I Got Over One Million Impressions On This Twitter Meme
How a below 2000 follower account got a million impressions.
First, here is the meme:
Here are the numbers (taken 6/29/2022):
Follow me on Twitter @bdmarotta.
Let’s break it down.
Why I Posted The Meme
I posted the meme for two reasons:
It was funny.
It made a good point.
The point: In my documentary American Circumcision, multiple interview subjects point out that when the rights and bodily autonomy of one gender are not protected, other genders are not protected as well. If people want to say “my body, my choice,” then that principle needs to be applied to everyone.
Also, the meme made me laugh.
Keep in mind that this was posted to an account with less than 2000 followers at the time. I thought it was a good meme, but did not expect it to get over 1 million impressions.
Reactions to this meme fell into three categories:
Support: They liked the meme, humor, and message.
Ironic: They liked the humor, but shared the message ironically or as a joke.
Hatred: They hated the meme and were deeply triggered.
When I say hatred, I mean hatred. People who did not like this meme hurled personal insults, made derogatory comments about my genitals, and wished violence on me and my family. As one Twitter user put it looking at the reactions: “Hoes do be mad.”
At the time I’m writing (the morning of 6/29/2022), the meme has over 1,600 retweets, 900, quote tweets, 13,000 likes, and 1100 replies. Likes and retweets were positive. Quote tweets were mixed but generally negative. People who hated the meme usually chose to quote tweet it so they could add their own commentary. Replies also had negativity, but those numbers were increased as others jumped in to debate them. Based on the numbers, the reaction was majority positive with an upset minority. This is important to keep in mind, because those upset were very vocal, while those who liked the meme simply retweeted it or left a “like” without comment.
Why I Think It Went Viral
There is an element of chance to virality on social media. That said, certain qualities increase those chances. Here are a few qualities I think this meme had that made it more likely to spread:
Timely: The meme dealt with a current event that everyone was already talking about. (Supreme Court abortion ruling.)
Pattern interrupt: This post was different than most tweets on the same topic, causing shock and surprise. (If you want to stand out, you have to be different.)
Funny: The meme made people laugh. (Self-explanatory. People like to laugh.)
Triggering: The meme made people upset. (Content that makes people angry gets the most engagement on social media.)
But the biggest reason I think it went viral was...
There were multiple “obvious” interpretations.
Content that goes viral is often “obviously” one thing to one group and a different thing to another. The What Color Is The Dress Meme? is a great example of this. To some, the dress in that meme was obviously white and gold. To others, it was obviously black and blue. A debate between two sides drives engagement.
Opinion content can function the same way. There were multiple “obvious” interpretations of my meme. To some, it was “obvious” that a man was centering himself on a women’s issue, trivializing abortion by comparing it to circumcision, and making everything about his penis. To others, it was obvious that I was making a valid point about how we all need equal rights and bodily autonomy. To a third group, it was obviously a joke meme made funnier by the fact everyone was taking it seriously. To each group, their interpretation was “obvious” and everyone else was “crazy.” In order to avoid being the “crazy” one, each group had to assert their interpretation as true, and in doing so, share the meme.
Note that "multiple ‘obvious’ interpretations” is different than being “controversial.” Any strong opinion on circumcision or abortion would be controversial. With this, it wasn’t a difference of opinions, but a disagreement about what I actually posted. Different people were responding to an entirely different reality of what the tweet was, not merely having different opinions about the same tweet. Given the current events, many felt it was important to assert their reality since there was a major political issue riding on whose reality was dominant.
Different people were able to share the same meme for different reasons. Some shared it sincerely to signal their opinion, others ironically as a joke, and others hate-shared it in an attempt to mock me. Either way, it’s all engagement.
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