“Yeah…who’s that bloke with Puffles?”


You know your social media persona has made it when…exactly.

Just a short half-sober blogpost after arriving back on the right side of 2am on a Saturday morning.

I turned up to @KayGeeUK ‘s party a short stumble from Kings Cross to find the biggest gathering of the #PuffleMassiv this side of #PufflesCamp2011. It was kind of surreal being in a venue full of people who were more than familiar with me – or rather my Twitter persona that is Puffles the dragon fairy.  And what a splendid evening it was!

I can’t say I was best pleased with the cost of the train tickets – but I seldom am this side of the Channel. But it was more than worth it. There were a host of people I had not seen for over a year, along with a number who I had interacted with but had not met face-to-face. Nearly all had not seen the ‘cuddly toy’ version of Puffles – who is one of the best ‘ice breakers’ I have ever stumbled across. In a venue full of social media users, pretty much everyone ‘got’ Puffles – either because they were followers, had seen tweets or knew more than enough people who were either of the former.

It was a textbook example too of how people are able to use social media to filter great people into their lives (as well as filtering out the bad people too). I may not have been familiar with faces, but I was more than familiar with most of the Twitter usernames. And vice-versa. When I turned up with Puffles in arms, the general reaction was ‘Yeah…who’s that bloke with Puffles?’ – or words to that effect. People knew who Puffles was, but they weren’t so sure with me until I told them I was ‘Puffles’ Bestest Buddy’. (Which is how I style myself in Puffles’ tweets.)

I’m used to the random questions I get from members of the public – normally from the self-confident middle-class types (but not always). Today was no different.

“Aren’t you embarrassed carrying that around with you? He is lovely though!”

said one. It was only when I explained the basics of Puffles on Twitter that things made sense to them.

Is it attention-seeking? Of course! But at the same time it’s a huge amount of FUN. As I was discussing with a number of people this evening, the people who get the most out of social media are the ones who use social media for fun. Those that read social media strategies tend to be the people who don’t use social media – and vice-versa. With the latter, we just ‘get it’ and get on with it. The problem is trying to explain it to those who don’t – often higher up in organisations and on far more money than the likes of me could ever hope to be on. Hence having to write strategies for them in order to help them assess and cope with the risks associated with it.

I’m not going to pretend there aren’t risks – there are, and they are potentially huge. The bigger they are, the harder they fall and all that. Not being part of, and accountable within a large institution means that I’m far less risk-averse than I was just over a year ago. It also means that I can laugh in the face of organisations that take an unreasonable but understandably cautious approach to social media. i.e. One where every post has to be approved by the director of communications.

This makes me wonder about the future of communications’ departments. Will we move from a ‘command and control’ method of engaging with the public to one where the communications department is a hub of expertise to deal with the big or the difficult stuff, leaving the rest of the staff to engage with the public in their areas of expertise? I’d like to think so.

Puffles (*waves*) nighty night.



4 thoughts on ““Yeah…who’s that bloke with Puffles?”

  1. I think you have become what should be the textbook example of creating an online persona that fools no-one (well, apart from Catherine, perhaps…) but that enables you to create a tiny amount of anonymising distance between the real-you and Internet-you. Puffles is Internet-famous; you are famous only as Puffles’ Bestest Buddy, and yet if you go to a social media event in the bricks-and-mortar world, everyone knows who you are – you’re the bloke with Puffles.

    It’s quite brilliant.

    *scritches Puffles and offers jelly-bellies*

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