What does it mean when a tweet goes ‘viral’ on Twitter? The common interpretation of viral is something that is shared repeatedly until it gains a huge amount of attention and ‘likes’ across the world wide web.
With its retweet function, Twitter was almost made for the sharing of appealing content, and for this reason there are plenty of good examples of tweets that have gone viral. As we can see from the tweets below, there are certain key ingredients that make tweets shareable:
1. Ellen DeGeneres – ‘Oscars Tweet’
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
High profile celebrities’ tweets always have a better chance of going viral than your average tweeters’ output, because of course, they already have millions of followers. Still, some celebrities are better than others at playing the Twitter game, and it wasn’t surprising to see this tweet from comedian Ellen DeGeneres rocket to three million tweets and two million ‘likes’.
Aside from being tweeted by a household name celebrity in the US, this tweet teaches us that photos, especially when they feature famous faces, are very effective.2. Leonard Nimoy – ‘A life is like a garden tweet’
2. Leonard Nimoy – ‘A Life is Like a Garden Tweet’
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
There are plenty of ‘conscious’ tweeters – those posters that enjoy mulling over the deeper aspects of our existence, handing out life advice or simply getting in touch with their own feelings over the web. The conscious tweets that go viral are the ones which strike a cord, which the late actor Leonard Nimoy clearly did after picking up a quarter of a million retweets for his musing on life’s similarity to a garden.
What helps with this tweet is its originality, rather than a phrase borrowed from a famous philosopher or high profile figure and photoshopped on to a meme, Nimoy came up with this cleverly put observation by himself. The Twittersphere lapped it up when Nimoy died just days later, and this ended up being his final tweet.
3. National Geographic Photography – ‘Submerged and Suspended Tweet’
— Nat Geo Photography (@NatGeoPhotos) February 12, 2015
When a normal magazine tweets, they might be satisfied or pleasantly surprised by between 10 to 20 retweets. When National Geographic posts its photographs, hundreds are the norm – which can certainly be labelled viral in the context of the media.
The stunning nature and wildlife snaps that the publication posts transport us to another world momentarily. For a generation to whom many the desk and chair computer set up has become an over familiar setting of working life, photographs with natural beauty have the ability to remind us there is a whole world beyond the office walls, adding a lot of shareability to such tweets.
4. Best Vines – ‘Dog Walking to School Tweet’
Nothing to see here just walking my dog to school https://t.co/4D9cNzdpNZ
— Best Vines (@TheFunnyVine) December 6, 2015
Some Twitter accounts, such as Best Vines, appear to have been created with the sole intention of posting shareable content. The Vine, an easily embedded short video clip, allows viewers to watch video content as the scan down their Twitter home feed, without the need to navigate to another website.
This tweet exemplifies what the best Vines are all about – something out of the ordinary or funny, that we might want to watch for the second and third time. Animals make for an endearing subject matter when it comes to Vines, especially when they are put in situations you wouldn’t see them in usually – such as in this altogether flabbergasting tweet!
5. Chris Hadfield – ‘Space Oddity Tweet’
While it is likely that the original tweet is not available on the web due to previous legal complications, there are millions of people that adored Space Commander Chris Hadfield’s rendition of David Bowie’s hit ‘Space Oddity’ from the International Space Station, a YouTube video of which was tweeted.
The tweet went viral exceptionally quickly, attracting 90% of its shares in the three days after it was posted.
Aside from being an incredible sight – it’s not every day you see an astronaut floating in mid air with a guitar – the video was picked up by key influencers, celebrities and the like, who helped spread the word. It also demonstrates the power of video, with Vine clips and YouTube vids potentially having more impact than photos.