How to Improve Your Twitter Engagement Rate

Is there such a thing as too many hashtags or tweets? Counterintuitive findings help brands engage on Twitter.
June 27, 2012

Cut down the hashtags and tweet when people are busy are two of the (surprising) findings of a new report.

Buddy Media studied tweets from the top 320 brands on Twitter between December 11, 2011 and February 23, 2012 for its latest report, Strategies for Effective Tweeting: A Statistical Review. “With over 140 million active users, and 340 million Tweets per day, the social network is one that brands cannot ignore,” the company wrote in a blog post about the study, noting that one of its recent reports found 77 percent of brands consider Twitter a priority social media platform.

The analysis judged success based on the reply rate (the number of replies as a percentage of followers), the retweet rate (also as a percentage of followers), and the engagement rate (a combination of the replies and retweets compared to the number of followers).
A couple of the latest report’s findings seem counterintuitive.

One: Tweeting while people are busy will get your brand more engagement. Tweets fired off between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. received 30 percent more engagement than those posted outside those hours. (This also happens to be exactly the opposite of Buddy Media’s recent Facebook engagement findings. On that social media platform, posts published after hours had a 20 percent higher engagement rate. Meanwhile, a recent analysis by suggested a narrower time frame for tweets: 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.)

A second possibly counterintuitive finding: two hashtags good, more hashtags … definitely not better. Tweets with one or two hashtags had 21 percent higher engagement than those with three or more pound signs. Anything above two hashtags led to a drop in engagement, the report found.

Buddy’s analysis also found that tweets of 100 characters or less had 17 percent higher engagement rates than longer ones, probably because that length leaves room for links or a retweet plus comment.

Other findings:

There is definitely such a thing as too many tweets. “There’s an inverse relationship between daily Tweet frequency and engagement,” observed the report. ”So the more you Tweet per day, the less engaging your Tweets may become.” On its cheatsheet of best practices, Buddy suggests tweeting no more than four times per day.

Add a link. Tweets are almost evenly split between those with links and those without, but tweets with links receive retweet rates that are a whopping 86 percent higher than their link-free counterparts. (Link clicks, Buddy found, account for 92 percent of all user interaction with tweets.)

Tweet on the best days for your industry. Clothing and fashion does not follow the best-during-weekday-rule: the weekend produces 30 percent higher engagement rates than the average for this industry. You also may be able to get a jump on the competition, since just 12 percent of tweets for this industry are posted on a Saturday or Sunday. The worst day to tweet: Thursday.

For entertainment brands, tweets published on Sunday and Monday receive 23 percent more engagement than average, while Thursday had the lowest engagement. Publishing’s big day was Saturday, where engagement is 29 percent higher than average. Weekends also are big for sports—engagement rate is a huge 52 percent higher on Saturday or Sunday than during the rest of the week.

What are your best times to tweet? Why do you think they are successful?

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