Kanye West follows only one – but who is Steven of Coventry?

Making friends on Twitter can often be a thankless task.

You might be the 21st century's Oscar Wilde, with an acerbic wit of such magnitude that you can distil the world into razor-sharp aphorisms of just 140 characters. But unless you have people "following" you, no one will even know you exist.

But every so often someone gets lucky through the medium of a whopping celebrity endorsement. That's exactly what happened this weekend to Steven Holmes from Coventry, who saw his Twitter followers jump from just 60 to more than 1,200 people in the space of a few hours.

What could have provoked such a sudden outpouring of amicability? Look no further than Kanye West, who has kept an uncharacteristically low profile since his embarrassing faux pas at the MTV awards in New York last September. Midway through Taylor Swift's acceptance speech for Best Female Video, the American hip-hop star jumped on to the stage to tell the young country singer that Beyoncé should have won instead.

Mr West has a new album to publicise, and what better way than to sign up with Twitter for the first time? (So far he has racked up 350,000 followers in just four days).

But the famously outspoken singer has also taken time out to indulge in a little cyber-altruism by making Mr Holmes his first – and so far only – Twitter friend.

That has, in turn, made Mr Holmes a very popular person (and a punching bag for a select number of furious Kanye West fans who are outraged he was chosen instead of them).

Exactly why Mr West picked Mr Holmes is a mystery. When the man from Coventry tweeted back to his newly found friend, "Holy s**t bro, thx for following!" the rap star replied: "You are the chosen one dun dun dun dun," but gave no further clues.

Like all prophets who have had fame thrust upon them, Mr Holmes is now trying to adjust to the demands of his new audience.

"I feel pressure to say amusing and witty tweets now that @kanyewest is following," was an update at 7am on Saturday morning from a man whose tweets over the previous few hours had included the information that his iTunes wasn't working properly, that the sound quality of Spotify was often "craaaaap", and that it was raining.

Mr West soon moved to shore up his friend, replying: "Tweet strong young man tweet strong!!!"

Since acquiring his new followers, Mr Holmes has treated them to pearls of wisdom such as: "If abuse is love then I've never felt more loved", "feeling hungover and I wasn't even drunk last night," and the news that he had the band Kasabian playing on his stereo at 2:18pm yesterday. He declined a request by The Independent yesterday for an interview, saying things had got "just too weird".

But if fame is something Mr Holmes may take a while to get used to, for Mr West the oxygen of publicity is what keeps his highly successful career going – despite a rather public downfall last year after the Taylor Swift incident. Following his rant against MTV's judges (Beyoncé made it up to Taylor Swift by bringing her back on stage after she won an award) West went on The Jay Leno Show to make a tearful apology, and said he would take some time off.

But now it looks as though the 33-year-old rapper, who is already a prominent blogger, is back to generate as much publicity as possible before his album's launch, and has chosen social networking as the way to do it.

Last week the singer went on a whirlwind tour of "surprise visits" to staff at the offices of Twitter and Facebook, and at the headquarters of magazines Rolling Stone and XXL.

All of which is rather surprising, considering that last year the rapper launched a blistering attack on Twitter when he discovered that a number of impostors were pretending to be him.

"Don't have a f****** Twitter," he wrote on his blog. "Why would I use Twitter??? I only blog five per cent of what I'm up to in the first place. I'm actually slow delivering content because I'm too busy actually busy being creative most of the time, and if I'm not and I'm just laying on a beach I wouldn't tell the world. Everything that Twitter offers, I need less of."

Clearly the rap star's views have changed now that he has got his own Twitter account. Not that Mr Holmes will mind.