To friends, family and colleagues, my Twitter account for James Bond The Dog has been my geeky obsession over the past few years. Back in 2010, the world found out about it thanks to a local Savannah story that was picked up by CNN and media outlets around the globe.

In case you missed it, the story came to life around my talk at the BarkWorld conference and the fictional Twitter character I developed based on my dog. The video coverage also featured my inspiration for the account and character, my dog, James Bond, who howled and posed for the cameras.

As the story spread from Savannah to the nation and around the world thanks to CNN, I found myself caught up in a perfect viral storm — and I never used the word “viral.” The day the story went live on, I had over 350 direct @replies to @JamesBondTheDog. I should note that I did respond to everyone on that day and the days following.

Since I’ve had the character rolling for awhile, I was caught by surprise when this took off, so I’ve thought a lot about why it was popular and I think there are some learnings here:

  1. There was a reason for the story. The BarkWorld conference and the fact that GMC was kind enough to sponsor our drive to the conference made everything relevant.
  2. The timing was right. Savannah news outlets interviewed me on a Friday morning, setting the stage for some fun, lighthearted news for the weekend.
  3. The joke is that if you put a cute cat or dog in something online, it will take off. But of course that’s not always the case. I know plenty of fun cat and dog related Twitter accounts that aren’t as well followed as they could be. There has to be more to it, and that’s in the content.
  4. Content is important. If you put out interesting content, people will pay attention. Stick to it.
  5. Conversation is important. Why get involved in social media if you’re not going to be social? Replying to those 350+ folks on that first day of this story went a long way.
  6. People are looking for a break. They’re looking for a break from their busy lives and from bad news. If you can do something that puts a smile on someone’s face or gives them a laugh, you’ve taken your first step to content that gets clicks.

Some of you may still wondering why I chose this outlet. People have asked me if it’s to make money. The answer is no. People have asked me if it’s a literal story of what my dog is up to. Again, the answer is no. The bottom line is I do this because it’s fun. I’m also passionate about storytelling, which is essentially what I’m doing with the account. Twitter adds different twists to the storytelling process, something that keeps me on my toes and something I spoke about at TEDx.