You may have heard about our viral tweet! Here’s what happened – on the 25th of June 2018, over 11 months after opening, and following a worrying period of very quiet months I posted this tweet.
We only took £12.34 today😔…if anyone was thinking about buying a book now would be a great time! Things have been tough recently – today the worst day ever. A card,a book,anything makes a huge difference to a small business like ours. We'd be very grateful for your support.
— ImaginedThings Books (@ImaginedThings) June 25, 2018
The Tweet really did go viral, it was seen by over 1.6 million people in the end! I was astounded by the response, and didn’t expect it for one second. It was utterly unbelieveable & still feels surreal but here it is.
On the evening I put it out I could see it was getting attention, lots of likes, retweets and too many comments to read. The impressions were going up too – 17,000 about an hour or so later. By 1am it was at 147,000 and I realised this really was something unprecidented. I tried initially to reply to everyone but it soon became impossible.
The next day it continued and there were people in the shop all day! I couldn’t believe it. The support from local people in the shop was amazing.We had lots of people who weren’t local wanting to buy books through Twitter too but we didn’t even have PayPal set up, so were getting lots of wonderful people calling up to buy books over the phone that we sent all over the country.
The emails were literally pouring in, and despite several nights at the shop until 11pm or 12pm and getting as much help as I could, there was no getting through them all. There were just too many that all came at once. At the same time, the shop was much busier and I was also speaking to journalists and being on the radio. There just wasn’t the capacity to reply to everyone and I feel terrible that we couldn’t get back to everyone on email and anyone who commented on Twitter too. There were so many Twitter notifications I couldn’t even get to the bottom of them so missed all sorts. I did put multiple social media messages up to say we were overwhelmed and to encourage people to ring, which I hope anyone who didn’t get a response saw, and could understand how sudden it all was and how unprepared we were for such an influx!
Once we had PayPal set-up we were sending books all over the world – America, France and even Kazakhstan! It was amazing, humbling and just astounding to see such care about our bookshop. We even had donations of £12.34 and other amounts just to help us out, buy a bottle of wine or snacks to keep us going. People really are wonderful!!!
And the shop was busier, much busier! Loads of local people had found out about the shop through the social media activity or things that led from that. I was on Stray FM, Radio 4, in The Daily Mail, on Radio 5, most read on BBC News Online, and more – it was crazy!
— ImaginedThings Books (@ImaginedThings) June 28, 2018
It was wonderful to see that lots of local people were delighted to have found us, as that’s what we wanted most of all. As a new business it takes a lot of time to get know people in the community, and all of the publicity has helped speed that process up hugely. It was just what we needed.
It’s lovely to have so much support online and to have grown our following on Twitter and other platforms dramatically. We had so many messages we could never get back to them all, I’m so sorry to anyone we couldn’t reply to.
Page 15 of emails… 😮🤔 trying to go back through to do accounts & reply to as many as we can. Realising it's probably impossible to reply to everyone. Huge thank you to everyone who has messaged, will try to get back to you.But alas accounts & every day stuff has to be done😔 pic.twitter.com/3vP9XsBsj2
— ImaginedThings Books (@ImaginedThings) July 11, 2018
Having local people’s support though (& visitor’s) is even better than online, that’s why I opened an independent bookshop – for people to come in and find books they didn’t know existed, to experience the wonder of being somewhere that celebrates books, and to be a part of the community and unite book lovers. To keep the high street vibrant and interesting for now and the next generation. To have people supporting the shop from afar is brilliant. The support of local people who’ve been with us from the start and have joined us since is very much the closest thing to our heart. It’s amazing so many people want our bookshop to survive – the amount of support has been astounding!
I think it’s great too that the tweet highlighted how hard it can be to survive on the high street at the moment, and prompted people to think more about supporting their local shops. It was great to see people online saying they’d gone out to their local shops that week after reading our Tweet. And I think it’s helped people in the local community be more aware too.
The thing with supporting local, independent businesses is that one person really can make a huge difference to us. If every person in Harrogate bought just a book, just a card, just a coffee from local shops we’d all keep going. We linked with the #justacard campaign online which is a national campaign to highlight the huge difference lots of small purchases can make to small businesses. Just a card can be the difference between us staying open or closing down.
On the back of that I started the #notjustabook hashtag on Twitter as buying a book from us isn’t just buying a book, it keeps our shop open, it keeps independent bookselling alive on the high street so you can talk to real people about real books, and it supports our town and local economy. And people have carried on supporting us – those who have from the start and those who have recently found us – every one of them is a bookshop hero, and we are immensely grateful!
From worst day to best day ever! ☺👍📚😍 was lovely to see so many people in the shop! Lots of orders too! Thank you all SO MUCH!!!! You're all amazing! We'd love to see pictures of your #notjustabook books too! Now off to sleep 😴 open tomorrow! (11am-4pm) pic.twitter.com/Jqg0cC1xMZ
— ImaginedThings Books (@ImaginedThings) June 30, 2018
My tweet wasn’t meant to go viral, or get that much attention. It wasn’t planned. It came from the heart, and from the worry that my business – my dream – might fail, and desperation to hope that if people knew we were in trouble more would come through the door to support us.
We’re always upbeat and passionate on social media – I love the shop, and being a bookseller – so nobody really sees how hard it is underneath all of the nice stuff. I sent the tweet because I thought perhaps if they did they would see we need a bit of help and for more people to come to the shop, which they definitely did, more than we could have hoped for which was wonderful!
Since the tweet we were so busy for weeks, and remained much busier than we’d ever been leading up to the Christmas period. We then had an excellent second Christmas! The tweet has helped more people to learn of the shop & lead to allsorts of great things for us, but we’re still a new business, under two years old, in a challenging time for the highstreet. We still need to grow and our story isn’t over yet, but thanks to the tweet and all the wondeful support that followed our future is looking much brighter and we’re definitley on the right track for being sustainable in the long-term. Long may it continue!
The HUGEST of thank yous to everyone: our customers old & new – you are our bookshop heros & we will never be able to thank you enough; everyone who shared our tweet; journalists, producers & presenters who supported us & helped our story be heard, it was totally unexpected but amazing; The Harrogate Advertiser for all their support; Radio 4 for having us on twice; Radio York for being amazingly supportive; Radio 5 Live for being wonderful; everyone else who we can’t name; everyone who helped spread the word about the shop… lastly and most importantly THANK YOU to EVERYONE who came in/ordered with us before, during and after the wonderful craziness of the tweet and bought not just a book, not just a card, but a bookshop’s future. You guys are AMAZING. Thank you.
Georgia Duffy – Owner of Imagined Things