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History of an unintentionally epic tweet

So, I've been a Big Finish subscriber for a number of years, but somehow never got around to reading their freebie magazine, Vortex - I find magazine in general difficult to read with my middle-aged eyes, and this comes on a PDF which I don't really have time to read on either work or home desktop computers. So I had never really looked at it.

But on Thursday evening as I was settling to sleep, and checking the Big Finish website on the iPad to see if any more of their 50th anniversary material had been published yet, I realised that the latest issue of Vortex is available to download for free. It seemed just right for evening unwinding, and I read through most of it rather rapidly, taking a bit longer over the cast interviews with Doctors and companions from the recently released The Light At The End. Each is asked about their "one biggest Doctor Who memory", and the article finishes with Tom Baker retelling a couple of anecdotes which I already knew, and then one that I didn't:



Gosh, I thought, that's lovely; and I screencapped the page, cropped it down to the last paragraph including a clear attribution to Vortex, posted it to Twitter and turned over and went to sleep.

When I woke up, it had been retweeted 200 times.

Up till then, my personal record for retweets was roughly 92, for a news story about a concealed Dalek that I think I had got from glitterboy1. And that was basically because it had been picked up (as my tweets sometimes are) by Charles Stross. This was a real grass-roots thing - none of the retweeters had mass followings; Tom Baker's story had just struck a nerve with people.

By end of the day, the total number of retweets was comfortably over 500, more than five times my previous record, not to mention dozens who had tweeted or retweeted a modified version. By now a couple of big hitters had picked it up - comedian Mitch Benn and Labour MP Stella Creasey, - presumably at second or third hand, as I don't follow either and neither follows me. According to Crowdbooster, the total audience (ie combined followings of all who had retweeted it) was just short of 300,000, comfortably ahead of my other personal record, set last year when Cory Doctorow, whose personal following then was around 230.000, retweeted my live coverage of the BSFA Awards at Eastercon. Again, those who had tweeted a modified version will surely add a five-figure number to that total, taking it well above 300k.

However, I have only gained about ten followers as a result. Perhaps conducting a snarky Twitter conversation with Belgian railways about my morning commute on Friday morning did not turn out to be a magnet for a potential new audience. But then, I hadn't planned for a late-night sentimental tweet to take off in that way either. I can't imagine that I will beat either the new record for retweets or for totAl audience very soon, and to be honest I am not really aiming to do so either.

I do regret that I did not give the source full credit in the original tweet. If I'd suspected that it would be picked up so widely, I would certainly have given Big Finish the publicity that they deserve. But I had no idea.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
andrewducker
Nov. 16th, 2013 09:59 am (UTC)
It's always a surprise to me when (and which) tweets get picked up. I've not had any go quite as big as you (I think I've topped out around 5,000 clicks), but it always comes because someone big spots something I've posted and retweets it, suddenly opening up a firehose.

These sometimes bring in a few people, but yeah, it very much depends on whether I've had anything else interesting in my previous few tweets!
irishkate
Nov. 16th, 2013 10:14 am (UTC)
It is such a great story though.
nancylebov
Nov. 16th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
Artists can't tell which of their works are going to hit big. I think people are just too unpredictable on that sort of thing.
surliminal
Nov. 16th, 2013 04:43 pm (UTC)
Thats nice. I love the serendipity of Twitter.a friend of mine who barely uses Twitter had one of hers picked up by Tim Berners Lee at some conf and to her amazement it went intercontinentally ballistic..
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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