Or how we exploited social media to change the world…

Less than a month ago, fellow journalist Linda Jones asked me to join her on a project to raise money for Comic Relief using the medium of Twitter. What a rollercoaster it has been!

By harnessing Twitter, we somehow managed to create an entire book from scratch in less than four weeks. Our first, tentative tweets were picked up by friends and followers and spread far and wide across the Twitterverse. Through Twitter, we invited bloggers and writers to send us their comedy writing. We assembled a panel of esteemed and experienced judges.We found a blogger, a web maestro, a production coordinator and a cover designer. PR officers offered us their services to boost media attention, and wire services distributed our press releases without charge. And so on.

We set up a blog as a focal point, and our own special Twitterfeed, @tweehee, plus we used the #twittertitters hashtag to make it easy for anyone searching Twitter to see what was going on across the whole of Twitter for the project. There is also a Facebook group.

Almost everything that unfolded was directly through Twitter. Some stuff happened indirectly, such as comic scriptwriters and stand-up comedians Dave Spikey (co-creator of Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights) and Nat Coombs (writer of internet TV sitcom Chelsey: OMG!), who got involved because their “people” were on Twitter. All well and good, because the point (apart from raising lots of money) was to see how quickly and how far Twitter could be exploited to put the word out in order to do some good. And it certainly could be done.

We received more than 70 submissions by our deadline – blog posts, short stories, poems, monologues, scripts… Our judges had just a week to read through everything and whittle them down into a shortlist before the final selection was made. It was very hard for them as the standard of the writing we received was phenomenally high. With 12 winning entries selected, the next job was to edit the book and I had just a weekend in which to do it – not just the tidying up of typos and punctuation and so on, but the very tough task of deciding the running order of the content. So many different styles of humour and of writing – it all had to flow smoothly. Creating the book template was fraught with problems, as was uploading everything onto Lulu, as our production coordinator discovered. Throughout this whole process, we all tweeted regularly every day to keep the momentum going and inform the Twitterverse of our progress. And Linda beavered away behind the scenes to generate wider interest.

The book went live on Tuesday afternoon and you can buy it here. Every penny of the profits goes directly to Comic Relief. We were chuffed to bits to discover we sold 35 copies in the first three hours.

But it’s not over yet. We still have nine days until Red Nose Day. Nine days in which to keep tweeting to sell the book. Even after that, we’ll still be tweeting to remind people that there’s a book available full of hilarious writing that could help save people’s lives.

I’ve barely touched on a lot of what we actually did. But I’m proud that we made a book in less than a month and did it almost entirely through harnessing the power of social networking platforms. We missed a few tricks – a little more time at the start to plan a bit would have meant thinking of other platforms we could use, such as Digg and Stumble Upon, although supporters of the project are using them now.

The real measure of our success will be counted in how many books we sell and how much money we raise for Comic Relief. That’ll take a while to tot up.

In the meantime, please buy TwitterTitters – we promise you will not be disappointed and it will put a smile on your face. Follow us on Twitter and read the blog for all the dirty details of what we’re up to.

And, if you don’t mind, I’m off for a sleep now, before the next round of tweeting begins…