Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Twitter and the Art of Publicity

I plug the blog. I plug it on FaceBook and on Twitter, and I’m sure those are the places where many of you see it and follow the links over here to read it.

Of course, I plug it. It makes sense, right? Besides, it’s become a bit of an OCD thing with me. I only plug a blog once a day on FaceBook, but I regularly add a photo to the blog, so that the link is accompanied by a new pic every day, just to keep people interested.

I plug several times a day on Twitter, generally when I take time out to check my feed, at natural breaks, when I make drinks or at meal times. Feeds move fast, so it’s easy for people to miss things. It’s habit, and, like I say, I do tend to be a bit OCD about this sort of thing, once a pattern’s established.

Of course, Twitter has lots of little helper doohickeys on its site, too, and it’s those things I’m thinking about adopting next. The problem is that I wonder whether all publicity is good publicity. I wonder when a thing is just a gimmick, when it might bring people to the blog, but won’t keep them returning. I'm also not sure I want to be a try-hard. Obviously I want people to read the blog, otherwise, what's the point of writing it, but I'm not desperate; I want people to come because they want to come.

I haven’t yet begun to use the hashtag or, indeed, the @, for example, when blogplugging, at least not with anything like the sort of regularity that I might. I wonder whether it’s too cynical. Yesterday offers, I think, a fine example of when I might have used either or both to some effect. 

Yesterday, as many of you will know, I wrote this blog about Stephen Fry and his Kinetic Typography on Language. Mr Fry has a couple of million followers on Twitter. He’s a big user of social networking, and people like him, so it stands to reason. Obviously, there’s no way that Stephen Fry would be bothered to look at my blog. There’s no reason for him to read a rebuttal of something he did a couple of years ago, at least; the poor chap’s been through enough, after all. 

His followers, of which there are, as of right now,  5,928,681 on Twitter, (crikey, and I was guessing at 2m), might just want to read something I say about him, though, might they not? His stalwarts, his fans, his followers might not only read my blog, if they knew my piece was some sort of argument, a rebuttal of what their dear Fry had broadcast and clearly believed, they’d want to come charging to his defence. If only, say, 0.1% of his Twitter followers decided to read the blog, that’s still six thousand extra visitors to my blog for the day, and that, let’s face it, is pretty impressive. Of course, I’d have to screw myself down for the vitriol they’d bring with them, but, who knows, some of them might find my thoughts, at the very least, entertaining. A few dozen of them might have a wander around the site, and, who knows, a score of them might even return another day. 

Would it be worth it? Would the blip on the stats graph make a difference in the long run? Is all publicity and any publicity good publicity? Honestly, I don’t know. I might, one of these days, experiment with it all, and find out, though. 

I might even do it today.

The very charming, Ian Rankin
Shall I do it? Shall I embed a link to yesterday’s blog in this one and add a hashtag to my blogplugs today? Do you know what? I don’t think I will... Not this time. I might choose someone a little less high profile, and I might choose something that isn’t a criticism of them... 

... I wonder how Ian Rankin stands in the Twitter league tables... He’s a good-humoured chap, generally up for a smile, and I've always admired his work, right from the very beginning. He likes his music too, and he’s a family man. Maybe he’d be a decent guinea pig.

What do you say, Ian?


  1. I've read this thanks to Ian Rankin retweeting your tweet. I've also read a few other posts and may consider adding you to a blog reader, which I may or may not keep up with on a regular basis.

    It's interesting to see what draws the most attention to a blog, depending on the niche. For me, as an expat in the Netherlands, weed, prostitutes, and bicycles draw the biggest crowds. Stereotypes die hard.

  2. Genius! Living proof that publicity works!

    I did this for a bit of fun, and Ian was kind enough to go along with it after we sat in an office together for a year or so twenty+ years ago.

    Bicycle it is. Smiles.