By Brigette Flood

Hard to believe there was a time when I didn’t think of Charlie Sheen much. But with his new promotional sponsorship with the Ad.ly marketing agency and a mid-life maniacal meltdown well-suited for media coverage, Sheen has been everywhere in the media since early March.

Being the highest paid TV celebrity with a grievance against his bosses at Two and a Half Men gave him a reason to start, but his even quicker upstart on social media deliberately brought the circus of his situation into the center of public media, we can all reach and see.

While the sanity of what Sheen is saying is up for debate, he has become a social media monster of impressive degree. First, he set the Guinness World Record for the fastest time to reach 1 million Twitter followers, accomplishing it in 25 hours and 17 minutes. Heck, he got 60,000 followers before even sending one Tweet (how do you do that?). At the time of writing this article, Sheen was inching closer to 3 million followers. It hasn’t even been a month.

Turns out, many of Sheen’s posts (like #tigerblood and #winning) turn into trending topics on Twitter. Which means The Sheen Machine might turn out to be the highest profile example of a celebrity being paid to tweet. Sheen hasn’t be aligned with a brand yet, partly because Ad.ly execs are having a hard time figuring out what that’s worth. And my professional guess is: it’s going to be a lot.

The Sheen Machine is interesting because it highlights where lot of companies are spending a lot of time, intelligence and money: influence. Just returned from SXSW Interactive conference and influence seemed to be the most trending topic there.

Like always, companies want to sell you things. It’s certainly not a new idea (just think Air Jordan), but the channels of communication are changing and companies are scrambling to figure out who the new “celebrities” are. There will always be the Kardashians and the Charlie Sheens, but there are more niche bloggers, tweeters and Facebook pages where people gather, listen and chat. So while you might not think much of Charlie Sheen, think of his #winning and why he won.

For more social media info, check out MakingSenseofSocial.com. Candace McCaffery, Senior Vice President of Cookerly Public Relations, and I discuss influencers, SXSW and the Atlanta Social Media Club.

Follow me @brigflood. Follow The Sheen Machine @charliesheen. Follow Candace @candacemcc.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.