Here's the story of having a Tweet go viral
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I made a Tweet that quickly got 3.3+ million impressions, 20,000+ likes, 2,700+ Re-Tweets, and 800,000+ video views.
The tweet was this:
I had just watched
and marveled at how long some of the pauses were.
I made a note on my phone (in Apple Notes) for the timestamps.
The next morning I used Camtasia to make a 30 second video clip of a pause where Elon Musk took 21 seconds to answer.
The video itself looked very still, so I added a countdown timer to show him thinking for 21 seconds.
The video took about 2 minutes to make, I posted it, and thought it would be an average Tweet.
It quickly started getting tons of likes, Re-Tweets, and comments.
The Tweet went viral and the stats looked like this:
Some of these stats are from my Black Magic Twitter Plugin, and some are directly from Twitter.
You can see 98% of the viewership was outside of my audience, meaning it "went viral"
Notable people that liked it were Lex Fridman and Grimes (although I didn't get the Elon like)!
Seems like 12pm and 7pm were strongest hours
The ramp up of impressions happened over a 2 day period
The official Twitter stats say this post brought in 24 new followers, but in reality people poke around your profile then follow you, so it actually brought in 600+ new followers.
Analyzing why this went viral:
When I posted the Tweet, I thought it was "good", but didn't think it would take off.
Here's the elements I think went right for this to go viral:
- Timing & Luck
- Clever video editing
- High "Engagement Rate"
- Early engaging with comments
- Tagging of other big audiences and people
- People retweeting this to their own audiences
Timing & Luck
Let's first acknowledge you can't make a platinum hit each time! I posted this Tweet the morning after this interview came out, just as Lex Fridman's interview itself was going viral. So timing was on point, but by accident.
Clever video editing & subtitles
With social media sometimes people can't watch with sound on, so I added subtitles for when they speak (including a 1/3rd of a second caption for when Elon says "hmm").
The other MAJOR engagement piece is the countdown timer I added. It has seconds and milliseconds which added a bit of intrigue and engagement to the video:
High "Engagement Rate"
There's something weirdly mesmerizing about waiting for the pause to finally be over.
The Tweet itself mentions "21 seconds" and so your brain is waiting for that 21 second moment to see what happens!
This 21 second pause to let @elonmusk think about his answer is why @lexfridman is an amazing interviewer.
It for some reason grabs you till the end, right??
The way Twitter calculates "Engagement Rate" is dividing how much people interact with your post by the total impressions.
It's a simple percentage number like this:
So for example these are low performing Twitter posts with low engagement rates:
Because they are low engagement, Twitter doesn't shows them to other Twitter users as much.
They obviously prefer high engagement post, much like these:
Tweets with higher engagement rates often have content that:
– Is “more shareable”
– Have interesting images or videos people click or watch all the way through (which counts as a “media engagement”).
Since people were watching this Elon video all the way to the end, it showed Twitter this was a highly engaged post.
Early engaging with comments
An easy way to juice your engagement rate in the beginning is comment and reply to your post.
If a few people comment on a post, and you comment back, and they respond back, this can easily generate 20+ more "engagements" on your post, boosting your engagement rate:
10 engagements / 100 views = 10% engagement rate
30 engagements / 100 views = 30% engagement rate
So when I noticed this post rapidly going up in likes/views, I started engaging with all of the commenters, and also started posting some sub-Tweets with more information:
Tagging of big audiences
The other thing helping this Tweet go viral is the tagging of people with large audiences.
Elon Musk has 69 million+ followers, and Lex Fridman has 1 million followers.
By tagging both of them, my Tweet was more likely to be shown to other people who follow those people.
Lex Fridman also "liked" the post, so it starts showing my post to his followers.
This is the cool part about Twitters feed, and why engaging with high profile accounts can boost a Tweet big time.
You can "hitch a ride" on someone's following if they engage with you.
People retweeting this to their own audiences
The absolute best way to "hitch a ride" on someone's audience is a re-Tweet.
This Tweet got "Quote Re-Tweeted" a bunch like this:
Since this Tweet was so "shareable" all these other people outside of my network would Re-Tweet it to their audience, which showed it to a whole new audience, and some of those people Re-Tweeted.....yadda yadda yadda, it went viral!
The results of this Tweet going viral
Here's some results of this going viral:
- Feels kinda cool 🙂
- When I opened Twitter I'd have 100's of new notifications, likes, and Re-Tweets each time
- 600+ new followers
- Friends texting me saying, "Dude I saw your Tweet it went viral!!"
- 85% of the action happened in the first two days
- 15% of the action came after that in random bursts when large accounts would Re-Tweet it and give it some more momentum.
- Lex Fridman
addressing the long pauses (to be fair I'm not sure if this Tweet directly influenced that or not):
Anyways, hope that was an interesting story!
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