The Science of Retweets

The Science of Retweets

  |   Social Media

When Twitter was first launched in 2006, no one thought that it would turn into the 4th most used social media platform in the U.S., holding nearly 300 million active users under it’s wing. People use Twitter on a daily basis to get their dose of news, discover trending topics, and express their own thoughts. Businesses have taken notice, learning how to use Twitter to their advantage as well.


Some brands have mastered the art of communicating in 140 characters or less. Along the way they’ve also learned that the perfect tweet posted at the wrong time is lost forever – scrolled past and buried under tons of new content every second. And with Twitter’s 500 million daily tweets, it can be forgotten very quickly.


So how can your account stand out among a sea of millions? Who is going to see your tweet? Are you truly reaching your target audience? Below you’ll find insightful stats and actionable tips that will not only help you get engagement, but improve your overall presence on Twitter as well.


1. Start with your bio

Before you get retweets you need to have followers. One way to attract followers is by having an interesting bio that accurately defines you. Coming up with the perfect bio that’s tailored to you isn’t easy. But even if have no idea what to write, at the very least make sure you have some sort of bio in place. Users with a bio have been shown to have over 15 times more followers than those without a bio. And if you have a website, digital resume, or any link that you can include, that can definitely be an added bonus. That’s because users with a link in their bio have been shown to have over 22 times more followers.


If you don’t know where to start with your bio, start simple. What do you do? What are your interests? Any fun fact that you’d like prospective followers to know? People aren’t looking for something fancy, they want to know who you are. A bio is 160 characters long, and you can only say so much about yourself in that many characters. So what do you think is worth saying? Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and create something that’s captivating and follow-worthy.


2. What days should you Tweet?

Now that you’ve gained some followers with your amazing bio, you need to create content for them to engage with. An important factor when it comes to engagement and exposure is the days in which you post. Studies show that brand engagement is increased by 17% on the weekends. Planning ahead of time and using social media management platforms, like Buffer or Sprout Social, to automate your posts will allow you to schedule content for the weekends. This way you can still gain added reach without having to spend your time off tweeting away – unless you want to, of course.


By the way, this doesn’t mean it’s bad to tweet during weekdays. There is still plenty of activity on Twitter Monday through Friday. Just make sure you don’t neglect the weekends – that’s all we’re saying.


3. At what time should you Tweet?

Speaking of timing, let’s identify the best times of day to tweet. While it seems like people are on twitter 24/7, it’s in the early morning (7am-10am) and afternoon (1pm-6pm)that people will engage the most with tweets. In the morning, people are on their way to work, typically stuck in traffic and looking for something to entertain themselves at stoplights. In the afternoon, people use their lunch breaks to fill themselves in on what’s happening in the world. They do the same upon leaving work. So, be sure to schedule your messages around these time frames, when more eyeballs are tuned into Twitter.


Regardless of these general statistics, we urge everyone to track their analytics and make decisions based on your own data. Just because these times work for some people, doesn’t mean they will work for you. Your audience is unique and deserves a plan tailored to their habits – not the habits of the general public.


4. Don’t forget the image

While Twitter is all about getting the most out of your 140 characters, sending off your tweet with an image can give you an edge above the rest. With the influence of Instagram’s popularity on the rise, images have become more and more important to consumers and have proven to double the engagement rates on tweets. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, which is easily much more than 140 characters. Whether it’s a creative graphic, data chart, or a beautiful photograph, having something to visually engage your followers will help you get more overall engagement.


Just think about scrolling down a Twitter feed and seeing tons of text-only tweets. The moment a tweet with an image pops up, it will catch your attention. Be the one that makes the reader stop scrolling.


5. Create a link

Just like photos, links will also attract people to engage more with your tweets. Tweets with links are two times more likely to get engagement. Pair an amazing picture with an interesting article link and you’re ready to go! Beyond the engagement factor, links can drive traffic to your site or to content that helps define your brand, which is a crucial part of building a sound reputation. A tweet without a link can be create for momentary recognition, but if it has a link and the user clicks it, now you’ve captured their attention for more than a couple seconds.


6. Retweet, not RT

This may seem like an interesting tip, but with everyone being used to automatically seeing “RT”, it’s gotten to the point that it will just be overlooked. On the other hand, if you actually spelled out “Retweet” you’d have a 23x higher chance of getting a retweet. Even if you are not retweeting someone else’s tweet, spelling it out will already put people in the mindset of sharing your tweet and will drastically increase your chances of getting more engagement.


Final Note

Twitter is constantly upgrading its platform, from easier retweeting methods to new direct messaging features. And businesses need to stay in tune with these developments in order to continue communicating effectively.


Research and data on social media comes out every day and it’s our responsibility as communications professionals to stay informed. There may not be an exact science to guarantee retweets, but using social data will help you define a solid strategy. So you can craft the perfect message at the perfect time.

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