5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter

TwitterBack in 2006 when Brian wrote the Viral Copy report, Twitter didn’t even exist. Now Twitter is a force that any serious web publisher needs to reckon with in order to gain maximum exposure for content.

Twitter is changing the way information spreads online. Links that would have been blogged a couple of years ago are now more often shared via the micro-blogging service instead, which fundamentally changes strategy when trying to get content to spread.

Publishers can complain and wistfully wish for the good old days of blog links and Google juice, or they can adapt to the new reality Twitter represents. Getting your content “ReTweeted” on Twitter (i.e. getting people to repeat what you’ve said, usually along with a link) can drive significant quality traffic to your site, which in turn can boost your subscriber numbers.

So, how does ReTweeting happen, anyway? Well, here are the 5 factors you need to take into account when trying to get your content to spread virally on Twitter.

1. Call to Action

ReTweeting is an action you wish your readers to take, and, like any other action, the best way to persuade people to do it is to ask them to. And when a user ReTweets your content, they’re very likely to also repost your call to action, lending it their credibility and influence.

Twitter ReTweets

My research has shown that the word “please” occurs in ReTweets far more often than it occurs in other Tweets. A quick look at the text of the most ReTweeted Tweets in my ReTweet mapper shows that the explicit “please ReTweet” is the most common call to action and occurs in a large number of ReTweeted messages. In the interest of brevity it typically comes in the form of “please RT;” again, when your message is ReTweeted by a new user, they are in effect asking their followers to ReTweet it for them.

Other common calls to action that frequently occur in the most ReTweeted Tweets include variations of the following:

  • Check out…
  • Follow this person
  • Please vote
  • Help me
  • Questions, e.g. “What do you think of…”

2. Timing

Twitter ReTweets

My research into ReTweeting as well as other forms of viral content sharing indicates that there is a window of time during which sharing occurs more often. The first few days of the business week, Monday through Wednesday, typically see more ReTweeting than Thursday, Friday and the weekend.

Time of day also seems to be important; between 9am and 6pm EST the amount of ReTweets sees a sharp increase. So if you want your content to be ReTweeted it is advisable to post it during that window.

3. Links

Twitter ReTweets

The data also showed that almost 70% of all ReTweets contain a link. This is good news for marketers in that it demonstrates that the mechanism of ReTweeting is an acceptable way to spread your off-Twitter content, and it tells us that a link is an important ingredient to ReTweetable Tweets.

4. Social Proof

Twitter ReTweets

Nearly every form of viral sharing that I’ve looked into includes some form of social proof. Humans have a natural tendency toward imitation, especially of those who they assume have more or better information than themselves. The likelihood of a tweet being ReTweeted increases dramatically each time it is ReTweeted.

So one tactic to increasing your ReTweetability could be to message or otherwise persuade other users to ReTweet your content for you, in order to stimulate further organic ReTweeting. This can be especially powerful if you can get well known users to share your content, as they’ll then be lending their authority and reach to your message as well as your calls to action.

5. Value

Every “social media expert” tells you that you have to “add value” in social media, and while I’ve been guilty of this a few times myself, “value” is far too nebulous a word to be considered useful advice. In the context of ReTweets, value comes in a variety of formats, and by looking at the most ReTweeted tweets I’ve been able to deduce a few common, concrete examples:

  • How Tos and Instructional Content
  • News, especially breaking news
  • Warnings (like the DM phishing scam)
  • Freebies and Contests

What about you? Have you found any other factors and tactics that seem to get your message ReTweeted?

About the Author: Dan Zarrella is a social, search, and viral marketing scientist with a background in web development. Naturally, you should follow Dan on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Wow, that’s some really fascinating data, especially the Time of Day graph. All are great things to keep in mind. Thanks!

  2. Definitely good information (a given considering the source). Thanks for the post!

  3. I do not have any fancy graphs like you but I have noticed that if you have some good jokes they tend to be RTweeted alot. Besides that your list is pretty dead-on for what I have seen.

  4. Very interesting. A good insight on using Twitter to expand your audience. Thanks for the information!

  5. Calls to action are key in getting people to do something on your blog or site or any place for that matter. Don’t underestimate the value of a call to action.

    And a properly place (and properly timed) call to action.

  6. I would add that humor also gets retweeted a lot. You should run the data and see how often the word funny appears in retweets vs. regular tweets.

    @robert_brady

  7. May I know the sample size where you collected your data? Was this just one account or several different accounts. I am really interested from Time of Day data perspective.

    Bilal

  8. I think the “call to action” and “social proof” numbers are interesting. But the timing issue should be obvious once you think about it. If you have primarily a North American audience, that’s when people are online.

    As for the link issue, I’d be interested to see what proportion of all tweets have links, and does presence of a link make it more or less likely to re re-tweeted? Based on my entirely unscientific scan of tweets I remember seeing, I wouldn’t be surprised if roughly 70% of them had links.

  9. Very useful Dan. I like #2, too. What’s your twitter handle?

  10. Excellent data. I currently struggle with the best way to use Twitter, but your point that “Publishers can complain and wistfully wish for the good old days of blog links and Google juice, or they can adapt to the new reality Twitter represents,” really made me stop and concur.

  11. Killer advice. Thanks much. Have you discovered what the ‘do nots’ are for Tweeting as well? Does it do more harm if you’re asking people to retweet a blog post, or a piece of content that you’ve authored in an effort to get more people to check it out?

    What are the social rules for marketing your own content?

    @ryancmiller

  12. Very interesting, will have to test this out :)

  13. As a relatively new blogger, I’ve been looking into which social media drives the most traffic, and it is apparent that Twitter is fast becoming (if not already) the dominant tool for this.

    Dan I installed TweetSuite on my blog and I’m loving it, thanks!

  14. This was very helpful.

    This web 2.0 thing has so many facets. It has been my policy to pick one thing and learn it well. Then move on to the next thing and learn it well. Then I am ready for the changes that can occur so fast, and I can easily implement them.

    I have picked twitter as part of my social media marketing. Right now I am learning everything I can about it.

    Like I said, This was very helpful. Came at the perfect time.

    Thank you for the research.
    Sheila

  15. Great blog! Twitter could be easily mistaken for a simple chat box when it’s dynamic social influence can be so powerful if applied correctly.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  16. Perry thanks for posting such an interesting study. I am going to Retweet it all over the place! You help to make Twitter a less confusing tool to so many new to new social media. Thanks!

  17. This definitely works, I am a newbie blogger but was amazed at how many hits my little baby got with just one please retweet for a blog article I wrote on what else.. Twitter! :) Thanks for the stats. I’ll go retweet it!

  18. When you tweet is also very important. I find that my network (marketing folks mostly) tend to be more active and willing to spread the word in the late afternoon or evening.

  19. It looks like all the images in your post are all copies of the first graph in my Google reader. Popped over to let you know in case something was misconfigured or something.

    Great post, though. And who would have thought that asking nicely with a “please” is the ticket to success? I wonder what else my grandmother was right about. :D

  20. Very interesting…

  21. I do not know for sure, but I would think that late breaking news of the catastrophic (or at least explosive in content) nature may also get retweeted. I tend to believe that if you are not well known out there, people may not attribute your tweets and rather tweet as new news.

    Frank Dobner

  22. Thanks Dan,
    a very interesting study…

  23. Useful, timely and something I am RT’ing.

  24. It is really great to see people running stats on Twitter data, as it is such a rich source when talking about social communication on the web.

    However, make sure not to misinterpret this descriptive data about Retweets in general as describing what makes retweets more or less successful.

    A large portion of what this data describes is what people think is more successful when soliciting retweets, or what strategies they use when attempting to craft retweetable messages (though, yes, having an item successfully retweeted means that the message will be counted more than once in the data).

    For instance, if it were the case that 90% of people did not include a link when retweeting, that wouldn’t mean that that strategy was more successful, it would simply mean that the majority of people just hadn’t thought to include a link.

    Unfortunately, it is still not that easy to follow a chain of retweets through the Twittersphere, but a great study would be looking at the longest chains and seeing what common factors contributed to the virality of those tweets. If we were to see that RT’s with links had an avg. chain length of 4, while those without had an avg. chain length of 2 – that might inform us better about the effects of links on retweetability.

    Anyways, this was definitely cool to read and think about!

    Twitter

  25. Dan, great info- and shows that social media CAN be a marketing tool- through twitter- if done right. Value is in the eyes of the beholder. But Value in social media is exactly what you said it is- something that can impact and move people forward in what they are doing or experiencing through usefulness, thus creating some form of results good or bad. Great post!

  26. Right now Im doing an experiment based in your suggestions… In this case is an eBay item.

  27. This is some great information, I’ve been using twitter for posting my musings etc, but to use it as a call to action is something I think I’ll pursue even further.

  28. Extremely useful, with data that I’ve seen in my own research to back it up. Great post, Dan!

  29. Twitter is a great tool that needs to be included in one’s arsenal and the RT is a tool that is great as well. I think the continued tracking RT’s and of twitter posts in general shows that doing messages at midnight is a complete waste of time and this shows the time frames that work and when people are on it (work more than likely).

    Adding value is key and one just can’t ask repeatedly.

  30. I love the statistics and the graphics! Looks very professional. It’s amazing to see the sheer power of Twitter and the snowball a RT creates.

  31. I am a recruiter and I am always telling candidates, instead of saying, “I am looking for a job”, say “I am looking for a web development role, here is my info (embedded link)”
    You get a far better response.
    I will often embed job descriptions in my twitter updates (with tiny URL) and I have gotten some great candidates.
    Save a step, embed!!

  32. Great stats and analysis. I think it all boils down to what someone sees as being legitimate and useful info. Also, the whole idea of asking for people to RT, who knew?!?

  33. seems that “please” never goes out of universal style. ditto for thank you. And thanks for the useful info.

  34. Sorry but this post is bothersome to me. Websites like Twitter were designed for people to have fun and communicate. By gaming them and using them for advertising it just waters down the product. I’d like to compare this with Myspace. Initially Myspace was a social site. After it broke through and became a cultural destination it became a prime target for advertising. Along with antiquated functionality, advertising overwhelmed the social nature of the site. This drove users to a better (less intrusively marketing based) alternative – Facebook. While I understand that this website is about getting your blog seen, by advocating using Twitter to your advantage you kill the service. You can’t MAKE people read your content. Organic growth is always more successful in the long run.

  35. I’d be interested to see the second graph as a percentage of all Tweets. I bet that the graph would look a lot different.

  36. Great post. When I see several tweets/retweets with the same link I definitely pay attention.

    In terms of #5, with your thoughts about what kinds of information gets retweeted, don’t overlook content itself. Links to great ideas and concepts, and the sources behind those ideas and concepts, command attention. That’s why I’ve sent people to Copyblogger as one of my newer favorite sources (for ex. the Pooh post).

  37. Very well explained! I agree, Twitter has changed communication dynamics very rapidly. It’s never been easier to build social proof using the strategies outlined.

  38. This is great info!

    It’s interesting to see Twitter broken down this way. I guess I sort of thought of it as….a big chatroom? A lot of tweeps get put off if all you do is push your products/content. It’s important to make friends on there, too.

    Folks are more likely to retweet me if I’ve retweeted them previously. I think maybe it’s that those folks are my friends, so we’re reading each other’s tweets. I know I tend to scan right past some folks, if the majority of their tweets are links to their own stuff. It feels…shallow? It feels like Twitter has a stronger sense of community than Digg or other social media sites I’ve played with.

  39. When I first learned about this from metric from Dan, I was skeptical. It seemed that it favored the news, which it does. But it also breaks down the news into meaningful “pieces of value” that give us a better understanding of what is relevant to Twitter users. This gives great insights into how Twitter users like to receive their news, which shouldn’t be a surprise in this multi-media world we live in.

  40. “Please” is a powerful tool but, like all powerful tools, it must be used wisely and, in this case, sparingly. I have unfollowed people who regularly asked for retweets.

  41. I’m experimenting with the “Please RT” suggestion. It will be interesting to see if it leads to any retweets.

  42. Very interesting and useful data. This is a big step forward in the development of Twitter as a recognized marketing medium. Thanks for sharing.

    (Am I the only one who noticed the repeated misspelling of occurrence in the graph titles, though?)

  43. This is great information and I will surely follow it in my own efforts on twitter.

    Since you are a user of Thesis, and recommend it – I figured I would share a twitter/thesis option with you. I just added a custom_function that adds a ‘Tweet This’ to the end of each post – helping people pass along your content for you. You can check it out at my site. Of course – if you like it, please tweet about it.

  44. Wow. This information is huge. I have always laughed when I know during the lunch hours 11am-1pm (EST) that things really slow down with my East Coast friends…and then picks back up accordingly. The “please RT” is again, super interesting and I’m going to really take a lot of knowledge from this post. I’m new to twitter still, and always finding out new things!

    Thanks!

  45. I would have thought that asking for information would get retweeted, but I’m either being ignored or not asking the right questions, because they don’t get retweeted.

  46. Although I understand this in theory, it seems that ReTweeting, if not used wisely, holds the potential to become nothing more than the sound and the fury of a used-car salesman who will say and do anything to obtain a sale.

  47. great post, there are quite a number of ideas here that i haven’t tried yet, i will this week and see what happens.
    yeah i would like to add another way that i have found that you add value is if you can, just link them with people they might be seeking, like a wine connoisseur looking for another wine connoisseur, help to connect people. just appreciate them for reading your tweets~ this has been totally beneficial.
    @elnatobi

  48. I wonder if there might be two conflicting tactics for getting retweets.

    1) Plays on intrinsic motivation. Appealing to the message target’s inherent willingness to help. This is to directly ask for them to retweet. For whatever reason they don’t mind helping you out.

    2) Appeals to the extrinsic motivation for the retweeter to appear to be the author of the tweet, or to decide for themselves if they will attribute it as a retweet. The extrinsic aspect of this relates to how tweeted links act as the “social currency” of expertise. For many tweeters, links are the currency that make them seem “in the know”, a “source of knowledge”. Beneath a lot of link-tweets, is the motivation to be the next Guy Kawasaki, the infinite hub-volcano of hot and interesting info. I think that this group (a very aggressive group of microbloggers) maybe would respond to direct messages with a “you might dig this” type of message with the link?

    I don’t know for sure on all this. Just raising the question.

  49. RT is a great way to get traffic and a huge compliment when someone does it without asking. Asking people is a great way, especially if you have built up the credibility and trust. I always enjoy helping out when someone asks.

  50. Great info. I RT on TweetThat so I can archive it as well. Thanks for sharing.

  51. That is great information that I am going to go try to put into practice immediately. Thanks for taking the time to do the research and put that together.

  52. I was so inspired by your information I just added a ‘twitter post prefix’ consisting of your example call-to-actions. Now whenever a user creates a social bookmark with the Link Gateway toolbar they can automatically add a twitter post prefix to their tweet!

    Great information!

  53. Hello from beautiful Montana:

    Thanks so much for sharing your information and skill set. This is a learning curve for most of us, so we are grateful for assistance along the way.

    Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship coach and author

  54. Really great info! i am trying to get traffic to my new site and it has been pretty difficult, being as i am new to the concept of internet marketing. This was a great insight into what “should” be done. Once again, thanks alot. =]

  55. Those are interesting stats and its always amazing to see how social media has trends that can be utilised (eg best time of day to submit to Digg etc).

    Will have to keep these in mind this week as I try to get Twitter buzz going for my Thesis theme giveaway.

  56. This post is brilliant, thank you so much. I learned a stack here today!

  57. I have people retweet my tweets from time to time I’m not expecting it. As far a common denominator I’m not really sure but this is something that might be worth me going back and taking a look at. Thanks for the insight and the ideas.

  58. Well written and very easy to understand. Thanks.

  59. Eliz ObihFrank :

    Thanks Dan for this highly informative piece on the Twitter phenomenon. I have my reservations about the usefulness of all the “twitter this, twitter that” word bites coming my way; especially their application to doing business…
    I still view Twitter as a refined form of IM. Perhaps it helps when you have a large following but what about twitterers new to the game?
    With the current scale of social media networks and global internet access to instant news/information, Who is paying attention or really cares about another nanosecond tidbit on ProductX from a twitterer? Actually, Twitter overload might be the next arena to tackle…
    I appreciate the innovation behind Twitter and will continue to explore ways of using it to my advantage but I think my jury is still out on a final verdict!

  60. THANK YOU for such insights. I came out of this post with more depth than I expected — a pleasant surprise from all the indeed-nebulous “add value” dross I’m seeing today. And I’ve learned a lot more about retweets thanx to you, Dan.

  61. Thank you for this info. i am going to try this out!

  62. Superb post, Dan. I’ve been sensing that ReTweet is where the action is and observing many of the same things you’ve noticed… but you’ve really stepped up and done a lot of good work, research and tool creation. Bravo!

  63. Twitter has certainly changed the game… I’ve been on for less than a month and have my traffic quadruple… The trend is moving upward for my blog.
    Kevin

  64. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing the wisdom.

    Some questions about the Twitter user demographics:

    1. How many of them are salaried employees going to day jobs (like Engineers, doctors, lawyers) as against bloggers, designers or other freelance type of people who have time and access to check Twitter during their work day?

    2. How many of them look for “value” in Twitter? Or do they act as they are requested to RT, and do (or return) a favor ? Is there some psychology of “Influence” at work here?

    3. Regarding catching the 9am-6pm time window, would it be accurate to say that people in the rest of the world could have done their tweeting all day (America’s night/ early morning), and this could be partly what gets picked by the American Tweeters and gets RT’ed along with what gets generated within America during that day? This question especially stems from the fact that if one is following some really active Tweeters, then the number of messages on one’s page is so huge and that it spans multiple pages that it is hardly ever possible to peruse all, let alone reply or RT them.

    4. How many of ReTweeters are from outside America?

    Thanks.

  65. Great stuff! I have been twittering a lot lately and really want to start attracting a crowd..

  66. As always – great information -following you on twitter is like getting a college education! Maybe someday I will get my Masters! Thank you for sharing.

  67. After having read all of the above comments, I am particularly caught by two of them. Sanjay Kairam comments on links and makes a good point. I believe that many people are using Twitter as public instant messaging platform and network. Although this possibly under-utilizes the power of Twitter, it was extremely predictable that this would happen. Just simply knowing what someone is doing at this moment, is probably not going viral. However someone retweeting some serious and sharable content makes use of a possibly full implementation of Twitter. Being that Twitter is searchable makes both of the uses of Twitter I mention above very useful. But I would say sharing widely consumable information is likely to be more viral.

    Also Madhav Shipuri brings up a couple things that I had never thought of. Freelance and independently occupied people really do have a lot to do with what goes viral. The big players on Twitter (you know the names) probably have a lot to do with what goes viral. Once they get in the stream and distribute out to their thousands, more than likely those are better candidates for being viral. I think that psychographics has a lot to do with it too. Those people that utilize Twitter as a business tool have Twitter built into their personal habits. I would imagine that the U.S. also has the most to do with being viral as Madhav mentions. All this will change with time, I predict.

    Great post and comments

    http://twitter.com/frank_dobner

  68. As long as you are educating or helping your followers, you are in great shape. It’s all about providing value.

  69. Wow! nice info ! thanks a lot !

  70. Hey thanks for this, this is one thing i need to learn some more about and get it on my blog my the looks of things. Looks like the way of the future!

  71. Thanks for the tips. For someone new to Twitter, this helps to understand the dynamics of retweeting – when, why, how and what.

  72. Dan, Good information & the timing is good for me. I just did a very interesting interview dealing with my niche (tai chi) and was looking at using retweeting to spread the word.

    Thanks, John

  73. Nice – I like your distillation of twitter “action patterns”!

  74. I picked this up yesterday when Brian Tweeted it and thought I’d RT with the lessons learned from the article. I got about 15 RT’s and picked up a few new followers – and I’m a noobie.

    Dan, I’m convinced you’re right. The flattering comparison is true.

    http://www.twitter.com/clarifinancial

  75. Great info, wondering how the graphs came about though? Requested from Twitter HQ? It’s pretty hard to find all of those things out.

  76. Greatest. Blog post. Ever.

  77. Awesome information. I still don’t know how to re-tweet though? Isn’t that stupid??

  78. Very interesting post. Especially found the time of day info useful… I’ll now tweet about my blog posts during 9am and 6pm, instead of 11pm, like I normally do!

    @bostonmarketer

  79. I’ve been hearing a lot about retweeting lately. Now I know why. Those call to action numbers are impressive.

  80. Very informative. Thanks

  81. Chris great article.. I have been trying all sorts of tests to see what gets better results.. I have found short sharp headlines work best.. and then the URL not lengthy details.. Also when retweeting, I move the @username to the end of the sentence as opposed to leaving it at the beginning..it has made a difference.. eg..RT@markshaw message URL link Please RT. I change to… message URL link… RT@markshaw..Please RT

    Thanks

    Mark Shaw
    http://twitter.com/markshaw

  82. Hi Dan,

    Great post! The other “prefix” is see often when it comes to RT is “Reading” then the message and URL.

    Your time graph makes sense…the spike is around noon till 2pm Eastern which is when most of the US and Canada are at their computer (both east and west coasts) and it’s still early for the UK.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Sandy
    http://www.twitter.com/sandramartini

  83. That’s really fascinating stuff, particularly the stuff noting specific words and times of day that are most effective. I just sent a link to this to my Twitter followers. Thanks!

  84. Interesting. The time graph makes me think that more people check out Twitter when the work day is slowing down and they’re giving up on office work :)

  85. Really fascinating, Dan. I have noticed that I’m often more likely to retweet something when it’s already been retweeted. Your research seems to confirm that.

    I’ll experiment with the Please RT phrase and see what happens. :-)

  86. Thanks for the research and interpretation here, insight into how and when is always appreciated.

    This post links together quite well with a previous post by Dean — a good read for anyone that enjoyed ReTweetin’.

    http://www.copyblogger.com/get-to-yes/

  87. Very helpful data, except the point of “social proof.” That was a bit unclear and Dan’s post that goes into this more was a tough read. I understood the points about “depth” and “reproduction rates” but the point of “proof” didn’t hit home.

    But hey, growing up I gave my parents a rough time and I asked my dad some years later how he dealt with my shenanigans. He said, “son, we had five kids. Four came out great. I got numbers on my side. Why would I complain?”

  88. Saying something controversial always helps, needless to say!

  89. I have a hypothesis that tweets which leave room for the re-tweeter to add a short comment are more likely to get re-tweeted than ones that have already maxed the 140 chars. Would love to see some analysis on that.

    My thought is that people want to add their own spin. If the tweet is maxed, they have to take the effort to re-word it to make space for their own additions.

  90. During the last phishing problem on Saturday late afternoon through Sunday night (with a couple of sleep-eat breaks) I stepped up use my blog for a page where we could see what @ Names – Twitter IDs were compromised. I used the blog as it gave me the shortest URL and at the time we were unsure if URL links, including modified ones, were safe as the phishers were using them. http://ungravenimage/blog was short, recognizable and hence safe.
    I am an artist and author of an inspirational self-improvement book, not a SM expert, techie, web site builder, or any of the kinds of people who would have gained good PR for their businesses from keeping everyone on top of what was going on. I simply saw a need, waited a bit for someone of the above mentioned types to fill it and when no one did I stpped in.
    Many people use the same IDs & passwords for many or all of their sites, including banking so the threat was real.
    I had under 2000 followers then, so the news and updates that I was Tweeting and that was sent to me were more often ReTweeted. Suddenly I was a Twitter “expert” and fortunately some of the real experts helped me.
    I was helping people who messaged me about their compromised IDs to restore them, updating who was again safe and who was now not, tweeting the latest scams, etc.
    There was a great deal of confusion, because as we later learned there were two separate phishing attacks plus a hacking attack.
    The Twitter community came together, sent info to #phishing and RTed incessantly.
    The whole problem lasted about 24 hours give or take.
    I learned many life lesson type things that I discuss in a popular blog post, which continues to gain comments.
    However, I also learned that people will eagerly RT two kinds of messages.
    Two things that will always get a message ReTweeted (but it may need to be sent more than once, or sent to someone who will probably want to help) are:
    1. The message must benefit someone other than the person sending the tweet. The greater the need or help of the message the more it will be ReTweeted. David Armano recently raised over $14.000 for a desperate mother and her children who were victims of domestic abuse.
    2. The person sending the Tweet must have respect and authority. David Armano is a well known respected member of the community. I have watched as far less well known members then tried to raise funds, and their tweets were not often Retweeted.
    Authority can also mean knowledge. For instance, I had knowledge of what was happening with the phishing as I was somehow the go to person. A tweet from me had automatic respect and authority on phishing. The people who were on the scene for the Mumbai attacks and also the recent plane landing in the Hudson had immediate authority as the sent their messages, which were ReTweeted both as news and in the hope that others near the scene would see them and come to the rescue.

    First if that message will help someone in need. The message must come from a respected source. I have watched RTs fly past on all days and at all times to raise funds for people in desperate straights.
    David Armano @armano recently reaise over $14,000 for a desperate mother and her children who were escaping domestic abuse. David is a respected and well known member of the Twitter community, so when he asked for help his Tweets were heeded.
    I have watched as others asked for help for this or that and barely causes a ripple in the stream. They were new, not as well known or respected, and though the might be just as trustworthy and the cause just as good, not much happened.
    The second kind of Tweet that goes viral on a large scale is one that sounds an alarm that could affect members of the community.
    The news of the Mumbai attack and the plane landing in the Hudson River raced through the Twitter stream. I knew more from following on Twitter than I did from turning on CNN on TV. That’s because first hand accounts were being posted on Twitter as reporters rushed to the scenes.
    No matter what hours or days one uses the basic way to get something RTed is to first be a recognized and respected member of the community. Interact. become known . Help others. Social media is not all about me– it’s all about us.
    The second thing is the message being ReTweeted has its best chance if it genuinely helps the receivers, or those the could pass it onto.
    While I agree with the findings of this blog about best times and days for ReTweets, it is ironic that some of the most ReTweeted recent events have not occured at those times, but on weekends and in the evenings.
    For me, this says something wonderful, heart warming about the Twitter community. We are willing to help others, immediately, effectively and at anytime.
    We just need to believe in the cause and trust those who Tweet it.
    Thanks!
    Judy Rey Wasserman
    http://twitter.com/judyrey

  91. Love it – great stuff!

  92. Brilliant stuff. Some of the suggestions are what you would expect, but to have it backed up by the data is very helpful. Obvious or not, I certainly hadn’t been doing all of these, but this information provides the motivation for me to change my ways…

  93. Wow, lots of great info in this article. Thanks for the excellent write-up!

  94. I know this is a “me too” comment, but this was a really fascinating post. Seriously.

  95. Thanks Dan,

    I’ll be using this from now on. Much appreciated!

  96. Fascinating article. It would be nice to see a further drill-down into what (in terms of semantics and content type) people are more likely to re-tweet. I had previously noted (through personal use) that time windows were quite important. Being active when the primary users in the US are online, generated a lot more conversation. No big surprise, but worth noting if you are a PR company or a marketer in the UK!

  97. One item to add: Anything having to do with a “cause” or charity seems to get retweeted alot too. Thanks for the article!

  98. Great reinforcement of what seems like common sense. Good to see data backing it up.

  99. I agree with the idea of RTing and have seen it have an impact on traffic to my blog. They key is to have something of value that others will naturally want to RT… if you ask “please rt” just for the sake of getting some traffic going it can backfire if the content is not of value. you can be ‘blacklisted’ for further RT by your followers. I know I have done this with a few who seem to just be trying to generate traffic but are not offering anything of real value.

    just my 2 cents… great article. peace.

  100. Just wanted to leave the 100th comment! Thank you, folks!

  101. I’ll try those tips soon. However, I believe all of them depend on the network itself. Having 5 and 5 thousands followers will surely make a difference, won’t they?

  102. Interesting. I am still so new to this. Thanks for sharing the info.

  103. Great data supporting the power of:

    please
    valuable link
    retweeting

    Common sense though right?

  104. I appreciate your madness. Keep on keeping on with that.

    Twitter is getting more interesting. But it still has a way to go before we get results that are meaningful to a bottom line.

    For example, I consult on a 12k/month Google ad words campaign that brings an average of 400 clicks/day – 18 to 23 percent of those clicks convert into calls and 92 to 96 percent of the calls are closed as sales. Of course, there’s a lot of luck going in this and maybe a little miracle too.

    Those are the kind of results that clients dream about. And Twitter is not yet where luck and talent can intersect as synchronicity and hit a proverbial jackpot.

    Hopefully, we’ll get it there soon.

    Stan Faryna
    Let’s chat soon.

  105. Great information, thanks for putting it together. I have definitely noticed an uptick in my followers when my tweets are retweeted as well as more traffic to my blog!

    I didn’t realize there were better times and days for retweeting!! I will definitely be implementing these suggestions!!

  106. Great stuff! Thanks for the info. I can’t think of anywhere else in life that people share their stuff for nothing, other than the net.

  107. Great info! The Twitter phenomena is absolutely fascinating.

  108. I have heard alot about Twitter both in the press and online

    I have been interested to hear how it could work for my business, but never really understood which way to take it forward and make it work for me

    interesting read, thanks

  109. Thanks for the article.

    We are now twittering, so your advice is really useful and practical. We’ll try to use the technique while posting some news and links to news to be read.

    Thanks once again.

  110. I still can’t believe retweet has become a word.

  111. I love saying..”Sweet Tweets” at the end of the night….:)

  112. Great Post!

    Twitter is a GREAT tool for both personal and business productivity!

    Keep up the GREAT work, seriously!!!

  113. Thanks for sharing the tips…will RT!

  114. Thanks for the twitter tips… Just started with it and having some trouble, but this helped!

  115. Great article! It’s very clear that Re-Tweets can be a driving force in driving exposure & traffic both to and from Twitter.

  116. The time of day stats should be based on the retweet/totalTweets; the graph as it stands just proves that retweet are more frequent when more people are online and using twitter!

  117. really fascinating stuff, particularly the stuff noting specific words and times of day that are most effective

  118. twitter is now huge and unfortunately not many people add value keep the message going add value.

  119. This is great information. Thanks!

    Matt

  120. As a twnoobie I’ve been struggling on how to incorporate twitter in my everyday activities. — Thanks for the tips and advise in how to use twitter productively in idea sharing.

    Being in the sex “how to” niche, advising both men and woman about G-spot orgasms and male G-spot orgasm AKA prostate massage and milking — it’s sometime hard to get the word out — thanks again.

  121. Great post ! I think Twitter has certainly changed the game… I’ve been on for less than a month and have my traffic quadruple… The trend is moving upward for my blog.

  122. Very interesting article. Keep up the good work!

  123. I agree that twitter is definitely a great viral tool. Twitter is even better than good ol’ fashion email, because not only are the tweets instant, but you can build a social network of strangers, literally, in the blink of an eye.

  124. Twitter can take some getting into but I know when I ran my last blog that it paid dividends and really spread the word.
    Now starting afresh and building contacts again so will take onboard this useful info.

  125. So much to learn about blogging and twitter! Thanks for the concise list of factors to consider.

  126. Roslyn Rajasingam :

    Thanks for the great info. I am still struggling on how to find time to quickly read the messages as in a day I may have hundreds come through. When I put in an action request, I simply remember to check my Direct Messages.

  127. RT work, but problem is most people are following people like themselves (same interests or job) and so the RTing just gets circulated in near same group of people.
    Plus the link clicking rate on any Tweets is very, very low.
    I just had a Tweet that was RT 9 times. Average number of clicks per RT? Only 19.

  128. Can anyone explain me about what ‘retweet’ is ?

  129. Great information. Being new to “tweeting”, I’m feverishly digging to figure out the best way to make the most of the tool.

  130. More like: “5 Steps to get ignored for being obvious about self-promotion while trying to ‘Go Viral’ on Twitter.” I hope you get Tweet-Rolled.

  131. Great information once again.

  132. Twitter has revolutionized the way we communicate and the way businesses keep in touch with the people on the street. Twitter will continue to be used for viral campaigns because nothing else compares or competes. Its like a walkie talkie with a millions of people to talk to at once.

  133. Thanks so much for sharing your information and skill set. This is a learning curve for most of us, so we are grateful for assistance along the way.

  134. I am just setting up myself on Twitter. This is great information that I can share with my members. Thanks for the research.

  135. Great advice. Gotta love Twitter.

    @cheriex2002

  136. Very cool stuff! Thanks!

  137. Hi,

    This article is useful to me since I am learning about marketing using Twitter now. I will “Retweet” this blog post for sure. Thanks.

  138. Fascinating. Someone should develop a rich-internet application to let us play with this data, speaking as one copywriter who loves data to another.

  139. Call to action makes sense

  140. This is very helpful to me. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to use twitter to increase my traffic. I now have a better understanding of how it works and starting Monday, 9 AM will get to work with your tips in mind.

  141. I love it. Where do you get those graphs from and is it something that anyone can access? I want to run some reports like that on different keywords if it is possible. Would love to hear more if that is ok.

    Thanks

    Brett

  142. Amazing information. Thank you so much. Yaro mentioned you in an email that I received and I am so glad I clicked on the link! Will certainly send more – Please Re-Tweet messages.

    All the best,
    LaTresa
    http://www.wellspringprosperity@blogspot.com

  143. This is the second article I’ve read on here; and the worth of this content is invaluable. An outstanding read. Many thanks indeed.

  144. Dead-on!

  145. I read over this post all the time and use it to tell my clients about the value of twitter. Thought I should finally say thanks. :)

  146. Dan clearly knows his stuff – and the analysis is really useful both as a user and a marketer. What we want to avoid is RT as spam, but I’m sure that is somethng the Twitter pixies are all over!

  147. Definitely good information (a given considering the source). Thanks for the post!

  148. When is the appropriate time to ask for a retweet?

  149. I still can’t believe retweet has become a word.

  150. This info is fascinating! As an Angeleno in Cape Town, keeping track of the timing is a royal pain in the arse! But this data is priceless. It’s amazing what a simple “please” can do. Not to mention the exponentiality of retweets. Is that a word? (Retweets, not exponentiality lol)

    I would imagine the same principle goes for twitter followers as well. I tend to feel more humbled and willing to swallow up the advice of someone with a zillion twitter followers rather than a newbie. This social proof thing seems to touch on something primal in us…

  151. Thanks a heap Dan, great post. Still trying to crack the Twitter code – occasionally I find a gem in the sludge:) Serve them hot!

  152. Thanks for the information. I guess “please” and “thank you” are still the magic words I was told they were growing up. I’ve always just assumed that the call to action in a tweet was inferred, but I am going to try asking for a retweet and see how well that works.

  153. I’m fairly new to twitter, and for the most part like it. I’ve had a few sales off of it. I make it a point for my tweets to be about 70/30 – the 70% being RT, fun stuff, comments, etc and the 30 being ‘MEMEME’ tweets (ok, not phrased like that, I promise, lol)

    I have never ASKED for a RT, but it may be something I do in the future.

  154. I’ve developed a fun post to test this out:
    “Top 10 apps When Adrift At Sea”
    Its Tuesday, 10:48, & its going online! We’ll see what kind of action it gets.
    Please check out my post & RT if you like it! ;)
    S.

  155. Not sure if this is allowed, but here is a link to the post:
    http://www.dynamicpositioningnews.com/2009/08/top-10-iphone-apps-when-you-are-adrift-at-sea/

  156. Great tips… being a new blogger in the mortgage business in Illinois, I am just getting used to this world. My Twitter account is brand new and I need all the advice I can get.

    Chuck

    A href=http://www.illinoishomemortgagerates.com>Illinois mortgage rates for homes

  157. Awesome Twitter analysis and how to adapt it!

  158. I’ll try all that, thanks

  159. I think twitter is the best way to go viral, 2nd place for facebook

  160. I too got a twitter account and getting good traffic from it, but one thing that i feel from the day one itself about Twitter is that it lacks relevancy.

  161. I currently struggle with the best way to use Twitter, but your point that “Publishers can complain and wistfully wish for the good old days of blog links and Google juice, or they can adapt to the new reality Twitter represents,” really made me stop and concur.

  162. This was just the information I was looking for in conducting my research on the viral marketing concept. I will use what I have learned in my project launching next month at HughCares.net. Thanks for the great article and the useful links.

  163. This artical really inforces that live search is going to change the way the web works

  164. Wow Dan!

    This was amazing research! Well done! i’ve noticed that writing on sites that writers use also gets good responses. So perhaps this is niche writing in a target audience, but I’ll also test your findings on posting Monday through Wednesday and watch it since I haven’t seen much retweeting yet! Thanks so much!

    Believe well!

    Adelaide Zindler
    Home Office Mommy

  165. It obviously works well….there are 1180 retweets at the time of this writing. Copyblogger.com knows a thing or two about going viral.

  166. Hi there, this is great info. Clear and concise. Having this data is great to know when to tweet and what to tweet in order to generate maximum responses. I have posted a summary of you info and others here http://drivingonlinesales.com/?p=362 and linked back to you.

  167. Thanks for the good research and for helping me understand the importance of twitter.

  168. Good research.But i am unable to get high traffic from twitter.I think now it is difficult to get approach to specific and targeted users.Mostly people are using twitter for just good time pass.

  169. Very cool article! Thank you, it’s very helpful and interesting. I’m doing my best to follow the steps and improve my social networking skills.

  170. I’m really upset that I’m just finding this now!

    Great stuff here, Dan, and who knew that there was such a science to Twitter. We talk about the concept of things “going viral” all the time, but it’s interesting to figure out why some things make the viral train and others, no matter how hard they’re pushed, just don’t.

    This is exactly the kind of stuff that creative firms like mine should be digesting in everything we develop for our clients.

  171. Thanks for this – this has a lot of clarity.

  172. I think it is also very important to trigger emotions. The examples you give about triggers like: warnings, hot news, inside information and chances to win etc. all trigger upon emotions. This is common marketing skills in action, so use that for the result you want to create. Keep the value in mind, don’t make someone excited for sexual content to offer them a toy car. Credibility is still key, so keep the promise if you link to content, say what it is about. Nothing else.

  173. Finally I know how to going viral on Twitter.

  174. Oh the good ol’ “word of mouth” method… well, except technologized. (I’ll give that word three months to appear in Webster’s.)

  175. Goof stuff. Some of these suggestions are what you would expect, but to have data back it up is very useful.

  176. Dan, Good information & the timing is good for me. I just did a very interesting interview dealing with my niche (tai chi) and was looking at using retweeting to spread the word.

  177. This is a very informative article. I have seen the power of Twitter transform my customers’ website traffic time and again. Thanks Dan.

  178. A most timely and informative article. Tips i will definitely implement.

  179. the content in your articles is always quite informative, and the statistics drive it home. thanks again!

  180. Great tips ..thanks for doing the research it really helps everyone ;)

  181. I am only seeing this today due to its being retweeted and am really digging the metrics provided here.

  182. You know what fascinates me about twitter?
    Even bad twittering gets you followers!

    Take me. I am twitter-handicapped and am stupified by how many followers I have.

    Huge, giant audience out there, eager to follow anything!

  183. I think the most important thing for being a viral tweeterer is posting with value-added information. How to do that? Well, it is quite difficult to know. I have some tips:
    1- Opining about breaking news.
    2- Posting breaking news.
    3- Using hashtags correctly.
    4- Last three must have value-added information.

  184. Hard to believe that this post came out over a year ago, but it’s still extremely relevant today, as it was when you first wrote it.

    Great info, and great stats. Wonderful reminders for me, and all of the other PR, marketing, advertising, and journalism people out there who are trying to get their stuff RT’ed.

    Thanks for posting it, and I will surely link to it in the future! :)

  185. This article is so useful . I am digging about marketing using Twitter now. I will add this blog to my blogroll for sure. Thanks a lot.

  186. Yes, and I want to say another thing: “Simply be social, my friend”. It is my experience for the last 3 months. Regards.

  187. Twitter is slowly but gradually becoming popular. Its time to get social and be connected to our readers

  188. I am not a twitter user. I do use facebook to promote my website. I have a share button on my website which allows users to share my pages in the social media websites. After reading this article, I am considering to give serious thought to the use of twitter for spreading my the word on my website.Thanks.

  189. I am learning twitter slowly. I always find it a bit complicated. Your information will surely help. Thanks for sharing

  190. On the heals of this great article, I joined Twitter @davidsyw and have begun to develop a strategy to build a presence there. Early experience:
    1) Some people tweet so much as to drown others out.
    2) I am getting followers that want to sell me things. I don’t follow back because I am not interested in what they are peddling.
    3) I follow some big names including Brian Clark @copyblogger.

    Regarding timing, might it make sense to tweet during off-peak hours if getting noticed is the objective? The article’s point is to tweet during peak hours to get retweeted. I guess it boils down to the trade-off: 1) Get retweeted (perhaps bigger spread) or 2) Get noticed by followers (with less impact due to retweeting).

    There is so much to be shared on Twitter, once the noise is filtered out. I message people with chit-chat when appropriate to begin building relationships. It’s all good.

  191. (In my experience) How To’s work great!!

  192. Interesting article, thanks Dan. Ok let me try it. If 10 more people “like” my FBpage I’ll donate $25 to Kiva on my birthday! http://j.mp/e18H9w Please RT :)

  193. Jackie Jacobson :

    I’ve been tweeting for years, but never asked for RT. This plus timing is such good info. Learning new stuff always helps. Thanks for the info. It looks like it’s never too late to join the parade.

  194. Good post. I’ve recently been getting into using Twitter as a marketing platform for my blog. Unfortunately I’m as newbish as it gets when it comes to Twitter and don’t even know how it works. I know I know…

  195. That is to be expected in a long-term, high-risk project like ours. So, we turned to the blogging community for help – and got it! We have published our problems, and the community responded with results!

  196. This is very valuable and concrete information with proven data. Thanks!

  197. Great Tips! Thank you. Another strategy I find that works well is to ReTweet thought leaders (that you admire) Tweets especially when you take the time to add so commentary of your own.

  198. Thanks for sharing. I’m hoping to get a few more people to re-tweet me in the near future!

  199. Excellent graph with stats-have to follow both of these facts!
    Thank You

  200. This is something that I must encorporate. I’ve negelcted the social networking aspect a lot and I know it’s been a mistake. Just haven’t had the time but will make the time now. Thanks for the great post!

  201. A Twitter issue that I observe is that many of my followers who initiated the follow are peddling, pushing or selling one thing or another. Although this is to be expected, as I am also looking to connect with fellow Tweeps for mutual exchange, I sometimes wonder if they are even looking at my tweets especially since they might have hundreds if not thousands of people they follow. I get the sense there are more “sellers” than “buyers” on Twitter (in general true on social networking sites).

  202. Interesting post about twitter. I like this post and definitely use these steps. Thanks

  203. I think your post is extremely well written and points out some practical ways that businesses can be using Twitter. I think frequently organizations think, “We should be doing social media” and therefore they just blindly tweet, or start a Facebook page and then become frustrated by the lack of followers or retweets, etc…etc. I think what your article points out best though is that there is management and intention behind using social media marketing (in this case Twitter), and it must be managed.

    Great post, I for one will be tweeting about it.

    Ruthie Vincill
    Calibra
    http://www.calibraleadership.com

  204. Thanks for these tips! I’ve found that Tweeting other people’s interesting links is one of the best ways to boost followers on Twitter. I also tweet my own articles to relevant people on Twitter and usually they RT.

  205. afsfa

  206. I accidentally hit the post. I apologize for that, i have no way to delete the first comment.

    Anyway, i really would like to say thank you for this wonderful post you got here. I took notes of the common calls to action. I should adapt it. I often schedule my tweets from 8am to 9am EST but i guess i need to change my tweeting schedule to get more activity and retweets. Thanks again! :)

  207. Good article and the charts really present the information clearly I have to adjust my timing a bit,
    at least according to my time zone.

  208. I rely on the chart and I found it very nice and useful.

  209. Although Twitter is very popular, I’m still not sure it has a huge effect on my business, or those of my clients. But you’re right about the term “value” being nebulous in the social media conversation.

  210. For a person trying to grow a following in Twitter, I find the challenge is in getting true followers. There are more “pushers” who follow me in hopes of getting followed back so that they can push their message and content. Such pushers are not likely to retweet me if they even read my tweets in the first place.

  211. If you are wondering what your personal “ideal time to tweet” is, you should check out http://www.SocialBro.com

    Social Bro offers great, easy and fairly comprehensive tools to manage your Twitter Community- almost like Google Analytics for your Twitter account.

    One of the free tools actually analyzes your account to find and return your ideal time to tweet based on your own personal followers!

    Hope you find this useful, I know I did. – @mimicatastrophe

  212. I would think time to tweet is not so relevant if your followers span many time zones.

  213. We know this by experience…always make sure that if offering something for free (which is a great way to go viral) make sure that you have enough inventory to accommodate the need for whatever you’re offering.

    For Example: 1 tweet for a free sticker, went viral and we got over a thousand requests! *yikes!*

    That was a great way to build up our email list!

  214. Aesome article. The data and charts were very interesting. I always felt the weekend wasn’t as active for Twitter and retweets. Thanks for posting!

  215. Lovely post and the charts are great. I like the time of day graph and the research that you conducted on retweets.