Social Media goes Viral – the power of the ReTweet or RT

A Social Media Case Study.

This is a case study to illustrate, in real numbers, exactly what can happen when an item or post on your site is of interest to the community and network you have created on Twitter showing just what can happen when social media is put into practice and becomes an effective traffic source.

Basically when a post or piece of information goes viral in social media it is viewed by the community to be valuable enough in itself or from a trusted source that they make the decision to send broadcast this information via a ReTweet or RT to their own followers essentially creating a snowball effect as it is retransmitted again and again.

The “My Favourite Tweet” Case Study.

On Thursday the 14th of May I was on twitter and working on a client project (late in the evening). Innocent enough day as it went.  While scanning the tweets coming in I happened across one by @mattuk saying:

“Want to find out who has your Tweets as their favourites? – Replace my name with yours

10:30 PM May 14th from web”

I was curious.

I tested it out myself and sure enough saw that a few of my tweets had been made favourites by people. I added this tweet to my favourites as well and decided it was interesting enough to write a post about on my blog, for the record, giving @Mattuk full credit for the discovery.

Nothing happened until the morning of Sunday the 16th. I was finishing of some work and making plans for the rest of my Sunday afternoon and chatting on Twitter with some folks when @mayhemstudios made this tweet.

“FYI: If you missed any of my Tweets. Look on my Twitter profile Favourites. All bookmarked there. :)

about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck” (approximately 12 noon GMT+1 time)

This immediately made me think of the post I had wrote about displaying all the tweets people have added to favourites on my blog so I sent this tweet to @mayhemstudios (real name Calvin Lee – check out his blog Mayhem Studios!):

@mayhemstudios Or get the tweets most people have added to favourites by trying this:

about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to mayhemstudios” (just a few minutes after @mayhemstudios post).

I only sent Calvin the information as it was relevant to the subject he was talking about and afforded him another way of displaying his tweets that others have made their favourites as a search result and a favourite in the familiar Google SERPs, but specifically because it allowed Calvin to see the favourites that other people had decided where of importance to them and thus retained them for future reference.

Calvin decided that this tip on my post was worth a ReTweet and sent it out to his network of 23,724 followers. From that point on the tweet with the link to my blog spread rapidly as more and more people found value in it and retweeted the information to their own networks. The tweet went viral.

Helping the tweet go viral I noticed two important twitters who where quick to retweet the message, these where @smashingmag and @mr_gadget, both of whom have  35,957k followers and 52,811k followers respectively.

I realised that others where Retweeting Calvins message as my name was still embedded within, @justinparks, and that every time it was being rebroadcast I saw my @reply column in TweetDeck add a new face I decided to track what was going on and measure the effect with Woopra, a live statistics application I have installed on my blog.

Over the next few hours my traffic rocketed in comparison to previous numbers. On any typical day I will usually get an average of 80 visitors to a variety of different posts but today this happened.

Social Media & Twitter- Viral RT Effect


From the Graphic overview above it is quite evident where the traffic spike occurred. As you can see the hours previous are a quite static and in the low numbers.  These are live stats so they represent the time around 6AM until 11 AM on a Sunday morning, no big surprise really. But around noon you can see the massive surge in traffic spiking at around the 500 visitor mark. As the day progressed the traffic began to yield and fall causing much smaller spikes to continue during the gradual decline leaving the total number of visits for this single post at 1446 for Sunday alone.

Not bad for a day off.

Other stats which may be of interest are included below:

Number of Visits for Sunday 17th


The Landing page of these visits:


The Bounce rate of Visitors that day:


And finally, the country of origin of the visitors.


Other information which is of interest is this URL detailing the number of ReTweets of this particular item:

Ok so now you can see all the stats and yes the numbers look all fancy but what’s your point you may be asking…

Heres the Point…

I have read hundreds and hundreds of post glorifying social media and how great it is, how it is so effective and how it will make us rethink the way we communicate and do business, but NONE of these posts backed up what they where saying with real evidence. Not one. It was all based on hearsay.  That really pisses me off, for me the proof is in the results.

So I thought I might take the time to show how social media can work (Yes I am a believer) with some real time experimentation, application and most importantly the process and evidence of results.

I didn’t monetise the post while it spiked in traffic, I didn’t add in an affiliate scheme, or try and move visitors to any financial benefit for myself. But I could have. I benefited from this.

Over the course of the last few days I have DOUBLED the number of RSS subscribers on my site. I have also gained 92 new followers on twitter out of a possible 125, I choose who to follow back carefully, always have done and will continue to do so (I hate bots) and I got excellent exposure to people who where every interested in the information meaning that the quality of people coming to the post was high and relevant. This overall effect is still continuing and more subscribers are appearing on my feed and more followers on twitter abit at a slower rate than before but a higher rate than previous to the traffic surge.

Had I been an business with a specific product, service or aim I would have been benefiting from the increased targeted traffic without a shadow of a doubt and I would have loads more pictures to show you, but I don’t.

In Conclusion…

Quite possibly, this small case study will help somone out there understand just want social media can do and what it can achieve if implemented correctly with a specific aim or focus in mind. Also it might also help illustrate that, much as in life: Its not always what you know, its who you know that counts but do remember this, the post went viral because the people that decided to ReTweet saw value in the information. The  reason  it started of in the first place was because of a strong realtionship I had already established and a solid following of twitter users who also saw value in the information and me. Thats the most important fact to remember.