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6 Timely Tips for Twitter Success

New research from Sysomos shows that 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour after the tweet has been sent.

This demonstrates that Twitter users are not browsing the public stream (or even their own lists) to find and interact with tweets from earlier in the day.

Consequently, WHEN you send your tweets has a tremendous impact on virality. Previous research by Dan Zarrella found that the best times to tweet in general are 10am – 3pm.

6 Steps to Add Efficiency to Your Tweeting

Based on the Sysomos findings, here’s what you can try to make your tweeting more effective:

1. Find Your Influencers
Not all Twitter followers have equal ability to amplify. Use to find the most influential followers in your network. Or, use the free version of Cotweet or Hootsuite to scan or filter your public Twitter stream by Klout score. (A score over 30 is fairly influential).

Then, make yourself a Twitter list of your influential followers. Watch this list whenever possible, interacting with your influencers whenever you have something relevant and useful to add to the dialog.

2. Repeat Your Tweets
Yes, it’s unpopular with the social media purists, but if 94% of tweets are RT’d within the first hour, you need to tap into multiple Twitter audiences throughout the day. I tweet my blog posts 3 times daily, with a different headline each time. This becomes even more important if you have followers in many time zones.

3. Test Your Tweet Times
Methodically test your tweet times. Use multiple or short URLs and test tweeting at different times of day. Give yourself the best chance of being RT’d by influential followers by knowing when they are likely to be on Twitter. Twitalyzer provides a useful graph of this information.

You can also see a graph of how often you’ve been retweeted, by hour.

4. Pay Attention to Language and Tweet Structure
Use Twitalyzer or even your data to see which of your Tweets are retweeted most frequently. What patterns emerge? Longer tweets? Shorter tweets? Links at the front? Links at the end? (Dan Zarrella has found that tweets with links are RT’d substantially more than tweets without links). Tweets asking for help? Tweets about your company? Tweets about other companies, or even non-business content? Know what’s worked for you in the past, and try to model your future tweeting to mimic it (within reason).

Of course, if you want to be retweeted, you should never write a tweet longer than 120 characters.

5. Think About Daily Patterns
Many of my followers are businesspeople that work in advertising or public relations agencies. Having lived in that world for nearly 20 years, I know first-hand that days are often FULL of meetings, many starting or ending at the top of bottom of each hour. 9 am. 10:30 am. 1 pm. etc.

Consequently, I presume that many followers check Twitter quickly in between meetings. Thus, I try to send most of my tweets just before or after these top and bottom of the hour windows. 9:33 am. 11:02 am. 2:04 pm. etc. What patterns are there in your world that might dictate Twitter usage?

6. Manage Expectations
The Sysomos data shows that only 6% of all Tweets are ever retweeted. Don’t expect everything you send on Twitter to go crazy with RTs. People aren’t lying around hoping you’ll send them your 120-character masterpiece to complete their day. Sometimes, a tweet you think will be popular isn’t. Other times, a tweet unexpectedly catches fire. The vagaries of individual tweet success are significant, which is why you should always measure your Twitter success over a longer term (monthly or quarterly), and use multiple metrics (traffic generated, klout, RTs, followers per tweet, followers – typically in that order).

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    Thanks Jay, this is really useful stuff especially the Twitaylzer tool. I am currently looking at optimising the Re-tweeting of posts over different time zones, what works in USA working day is different elsewhere! We are working on a plan (as a guide) for the team to use for optimum times for Tweeting throughout the 24hrs (Good Linkbait too!)

    I saw the Sosomos research too and blogged about it here (but not in as much depth!)

  2. says

    Great advice here Jay.
    I think the one that most people have a problem with is the sending your links out at multiple times during the day. The purists say it’s just creating noise, but I’m with you. It makes sense to send out important links more than once a day as people’s streams move so fast that if they happen to miss something they never get the chance to see it again. By releasing the info again it allows for some people to have a second chance to see it, as well as people in different time zones who also may not have caught it the first time around. The fact that most RT’s only happen in the first hour of a tweet is just a kicker to sending it again if getting your link Rt’d is your goal.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    • says

      Imagine if you were a newspaper with 100,000 daily subscribers. But, only 12,000 people read the newspaper each hour. Would you publish a story only at 9am, and then be done? Twitter isn’t a newspaper, I get that. But Twitter is all about potential audience at any given moment, not actual audience – because your overall followers are massively fragmented during the day.

      Thanks for the great research Sheldon.

  3. @camberley says

    I love your idea of tweeting at the top and bottom of each hour so you reach people who have been in meetings. Great advice.


  4. says

    Thanks for a well-reasoned, cross-referenced and useful post. With respect to re-posting your own tweets, doesn’t Twitter have a restriction on that? I realize you can change a word or character to fool the system, just curious if anyone knows what restrictions Twitter has in place on repeating oneself.

  5. Cwiley says

    Nice post, Jay. Points #3 and #5 resonate the most with me. I would also add one more caveat to your point about language and tweet structure: content type matters just as much as consistency.

    I actually did a study not too long ago that was just published, showing what types of content are best to grow v. retain your Tweeps. There are plenty of useful charts and graphs. Feel free to browse and drop me a line: “How to grow your Twitter following:

  6. JenniferParker3 says

    Seriously….your articles are always dead on and on spot! They seem to come right as I need them 😉 Thank you for being so smart 😉 lol!!

  7. Charlie Scala says

    Thank you for the tips! I never thought about the timing of tweets to that extent.

    I have a general question about posting twitter tips. Do you think it is always necessary/appropriate to put a link to your website at the end of a tweet?

    • says

      Definitely not. I tweet all the time without links, because sometimes I’m just making a comment or engaging in a dialog, not trying to attention to a Web page.

  8. says

    I always thought timing was vital to grabbing attention. There are great programs to help you schedule your tweets to spread them out- and minimize your time commitment while doing it!

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