Twitter Research By Dan Zarrella of Hubspot [Charts]
What marketer doesn’t want to increase their number of retweets to expand their reach on Twitter?
The reality is that it’s incredibly easy to achieve this objective with minor changes to your Twitter content – based on recent research by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot.
2 Characters that boost retweets
With an over 1.2 million tweet dataset, Zarrella found 2 characters, that when present in tweets are correlated with those tweets being more likely to be retweeted.
- Including one or more hashtags in a tweet increased the tweet’s likelihood of being retweeted by over 55%. This makes sense intuitively since hashtags help your tweets reach a broader audience.
- Use 3 or less hashtags in a tweet since it’s good Twitter practice. Otherwise, it’s difficult to read.
- Including quotation marks in a tweet made it 30% more likely to be retweeted than those that didn’t contain quotes. People love to share quotes on Twitter. While in this analysis, Zarrella only looked at specific characters, it would be interesting to see whether quotation marks were as effective as the word “quote” for retweets.
4 Photo sharing insights to increase tweets
With our ever-present smartphones and cameras, it’s easier than ever to include photographs in your social media content. These social media photos are magnets for attracting people. So how do marketers tap into this trend to increase their photo sharing effectiveness on Twitter?
Zarrella examined 482,862 randomly selected tweets to determine how to maximize photo retweets in October 2013. Zarrella’s analysis provides useful insights that can boost your reach by making relatively minor adjustments to your social media sharing. (BTW, Zarrella’s data has a 99% confidence interval making these results reliable.)
- Tweets containing images uploaded to Twitter’s native image system (aka pic.Twitter.com) were almost twice as likely to be retweeted. When it comes to photographs, go native. This bodes well for Twitter, especially in the context of its impending IPO.
- Tweets containing Twitpic images increased retweets by over 60%. Twitpic was one of the early platforms for sharing images on Twitter known for JKrum’s photo of the US Airways plane in the Hudson. This shows that third party products tailored to specific social media platforms can be effective (but not as good as going native!)
- Tweets containing Instagram images suppressed retweets by over 40%.
- Tweets containing Facebook images (aka FB image links), suppressed retweets by almost 50%. It’s interesting to note that using other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook suppressed retweets.
7 Twitter calls-to-action (CTAs) increase retweets
Based on a dataset of over 2.7 million Tweets from Buffer, Zarrella analyzed the impact of calls-to-action (aka CTAs) on retweets in May 2013. Zarrella used retweets-per-follower ratio to control for the number of followers.
While it’s well established that using a call-to-action is important, Zarrella found that on Twitter where every character counts:
- Words matter for calls-to-action.
Of the 7 top phrases that when included in a tweet correlated with that tweet attracting greater retweets than tweets that didn’t include those words, here’s what Zarrella found:
- The top of the CTA list were “please help” and “please retweet”. Both of these phrases increased retweets by over 100%.
- Even when characters are limited make sure your message is clear to your audience.
- Manners matter more than character count since the next 2 most important calls-to-action were “please RT” and “please”.
- Including the words “retweet” and “spread” improves reach but not as much as the other 4 options.
- It’s not surprising that “visit” is at the bottom of the top phrases since it’s the closest to sounding like a promotion.
Tweet length measured in characters
Analyzing 1.4 million randomly selected tweets from 1.2 million different accounts in October 2013, Zarrella discovered that:
- The longer the tweet, the more likely it will be retweeted up to roughly 120 characters. In other words, you must allow room for potential sharers to include their Twitter handle.
- Between 100 and 115 character tweets are one third more likely to get retweeted than tweets outside of that range. In other words, your tweet content must contain enough substance to be worth sharing
- Over 120 characters, there’s a big falloff in retweet probability.
The bottom line is that by making relatively minor changes to your Twitter content, you can increase the reach of each tweet.
What other techniques have you discovered that will increase your tweet reach?
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