We know a lot about Twitter. We know how B2B marketers, digital marketers and marketing executives use it. We know some of your followers may be irrelevant. And we know how to optimize the microblogging platform for customer service. But the one thing that still alludes us is this: Do you know what drives the most retweets?
The Retweet Report
Fortunately, the folks at Track Maven can help us with the last one. They've released the Retweet Report, which analyzed 1.7 million tweets from 1,423 Twitter accounts with more than 1,000 followers to figure out what influences a retweet. The research uncovered a few interesting trends. For example:
- Sundays are the day Twitter users are more likely to retweet
- More retweets happen between 10 p.m. and midnight
- Spelling out the word retweet (rather than using RT) will receive on average 1.88 retweets
- Tweets with a higher ratio of UPPERCASE characters gather more retweets
While these are definitely intriguing, the report carefully examined the framework of a tweet — the schedule, structure, the impact of visuals and language used to craft tweets — to identify a rhythm or pattern of why some tweets gets retweeted more than others. Here's what works.
The Tweet Schedule
First, more tweets are sent out at the start of the week. The momentum builds on Monday and tapers off by Friday. But remember these are just tweets. The average retweets by day of the week are higher on Thursdays and on the weekends, with tweets on Sunday receiving an average 0.168 retweets.
As for time of day, most tweets are sent out during business hours, peaking between noon and 1p.m. However, most retweets take place outside of business hours, with tweets sent out from 10 p.m. to 11p.m. receiving 0.194 retweets on average.
This is fascinating. While most tweets are created during the week's business hours, most retweets take place on weekends. We like to think of Twitter as a real-time platform, but these results seem to indicate that people use Twitter much the same way they use email — as something to catch up on during their leisure.
The Tweet Structure
Hashtags are everywhere, and as more social platforms begin to incorporate them into their performance, according to the report, hashtags on Twitter are the key to a retweet. Using five hashtags in a tweet on average gets 0.301 retweets compared to tweets using zero hashtags, which resulted in an average of 0.116 retweets.
It doesn't hurt to mention others in your tweet as well. The reports showed that the higher the number of mentions in a tweet initially resulted in a positive relationship in the average number of retweets. With 6 mentions (@s) there is on average 0.190 retweets with a steady decrease after that point.
Where you put the link matters, too. They showed that the link position in a tweet affects the click through rate (CTR) — positioning a link 90 percent of the way through your tweet generates on average 0.2 retweets.
Now that Twitter has optimized photos to show up in tweets, is there any impact on performance? About four times as much. That is, a tweet without a picture receives 0.133 retweets, but a tweet with a picture receives on average 0.404 retweets.
Does Twitter's picture preview increase the likelihood of retweets with pictures? Most definitely. Post-preview picture tweets receive on average 0.496 retweets.
What you say in your tweet can definitely impact its performance, especially if there's a call to action. By simply spelling out retweet rather than writing RT, tweets receive an average of 1.88 retweets. It doesn't hurt to be polite and urgent, as well. Using “please” will gather 0.32 retweets on average and “now” produces on average 0.17 retweets.
Don't be afraid to show your emotions. It seems Twitter may be a safe space for the exclamation point. The report showed that using six exclamation marks in a tweet doesn’t just yield high emotion, but also produces an average of 0.299 retweets. And then using up to nine exclamation marks produces 0.484 average retweets!
If you're excited, you might as well go all the way. For tweets in all uppercase, they receive 0.8 retweets on average. Tweets without all caps receive on average 0.147 retweets.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!!!!
Reports like this are always interesting and shed a little light on what influences users to share another's tweet. While there are definitely trends to be aware of the next time you tweet, it's also important to keep it all in perspective.
Not every tweet needs to be shouted or have an image. Experiment where necessary and learn what resonates best with those you want to inform. Most importantly, however, is to remember that Twitter is a social platform: it's about a conversation. While retweets in any form are great, how you engage with those who share your message also matters.