A Couple Bucks and a Few Hundred Follows: A Viral Tweet Isn’t Worth Much

Going viral on Twitter feels good, but it doesn’t pay

Zulie Rane
OneZero
Published in
5 min readFeb 16, 2021

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Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images

I’ve always wondered what a viral tweet is worth, because it’s an interesting way to think about what social media is worth — and what we hope for when we post. On the one hand, social media creates a tremendous amount of value. Twitter pulled in $3.46 billion last year, mostly by selling ads. It boasts 330 million active monthly users and an astonishing 145 million daily users (myself included). It’s a tempting target for advertisers.

But on the other hand, all that money goes to Twitter, not its users, despite the fact that it’s the creators who tweet those hilarious takes and memes that keep us so hooked. To make money from their viral tweets, creators have to look to other sources of revenue. Some creators link to shops to monetize their followings. Others court brand sponsorships. Accumulating a large following can lead to money or employment down the road.

Finally, going viral can feel good, especially on a platform like Twitter, which has a peculiarly low engagement rate: If more than 0.5% of the people who follow you engage with your content, that’s considered a good engagement metric, according to ContentCal.

But how much is a viral tweet actually worth monetarily? I reached out to the owners of several viral tweets to ask what they made off the back of their virality. All the accounts were unverified and had fewer than 5K followers before the viral tweet. Four of their owners responded, and here’s what they said about the experience of going viral.

Twitter user @andromediart made around $30

I sent Andromeda King a direct message after she posted a very sweet image of her two bunnies wearing spinach as hats that went viral.

The tweet got more than 500K likes and nearly 100K retweets.

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Zulie Rane
OneZero

Writer, cat mom, marketer. Get my weekly newsletter to grow your blog: https://zuliewrites.ck.page/3e3d3a8187