Dragon’s Dream is a Twitter Success

Friday 4th June 2010

One man’s idea, turned into a dream and almost hijacked by a rival. This is the story of #duncansdream and #peterspeople.

Fridays on Twitter are best known for #ff and #followfriday hashtags. However, Friday 4th June 2010 was a game changer. It all started just after 12pm when Duncan Bannatyne had a vision:

@DuncanBannatyne: I would like to #ff all of my followers – start following each other then we will all have 90,000 follwers. Simples

DJ Chris Evans retweeted the original idea giving it further credence.

At this point, I thought the idea seemed flawed. The primary concern was that if you had to follow 90,000 people in order to have 90,000 followers it would make your Twitter timeline virtually unreadable. Aside from that, adding so many people would probably take a long time, cleverly put by one of Duncan Bannatyne’s initial retweets:

RT @iancreek: @DuncanBannatyne What an excellent idea, I’ll start following your followers now. Should be all done by Christmas!

Just as I thought the idea was doomed to failure, a well crafted hashtag gave it super-twitter strength. All it took was a simple retweet by Duncan Bannatyne and the rest is history:

RT: @SteveRichardsUK Let’s get @DuncanBannatyne and the #duncansdream trending

The original idea and the person to thank for the duncansdream hashtag is @iancreek:

Time for someone to set-up a hash tag for this @DuncanBannatyne experiment :- ) any thoughts? #duncansdream maybe

So #duncansdream was about to come to life. By around 4pm it had superceded all expectations and in no time at all it was the No.1 trending topic in London and the UK. Eventually it was to overtake #oilspill as the No.2 trending topic Worldwide. Of course, it confused so many people across the world as Twitter was full of tweets like “I don’t get #duncansdream”.

The increase in followers far outweighed anything #ff would ever deliver. It seemed that there were a couple of strategies at play. Tweeters either followed as many people as possible, hoping that a large number would follow them back or simply wrote numerous tweets hoping that they would deliver followers or maybe even a combination of both.

As I didn’t want an unreadable timeline, I didn’t go all out adding people for the sake of it. Luckily, with some help from Duncan Bannatyne, more followers started coming in:

At around 8:30pm, with #duncansdream in full flow, Duncan Bannatyne was either kidnapped, went out for a meal or had an early night. It was left to another Dragon to seize the initiative. Peter Jones, at first slightly bewildered by it all, then retweeted this:

RT @androidfearn: @dragonjones please RT come on people let’s get #peterspeople trending above #duncansdream

The War of the Dragon Hashtags was now on. Basically, #peterspeople was light-heartedly trying to muscle in on the success of #duncansdream. Shortly after, I was lucky enough to have the following retweeted, which helped gain more followers:

From around 10pm until 1am #duncansdream and #peterspeople were fighting it out and to be fair it was a pretty even race. But there is no doubt #peterspeople was never going to be able to amass the enormous number of tweets sent using #duncansdream. According to What’s the Hashtag? there were 13,165 mentions of #duncansdream on June 4th and another 1,115 up until 4:30am GMT on June 5th. Sadly, there is no data for #peterspeople.

In the end, it seems I had a net gain, adding 10 people and gaining 90 additional followers. There maybe people who had a net loss, but that wasn’t the point of the original idea. Duncan Bannatyne wanted people to gain additional followers and on that note it was a major success, with probably everyone benefiting from the exercise.

So that’s it. A joyful day to be had by thousands of people across the globe. New followers and interesting conversations. Above all, a fresh Twitter experience. To be honest, I am just as excited to see the aftermath of it all, especially if #peterspeople will be revived for a final push against #duncansdream. I haven’t had this much fun since the general election when #nickcleggsfault, possibly the funniest hashtag ever, did Twitter proud.

UPDATE: At approx 2:45pm GMT on June 5th, the duncansdream hashtag hit 20,000 tweets and #duncansdream and #peterspeople were the UK’s No.1 and No.2 Trending Topics.

Over the weekend, there were 13,000 tweets on Friday (in 12 hours), 15,000 tweets on Saturday (in 24 hours) and 18,000 tweets on Sunday (in 24 hours) mentioning #duncansdream.

Finally, a big thank you again to Duncan Bannatyne for adding one of my tweets detailing this post to his Twitter favourites list.