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retweetSocial and viral media expert Dan Zarella has posted the results of a fascinating study: the numbers and semantics behind getting Twitter followers to ReTweet tweets, thereby amplifying and expanding upon messaging by using Twitter's built-in viral aspects.

Few marketers will be surprised by the fact that a simple call-to-action matters. A lot. Simply adding the phrase "please retweet" just plain works much of the time.

Zarella's semantic analysis of what gets ReTweeted reveals the following:

  • Timely content is often ReTweeted
  • Freebies are popular
  • Tweeting about Twitter is effective
  • So are lists
  • People like to ReTweet blog posts (he doesn't specify if this refers the original tweeter's own blog, but irregardless - Twitter users are also highly active in the blogosphere.)

Oh, and don't forget to mind your manners. Requesting a Retweent politely and remembering to say "please" ups the ReTweeting odds by nearly a 6X factor.

Having a large number of followers ups the odd of expanding content, but not as much as you'd expect. Zarella explains, "the large majority of ReTweet streams only contain 2 levels of depth, that is ReTweets of the initial Tweet do not themselves produce further ReTweets. They also tend to only include two participating users (the original Tweeter and the ReTweeter) and two individual Tweets. From this, we begin to understand that most RT streams are merely one user ReTweeting another, and never go any further."

Timing also counts. Tweeting early in the day and therefore getting a jump on internet primetime, which occurs during business hours, ups the ReTweet odds, and likely, the attention paid to the message.

The survey is chock full of data well worth absorbing by anyone using Twitter as a social marketing platform. Perhaps you'll even consider Tweeting - or ReTweeting it!

retweets per hour

Rebecca Lieb

Published 18 February, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

160 more posts from this author

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