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Sep. 21, 2015

A Canadian Journalist Had No Chill About Being Retweeted By Taylor Swift


It was a normal Thursday for CBC Newfoundland news reporter Zach Goudie. Autumn cast itself over the day, leaves started to change colours, the air was crisp with the promise of fall. Zach steeped his tea, listened to his favourite podcast, giggled at the funny bits, went to the bathroom — thrice — and pressed the power button and was bathed in the soft glow of his computer quietly waking up.

But on Sept. 17, at 1:30 p.m., an American pop singer named Taylor Swift retweeted a tweet from Zach Goudie.

Haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate), but @TheRyanAdams cover of @taylorswift13 "Bad Blood" is pure pop bliss:

And — not to be dramatic or anything — nothing was the same.


Before being RTed by Taylor Swift

CBC / BuzzFeed Canada

After being RTed by Taylor Swift

In fact, Zach was so delighted by the RT that he wrote a 3,000-word thinkpiece on it for CBC News, Canada's largest news broadcaster.

He confirmed to BuzzFeed Canada that the essay was indeed 3,000 words long.

In it, he gives an accurate narration and recount of the event:

From then on, my afternoon got much busier, and I didn't check Twitter again until early that evening. When I took out my phone I saw a Twitter notification: "Your Tweet is getting more retweets than usual."

"That's nice," I thought. "How many retweets, I wonder. Ten, maybe 20?"

I looked closely. It was nearly a thousand.

My brow furrowed with confusion.

I frantically scrolled my Twitter notifications backwards to find where this frenzy of activity began. And there, at the beginning of the feed, with the very first retweet, I found the reigning queen of pop culture.

Including an analysis of impressions:

With a single touch of Swift's finger, the audience for my tweet increased by orders of magnitude. The effect can actually be seen in Twitter's analytics service.

One way to measure the success of a tweet is called impressions, which basically means that a tweet was seen by another person. My average tweet generates between 1,000 and 2,000 impressions. A good tweet, 5-10,000. My very best tweet, 20-30,000.

As of this writing, the tweet retweeted by Taylor Swift has generated more than a million impressions.

And a very thorough self-reflection of the retweet:

If I had sent the same tweet 24 hours later, I guarantee that Swift would not have retweeted it.

In daily journalism, there is a truism: better to be quick than clever. There's no point in thinking up a killer headline for your story if doing so causes you to miss your deadline.

My tweet wasn't the cleverest, but because it was among the first to comment on Adams' new song, it stood out from the mountain of tweets that followed shortly thereafter.

Well, before his phone started ringing off, BuzzFeed Canada grabbed Zach for an exclusive interview on the moment he rose up to a different rank of Canadian, and how his life has changed. Here's what we learned, exclusively:

1. As a Newfoundlander, Zach was overjoyed to know Taylor had any idea he was a living, breathing human. The acknowledgement set his "heart aflutter."

CBC News

"It was exciting for the minute, briefest of moments that Taylor Swift was even aware of my existence all the way in St. John's, Newfoundland," Zach said. "It sets your heart aflutter to see something like that."

2. He became the guy to know in his social circles.

Facebook: zach.goudie.1

Zach told us he had a few friends trying to ride some of that coattail fame, saying: "They'd be like, 'So you got retweeted by Taylor, and you follow me. So I basically know Taylor now.'"

3. He got 100 new followers!!!!

Follow @zachgoudie. He got RTed by Taylor Swift.

4. But mostly, he wants to try to stay humble and true to his roots.

Google Plus /

"There's a very fine line of making too big deal about it," he said. "But you don't want to let a meaningful moment pass or not be celebrated. You don't wanna go around bragging — I was concerned the column would be a humblebrag. But life is too short to pass up the chance for excitement."

5. And as for the haters? Zach is shaking it off.

"Much like Taylor, haters can hate, hate, hate, hate," he joked.

Well, Zach, here we are writing about you and your writing about writing a tweet that got retweeted. Your "Taylor Swift Effect" continues to ripple on.

Twitter: @zachgoudie

Whoa, meta.

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