how Ari Fleischer attracted 25,000 new twitter followers in 1 day

Ari Fleischer. You’ve probably heard of him, but can’t remember where.  He was the White House press secretary under Bush 2 from 2001 to 2003.  A short stint to be sure, but I can only imagine the pressure of that job.  Most notably he was the press secretary for President Bush during the terrorist attacks committed on September 11, 2001.

This year on the 13th anniversary of the attacks, Ari took to twitter to give us an epic piece of history.  In a full day of play-by-play, he took us behind the scenes of the president’s staff on 9/11.  It was truly history, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out the string here.   What was also remarkable was that he increased is exposure on twitter by over 25,000 followers (that was just the 10 hours I was paying attention.)  Reading the content, it was easy to see why he increased so substantially, but I think there are some fundamentals here if you want to increase your own readership.

First, what he said was timely.  Everyone was thinking about September 11th, so it was a topic people were interested in looking at.  More than that, he gave real time updates, which corresponded to the day.  Almost like live-tweeting an event that happened 13 years ago.

Second, he offered a unique point of view.  This was a look at the day I hadn’t seen before and was something I wanted to incorporate into my understanding of that day.

Third, he offered regular, original content.  I used to think there was nothing original on the internet. (Sidebar: How close are we to a point where every combination of words has been expressed somewhere?  Could be an interesting theoretical math problem.  How many combinations of words are there?  Given the amount of unique content published daily, at what point would all word combinations be exhausted?)

Fourth, he made it suspenseful. The readers were always waiting for the next post to hit their timeline.  I followed the account closely throughout the day, and was amazed how many instantaneous favorites and re-tweets he had.  People were watching for his content.

Fifth, he didn’t overwhelm the readers with too much content.  New followers could easily go back and catch up on what he had already said.  You can be sure he had tons of thoughts and editorials he wanted to add in, but he was good about keeping it to facts, and that allowed readers to stay engaged.

In case you haven’t read my blog before, there are two things that I really like: lists and applications.  The list is now finished, so it’s time for the application.  Very few of us can share the inside experiences of the most powerful person on the planet, but we all have our own point of view.

Additionally, we all have a topic that is timely.  Maybe you’re a techy and you want to write about Apple’s new line up.  Maybe you are in medicine and would like to write about costs of care, or how little patient contact time you get.  Regardless of the subject, we all have things that people will want to engage on.

I know that not everyone is seeking to rack up thousands of twitter followers, but I believe we all get some enjoyment out of engaging with others on topics that are important to us.  If that’s you, give it a try.  Take the subject matter expert (SME) role on something you care about.  You’ll probably be surprised at the engagement you get.

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