An Equation for Getting More Traffic from Twitter

The Math of Optimizing Tweets for Increased Retweeting

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[ Social Media]

Back in June, Hubspot shared data, which indicated that about one and a half percent of all tweets were retweets. I’d be surprised if that number hasn’t increased in the last few months. More people are adopting Twitter and becoming familiar with the Twitter culture. More tools have come out, which cater to the easy re-tweet. More sites have adopted retweet buttons, such as the one from Tweetmeme. I seriously doubt people are retweeting less.

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We’re still waiting on Twitter to incorporate the retweet feature onto Twitter.com. Once that happens, retweeting is almost certainly going to go up significantly. According to the rough sketch Twitter provided a while back, there will be a retweet option by the reply option on all individual tweets.

RetweetingRetweeting is an incredibly useful tool for tweet promotion, which ultimately means for content promotion. If you are producing content, you want people to retweet it and spread it virally around the Twitterverse. This can lead to some big-time traffic. There are other business benefits to retweets as well.

Shéa Bennett, who writes the blog Twittercism, has come up with an obvious, but no so obvious equation for retweet optimization. The concept itself is obvious, the equation itself – not as much. The concept is this: consider Twitter’s 140-character limit, consider your user name, and consider how many characters you need to leave free.

Retweet "When sharing links and content, I always ensure I leave a minimum of 12 characters at the end of each and every tweet," says Bennett. "This is a great habit to adopt. Otherwise, those wanting to retweet you are forced to edit your submissions so that they can give the proper credit. Because f this extra work, many times, they simply won’t bother retweeting you at all."

Originally, Bennett’s equation was:

Your Number = length of username + five characters

That was based on a retweet looking something like this:

RT_@Sheamus_The original tweet goes in here…

The five characters in the equation come from the "R," the "T," the "@," and the two spaces (represented above by underscores).

12 is Bennett’s number. At least it was. He had to change it to 15, because "RT" isn’t the only way people retweet. Sometimes they use "via" with parentheses around "via @username". Upon realization of this, Bennett added  3 to the equation.

Bennett’s equation is now:

Your Number = length of username + eight characters

It is an interesting system to go by, and perhaps a helpful equation, but the larger point of the equation is the real takeaway. If you want to increase your chances of getting retweets, you should be sure you’re leaving room for readers to do it easily. It’s a usability thing. It’s a simple concept that could end up greatly increasing your traffic. Don’t forget to consider any links as added characters.

What do you think is the appropriate amount of space to leave in a tweet? Share your thoughts.

An Equation for Getting More Traffic from Twitter
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  • http://www.tweetiator.com Ron Kornfeld

    One purpose of RT and link sharing is building relationships around content. If you’re interested in creating value around shared links and retweeting, then knowing who is tweeting links to your content is important. (shameless self promotion alert): you should check out http://www. tweetiator.com , the service alerts you in real time when people share links to your content on Twitter and lets you follow and message them.

  • http://blumaya.net Jorge Barba

    It also important to remember that some if not most use 3rd party apps such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop for Twitter and the retweet function in these is not ‘RT’ or ‘via’.

    It’s ReTweeting @username + message.

    It also important to consider the ‘7 words or less rule': people are better at remembering messages with 7 words or less.

    Just my 2 cents!

    • Chris Crum

      Good information to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.myfacefile.com Rob Wilcox

    Retweeting is a great way to not only build your community but share content that is in-line with what your followers expect. We’ve found some of our favorite followers via RTs and tend to share the content of others more than we share our own. Bad? We don’t think so. We feel it keeps us altruistic (like our product) and honest.

  • http://gsm-nokia.com Hasanudin

    thank you for your sharing, with ur tutorial i can learn a lot by twitter

    • http://www.politicalchristian.org Larry Miller

      I have been in the practice of leaving 20 characters at the end right from the start for this very reason. If I can get my message to 140 characters, I can usually squeeze it down to 120. Sometimes I don’t make it, but it’s just a matter of discipline.

  • philipe

    Very interesting information. Good to know RT. I see many re-tweets about twitter tools from; http://twitter.com/twiwow.
    I will leave some space on my tweets for people RT.

    Thanks for sharing this good idea.

  • http://www.Tribal-Sports-Wear.net Blank Apparel Supplier

    Retweeting is great as long as it’s useful information or at least entertaining on some level. Though most of what I find being retweeted is just internet vomit, but not all. So the next time we have some news about our Blank Apparel and T-Shirts, I’ll have to remember to retweet it. :)

  • http://www.marketing-junkie.com Stacy Karacostas

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks so much for sharing this practical tip! I have a habit of using all my characters up when I tweet, and recently noticed the problem this causes when I went to retweet something else.

    Appreciate the formula as that will make it easier down the road.


    Stacy Karacostas
    Practical Marketing Expert

  • http://jzplace.com MzJme

    Just an FYI.. If you use the Firefox Browser there is an add-on called PowerTwitter and it actually makes the whole RT’ing from Twitter’s homepage sooo much easier..

  • http://www.best-short-stories.com/webhostingdomainnames.html bestshortstory

    It can be a real challenge to express yourself in so few words. I suggest maybe doing a google search on short quotes, but then you have to include the name of the one you are quoting.
    Maybe just come up with short interesting things like, “Money talks, mine says goodbye” or “Will worship for miracle”. Or “GOT RETWEETS” (this URL), hey I think I’ll try that one.

    Thanks for the great info,

  • http://www.e-blueprint.co.uk Sarah – SEO Liverpool

    Retweeting is great for sharing brand new content, however as more and more people start to use it, I think the feeds are going to get more watered down with things that may not be relevant – it depends who’s doing the retweeting. The Tweetmeme idea is fantastic for spreading content around the net though – afterall, sharing content is what the Internet’s about :)

  • http://tiny.tw Ryan

    This is the reason sites like http://tiny.tw are showing up. That one, lets you shorten text into acronyms so you can hit your “number”

  • http://www.jaiganeshv.com Jaiganesh V

    Interesting, more info shared about the significance of re-tweeting..

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    Thanks for that suggestion, I have not given any thought to the way RT works, now maybe I can get an RT, if I can manage to post something worthy :)

  • Guest

    Shame the article did not tell what retweeting is – if it had it might have been moreinteresting

  • http://mythospheres.com Rich

    Thought it was a good article. But in reference to the comment about not explaining what a re-tweet is… why is anyone who doesn’t know what a re-tweet is reading this?

  • Guest

    Tweet Adder is pretty good at driving traffic to your site

  • http://ur7s.com/olympic-rugby Barney

    Thank you for a really simple but hopefully effective bit of advice! Have just told our news editor to implement this with his tweets.

  • http://gotta-eat.com Bruce Tretter

    Agree! The shorter the tweet, the easier to RT!

  • http://samsung.justwang.com Lively Jason

    Great tip. thanks.

  • http://www.walidmrealtor.com walidmrealtor

    Excellent advice that really works! I’ve used via quite often, I like the way you’ve laid out the math behind the concept of RTing optimization.

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