How you can attract more retweets: a 10-step guideIs there a science to optimising retweets? Or is it a combination of luck and network reach?

I believe that some tweets are more likely to be shared than others, and that you can increase your chances of being retweeted by following a few simple tips. 

There are various factors that come into play, and thankfully there is some data to back up some of these ideas. 

So let's start with a great slideshow by HubSpot's Dan Zarrella, which contains the data we need to underline many of these points. Take a look:

The Science of Twitter

Timing matters

Smart publishers optimise the publication of their articles to coincide with busy periods of the day. You are more likely to attract more retweets between the hours of 12pm and 5pm than you will at 4am. There are different timezones to think about too. 2pm GMT is post-lunch in the UK and breakfast in New York, but a little too early for your friends and followers in California. Zarrella’s data suggests that 5pm EST is a sweet spot (possibly because there is a nice overlap: it is evening in London, late afternoon in New York, lunchtime in San Fran…)

People like to share links

I have previously described Twitter as “Delicious with opinion, in real time, and delivered to your door”. Follow the right people and the news comes to you: there’s no need to browse the news aggregators. Zarrella found that retweets are about three times as likely to contain a link, compared with a standard tweet. So spread the love and share links, if you want to be retweeted. 

Keep it personal

People respond to words like “you” and “your” in tweets. It is an age-old trick as far as news headlines go, and it can help engage followers, persuade them to click links, and to subsequently retweet. 

Slow down

People tune out to noise. If you tweet too often your followers may develop a tolerance to you and your tweets, and you may miss out. Zarrella discovered that people who tweet less often are more likely to have their tweets shared.

Tweets about Twitter generate retweets

A little self-referential, you might think, but it figures. People who use Twitter frequently are likely to tune into stories about Twitter, and they’re likely to share them too.

Hashtags can help

Trending topics and popular hashtags can open you up to a wider audience than your own network of followers. Including a relevant hashtag can help to extend the reach of your tweet, thereby increasing the chances of being retweeted.

Include a call to action

“Read this” or “check this out” or "must read" can push people in the right direction. The first step towards a retweet is to persuade your followers to take action. After all, most people don’t retweet without first clicking on the link. Everybody is a curator these days, and if you happen to find a great link to share then you can label it as such. 

‘Please RT’

Personally I hate this, but it works. Zarrella found that ‘please’ is found in more than 5% of retweets. 

Leave a little space

When writing headlines for your blog posts – or publishing tweets, especially those that include links – you want to try to leave enough space for the sharer to add a comment. It's often the description of a link in a tweet that attracts the eye. It's pretty much impossible to click on every link in your tweetstream, but if enough people retweet the same thing - and especially if they're all saying "great post" or similar - then I'm highly likely to check it out.  

Adjectives FTW

I’m a big believer in the power of adjectives in headlines, and the same applies to tweets. Adjectives are like herbs and spices, and can add flavour to stories. By all means rewrite that headline you’re about to share. 

What do you think? What works for you? Please leave a comment below...

[Image by Josef Dunne via Flickr, various rights reserved]

Chris Lake

Published 21 January, 2011 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (11)

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Mikko Rummukainen

Thanks for sharing these tips!

I find that it is increasingly important to be able to design more and more noticeable tweets, instead of just splashing them around.

So, suffice to say, that I found the 'slow down' tip very well in tune with my own thoughts about tweeting.

Someone once noted, that the average life-span of a tweet is about one hour. That's why it is even more important to give your tweets the best you can to make sure they are able to live their life to the fullest through many RTs. :)

over 7 years ago



its amazing how much thought has to be put into a tweet at times. i also feel that if you need to put that much thought into making a tweet and getting it retweeted, then its probably not worth a retweet in the first place!

over 7 years ago


James Hind

Tweets should be short enough so that people can add their own description at the end. e.g. Adding - 'Very True', 'So funny' etc...

over 7 years ago


Matt Drummond

There's definitely a science to tweeting and getting re-tweeted. I agree 100% with the "slow down" section of this article. I too tend to overlook and oftentimes delete those who over-tweet.

over 7 years ago


Michelle Carvill

I'm actually in the process of running some research via 3 Twitter accounts to endeavour to uncover the 'optimum' repeat tweet and retweet ratio. Matt's right with regard to a science behind tweeting and getting retweeted - but as yet, I have seen any evidence advising what that science equates to.  So in the next week or so, when I've had long enough to compile the numbers - I'll be sharing the findings.  Will keep you posted.

over 7 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Thanks for the comments.

@Michelle - sounds interesting. One thing I didn't mention (there are plenty of other considerations) is that there are external factors at play. When a big news story breaks on Twitter it is worth waiting before publishing a blog post, if the aim is to maximise the number of shares / retweets that blog post generates. Sometimes I have published stories that have been literally buried under a wave of (bad or good) news. It can be noisy out there...

over 7 years ago

Mike Gomez

Mike Gomez, SEO Analyst at Epiphany

While I agree with all of the above points, I am surprised there is no mention of building relationships with fellow tweeters who have the same interest as your own. 

The really good way to get retweets is by taking time to grow your familiarity and trust with these tweeters. Getting followers - as shown in the slides - is one thing. Retaining them and building a relationship is a much more rewarding process. This could be done by simply offering feedback on their own tweets or blogs, getting involved in their conversations or extracting opinion through a new and interesting topic. This will also add to the variations of your tweets – another plus point.

Overall, this will make it much more likely for them to RT your own tweets moving forward and will also put you in a much more influential position.

over 7 years ago



Surprised there's no mention of creating controversy. People love to argue, especially with businesses, and especially on a social media outlet like twitter where there's no real consequence to your actions.

over 7 years ago


Nicky Kriel

I agree with Mike Gomez, by building up relations with other people and engaging in conversation with your community, you are more likely to be retweeted.

over 7 years ago


Julius Duncan, Social Brand Consultant at Lawton Comms Grp

Agree with Mike Gomez that you get out what you put in. As with any relationship based group, the more credibility you have built up, the more likely your opinion is likely to be repeated. For strong RT results outside your regular network, providing live content from events, and being first with the news are both effective.

over 7 years ago


Charlotte Clark

I'm always on the hunt to find new ways to get retweets. It's a tricky business, especially when you're sharing content that isn't particularly interesting/share worthy.

I think that the 'content is king' in this case. Both the wording of the tweets matter and the actual content of the link you're sharing.

I'm also currently experimenting with Timely, to see if timing can improve the number of RTs we get.

Loved the article.


over 7 years ago

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