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Mystery & Drama

The Mysterious Case of the Semi-Viral Tweet

tweets logo

tweets logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mystery

Before a day or two ago, I had never gotten more than about 10 Re-tweets on any of the over 6000 tweets I have generated since I got started on this mysterious thing called Twitter.  Then, a couple of days ago, I opened my email and found a deluge of Re-tweets of a nondescript tweet of mine that reads like this: Sick of Words and Amazing Dogs Fr Blogger’s Twitter Pal Daily Dec 10 http://bit.ly/1hBAWYf    #LarrysBlog . Over the next several hours, Retweets kept coming in, and at the present time I have received 95 or so of them, and they keep slowly trickling in even today.  Okay, 95 is not an avalanche of anything let alone tweets, but for me it is noteworthy. Where are they coming from?  Well, from all over the place including The UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, and the US of A.

What Does the Tweet Mean?

I’ve been putting out tweets daily for the last two months which are invitations to see what I consider to be the top posts of the day from my Twitter List of Writer Friends. I pick the top 4 posts from 100-140 posts generated from my List that numbers 1000 followers. Paper-li gathers the posts in newspaper format and categorizes them for me for my daily newpaper called Blogger’s Twitter Pal Daily.  I curate the posts, looking for what I consider to be compelling content. Then I write up my tweet, hoping to get people to click on the link that brings them to my blog where they can link further to the 4 top posts. I try to come up with tweet language that will draw people in, of course. So, the tweet above mentions the subject matter of two of the top posts: 1) a post called: Words! Words! Words! I’m So Sick of Words by Margot Kinberg, a post about writing matters, and  2) a post called: 5 Tales of Amazing Dog Heroics by CNN. #LarrysBlog is a hashtag I use to collect all my tweets.

English: The content of tweets on Twitter, bas...

English: The content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who Would Re-tweet Such a Tweet?  (And in fact, did)

Followers retweet for lots of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with actually clicking on the link within the tweet and exploring the subject matter. Of the 95 plus re-tweets I’ve received, only a handful (20) represented followers who clicked on the link and thus generated a hit 0n my blog.  The rest had their own reasons, but I must conclude they hoped to benefit in some way from re-tweeting. How? By hoping that I or someone else would go to the trouble of trying to find out who they are, and in so doing, reveal themselves as sellers of something like their artwork, photos, etsy crafts, purveyors of erotica, or as writers, philosophers, etc., which is in fact who they are.  They may have wished to simply support me by retweeting (but I don’t recognize any of the Twitter handles).

How Did They Find My Tweet to Begin With?

Personally, I don’t pay any attention to the  torrent of tweets that fly by on my Twitter Time Line or whatever it’s called (and I don’t believe anyone else does either). It’s a blur of tweets. I follow a shorter list of posters on TweetDeck, and re-tweet off of that list. I belong to Triberr and re-tweet there.  I also re-tweet randomly if I’m moved to do so. People can discover tweets of interest to them  within hashtags they explore, or as a trending hashtag, or if somebody else tells them about the tweet. But, this is the big mystery to me: Why did 95 Twitter users re-tweet my tweet? Have any ideas  how this could come about? I’d like to know just out of curiosity, and out of wanting to understand Twitter better.

Help Me Understand and Win a Prize

I’m giving away a free copy of my thriller novel A Bridge to Treachery to the one reader who best explains this phenomenon to me by February 5, 2014.






Add a Comment
  1. I want to say well done Larry, but it would be good to know why it happened. It may be that the titles hit a keyword people were looking for. Or one of your triberr tweeps who have a big following RT’d it? This hasn’t happened to me on twitter, but it did happen to me my author facebook page – I suddenly got 120 ‘likes ‘in one day – but when I went in to see who they were, all of their FB pages were filled with links to coupon products. Why they picked me I don’t know, but tedious as it was, I blocked all of them. Call me naive as it would have doubled my ‘likes’, but I just felt I didn’t want to be associated with them, and felt wary of what scam it might lead to. it seems like you have checked out their twitter pages , so if they look like genuine people, then it’s probably fine, rather than a scam I’m not aware of. You may well have just hit the right word, but I think the more likely scenario is a big hitter RT’d it and it went from there. I’ll be interested to hear what others have to say.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..Author in Focus: Ernest Hemingway and the Iceberg EffectMy Profile

  2. Thanks very much for the kind mention. My guess is that there’s a bit of luck involved. Someone (or a few someones) with a large, large following tweeted originally, and it was picked up by a great number of people. I wish I could be more exact about it all, but that’s roughly what I think happens.

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