What I learned from having a Tweet go viral.

Updated: Sep 26, 2019


One Sunday afternoon, not too long ago, I tweeted something that was on my mind (as you do). I'd been thinking about relationships and friendships, and how scarce and valuable it is to spend time with someone who puts away their phone and gives you all of their attention. This is what I tweeted:

I once dated a guy who was fully present every single time we saw each other. There, totally. It didn't work out for different reasons, but I'll never forget that feeling. Do that for people, it's scarce and valuable.

Over the next few days, the tweet blew up, only really slowing down in likes and retweets about a week after. As you can see here, it was liked 2448 times and retweeted 1162 times, and 265 905 people saw the tweet on their timeline. It spread like wildfire. These are some of the things I learned from this experience:

You can't plan a viral tweet.

I often hear people in advertising talk about writing viral content, ideas for viral content, and 'making something go viral'. I'm sorry to say, this is not something you can plan. You can't manipulate the system. People are going to like what they like, and sometimes, as is the case with this tweet, it doesn't even make all that much sense that a tweet like this would go viral over other content. 

You can make the best of it when it happens.

I had launched our new website a few days before this happened. I'd always seen people promoting their links in tweets attached to their viral tweets, and thought it was probably a huge waste of time. Despite this, I thought I may as well try, so I added to the tweet. The website had a substantial number of hits from this second tweet, I was pleasantly surprised:


Don't feed the trolls.

I was a little taken aback at some of the nasty comments posted. It amazes me that someone can take a purely innocent, mostly positive tweet, and turn it into something ugly. There are people who hide behind the anonymity that Twitter provides. They never have anything good to say, and those people are usually the most expressive. I learned very quickly that ignoring them and moving on, is the only course of action. What you don't feed, dies, and not feeding the trolls is the only way to preserve your sanity. On that note, the thought crossed my mind that celebrities probably don't read any of the tweets people send them. Donald Trump has no idea that people are constantly telling him off. Well, he probably knows, after all, he knows everything; but when there's a flood of notifications, it's easier to just mute it and ignore all of it. 

People long for connection.

I suspect that the reason the tweet was so popular is that it speaks to people's need for connection and belonging. We have lost the art of communication. People don't honour one another by giving their full attention anymore. Everyone is distracted. It's particularly evident when you meet someone who has the ability to make you feel like you're the most important person in the world, even if it's just for that moment. I want to make people feel that way. I fail daily, but it's a worthy pursuit nonetheless. Are you with me? Will you make the people you spend time with today feel valued by giving them your full attention?

My biggest takeaway from this is that none of it really matters. It's nice to feel important, or that people liked what you said, but what really matters is the one person in front of you. That's what counts. 


Until next time, Marinda

PS: I tweeted this in my personal capacity, as @Marindavz. 

Click here http://www.heatwavestoryagency.com if you would like to read some of the stories I referred to in the tweet.

Johannesburg, South Africa | marinda@heatwavestoryagency.com | +27 83 280 4468
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