Playful Twitter accounts and the socialisation of literary institutions

Millicent Weber, Beth Driscoll


Humour serves a variety of purposes on social media, from aesthetic content creation and social interaction through to corporate and institutional branding. Playful social media accounts tap into existing knowledge while building and consolidating networks. This article presents a contextualising model of commercial, cultural, and specifically bookish humour on Twitter, addressing such humour’s global reach and local context (Australia). We employ a practice-led approach and report on our creation of two playful Twitter accounts that promote AustLit, a repository of metadata about Australian literature. Quantitative and qualitative analysis demonstrates that scholarly institutions and academics were more likely to follow the pseudo-authoritative, numbers-focused @AustLitCodex account, but that the more broadly popular and engaging format was the enthusiasm of @AustLitTrip (which has a sheepdog persona). These accounts demonstrate the scope for playful Twitter to build audiences for cultural institutions and promote positive, albeit niche, online discussions.


Twitter; Humour; Arts-informed research; Literary communities; Book publishing; Social media

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