How I Tried to Go Viral

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One of the biggest goals social media communicators might have is to create viral content that reaches awareness for either the company they work for or themselves. For the class “Social Media for Communicators” at the Newhouse School of Public Communications I participated in a viral content challenge. For this challenge, all students were asked to create a unique meme, publish it on Imgur and use Twitter posts and ads to promote it, spending a total amount of $5. The period was limited to one week.

Imgur Meme

For the creation of my meme, I analyzed my twitter followers with Followerwonk and found out that most of them are college students. I decided to create a meme that relates to this audience. Furthermore, college students are a group you can easily target. So I thought there is a good chance for engagement on Twitter and to go viral on Imgur.

Imgur views after the campaign ended: 505 


  • Minimum 500 views on Imgur
  • Minimum 200 link clicks in total
  • Minimum 5 new Twitter-followers
  • Minimum 550 tweet impressions in total
  • Minimum 50 profile visits
  • Minimum 5 shares in total
  • Minimum 15 likes in total


  • 505 views on Imgur ✔
  • 65 link clicks in total ✖
  • 4 new Twitter-followers ✖
  • 697 organic tweet impressions, 805 promoted impressions, 1.502 impressions in total ✔
  • 346 profile visits ✔
  • 1 share in total ✖
  • 9 likes in total ✖

Twitter Ads Engagement and Spend

The tweet engagement is 95 in total; 33 was gathered through promotion.

Twitter Webcard and Strategy

 To promote my meme, I set up a Twitter Webcard, which linked to my meme on Imgur. I cropped the original image so that people only could see one part of it and get curious. I promoted this webcard using a $3.50 budget over one day to share my meme with college students. Furthermore, I tried to reach my audience using hashtags. The campaign garnered 424 promoted and 249 organic impressions.

Besides the webcard, I scheduled three posts including links to the Imgur image. Those were a GIF, a Twitter Moment (rich media for more appealing and engagement) and a regular post where I tagged Syracuse University and my home university to have the chance to get reposted by handles with a broad reach. The tweet copy in two of my posts included questions, which should generate more engagement. I analyzed via Followerwonk that the best time to post for me is at 10 am ET. Therefore, I tweeted at this time. The remaining $1.50 of my budget was spent to promote the tweet with the most organic impressions, which was the GIF. In the end, it garnered 381 promoted and 272 organic impressions.


My campaign was only partly successful. I reached my goal with over 500 views on Imgur. In addition, my tweets have 1.000 times more impressions than I targeted. Even disregarding the ads I would have reached this objective. Therefore, I conclude that my hashtags worked well.

Besides this, I was disappointed by the performance of my promoted Twitter posts. Only 65 of the 505 Imgur views came from Twitter, and just 27 were promoted. The most views came from Imgur itself. When I posted my meme on the platform, I garnered within the next few hours around 300 views without any Twitter promotion but just using relevant hashtags on Imgur. The rest arose out of Imgur and WhatsApp during the week. On WhatsApp I promoted the meme sending the link to college groups.

My most successful post is the webcard, which earned 46 link clicks; 19 were organic. I think, there are three reasons for the good performance. First, it was the first post – so my followers were still interested in this kind of content. Secondly, I spent most of my budget on it. Third, I cropped the webcard image to make the audience wonder and lead them to Imgur to find the solution.

Apart from the link clicks, I didn’t get a lot of engagement – just nine likes and one retweet in total. All of these was gained organic through followers and hashtags. Thinking about the reasons for the missing engagement leads to the target group and the hashtags. I targeted college students and tagged hashtags students are using to talk about their college life. For a new campaign with the same target group, I would try to increase those, but I think this is not the primary reason.

During my internship in an agency for content marketing, I was responsible for a large company’s Facebook page. When I promoted a meme there, it had a huge impact, and we could gather a lot of engagement with a total amount of $12. Admittedly, there would have been more engagement if I had spent more money on the Twitter Ads. But I also feel that Twitter is not the right platform for memes but news and comments on current events. Maybe the meme would have better performed if it had based on a current event. Perhaps the secret for engagement on Twitter is to create flow content instead of stock content. The most significant success in promoting my meme came definitely from Imgur itself. The platform is just for memes, and in that case, the people who visit it are interested in that kind of content.

Overall, I am glad that I had the chance to try out Twitter Ads and to gather initial experiences how to use the tool. I also learned that most of my objectives were overstated. I’ll carry this knowledge to choose more realistic goals next time.

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