A Twitterature exercise: Can fictional characters draw (and keep) followers?

A novelist’s invented personae may not have created a huge following, but the experiment offers lessons in social media—and inspires a looser writing style.

U.S. Ambassador Holt Blankenship is among the more active diplomats on Twitter these days. He tweets his thoughts on the uprisings in the Middle East and describes a near-fatal encounter with hypothermia on the sea ice.

The other day Blankenship shocked the diplomatic world by announcing that the U.S. government has been consulting a London bookie named Paddy Powers when deciding what foreign factions to back.

But I have a confession. Blankenship—”our nation’s voice in the Afterlife”—is someone I created as a literary experiment, tweeting a subplot from a rather odd novel I wrote.

Though I haven’t shaken the foundations of American literature in the two weeks I’ve been doing this, @US_Ambassador Blankenship—and fellow characters like the goat-headed @Gov_Gopnik—did teach me something about Twitter, along with related sites such as Twellow, SocialOomph and FollowerHub.

Now, nobody’s going to hire me as a social media consultant. But if you’re struggling to find your voice or drum up followers on Twitter, perhaps my project can offer a few lessons.

Promoting a novel

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