I went to Devon this weekend to hang out with my sister and her family.
We were having one of those communal moments in the sitting room. The TV was on in the background. My sister was in the kitchen shouting through conversation to me whilst making dinner. My nephew was on the iPad mini with his headphones on chuckling at funnies on YouTube. My boyfriend and niece were respectively on their phones - Dave was reading news coverage whilst my niece was inhabiting the twittersphere.
In the melee of noise it emerged that my niece had over 1,800 followers on twitter. We were all impressed. Nonchalantly she declared she was aiming for 2,000 by Monday.
As we chatted over the next few minutes my nephew, released momentarily from headphones, kept up a running commentary as his sister got another new follower; two new followers, another new follower, and another one.
"I've only got about 50" he grumbled.
Meantime I'm texting a buddy of mine who is in the throes of setting up her own new soon-to-be super viral empire of money saving tips. Knowing that Mrs Mummypenny would be as impressed as I am by my nieces numbers I ran them past her.
"How is she doing that?!" exclaimed the text back. I asked the twitter princess the secret to her success. She shrugged demurely. She can be a girl of few words my niece. But words worth following apparently.
Her key interest is music. She loves One Direction. So do nearly all of her 1,800 twitter followers. "Liam[1D band member for the uninitiated]'s mum just accepted my friend request on facebook" she announces. I'm doubtful of the validity of this but who knows, anything is possible with social media right?
This is her third or fourth twitter account. She's moved identities a couple of times, as a way of abandoning unsympathetic followers. At school no one is really into 1D in the way she is so the internet enables her to connect with people who share her interests.
Staggeringly she's only had her account for about three months. I've had mine much longer and thought 145 followers was pretty decent. @MrsMummyPenny's been up and running and actively getting her name out for the past 4 months and is also in the 125 area.
We're still discussing the phenomena that is my nieces twitter account over dinner. My nephew announces that a guy he knew at school got 100,000 followers and then sold his twitter account for £200.
My journalistic sense twitches a bit as I write that - I can't validate the who of the boy, whether he really had 100,000 followers and my nephew didn't know who the guy had sold his twitter account onto. Consequently I share it with you purely as an anecdote. I kind of feel bad for the boy too, if it is true, because £200 sounds to me like he was ripped off.
I'm interested though, my niece and nephew are part of a generation that knows how to work twitter. They totally get target markets and how to generate a community of followers instinctively. As Mrs Mummypenny was saying, it could well be worth getting my niece to work her account for her. I'm guessing marketeers are already all over this but I wonder what is going on in terms of people buying and selling their twitter accounts. More research required.
We got home, later than intended, on Sunday evening, thanks to the traumas of car ownership. Around 8pm I get a text from my sister.
"H just hit her 2000 followers!"
....beating her Monday morning deadline.
Interestingly she isn't driven by ego in this hunt for numbers. Frustratingly for her twitter wouldn't let her follow more than 2,000 people UNTIL she had 2,000 followers apparently. Who knew?
By the by, H and her followers are all gearing up for 1D Day coming up on Saturday. I note this as a way of feeling less Machiavellian for calling this the One Direction issue....