Thursday afternoon; I returned from work to see the Times and Citizen on my door mat, I took a picture of it on my phone and uploaded to Twitter.
Sunday evening; that picture will have been seen by a recorded 57,000 people, reused on The Huffington Post, The Guardian and Photoshop Disasters, blogged and tweeted all over the world and available on a T-Shirt.
But how did this happen, how do you cause a 'Twitter sensation'?
The first thing I've learnt from all of this is, if something's interesting to you, then it's going to be interesting to other people, the challenge is getting it to a wider audience. I normally dismiss these kind of mistakes, I hate the Grammar police and the Design Police, it's the kind of self righteous nonsense that people hide behind when they've got no ideas of their own. But, I'm also a massive hypocrite, so I figured other people might want to see this huge, hilarious cock-up.
I started by Tweeting and Face-booking my find. Keen to expel the idea of it being fake, I called my post 'This is honestly the cover of the Times and Citizen'. This was picked up by a few friends and the Twitpic (the mark I began to measure from) began to clock up hits. After an hour or so I decided I'd retweet it to journalist and TV personality Grace Dent, I kind of had a feeling she'd enjoy this mistake, and guess what? She did, and retweeted it to her 17,000 followers. The picture had soon received around 15,000 hits, this continued through Thursday night and into Friday when it got it's big break. I received this email in my inbox;
Peter Serafinowicz had picked up the story and retweeted it to his 391,212 followers, things then went ballistic, the numbers jumped from 10,000 to 20, 30 and 40,000, and the story started to get away from me. It was popping up on blogs all over the world. I was getting mentions on Twitter at an astonishing rate, and it was starting to get picked up on some of the big news sites. The first was the Guardian Media Monkey.
Then on Saturday, the big time, America woke up to the story and it broke on one of the biggest sites in the world, with an estimated 10m hits a day, The Huffington Post ran the story, with my picture, and a credit linking into my Twitter profile. With the hits peaking at 57,000 they started to trail off as the story no longer belonged to me, a Google or Twitter search on 'headline headghgh' listed hundreds of stories. People claiming to have broke the story, taken the picture or that is was a fake! The Huffington Post was calling it a 'Twitter Sensation', and it really felt like it was.
The whole thing was exhilarating, there were times when I felt bad for the newspaper I must be honest, but an interesting and more serious story started to emerge from all of the frivolity. Apparently the Johnston Press Group that owns the paper has recently made a large number of sub-editors redundant and replaced them with a new system called Atex. This allows journalists to place their own headlines straight onto the paper, and apparently it's been causing problems all over the place. You can read more about that here. My story was starting to be used as leverage in a campaign against JP bosses, and was beginning to be heard by the right people. So, gratefully I decided something positive was starting to come out of it.
That night, laying in bed thinking about the whole debacle, I was trying to think of ways I could have monetized the image rights, and made some money, but it was to late now. But just maybe, in the aftermath of the story I thought I'd better be the person to make the official 'Headline headghgh' TShirt. With a new found optimism I figured you never know how big something's going to be and went ahead and did it, now, you can buy an official 'headline headghgh' tshirt from Mysoti.
So that, I suppose was my 15 minutes, it's dragging on now, and everyone's bored of hearing me go on about it, but I still think it's absolutely fascinating how one day you can take a picture on your phone in your home, and 2 days later it's worldwide being looked at by millions of people. If you think something's interesting then there's a million other people who'll agree with you, you've just got to find your own way of getting it out there, just don't get obsessed with looking for it, it'll find you.