I've completed my first experiment in "Twitter Storytelling," @NoWedgiesForMe, consisting of forty-one tweets between December 12th and 20th in the voice of Alexander, the protagonist in my book, "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain."
In concept, I find the idea fascinating: telling a story in "real time," through the intimate perspective of a fictional character and the 140-character brevity of a tweet. Minimal description, combined with what is essentially a stream-of-consciousness illusion could create an engaging story.
In practice, I enjoyed the creation of forty one tweets, which told a uniquely "Alexander" story, in which his wildly active imagination led him to the conclusion that he would be the victim of a horrible prank on the last day before school was out for the holidays. His panic builds until the last hours of the last day, when he's not the recipient of a horrible prank, but a mysterious wrapped gift from his supposed enemies, and a request "not to open before Christmas." With that cliffhanger, I concluded the test.
This wasn't a wide test - @NoWedgiesForMe has only seven followers - but putting the concept into practice left with with several questions to consider:
- How might this concept best be applied? Is this Twitter account an opportunity to tell an entirely new, ongoing story - or should it reflect the existing (and future) book more directly?
- What is the ultimate objective? Is this simply added-value content?
- Should Alexander's story exist across several platforms that cross-promote - Twitter, and a blog, for example? Instagram and other platforms might also be part of Alexander's world - but naturally require a much larger investment in time and resources to create a photo record of Alexander's fictional life.
- How can I make sure that people actually see these tweets? While the real time concept is intriguing - a Twitter feed is constantly moving. The "authenticity" of Alexander tweeting in real time probably translates into the fact that most followers would never see his tweets. Most Twitter users don't search back in their timeline too far. Will anyone really see what Alexander tweets at 7:30 or 10 am?
Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most well-respected experts on the use social media (Crush It, among other titles), recently posted a opinion in favor of tweeting the same message multiple times - to make certain that users in different time zones might see the same message (i.e. a 9am tweet on the east coast is likely to be missed by someone on the west coast, so that same tweet might be repeated at 9 am Pacific time). This would make sense in the case of @NoWedgiesForMe, but a second phase of this experiment would need to explore a new methodology in order to maintain Alexander's voice. After all, he wouldn't have typically retweeted most of the 41 existing tweets.
I'm considering the lessons of the small, first attempt, and in the new year I'll adjust the concept and try again - stay tuned!