The Science of Retweets And Replies

Toronto based Sysomos, which describes itself as the leading provider of social media monitoring and analytics, powered by patent-pending technology, has released some interesting Twitter research about retweets and replies.

Sysomos examined a sample of 1.2 billion tweets to find out how many of them actually entice a reaction. According to the report, 29% of all tweets produce a reaction in the form of a reply or retweet; 6% were retweets and 23% replies.

Intuitively, 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour after being published. Only 1.63% happen in the second hour. As time goes on, a tweet falls further back in the real time conversation making it somewhat less relevant. Replies are similar, 96.9% happen within the first hour.

But what about an original tweet and the number of replies it garners? Of the 23% of tweets that get a first reply, 85% of those only get one reply. 10.7% get a reply to the original reply explained as a conversation 2 levels deep. Only a miniscule 1.53% get a third level response.

So if time is of the essence, then what about reposting your tweet in hopes it will gather more notice. Is that bad form? Sysmos’ Mark Evans describes tweets as “floats in a parade. Once they pass by,” he says “that’s it, you’re not going to see them again. If you turned around to buy some candy floss just as the super-cool float came and went, it’s your tough luck.”

Of course tweets have the option, unlike floats to come by a second or third time. According to Evans, “My take is reposting is completely acceptable as long as it’s not a blatant attempt to sell a product or service. If it’s spreading the word about an event, an interesting newspaper article or a new blog post, there’s nothing wrong with thrusting it into the spotlight again. After all, it’s not like the people who follow you are on Twitter all the time and reading all of your tweets. Sometimes, a good tweet slips through the cracks so it just makes sense to repost it.”


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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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