How to Craft The Most Retweetable Tweets

Twitter: How To Increase Retweet Reach [Research]

retweetable tweets-twitter tips Want to expand your Twitter reach?

One way is to maximize each tweet’s chances of being retweeted by using recent research to craft the most retweetable tweets and to know when to send them.

Of course, you also need to track your results since your audience behavior may vary and you’ll want to adapt your behavior accordingly.

Here’s what Track Maven discovered based on their analysis of 1,423 Twitter accounts with 1,000 or more followers. A total of 1.7 million tweets were examined. A number of the topics covered in this research is similar to Dan Zarrella’s findings. Twitter Tips Based On Research From Heidi Cohen

Timing matters to maximize retweets

Tweet frequency by day of the week. Most tweets are sent during the workweek, Monday through Friday. Activity drops off around the weekend. Tweets are highest during the middle of the week, Tuesday (17.2%), Wednesday (17.2%) and Thursday (17.4%) when people have cleared away the build up from the prior week and are focused on work.  Twitter Activity Chart 2013

Retweet frequency by day of the week. While most tweets are sent during the workweek, Sunday has the highest retweet rate with an average of 0.168 retweets per 1000 followers.   Retweets by Day of week -Track Maven- Dec 2013

Tweet frequency by time of day. Tweet frequency is highest during work hours on the US East Coast. Tweet frequency peaks at lunchtime (12pm to 1 pm), the beginning of the West Coast workday (9 am to 10 am). Noon hour accounts for 8.01% of all tweets sent during the day.  Twitter Activity Chart 2013

Retweet frequency by time of day. Tweets sent in the evening, post work hours, specifically between 9pm and midnight East Coast time, garner the most retweets. Tweets sent between 10pm and 11pm, when it’s evening for most of the US, receive a peak of 0.194 retweets on average.   Twitter Activity Chart 2013

Actionable Twitter Tips:

  1. Think beyond your business hours to extend your company’s message reach on Twitter.
  2. Time your tweets to appear during Twitter’s primetime, namely lunchtime on the east coast, regardless of where you’re located.
  3. Schedule tweets for between 9:00pm and midnight on the East Coast to get a slight edge on retweets.
  4. Test sending tweets during less busy times during the workweek on Twitter to see if your message captures great visibility when there’s less clutter.

Hashtags increase retweet frequency

Hashtags, which are prevalent across different social media platforms as a means of attracting attention increase the likelihood of retweets. 5 hashtags in a tweet on average gets 0.301 retweets while not using hashtags has an average of 0.116 retweets.

While many Twitter users steer clear of using more than 3 hashtags, the use of 5 hashtags versus 3 appears to increase retweets. Even the use of 6 and 7 hashtags yields higher retweets than the use of 3 hashtags.

Interestingly, the use of over 11 hashtags appears to yield over 0.500 retweets. This seems like an outlier since it would mean that most of the tweet content would be hashtags.  Twitter Chart 2013

Actionable Twitter Tips:

  1. Include relevant hashtags to your tweets to expand your reach.
  2. Try not to mix hashtags into the core of your message since it makes it difficult to read. Sometimes you may find that you’re limited by the length of your message.

Retweet frequency: Number of mentions

Responding to someone on Twitter automatically places his Twitter handle in your tweet. Additionally, you address someone by mentioning them in the tweet or try to get the attention of someone who may be interested in the information.

Based on Track Maven’s data, you maximize retweets with 4 or 6 mentions. 6 mentions yield an average of 0.190 retweets. Beyond 6 mentions, there’s steady decline in retweets.

Yet, this data doesn’t take into consideration the fact that increasing the number of mentions limits the length of the message, especially with longer (over 10 letters) Twitter handles.  Twitter Chart-2013 research

Actionable Twitter Tips:

  1. Make sure your content is set up to include your company or brand name in tweets. Also incorporate those of the author where appropriate such as when tweeting blog posts and media articles.
  2. Take care when including people’s names, especially influencers, in your tweets. It can have the opposite effect. While you may get attention from their followers, you may get them irritated by you.

Position of links influences retweet frequency

The placement of a link within a tweet affects both the CTR  and the number of retweets. Putting a link 90% of the way through your tweet or near the end of your message yields an average of 0.2 retweets.  Twitter Chart - Research 2013

Actionable Twitter Tips:

Language use matters for retweet frequency

Skip abbreviations on Twitter to increase retweets. Spelling out the entire word “Retweet” in your tweets receives on average 1.88 retweets. Using “please” will gather 0.32 retweets on average and “now” produces on average 0.17 retweets. This is in line with Twitter research by Dan Zarrella.

Also, this portrays a similar trend to Disruptive Communications’s findings that showed over 40% of UK customers expected good spelling and grammar from businesses and brands.

Twitter Chart - research 2013

Actionable Twitter Tips:

  1. Skip abbreviations where possible. Understand that your  audience may not know what RT or other shortcut stands for.
  2. Craft your tweets to be able to stand on their own. Clarity counts. If your audience can’t understand it they’re not going to pay attention to your content or retweet it!
  3. Remember your manners and your grammar, even on Twitter.

Your attention please! Using 6 exclamation marks in a tweet doesn’t just yield high emotion, but also produces an average of 0.299 retweets. Further between 2 and 6 explanation marks yields relatively similar retweets.

Once a user adds 9 exclamation marks they produce 0.484 average retweets, in part this may be attributable to the fact that they’re acting in lieu of an actual word.

Author Elmore Leonard had a different perspective on explanation mark usage. He limited use to 2 or 3 within 100,000 words.

Twitter Chart Actionable Twitter Tips:

  • Keep your explanation points under control. They don’t have a big impact on increasing retweets until you get to 9 of them! Of course, if you do this once in a while, it can be good for getting attention.

NOW HEAR THIS! Screaming in the form of sending tweeting using only capital letters attract more retweets. Specifically all upper case messages receive 0.8 retweets on average compared with tweets with a 0.1 ratio of capital letters that receive an average of 0.147 retweets.

Uppercase Letters Retweet Ratio-Track Maven-2013

Actionable Twitter Tip:

  • Mind your Twitter manners. Bear in mind that people don’t like to get screamed at, which is what all capital letters is. Further, this approach can hurt you longer term if people unfollow you as a result.

Following size has an impact on retweets

As shown by the clustering of orange squares near the intersect of the chart, there’s a relationship between the average retweets and the total number of followers:  smaller Twitter followings yield more retweets on average. (Note: Earlier research showed that Twitter isn’t a conversation.)

Since there’s limited data presented, one assumption is that these Twitter participants are more engaged with their followers, than people with large followings are or have time to be.  Average retweets higher with smaller follower base-Track Maven-2013

Retweet frequency: Pictures

By adding a picture to your tweet, you increase your retweet potential since tweets containing images yield on average 0.404 retweets, about 3 times the number of retweets than tweets that don’t contain an image – 0.133 retweets. Note: It’s not only pictures that matter but also, the platform they’re from.

Seeing pictures in the Twitter feed, introduced by Twitter on October 29th, 2013, increases retweets to average of 0.496. This makes sense since people can instantly tell if they’d like to share the image with their followers. As with other forms of social media, reducing the activity required improves desired results. Retweets When Images Are Previewed-Track Maven-2013

Actionable Twitter Tips:

  • Incorporate images into your Twitter sharing, especially if you’ve got a newsjacking moment like Oreos at last year’s Super Ball.

While most of the tweet creation and distribution happens during normal business hours, research shows that, depending on your objective, that may not be the most effective time to send your message.

To craft the most retweetable tweets, take these research findings into consideration. Also, leave at least 10 characters in your message to provide room for others to retweet it. But the main point is that you should always choose message clarity over additional mentions and hashtags.

What has your experience been with retweets?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies. You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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Photo Credit: (c)2013 Heidi Cohen – Use permitted if you link back to this specific article.

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  • http://www.wearerecurve.com/ Bradley Robb

    All that data looks really impressive, and Track Maven did a really good job of assembling it. But, what I’m seeing from this assembled data is largely backing up of common sense:

    -A Tweet has the highest chance of being retweeted when there is less competition from other tweets.
    -There’s not a large statistical chance of being retweeted based on time of day, day of week, or (even) number of followers
    -Most of the methods used to juice a tweet’s retweetability offer negligible improvements

    The single largest determining factor in what gets a tweet retweeted still seems to be how much the audience cares about the content of the tweet, and not the methods from which it was crafted.

    • Steiner on Failure

      Brad – you should reread, there are tons of actionable points for increasing retweet probability in Heidi’s analysis.

      True the numbers are small – but they increase significantly as the number of followers grows.

      • http://www.wearerecurve.com/ Bradley Robb

        I’m sorry, are you asserting that an increase in follower has a correlated increase in the likelihood of a retweet? The studies I’ve seen typically show an opposite.

        Sorry, Steiner, the math really isn’t there. This is an inches game of single variants in an improbable landscape.

  • Steiner on Failure

    Heidi kudos on the excellent analysis.
    Would be nice to summarize “rules for an ideal tweet” based on your data.

  • http://www.newsmakergroup.com/ Suzanne Mannion

    Re using images in Tweets, how often do you recommend? I think we should use with a majority of our tweets since it’ll get old, fast. And since there are other tips for enhancing RT, abusing images isn’t necessary.

  • Anirban Pathak

    This
    is anice article. I think we should use with a majority of our tweets
    since it’ll get old, fast. And since there are other tips for enhancing RT,
    abusing images isn’t necessary.