Twitter is hard. That’s why many people don’t understand it, and inevitably choose to ignore it.
I use Twitter as a marketing tool. It’s a great way to meet like-minded individuals in your niche, build a loyal following, and gain exposure for your brand.
I enjoy it so much that I used to do a weekly roundup of the “Best Tweets of the Week”. (unfortunately, once my blog grew into something more meaningful I had to devote my time and resources on more important projects)
Part of what makes Twitter so appealing is the opportunity to gain instant virality at any moment and have your tweet seen by thousands, sometimes even millions of people. (also, winning free swag is nice)
One day, this happened to me.
My tweet was seen by over 150,000 people and received nearly 20,000 engagements.
To start, let’s take a look at the tweet that went viral.
— Patrick Antinozzi (@pattitudez) April 15, 2016
How my tweet went viral
I love hockey, and watch a fair amount of it. Particularly in the playoffs in the spring. (because nothing is better than NHL playoffs, DON’T ARGUE WITH ME)
One of the things Twitter is used most for is live sports highlights. Many users stream the games on their computer, and will GIF highlights and post them on Twitter for all to see. Occasionally, when I’m in the mood, I’ll do the same. I mean, I’m watching the game anyway, so why not make some interesting tweets out of it?
While watching this particular game, I noticed this funny moment, made a GIF out of it, and tweeted it.
I don’t have a ton of followers so, in order to have it seen by more people, I used a couple of the official hashtags for the game.
It worked, to a certain degree. I had received about 50 engagements (likes and retweets) after about 10 mins. But then it tapered off, and it seemed like that’s about all I was going to get.
I noticed that neither one of them seemed to notice this moment from the game. They hadn’t posted any highlights of it.
So, I sent it to them.
— Patrick Antinozzi (@pattitudez) April 15, 2016
And that’s when it happened. Pete retweeted it to his followers, and the tweet took off.
So, what do we learn from this experience?
5 steps to take to get a tweet to go viral
1. Create original content
This one should be obvious, but many are too lazy to do it. There’s so much regurgitated nonsense on the internet that when people find something unique they are dying to share it.
2. Use the power of images and video
When scrolling through one’s Twitter feed, the tweets that instantly pop out at you are the ones with powerful imagery.
3. Tweet something that evokes an emotional response
This is harder to do than it may seem. Mainly because emotions are incredibly subjective. Tweet things that will likely evoke emotions like humor, sadness, shock, or even anger, when appropriate. These are the types of content people like to share.
In my tweet, humor was the focus.
4. Use relevant hashtags
Hashtags don’t have the same prominence they once had, but they’re still important. While the vast majority of the success of my tweet came down to a retweet from a big user, I still had a good boost from the use of relevant hashtags.
It always helps to have some engagement on a tweet before sending it to an influencer. It shows them that it’s worth sharing with their followers.
5. Engage with influencers
In my example, my tweet was a funny hockey GIF. I knew two Twitter users with large followings of people who love hockey GIFs. So I sent my content to them to see if they’d like to share it with their followers.
This is the most important step in this process. Without the help of Pete’s retweet, my tweet never would have gotten the exposure I felt it deserved.
Don’t beg. Be polite, humble, and funny.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Well if you have the so-called blueprint for viral tweets then why can’t you do this again PATRICK?”
The reality is, you can never predict what will go viral. There’s always a bit of random luck involved. These 5 steps certainly won’t guarantee that your tweet will go viral, but they will definitely improve your odds.
I’ve used them repeatedly with some pretty decent success. (never to the point of that tweet, yet)
— Patrick Antinozzi (@pattitudez) April 29, 2016
— Patrick Antinozzi (@pattitudez) July 11, 2016
“haha for real though did the top stop spinning or what” pic.twitter.com/P5n31AzOtn
— Patrick Antinozzi (@pattitudez) September 26, 2016
Measuring the true success of these viral tweets can a bit difficult. It’s true that I’m not in the hockey industry. None of these tweets have anything to do with my target market: small business web design and online marketing.
Some things it does accomplish:
- It proves I know what I’m talking about when I preach to others about gaining attention on social media.
- I’ve gained some great back links and exposure on prominent online publications.
- I had fun.
What’s your most popular tweet ever? Send it to me in the comments!