Blowing up on twitter.

Last night, just before getting off the train on the evening commute, I sent out a tweet. It was mildly political and mentioned William Gibson in it- who was the author of the quote I was mentioning. He, in turn, re-tweeted my tweet, and thus began a night of my phone exploding with twitter notifications.

By the morning that’d mostly settled down. Gibson has ~178K followers on twitter, and in the twelve (or so) hours since I sent the original message, that tweet got 92 retweets and 126 favorites. In my world, that’s a lot. When I checked the twitter stats on it, I found that it was seen by just over 20,000 people and “engaged with” by just over 3,000 people. That’s way above any sort of average engagement I get.

So I was curious as how this new-to-me attention would manifest in the rest of my online presence. Would I get subscriptions to my newsletter? Follows on twitter? Would my (this) website see a spike in traffic?


Of the 20,000 people who saw the tweet, two followed me. 23 clicked my bio link in twitter (which has this webpage link in it), and of those, 8 actually got here. Zero subscriptions to my newsletter.

So here’s what I’ve learned: twitter is a land unto itself. Things that happen there are largely isolated there- so if you want people to read something, it best be in the tweet. If you provide a link to something- it’s not getting clicked. Your profile isn’t going to be raised anywhere else. Indeed, any single spike on twitter isn’t even going to do much for you on twitter. The engagement you see there is only there, and it’s isolated from the rest of your online presence.

What do I do with this information? I change the way I tweet a bit. It’s less about links to things now- at least, no links without some of the content attached. I’ll stop worrying about trying to use twitter as a device to drive traffic anywhere else- no matter how easy I think I’ve made that. I’ll let twitter just be twitter.