Twitter is one of the most popular social networks nowadays. Building a presence there provides brands with daily opportunities to reach millions of people, increase brand awareness, and even go viral.
However, to achieve any of these, you first need to increase Twitter engagement, and learn the secrets of writing engaging Twitter posts.
The best way to approach this is to conduct market research and understand your audience – who they are, what moves them, what they love, what they find exciting, and so on.
The next step is to understand how Twitter works.
Every social media network has its own dynamics, rules, and trends. By studying them, you can find out the best ways to approach your audience there, and maximize the performance of your posts. To help you figure it out, we’ve collected 4 million tweets, analyzed them, and studied in detail the 2 million that were in western languages.
The result of this analysis will help you learn what elements drive certain user behaviors and, ultimately, help you learn how to increase Twitter engagement.
Our focus is on driving factors that increase retweets, replies, and likes. For instance, you can get 4 times as many retweets on tweets with visuals as compared with normal tweets.
Before we dive right into the data and tell you what we’ve found while deconstructing the millions of Twitter posts, we suggest having a look at this quick visual recap on how to increase engagement on social media in general:
Now, without further ado, let’s focus on the study:
Key Factors We Took Into Account
To understand how to increase Twitter engagement and better retain the audience’s attention, in the analysis, we focused on the following key factors:
- Presence of media – the results are broken down by type of media
- Presence of hashtags in the tweet, and the number of hashtags included per tweet.
- Length of hashtags
- Number of characters in the tweet
- Presence of links in the tweet, and the number of links included per tweet
- The domain authority of the link/s in the tweet
- Publication timings
- Presence of mentions, and their number
- Social authority of the user
Sample Population Overview
The regions we focused on when selecting the tweets are North and South America, and Europe. Posts in Arabic, Japanese, Thai, Cyrillic, and other languages are not covered by the study.
Of the total of 4 million tweets we analyzed:
- 1,943,321 tweets are in Western languages
- 1,164,958 tweets are in Script-based languages, such as Arabic, Persian, Japanese, and others
- Remaining data has retweets and likes
Social Authority Analysis
To gauge the social authority of Twitter users whose posts were analyzed in the study, we used Followerwonk’s services. The goal is to determine the impact of their tweets on the behavior of others.
The social authority is broken down into different levels: 1-9, 10-19, and so on up totil 99.
Another interesting thing to note is the impact of tactics used and their variety by social authority. This is not only unique but also a more important aspect of this analysis.
Breaking down the data of over 1.9 million tweets in terms of sSocial authority gives us the following stats:
1. By Accounts
The accounts analyzed were altogether 27,100 and, breaking the data by social authority, provided the following results:
2. By Tweets
Each one of the users tweeted differently. Altogether, the tweet count is 1.94 million and it is broken as follows, in terms of social authority:
3. Representative Sample Example
For better clarity on what social authority means, we provide a chart showing people with different social authority levels ranging between 1 and 100. This will give you an idea of the importance of each social authority, and allow you to easily figure out yours, when working to increase your Twitter engagement.
The primary reason for analyzing such a large number of tweets is to measure the results as accurately as possible and provide statistically relevant results. Insufficient data is less significant, less accurate, and poses the risk of bias.
Let’s suppose, you issue a single tweet and it generates more than a million retweets. Would you say that every tweet receives 1 million retweets? No way! One is simply not a statistically relevant number. While analyzing a large number of categories to deduce a meaningful conclusion, it is important to have massive data to support it. Moreover, in the case of the study, every tweet is different and every tweet doesn’t necessarily have all the relevant factors. So to obtain accurate information, you need a large enough sample.
For example, if we have a look at the social authority factor, and the category 90 – 99. There are more than 21,000 retweets from 266 users. Upon shrinking this data to a smaller sample, let’s suppose, 100,000 tweets, then the sample set of this category will go down from 21,000 to 1,000 tweets, and the number of users will be reduced from 266 to 12. When segregating their tweets in terms of the factors used, the data will be reduced to a few hundred tweets from approximately 5 to 6 users.
Factors like media vs. SAL (social authority level), hashtag length, or time of the day vs. authority level always require a large amount of data to help you come up with better insight and highly accurate results.
Although it’s quite a challenge to analyze millions of tweets, digging deep showed valuable information on how things work on this social platform, and how to engage users on Twitter.
Total vs. Any Engagement
The Twitter engagement analysis is based on two perspectives to look at all the data.
- Chances of Engagement: This is the concept of analyzing the number of original tweets with at least one like or retweet. Although it won’t tell us how many retweets or likes a tweet receives, it will surely help identify how to create an original tweet in order to get an initial response and improve the engagement rates.
- Total Engagement: A sum total of retweets or likes received by original tweets under consideration. It helped us identify that a tweet with an image can get 4 times more retweets than a tweet without an image.
Here is how we saw the tweets in two different perspectives:
Analyzing tweets from these two perspectives helped a great deal in finding out differences in behaviors that increase the probability of getting retweets. As far as the mentions in tweets are concerned, these two perspectives also proved highly efficient.
Now let’s have a more detailed look at the method of the Twitter engagement analysis.
The data of tweets was pulled with the help of Twitter API from Twitter feeds. In this way, a large sample of users was collected. More than 27,000 users belonged to Western Language group, while 15,000+ users used scrip-based languages.
In this phase, at least 100 tweets of every user were collected with the help of Twitter API. Apart from Twitter API, other helpful sources were also used, including Moz.com and Followerwonk’s Social Authority, and others.
After collection, each of the tweets and their average engagement rate were analyzed and evaluated on the basis of the following:
- Each user’s social authority from Followerwonk
- The character count of every tweet
- The content of every tweet
- Tweet-creation time (and date) using Twitter
- Whether the tweet is a retweet
- Whether the tweet is a reply
- Number of retweets
- Number of likes to the tweet
- Number of hashtags used in a tweet and their lengths
- How many users are mentioned in a tweet
- Number of Links in a tweet
- Link’s and domain authority of each
- Media (number) attached to the tweet
- URL for each shared media item and the kind of media for first URL link
- Number of symbols ($) used in tweet
- Identifying mentioned user’s ID with social authority
This particular information, along with additional data, was collected and fed into the SQL database. Following is a detailed result of this study.
Let’s have a look at the results broken down by analysis factors:
Social Authority’s Impact on Behaviors
You might be aware of the fact that social authority has a huge role to play on Twitter. Your position and your status in society, or at least as far as social media is concerned, determine the probability of your tweet to be retweeted.
The following graph shows the results, confirming that that if you’re a powerful figure, your tweets will get more likes and retweets.
This is the main reason why this research is based on social authority levels. It indicates that Twitter engagement is not a problem for the ones who are being followed as trendsetters or world changers.
However, as not everyone can be a powerful influencer or a thought-leader in their industry, we look into how the results of these top performers can be replicated to increase Twitter engagement for any account.
Impact of Images on Tweets, Retweets, and Likes
Media’s impact on behaviors is undeniable. No matter where it is used, people tend to follow what they see and listen to, rather than what they read. On social platforms, like Facebook, for example, the impact of media (even a small image or emoji) makes a huge difference on the post’s performance.
The same applies to Twitter where a tweet with image drives increased engagement.
This lead us to some other questions, such as:
- Can we calculate how much of an impact a tweet with images has?
- How much does the impact change when correlated with social authority levels?
The following graph shows that when you post a tweet with an image, your chances of getting a retweet, increase by 38% and there are 36% more chances of getting at least one like.
So here’s how social authority affects Twitter engagement on posts with visuals, and how you can generate more retweets:
- In Low Social Authority Level, the chances of getting a retweet increase from below 10% to more than 20%.
- If you place yourself in Moderate Social Authority Level, where chances of getting a retweet on a tweet without an image are just above 20% (on average), you will have 60% (on average) chances of getting a retweet.
- Chances of getting retweets on tweets without image increase in High Social Authority Level as well, projecting a tweet with 70% social authority to nearly 95%. If you’re at this level, you can increase your social authority even further with the help of tweets with images.
Similarly, your chances of generating likes on tweets with images also increases considerably.
For example, if your social authority level is 45, your chances of getting at least one like on a tweet are similar with those of an image-less tweet from a person of level 60. Or if you have an authority level of 55 you can easily place yourself in a high authority level by adding more visuals to your tweets.
Conclusion 1: Images Generate 5x More Retweets and 4x More Likes
In lower social authority levels, your chances of generating retweets and likes more than double when you add images. That’s not it. You can work on it to do better than just one retweet or like.
The question of how images build upon retweets on lower authority levels is answered in the following graphic. The y-axis (vertical axis) shows the number of times a retweet is more likely to occur on an image-based tweet. With the increase of authority within the same level, the chances of getting a retweet diminish.
In the same way, you can see the gain in likes generated by tweets with images. Y-axis (vertical axis) shows the number of times likes can occur on a tweet with visuals. With a slight difference in low authority levels, the graph is diminishing right towards the end.
At lower levels, the chances are that a tweet with an image can generate more than 5x retweets (maximum is 9x) at the lowest social authority level.
It must be quite encouraging for you if you’re in the low social authority level. You can generate up to 14x the number of likes and dramatically increase the average engagement rate of your tweets with just adding images to your.
In conclusion of this part, we’d like to point out that it is important that your tweets are aligned with your overall content. Otherwise, you will not be able to reach your target audience and retain their engagement.
Relevant images always evoke an initial emotional response, and backed with the proper content, they can significantly boost Twitter engagement. Such an increase is a result of a calculated approach from skilled content marketers who know how to improve results and increase brand recognition with the help of images.
Engagement is Largely Based on Retweets and Likes
As seen in the previous section, engagement is all about getting retweets and likes. On Twitter, 36% of the observed tweets receive at least one retweet, while 43% of them receive at least one like. On the other hand, if you’re thinking about getting replies, you’re talking about 0.7% of all the tweets that actually get them.
This indicates that Twitter, as a social media, showcases more of a broadcasting behavior with emphasis on getting retweets and likes, so this is the type of engagement you should focus on the most. The social platform is the place to share news and new information as soon as it comes out.
Adding images to tweets to gauge the impact on replies may not be an efficient approach, unlike with retweets and like. Although it did improve the numbers in our analysis, the effect is as low as negligible.
As the following graphic shows, there are as less than 1% chances for even an image-based tweet to get a reply:
Character Count of The Tweets
Ever since Twitter increased the character limit of posts from 140 to 280, there’s been variations in tweet performance based on length. Although earlier studies have shown and it is widely accepted that the perfect tweet is of 100 characters, things are constantly changing.
Our analysis of 1.94 million tweets shows the following results:
- Long tweets have the best chances of being reshared, with these in the 240-260 zone, being most prominent.
- Tweets that are between 200-240 characters have an increased likelihood of 14.5% at getting at least one retweet or at least one like.
- Tweets below 100 characters have about 7-80% chances of getting a retweet, and about 30% chances of getting at least one like.
- Tweets ranging from 100 to 200 characters have around 11-12% chances of getting a retweet or like, with the exception of tweets in the 160-180 zone, where the chances increase to over 14.5%.
Use of Hashtags
Our analysis shows that hashtags create a moderate difference in the probability of retweets or likes.
The following graph demonstrates that hashtags increase chances of re-tweets by 17% and that of likes, by 10%.
That’s effective tactics, but still not as effective as images.
The following figure shows how the impact of hashtags on retweets and likes varies by social authority level.
In general, the statement of moderate increase appears to be true with the exception of starting and ending points on which the impact is negligible.
The Length of Hashtags
According to the tweet analysis, different lengths of hashtags have a very little impact on retweets and likes.
The following graphic shows the percentage of tweets with hashtags ranging from 1 to 15+ characters. Each of them has received at least one retweet or likes.
The figure indicates that the content and context is more important than the length. Although there is not much of a difference, you should pick the most appropriate keyword (or keywords) in your tweet as a hashtag, and limit the length of characters below 15 in order to have better chances of getting a retweet.
Including Links in the Tweets
When analyzing how to increase Twitter engagement, we found out that adding links to your tweets has a moderate effect on retweets and likes:
- Links in a tweet increases overall chances of getting a retweet by 10%
- Links will increase the chances of getting a like by only 2%.
In-depth analysis for the chances of retweets indicates that in lower social authority levels, tweets with links have no significance. However, the significance improves in the moderate levels, and goes down again in the high authority zone.
Expectancy of likes is quite low on tweets with links. In fact, it is negative in the low social authority zone.
Suitable Time of Day
Although it is generally considered that the time of the day you are sharing your posts is crucial for engagement, our data suggests otherwise. Analyzing over 1.9 million tweets reflects that daytime does not have a considerable impact on likelihood of getting at least one retweet.
The graphic below shows that the chances of getting at least one retweet remain below 40% throughout the day.
There’s always a possibility that results turn out differently if they are segregated on the basis of particular markets. However, the aggregate result indicates that Twitter engagement is not dependent on daytime.
People always tend to tweet during working hours, according to their own time zones. This is the reason why one cannot identify “the best time of the day” to tweet. This particular analysis is not based on specific time zones. The volume of tweets surely varies with the time of the day.
This figure indicates that Twitter is a broader platform with user-presence 24/7. Therefore, you should not be worried about tweeting on specific hours of the day, until your content is not for a specific region or country where time zone becomes important.
Tweets with Mentions
Mentions are the names of the people included in the tweet, just like tags on Facebook. The following graphic shows the impact of mentions on getting at least one retweet.
Going deeper, the results indicate that Mentions help tweets from 1 – 9 authorities get up to 4 retweets or replies, whereas, the line remains at or below one retweet/reply for higher social authority levels.
Why is that so? Normally, mentions are targeted to specific people. As a result, they generate fewer responses and limited Twitter engagement.
What marketers should understand is the fact that there is no one secret recipe for creating viral content. What has worked for someone might be a total failure for you. Social media, especially Twitter is a diverse platform where knowing your customers and audience is the key to success. Understanding the tools of Twitter is also very important as it is very different from other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
This study looks at the tweets in an aggregated manner, regardless of the subject matter and the context. What really drives people is the content of your tweet. So, make sure to select the most appropriate content for your tweet while using hashtags, links and mentions to generate retweets and likes.
That said, images do play a vital role in increasing Twitter engagement, along with the character length of your tweet. So make sure that the images you include match the content and provide additional value.
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