This One Time My Tweet Went Viral . . .

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed something interesting happen on August 9. I like hearing about what books people love and one night when I was not sleeping, I figured out the best way to ask would be for a top five (because honestly, what bookish person can pick only one?) After forgetting for most of the day, I remembered to post the tweet on Wednesday during a break at work. I also happened to post it on National Book Lovers Day which may be part of what happened next.

Here’s the original tweet and one of the first replies (so many props to some of the earlier respondents because they got so many comments as the tweet moved around):

From there I started seeing a few replies from twitter friends, book blogger types, and some authors who saw the tweet early either from me or friends of friends.

Here are some of the earliest replies. If these authors aren’t on your to read list yet, be sure to check out their books!

Then it kept going.

Replies trickled in for the rest of the afternoon and into that evening. I RTd as they came in, commented, and got on with the rest of my day.

Around nine o’clock, I noticed I was getting a lot more notifications than usual. A lot more.

While I was still able to sort through comments, I realized some authors with a significant reach on Twitter were also sharing their top five books.

As far as I can tell, it was Sam Sykes sharing that really set things off.

From there the replies started coming in faster and faster.

Then my phone started to break down under the sheer volume of notifications as people quoted my original tweet to share their faves, replied to me or to others on the tweet thread, and started other quote conversations talking about books. Twitter froze up and my phone started to overheat every time I checked what was happening.

It got so intense that Twitter prompted me to set up filters for my notifications.

Even now, months later, I haven’t been able to sift through all of the replies, shares, and comments. There are just too many.

Here’s look at some of the analytics when it started blowing up:

As I started writing up this post at the beginning of October, people were still sharing and RTing their favorite books. Since August the total impressions have jumped to 389,408 with 73,862 engagements. I gained almost 1000 new followers in the first couple of days.

Some people, including a favorite author, thought picking just five books was asking too much.

As with most sudden moments of fame, things quieted down after that first week and I was able to go back and catch a couple of the more surprising replies that didn’t register in the initial haze of going viral.

I’m not going to lie, I felt like had to lay down when I saw some of the people who had shared or replied. It was a very “is this real life?” moment for me.

In the thick of the initial madness some people were even doing other variants based on “my” top 5 books idea.

I’ll be the first to admit having anything go viral is not the same as fame. But for a week or so, it felt very similar. The support and love for this tweet was overwhelming and I got so many wonderful thank yous and compliments from people who found me because of it. (I only got one creepy message from a male identifying account but honestly, I get those without doing anything online so hardly shocking.) Still, I was hyper aware of the act of being followed on Twitter and people seeing my content. Was I being witty enough? Was I staying on brand? Was I expected to keep up this level of engagement moving forward? Just considering all of the questions was exhausting.

Things have settled down now and minus a few more followers and new replies here and there, things seem to have gone back to normal.I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to really sort through the data–Twitter isn’t kind to older tweets or tweets with thousands of replies–and this is both. If you have any ideas on digging into the data (or even finding it at this point) let me know in the comments

If you’re on Twitter and you haven’t yet, I’d love to see your own top five favorite books of all time. If you don’t feel like tweeting, let me know in the comments or just talk to me about what it means to have five minutes of Twitter fame.

Here are some of my own favorite books:

  1. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. Ella, Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  3. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  4. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  5. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  6. Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
  7. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  8. The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
  9. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
  10. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  11. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  12. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  13. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  14. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski