Do you remember a site called Digg? This is a site that has been very successful in 2006. A few years earlier a site called Slashdot was that popular. Both sites exist today and are used by some fringe groups. Back in their heydays they have been notorious for their “effect”, like in “Slashdot effect” or “Digg effect”.
It basically meant that in the best or rather worst case your website was taken down by a huge number of users accessing your site at the same time. It happened when your site went popular on the respective frontpages.
In 2009 the frontpage metaphor taken from newspapers has been overcome. There is no real frontpage on Twitter. There is only a stream or a myriad of streams. Still some tweets or links get popular here as well.
You can follow popular Twitter items using a social news Twitter mashup like Tweetmeme. You don’t have to though. Most people just follow their friend’s news and that’s what Twitter was designed for.
Still some people are more popular than others and act like a kind of frontpage. You have well known real life celebrities with millions of followers and you have people known for their Web endeavors who still have tens of thousands of followers. There is one difference though:
The Hollywood, sports or music celebs have low value followers, people who barely can use the Web in many cases and who probably don’t even know what a retweet is.
On the other hand you have web authorities like Guy Kawasaki of Alltop or Vitaly Friedman of Smashing Magazine. These people get followers who not only follow but act as well. Highly knowledgeable web workers in many cases.
A few days ago Guy Kawasaki tweeted a link to my blog and it was retweeted dozens of times. I got more than 1000 visitors from his tweet directly or by retweets. This does not sound like much you could say but today the Twitter effect made my hosting company upgrade my hosting plan to a dedicated server to handle the load.
Usually I’m on shared hosting with my blog. Within 3 hours after the @smashingmag tweet the URL got tweeted more than 70 times by others. They were mostly retweets but many people clicked my Twitter button or entered the URL themselves.
Both posts that got tweeted were older ones so you really could see the influence of one Twitter user as nobody else tweeted them at the same time. You never know how many visitors you get from Twitter unless you create and track a campaign with analytics as most of them show no referer or don’t get counted for looking like a bot. There are plenty of Twitter clients (Firefox add ons, iPhone apps, desktop software) people use so that’s no wonder. bit.ly shows more than 3k clicks but other URL shorteners have been used as well.
Now I’m not the only one who already experienced the Twitter effect. In 2009 it’s so common that even Hollywood fears it. No, their servers are bigger than my hosting package. They fear the content or rather discontent of the tweets dealing with new movies and the quick viral spread of them. Good movies get more viewers due to Twitter, bad movies fail at the box office.
So what does this mean for you? You need to protect your site from the Twitter effect nowadays. It can get “attacked” by a large number of users anytime on any post or page. On Digg it was only after several hours of waiting in line and each URL only once. On Twitter it can happen within minutes out of nowhere and a week later on the same page. Preparing for Digg was simple, in many cases you submitted your page yourself.
SEOptimise already changed its hosting company a few weeks ago due to instability. You might consider upgrading your hosting plan as well. I already do.