Recently, thanks to a retweet from the Bloggess, one of my tweets went viral:
The tweet gained further steam when Buzzfeed embedded it in an article.
First, the story behind the tweet:
It was 1999 and I’d just moved to New York City to try to be a writer-musician-something-or-other. I didn’t have a job yet, so I visited a staffing agency that specialized in editorial work. They had me fill out a job application and one of the questions was “where are you willing to work?” Easy question, right? I wrote that I was willing to travel to all five New York boroughs.
EXCEPT. I had never actually written the word “borough” before and did not know how to spell it. So my answer came out like this:
“Any of the five boros boroughs bouroughs.”
Remember, I was seeking an editorial job — something writer-y that would require basic spelling skills. The nice lady interviewing me took one glance at my application and I knew I was toast. We went through the motions of a “job interview” and then she stood up to shake my hand and say goodbye. (In my tweet I might have embellished the number of people I shook hands with; it’s hard to remember exactly.)
And that’s when I tried to make a hasty exit, only to open a door and be confronted by a closet full of coats. There was nothing to do but back up and close the door.
“I bet that happens all the time!” I said.
“No, you’re the first,” the nice lady said.
Thinking back, I am pretty sure that the coat closet was very clearly a coat closet. It was not a door that was adjacent and identical to the actual exit. It was more like a freestanding, wood-paneled wardrobe, and I walked right on in.
I did not get called back.
Now… the tweet. Previously, none of my nearly 8,000 tweets — since 2007! — had gained the attention of more than a few IRL friends and Twitter acquaintances. I’m (mostly) fine with this, although I have a big enough ego to secretly long for Twitter fame and feel like a failure for not having achieved it.
It was surreal when I started seeing my notifications go haywire. The first thing I did was turn off email notifications, because I’d seen what can happen to other suddenly-Twitter-famous, as I was sure I was destined to be.
Overnight, the retweets poured in. At work the next day, someone posted to our team Slack channel a link to the Buzzfeed article — and only afterward did anyone (myself included) notice that my tweet had been embedded there. That led to TONS more activity for about a week. (Side note: Twitter changed their stars into hearts right in the middle of this. It was weird.)
I’d always kind of hoped something like this would happen, but I was mostly detached and numb to the experience when it actually did. It was a throwaway tweet, composed while my son was talking my ear off about dinosaurs. (Bad daddy!)
I was more interested in the data behind a viral tweet. Do retweets attract new followers? Was I going to finally be Twitter-famous? (Not really, and hell no.)
We’ll start with the raw data, as of today:
Total engagements 2,260
Detail expands 913
Profile clicks 88
Link clicks 1
The “Follows” row means that someone followed me directly from the tweet. That’s uncommon; people are more likely to view your profile and then decide whether to follow. In reality I picked up approximately 35 new followers.
So, less than one tenth of one percent (0.06%) of people who saw the tweet followed me as a result. (0.01% followed directly from the tweet itself.)
3.89% of people who saw the tweet “engaged” with it in some way. This could be a fav/like, retweet, reply, mention, etc.
1.55% of people who saw the tweet favorited or liked it.
0.58% of people who saw the tweet retweeted it.
0.15% of people who saw the tweet viewed my profile.
The tweet is still getting several engagements per day, but the trajectory has slowed considerably.
AND. I. AM. SICK. OF. THIS. TWEET.
It was fun for awhile, but now I’m much more excited when a tweet other than this one gets any kind of activity. It’s taught me another lesson about the value of having a tight circle of friends compared to a mass of strangers.
However, the momentum may get another boost. Someone from Buzzfeed contacted me to ask permission to use it in a video. I have no idea what that means, but I said yes. I’ll update this post if anything happens. Also, thank you Bloggess!