Viral High, Viral Hangover

A guest post by {grow} community member Adam Toporek

A few weeks ago, a blog post of mine went viral on Twitter. Since I am not very technically oriented, I thought an interview with my server could shed some light on this unique Twitter event.

I met My Server at a swanky Silicon Valley server farm. He was sitting at the maintenance rack sipping a wire full of alternating current when I arrived. Apportioned in a minimalist black casing, he embodied the latest in Dell retro chic.

After an awkward introduction (how do you shake hands with a server?), he cleared his cache and began to describe the events of that fateful evening.

MY SERVER: So Adam, it began when Gail Gardner of GrowMap tweeted a quote from your post entitled Google + and The Illusion of Privacy. Turns out, one of her followers is Tony Robbins — yeah, the Tony Robbins — and he retweeted it out to his almost 2 million Twitter followers.

ME: 2 million!

MY SERVER: What can I say? The dude’s got Larry King on speed dial. Anyway, it was a Sunday night, and I was enjoying some routine maintenance when the tweet hit.

ME: How did you know what had happened?

MY SERVER: Seriously Adam? I could process your normal traffic with an abacus. When you got over 1,300 page views in a few minutes,  I figured either a post had gone viral or you had blackmailed Matt Cutts.

ME: It was the first one. What happened next?

MY SERVER: Well, I was planning to watch a re-run of CSI but thanks to you my Sunday night was simply ruined. Then Monday hit, and you had another 1,000 page views right away. I was almost ready to quit when the next day the traffic strarted to settle back down to a more normal level.

ME: Wow, thanks for being there for me man.

MY SERVER: Yeah, they don’t call me a server for nothing.  Adam, you’re going to have to excuse me. I think I ate a bad update last night; I’ve got a terrible case of the windows.

While I waited on My Server to return, I noticed another server blinking her LED’s at me from across the room. I walked over to see if I could get an eyewitness account to add color to the story. It was not to be …

GINI DIETRICH’S SERVER: I just want to tell you that your server’s gotten an incredible ego since that Tony Robbins tweet. He rolls around here like his RAM don’t stink.

ME: I’m sorry. It’s a heady time for him.

GINI DIETRICH’S SERVER: Well, tell Mr. Inflated CPU that I do 1,300 page views a day just in Clive, Iowa – so maybe he should tone it down a notch or ten.

ME: Uh yeah… okay… Looks like he’s back.

MY SERVER: So, where were we?

ME: Well, were there any other effects of the big tweet?

MY SERVER: Ah yes. So, I ran into Twitter and Klout in the cafeteria the next day, and if you can believe it, they both acted like nothing had happened. Losers. Google, on the other hand, was all over me. Of course, he is a StarStalker, so he only wanted to talk about the Google+ post, but at least he finally knew my name.

ME: What about Alexa?

MY SERVER: Oh, you know her type. Beee-atch.  She just sits at the corner table with the tech types; I don’t think she noticed at all. We’re not in her league, even with your big tweet.

ME: Going viral just is not what it is cracked up to be.

MY SERVER: Well maybe this is a sign of things to come. You know, it’s not easy being your server, Adam. Seriously, the other servers call me lazy. Especially Gini Dietrich’s server, she is insufferable!


The Tony Robbins tweet brings both the power and limitations of Twitter into sharp relief. It was a heady feeling to know that within a few hours, thousands of people had read my work. Other than a spike in the PageRank for the post, there really was no long-term effect of “going viral.”

As Mark Schaefer noted in one of my favorite {grow} posts, the ability of Twitter to inspire action is extremely limited.  There was no real impact on my blog, Twitter account or Klout score.  Everybody dreams of going viral but it was no big deal. A viral high, a viral hang-over.

In the end, the Tony Robbins tweet was an exciting experience, but more than that, it was another demonstration that Twitter’s true power is as a one-to-one communication medium. For despite its ability to amplify voice and spread information, Twitter is at its most relevant as a relationship tool.

And if that is the case, perhaps we should all take a page from Tony Robbins’ book and tweet with passion!

PS. Gini Dietrich is a true gem and is nothing like her server.

Adam Toporek is a franchise developer and small business owner who blogs about the customer service experience.

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