As of earlier this year, Twitter has over 140 million active users and 340 million tweets are sent each day. But most small-business owners start using Twitter without any clear strategy of how to grow their company’s fan base on the platform. Even though Twitter is free, it can be a major time suck if it’s not used properly. And because the moves you make early in your business are critical to future growth, entrepreneurs can't afford to waste any time.
The best way to build your Twitter following is through word-of-mouth marketing, which is triggered by retweets. Two major studies done over the years that have analyzed which tweets get shared and which fail to make the grade.
The Tweet Study
UCLA and Hewlett-Packard’s HP Labs conducted a recent study to predict the popularity of news-based tweets. Their focus was to predict tweets’ popularity before they become tweets and their tools were able to calibrate their tweets in advance of posting with 84 percent accuracy. They found that there were four important factors in tweet spreadability.
- The news source that creates and publishes the article. For instance, if the person is an influencer or a big brand, then it’s more spreadable
- The category of news that the article belongs to. The popular categories are health, technology and sports
- Whether the language in the article is emotional or objective
- Whether celebrities, famous brands or other notable intuitions are mentioned
Dan Zarella, a Hubspot employee who constantly researches new Twitter trends, focused on what stimulates a retweet for his study. He found that 51 percent of tweets that included “Please Retweet” were retweeted more than once, 39 percent of those including "Please RT" were retweeted more than once, and only 12 percent of tweets that included neither were retweeted more than once.
Tweet Times Matter
He went deeper into his analysis for his “Science of ReTweets” presentation. He found that the most retweetable words are "you," "Twitter," "please," "retweet" and "post." One of the most interesting and valuable pieces of information that he concluded was that the most amount of retweets happen at around 5 p.m. EST. If you tweet around that time, you should be able to get the most return on your tweet (ROT). Also, he found that the likelihood of a tweet being retweeted increases dramatically each time it is retweeted. The reason for this is because there’s social proof that it’s already popular.
By arming yourself with this information, you can be more successful on Twitter and save time asking yourself if your tweet will amount to anything. Twitter can be an extremely powerful tool if you use it correctly and understand what works and what doesn’t. Too many entrepreneurs use it without insight into how human behavior works on the platform. The reality is that it takes time to build up a fan base that can help market your products on your behalf, but it’s worth it.
Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management-consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.
Image by OPEN Forum