How to go viral (or the tweet that wouldn’t die)

How to go viral (or the tweet that wouldn’t die)

I’ve never really been wild about Twitter, possibly because I’m a touch verbose by nature.

For me, that 140-character limit feels like squeezing into jeans that are too tight, and I end up with a wordy muffin top.

A while back I found this on the web, and tweeted it on a whim.

Middle-class-graffiti-is-brutal
(Since tweeting it I’ve traced the image back to @shitlondon. My hearty apologies for not crediting them.)

As with most of my posts, it got a few retweets and likes.

And then BOOM, it went (a bit) crazy.

At last count the original pic had been retweeted more than 2000 times and favourited more than a thousand.

Viral Tweet

But it also got retweeted by:

  • @thepoke (which is odd seeing as I discovered they posted the pic themselves back in 2013)
  • @minniedriver (yes the actress)
  • @davidschneider (one of my Twitter heroes)
  • a few other famous types.

So their tweets got retweeted and then those got retweeted and so on and on.

The result

In measurable terms, this single post earned me around 250 new followers on Twitter. I also noticed an increaselearn-copywriting-courses in my Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn connections.

Of course, the new followers then retweeted other older posts, and many visited my site (my traffic was up 30% last week from new visitors). A lot of them also downloaded my SEO checklist and Copy deck template, which have associated tweets to download.

On the non-measureable (but rather lovely) side, I’ve enjoyed connecting with lots of new people who have a similar sense of humour, and I’ve found some great new accounts to follow.

How to go viral?

Having since read a few posts (okay, one) on how to go viral, the general advice seems to be:

  • Focus on current events – Well, I didn’t do that. The image I tweeted is a year old.
  • Make a video – Erm, no.
  • Pay attention to keywords and tags – I didn’t.
  • Get noticed by someone big – What dumb advice! Surely that’s luck. (Although getting retweeted by the big boys for sure was the key to my success.)
  • Start a contest – N/A
  • Use humour – Tick! The picture was funny, and I guess my tweet was funny too.
  • Be shocking and controversial: Nup.
  • Use photos and visual content: Yup.
  • Submit to Reddit: I’m still not really into Reddit, so I didn’t do this.
  • Don’t be boring: Again, stupid advice. If you’re boring you probably don’t know it, right?

So why did I go viral?

Obviously 2000 retweets isn’t that earth shattering, but it’s nice for little old me. How did I do it? Well I could spin you some bullshit about a social media strategy, but the truth is I post random stuff and this time I got lucky.

I’ve posted far funnier things since that no-one has noticed.

The only thing I think that did work in my favour was the timing of the post. I posted it late at night in Australia, which meant it hit the UK twitter feeds in the early morning.

Or perhaps my English sense of humour shone through?

Over to you

Have you ever had anything go viral? What do you think was the key factor? Please comment below.

Did you like this post?

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