of the products she dubbed her “Favorite Things” soared by as much as 1,000 percent overnight, while 59 of the 70 books featured in her book club became bestsellers, according to reports.
So what does Oprah do for an encore? What is the next chapter? Grant Powell, CEO of Pomegranate (POM8), a digital agency and creative talent network spoke with MillionaireCorner.com about the Oprah brand and the challenges she faces in maintaining its influence.
MillionaireCorner.com: What is the biggest challenge does Oprah face moving forward?
Grant Powell: The challenge will be to meet the demand for people wanting to have Oprah in their lives everyday. She needs to maintain a strong digital platform delivering daily content to subscribers will be able to meet that demand.
MC: What has been the secret to her phenomenal ability to build and nurture the Oprah brand?
GP: Oprah is intelligent, caring, and charismatic, but when people think of her, they think in terms of her being a teacher and a mother. People have loyalty to (individuals) of that nature. It’s about having a personality that inspires people and forms a personal connection. She fosters a sense of family and community, offering empathy and help when (her audience) needed it.
MC: Oprah’s success is especially impressive when you consider that she built her audience without the advantages of today’s social network. Someone starting out now will have tremendous marketing tools she didn’t have.
GP: And those tools are available to everyone at virtually no cost. TV isn’t so readily accessible to a mom, but she can write a blog. Everybody can contribute their little piece instead one women being the funnel for all that information. Now there is micro influence all around the world. The social network does increase one’s reach and influence, but it is also spread thin across so many people instead of one.
MC: How did you think she did with the finale?
GP: She did really well. The tone she created was to say, ‘Look at what we’ve done, look at what we’ve been through.’ It was enough on the humble side that people left the show with a very positive feeling.
MC: Who will the next Oprah be?
GP: Oprah started in the mid-80s, an era when women were becoming more empowered in terms of career and becoming decision makers in the family. She rode that wave and helped women to feel more empowered. I don’t know if there will be a need for a woman to come in and empower women the way she has. She put that chapter to rest. The next Oprah will be someone who does something brand new, who takes what she did to the next level. It will be a different need that has not yet been identified.