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J.K. Rowling Uses Twitter Puzzle to Excite Fans
October 15, 2014
It’s been over three years since the final installment of the Harry Potter movie series was released in theaters. Some would argue that the world of Harry Potter will take much longer than this to become irrelevant. But J.K. Rowling is making sure not to leave that to chance.
Last week the world renowned author tweeted vaguely about how she was busy working on a novel and a screenplay. She followed it up with a cryptic tweet for her 4 million followers to ponder. Over the next day or two, she received and replied to many fan tweets trying to decipher the hidden message, and hopefully reveal the subject of her current works. She proceeded to reveal a few hints in later tweets, and confirmed that one tweeter correctly deciphered the original anagram. Always thinking one step ahead, the solved anagram does not give away the subject, it simply sends fans in the proper direction to further speculate and get excited about work to come. She teases followers about the possibility of a second riddle, only to then say she is too busy finishing said work!
Using Twitter as her outlet for the “announcement” shows that not only does J.K. Rowling understand her audience, but she understands the power of social media as a public relations tool.
In reference to her audience, the Harry Potter books were published during the childhood of the current “millennial” generation. As a member of this generation, I can certainly confirm that the series was a major part of me and my classmates’ lives growing up. We also happen to be the generation dominating social media, smart phones, and technology. By using Twitter, J.K. Rowling ensured she would reach her original, loyal fan base.
Not only did she ensure that her millions of followers would see the announcement, but that it would have unlimited potential. With each person who replies or retweets, there is an opportunity for the original tweet to be seen by their network of followers, which likely includes many tweeters who do not follow J.K. Rowling’s account. The original anagram had 21,000 retweets, and the solved anagram had just under 7000.
These retweets and replies exemplify the strong opportunity social media provides for engagement. Instead of simply sending a press release to the traditional media, using Twitter gave fans and followers the opportunity to be involved in her news. In a world where everyone is in a hurry, with short attention spans, engagement is key to staying relevant. It keeps people thinking about it, and discussing it, likely spreading the news even more. Rowling took it one step further by actually replying individually to people trying to solve the riddle, showing fans that they matter and she is listening.
This week happens to be Harry Potter Week on the popular ABC Family network, which will surely continue the revival of buzz. Coincidence or not, the timing is ideal. Well done J.K. Rowling, for once again keeping the world on the edge of their seats, anxiously anticipating what’s next in the fictional wizarding world.