My Tweet Went Viral — Here’s What I Learned

By The Numbers

I’m writing this Monday afternoon — three and a half days after publishing. At this time, the tweet has the following metrics:

  • 7,524,411 impressions (not unique)
  • 131,154 total engagements
  • 75,697 likes
  • 35,942 retweets
  • 17,821 detail expands
  • 3,609 profile clicks
  • 742 replies
  • 331 link clicks
  • 13 follows (directly from this tweet — my actual follower count has grown by about 150, but I don’t expect those followers to remain for long)

Managing Notifications

When I woke to the 374 notifications on Friday morning, it triggered a message from Twitter saying something along the lines of “One of your tweets is getting a lot of attention — would you like to change your notification settings?” Following this, I was directed to the notification settings’ advanced filters, where the app specifically directed me to disable notifications from users who don’t follow me. This immediately reduced the flood of notifications to a more manageable level. At this point, I only saw when my immediate network interacted with the tweet (or interacted with me otherwise). The only exceptions where when someone followed me before liking or retweeting, and a few notifications that people I follow (but don’t follow me) where interacting with the tweet. This was a few notifications an hour, instead of a steady flow.

Managing Abuse

My first concern, after seeing this tweet become viral, was dealing with the imminent trolls and homophobic responses. That was the most stressful thought about the whole experience. Luckily, there wasn’t much abuse to deal with.

Why Did The Tweet Go Viral?

I don’t think there is a formula in this case. I think there were a few factors that contributed, although I don’t have quantifiable data to confirm.

Key Takeaways

Again, I really can’t provide a formula to make a tweet viral. My best guesses, summarized from above are:

  1. Your followers need to be responsive to the tweet and help it start its initial momentum.
  2. The content of the tweet has to be very relevant to a wider audience.
  3. If someone else had made the same take before me, my tweet would not have spread as it did.
  4. The way the content was structured in making it safe for others to share, or at least successful in avoiding abuse.
  5. When I tweeted it helped.

How Did It Feel?

Honestly, it was largely stressful. Watching the numbers grow was exciting, but it felt a lot like a very long rollercoaster ride. It helped when I saw that there wasn’t a lot of abuse or negative responses. At least, at that point, I felt like I would not be hurt on the ride.

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Alex Hosselet

Alex Hosselet

211 Followers

Alex is a digital marketer, community volunteer, and cat enthusiast living in Ottawa, Canada.