Which of Twitter’s “Hard Features” Can Drive the Most ReTweets?

March 13, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Government & Politics | Media & Entertainment | Social Media | Social TV & Multi-Screening | Sports

Twitter-Factors-Fueling-Retweets-Mar2014Looking for more retweets? Twitter has released some data based on an analysis of millions of tweets sent by verified users in the US. The study looked at tweets that contained Twitter’s “hard features” – photos, #hashtags, links, videos, and tweets containing a number of a digit (such as a sports score) – comparing retweets from that dataset against average retweets from the same collection of accounts (most of which had thousands of followers). Overall, tweets containing photos got the biggest bump – but the results differed by area.

Overall, photos averaged a 35% boost in retweets across the 5 areas examined – TV, news, music, government and politics, and sports – followed by videos, which averaged a 28% increase. The three remaining “hard features” were more closely grouped: those with quotes averaged 19% more retweets, while those with a number saw 17% more retweets and those with hashtags a 16% increase.

Here are the features that saw the largest – and smallest – lift for each topic:

  • TV: Quote (+53%); Digit (+32%);
  • News: Photo (+27%); Hashtag (+14%);
  • Government & Politics: Photo (+62%); Video/Quote (+14%);
  • Sports: Photo (+48%); Video (+15%); and
  • Music: Video (+35%); Digit (+11%).

While those numbers come from Twitter itself, other researchers have gotten into the act of late, analyzing various ways to drive greater engagement on the platform. The following is a quick summary of a few of those findings:

  • When SHIFT partnered with a CPG client on a 6-week promoted tweets campaign, it found that engagement was 5 times higher when photos were included in tweets. Tweets with photos had more than twice the reply rate than text-only tweets, with about 2.5 times more retweets at half the cost per engagement. A single case study, to be sure, but food for thought nonetheless.
  • Based on an analysis of 1.7 million tweets from 1,423 accounts, TrackMaven recently revealed that tweets without pictures for its dataset received an average of 0.133 retweets per 1,000 followers, while those with pictures received an average of 0.404 retweets. Other insights from the Retweet Report [download page] include: average retweets being highest on Sundays; average retweets peaking between 10 and 11PM EST; and spelling out the word “retweet” generating roughly 10 times more retweets than simply writing “RT.”
  • According to an analysis of more than 1.2 million tweets, Dan Zarrella found that tweets containing at least one hashtag were 55% more likely to be retweeted than those that did not, while tweets containing quotes had a 30% higher likelihood of being retweeted.
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