An Equation for Getting More Traffic from Twitter

    October 3, 2009
    Chris Crum

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 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.