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How Stephen Fry embraced web 2.0, the world and generation Y

Posted by hannahflynn on December 7, 2008

There were murmurs in the maglab that if you followed Stephen Fry on Twitter he would follow you. I didn’t quite believe it, but as a member of Stephen Fry’s Proxy Friendship Group on Facebook I thought I would be a fool to ignore the possible intimacy of a ‘Twitter follow’ from the man himself, so I looked him up and… followed*. 

Sure enough a week or so later, I checked my ‘followers’ and Fry himself was listed among them. But that is not the end of the story. Anyone who has decided to amuse themselves by following Fry will have been taken to Indonesia, Soho and New York and back over the last couple of weeks with not only his wonderfully verbose use of 140 characters but also his use of twitpix. He has also done some cleverest stuff I have seen so far with hashtags.

Anyone who has read Dork Talk is well aware that Fry is a web 2.0 addict, he refers to his relaunched webpage as www.stephenfry.com 2.0 which is littered with, amongst other things: a blog, status updates, ‘podgrames’ and fora.

While Stephen Fry is not purely a journalist, journalists-as-brands could learn a lot from the way Fry has tackled the web. As a current JOMEC student I can merely dream of the number of followers a brand like Fry has, but a not particularly long look at his web presence does offer an insight into how he has done it:

1) Link it all up. The website shows his Twitter updates and hosts his blog which links to his Guardian column. His Facebook group links to the website, as does his Twitter. The list could go on…

2) Write what you know. Yes, it is a lot less interesting if you are not a crowned member of the glitterazi, but its worth considering this old maxim from time to time when trying to carve your niche in the big wide web.

3) Update regularly. He has short sharp blog posts and provides a running stream of commentary on his status updates, which lots of people comment on. Though some people I know have stopped following Fry on Twitter due to the frequency of his updates, leading to a kind of Twitter-swarm…

4) Be a bit middle-class. People are far more likely to actively subscribe to and participate in your content (ie. comment) if they are able to fork out for a broadband connection. Without wanting to make sweeping statements, I imagine the Stephen Fry fan demographic are.

5) Be linked to a reputable news source. Obvious and difficult, but the column Fry has in the Guardian does lend a kudos to his other material.

*We need to come up with a verb meaning ‘to follow on Twitter’. You can Facebook someone but can you Twitter them?


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