Retweets are arguably the most powerful metric on Twitter. Compelling your followers to Retweet (RT) your brand’s message is essential if you want to make full use of the platform. So, how do you increase these shares?
In this blog post, we examine how the average RT/Tweet rate varies based on daily Tweet frequency, post-time, and post-type. Using data from about 7,000 brand Tweets* we looked at how frequency, time of day and post-type effect the average RT rate (%) of a Tweet.
*Methods: Brand Tweets were sampled from ~30 accounts associated with 13 big brands; Twitter accounts used included regional and global audiences; all data is less than 6 months old (11/5/12). RT rates were normalized against the total number of followers on the day of the Tweet.
Tweet Frequency: 4-5 Tweets/Day
How many times a day should brands be Tweeting? Is it better to under-Tweet rather than over-Tweet, or vice-versa? In order to address these questions, we categorized Tweets based on the total number of Tweets made by the brand in that day (Tweets/Day) and then plotted the average RT rate (%) to see if there was a trend, and indeed there was!
Tweeting four times per day is the optimal frequency in terms of highest RT rate. Tweeting once per day returns the lowest amount of ReTweets. The average RT rate on accounts that Tweeted 5-6 times a day were about 60% higher than those that only Tweeted 2-3 times a day, so erring on the side of over-tweeting is better than under-tweeting.
**Data not shown
The trend seen here complements a recent socialmediatoday post, which also found the optimal tweet frequency peaks at ~4-5 tweets per day.
Tweet Time: Between 7-8am for your target follower base. If you do not know where your followers are, posting at 4, 7, and 11am EST is a good jumping off point.
When is the best time of day to Tweet? Using the same data set as above, we looked at the average RT rate based on the time of day the tweet was posted (EST). The results are shown below:
The data above is plotted as Eastern Standard Time (EST). The largest peaks occur between the hours of 7 and 8 am in three heavily populated time-zones: London, England, and the East and West Coasts of the US.
The largest peak occurred at 7am EST, and was 75-85% higher than either of the other two peak times.
This is likely due to a combination of factors such as:
- A larger proportion of the follower base is in this geographic region
- This time slot benefits from being between the other two peak times
- The followers in this area are more engaged
Based on these results, it is advisable to coordinate your post time with the geographic region of your target audience. Depending on your location, simply posting between 7-8am in your time zone may put your Tweet in one of the ‘lull’ periods between peak morning hours, so be aware of the time change between your area and EST.
Tweet-Type (Link vs. non-link)
Will adding a link to you Tweet significantly affect the number of Re-tweets it receives? Probably not…according to the data there’s almost no difference between the two types in terms of Re-Tweets.
Tweets that contained links got only 3% more RTs on average than just regular ‘Status Update’ Tweets. While adding a link may benefit the site the link targets, it’s will probably be detrimental to the share rate of the Tweet. Users typically perform only 1 action on a post, and if a link is present it competes with the RT functionality for engagement. So use links carefully in your Tweets, as they may be costing you RTs.
Many factors will determine the success of your brand’s Tweets. If changes to content don’t increase the average RTs per Tweet, consider varying other factors such as Tweet frequency, post time (plus location of followers), and post type. Below is a summary of the recommendations for optimizing your brand’s Tweets:
- Tweet at least 4 times a day! The average RT rate more than doubled when the Tweet frequency increased from 2-3 Tweets per day, to 4!
- If you are targeting Tweets to a specific region (outside of your timezone), adjust your post time so the Tweet goes out between 7-8am in the area of your audience.
- If you’re not targeting by region, Tweet at 4, 7, and 11am EST. This will put your posts at the top of users feeds in the most densely populated regions around the world.
- Use links with caution! Keep in mind that most users will only perform 1 action on a post. Adding a link will likely decrease the number of RTs your Tweet receives.