The Most Popular Tweets of All Time

Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

The Most Popular Tweets of All Time

What does it take to really make an impact on Twitter?

We take a look at the most popular tweets of all time to see if there’s a secret recipe to Twitter success.


We’re measuring popularity in terms of engagements – likes, comments, and retweets.

According to Twitter the most important KPI for the popularity of a tweet is retweets and we agree – a retweet will significantly boost the number of people who’ll see your tweet.

What’s the Most Popular Tweet of all Time?

Currently it’s this one:

996 thousand likes. 3.5 million retweets. 38 thousand comments.

And all because a teenager really likes chicken nuggets.

Yes, 17-year-old Carter Wilson asked fast-food chain Wendy’s how many retweets would win him a year’s supply of chicken nuggets. While he didn’t reach his 18 million-retweet target, he probably wasn’t prepared for the reception he got.

You can read Carter’s story on his website. Check out his merchandise, too! It’s all for a good cause.

The Second Most Popular Tweet of all Time?

You’ve probably seen it before:

A selfie commissioned by comedian Ellen DeGeneres during her stint as Oscars host.

This one actually got more likes – 2.4 million! But Carter’s nugget request wins in terms of retweets.

And the Third Most Popular?

For some reason it’s this:

Guess it makes sense if you’re a One Direction fan.

So What Does It Take To Make a Tweet Take Off Like This?

If it were possible to define the recipe for a viral tweet, we’d all be writing viral tweets! Nobody can really predict what’s going to strike a chord on Twitter. Even so, there are a few lessons to learn from these three immensely popular tweets.

1) Reach Out to Influencers

Carter didn’t get to where he is today by himself. His tweet truly took off when a number of brands, celebrities and other influencers got behind his efforts. Amazon, Microsoft, Hollister, Aaron Paul, Google – they all did their bit!

Think about the influencers in your industry, and beyond. What sort of content would inspire them to help boost your message?

2) Use Images

Carter kindly included a screenshot of his exchange with Wendy’s in his phenomenal tweet. It’s not the most interesting of images, but it perfectly illustrates what’s going on and what he needs. This meant that he was free to make his tweet as simple as possible. Two sentences. Eight words. All capitals. Irresistible!

Ellen’s tweet was perhaps destined to go viral with an image like that. People like celebrities, after all.

Studies show that tweets with images generate three times more engagement than tweets without images. Tweets with videos tend to fare even better.

3) Watch Your Tone

Everyone’s smiling in Ellen’s Oscars selfie. Wendy’s are notoriously glib on social media. Carter’s entire plea is inherently ridiculous.

You need to think about the tone of voice you use on social media. It must be consistent with your brand. But if you can get away with a lighthearted tone, these successful tweets suggest that it can help you make a huge impact.

4) Use Hashtags

Carter didn’t include any hashtags in his original tweet, but the #NuggsForCarter hashtag soon started to trend.

Ellen probably didn’t need to include that #Oscars hashtag in her tweet. But it probably boosted its virality.

If you can latch onto a popular hashtag, or even create your own (but only on certain occasions), you’ll likely do wonders for your Twitter reach.

5) Take Your Time

Carter’s tweet didn’t become the most successful tweet of all time overnight. It took time:

Most Popular Tweet of All Time Stats

It took more than a month for Carter to beat Ellen’s record. On social media, momentum can build and build, but only if you’re prepared to constantly stoke the fires.

If you feel like you’re underperforming on social media, don’t give up. Instead, consider reviewing your social media strategy, and understand that to get anywhere will take a lot of time and energy.

6) Be In One Direction

Well, what else can we make of the third most popular tweet of all time? A member of One Direction tweets another member of One Direction, resulting in 2.6 million retweets.

Lesson learned? If you want to do well on Twitter, it really helps if you’re in One Direction.

Honestly, though? There is a lesson to learn from that tweet. Just like Carter and Ellen in their tweets, Louis is showing his human side.

This is the one biggest takeaway from all three of these tweets: If you want to find success on Twitter, you need to be human.

You can’t be a faceless business account blandly tweeting business updates. You need to show a little of yourself, and you need to be prepared to get out there and engage with your followers.

Struggling to Engage With Your Twitter Followers?

We offer specialist Twitter training workshops that’ll show you how to really make an impact with your tweets.

You’ll learn how to write an engaging tweet, how to find followers that count, and how to provide these followers with a truly meaningful experience.

Head here for more information, and to book a workshop for your business.

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