As a firm that specializes in understanding social media, we at CPRM get thrown for a loop sometimes.
Recently, with a foot of snow on the ground and newscasters reporting traffic snarls on the roads around Boston, I decided to work from home. My college student daughter was home for spring break and watching TV as I worked in the next room. In the afternoon, I had a conference call. In the middle of the call with my boss, a few coworkers, and several members of a client’s team, Sarah held a sign in front of me.
When I saw it, I sputtered, trying not to laugh out loud. I had a huge smile on my face and waved her away, working hard to regain my composure and concentrate on the call. When the meeting ended, I picked up the paper, read it again, and laughed my head off. Sarah has a dry wit and an unexpected sense of humor. On the next night, I posted the exchange on my personal Twitter account.
I posted a picture of the sign and wrote, “My daughter held this in front of me as I spoke to clients on a conference call yesterday.”
I figured a few of my followers would get a kick out of it.
I was wrong.
Before I knew it, hundreds of folks were retweeting and liking the post. Some were people I interact with on Twitter on a regular basis; others were people I had never spoken to before. The notifications flew in faster than I could respond. Hundreds of total strangers had something to say about my daughter and me. Writers from Bloomberg and the New York Times, parents, comedians, teachers, college students, and a member of parliament, all weighed in, or at least retweeted or liked the tweet. Many, suggested she’d conceived a viable immigration policy. An artist drew a terrific cartoon of the imaginary snail encounter. Most were friendly and positive. A few, less so, but that’s Twitter.
For a while, we were amused. Soon, we were amazed. I tweeted the picture at 9:30pm Friday. By that time Saturday night, there were about 3000 retweets and 15,000 likes. The tweet had gone viral! I had to turn off my notifications. It’s a few weeks later and I’m still seeing RTs and likes—5300+ RTs and 26,700+ likes—and counting.
I think so many folks liked the post because it was funny—and relatable. Remember the sudden appearance of Professor Robert Kelly’s children during a live broadcast on the BBC last year? Of course, that’s only a theory. While we understand and follow best practices when it comes to social media, we can never predict when a tweet will take off.