Want to break into Hollywood? Getting recognized via social media isn’t the worst way to go about it. I recently wrote about Sh*t My Dad Says, which is going from Twitter to the small screen, with William Shatner no less.

But social media may also be a great way to break away from Hollywood. Case in point: former Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien

The man who is being paid tens of millions of dollars to do pretty much nothing for a little while has apparently decided to use some of his spare time to get acquainted with Twitter. His shiny new Twitter account was set up this week and the bio says it all:

I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.

A popular Twitter account at that, with more than 350,000 followers already. Conan’s first two tweets make it clear that he’s still a comedian, and quite possibly bored out of his mind:

Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.

This morning I watched Remington Steele while eating Sugar Smacks out of a salad bowl. I was naked.

While amusing, Conan’s move from late-night television to Twitter is symbolic in a potentially important way. For starters, it shows just how mainstream social media hubs like Twitter have become. Conan could easily disappear for a few months (private island anyone?), but he chose to set up a Twitter account. And Conan’s re-emergence on Twitter yet another example of the power celebrities have to control their own brands online.

Obviously, Conan doesn’t need to worry about money, but a presence on Twitter could prove to be strategically important. After all, Conan’s Twitter account can help him maintain his personal brand until he’s able to sign with another television network. Given the amount of attention he has received recently because of his high-profile exit at the Tonight Show, it would be somewhat foolish for Conan to simply go into hiding.

In short, Hollywood’s relationship with technology has been a somewhat contentious one at times. But social media is increasingly one of Hollywood’s most valuable tools. It is being used to discover talent, established talent is using it to build closer relationships with fans, and talent taking a breather, like Conan, is using it to pass the time and keep part of the spotlight.

Photo credit: chrisdlugosz via Flickr.