Twitter is the perfect medium for sharing links to your content and driving traffic, but it’s not enough to simply publish content and hoping for the best.

To give yourself the best chance of gaining retweets and clicks you need to know when to tweet and how often.

A new report from Buddy Media, Strategies for Effective Tweeting, analysed user engagement with 320 Twitter handles of the world’s biggest brands.

It looked at the replies, retweets and engagement each received between December 11, 2011 and February 23, 2012.

Here are seven of the tips it came up with…

1. Consider weekend tweeting

According to the stats, engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends, however this is when brands tend to be least active.

In my experience the people I follow are far less vocal on weekends, so it could be that engagement increases as branded tweets have far less competition for attention.

2. Tweet during daylight

When brands tweet during the ‘busy hours’ between 8am and 7pm they receive 30% higher engagement than tweets that fall during the ‘non-busy’ hours from 8pm to 7am.

Yet Buddy Media found that just 64% of brands tend to tweet during the busy daytime hours.

In contrast, on Facebook posts during ‘non-busy’ hours receive 17% higher engagement than those posted during the day.

This is because Facebook posts can remain at the top of a user’s newsfeed based on their EdgeRank scores, even if posted while the user is not on Facebook.

This tallies with data from a Yesmail report which found that Facebook campaigns reached the highest level of interaction between 10pm and midnight.

3. Tweet four times a day

Tweets are no different from other marketing tools, such as email or text, in that if you overdo it your audience will soon switch off.

Buddy Media’s report found that there is an inverse relationship between daily tweet frequency and engagement, so the more you Tweet per day, the less engaging your Tweets may become.

4. Be brief

The report found that tweets with 100 characters or less receive 17% higher engagement that longer tweets.

In our blog post ‘20 simple ways to get more retweets’, we suggested that 65 characters is the best length for a headline. This then allows space to insert a link, and also gives your followers space to enter their own comments to a retweet.

5. Links drive more than just clicks

One of the greatest strengths of Twitter is its ability to drive traffic elsewhere on the web. According to Buddy Media’s data, link clicks account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets.

On average tweets that contain links receive 86% higher retweet rates than tweets with no links.

So, Tweets with links not only drive a lot of traffic to desired destinations, but they also amplify your brand messages to more than just your followers.

6. Use hashtags, but don’t overuse them

According to the report, tweets with hashtags receive twice as much engagement than those without hashtags.

Yet only 24% of tweets contain hashtags, which means that brands could be missing out on an opportunity to increase engagement.

But on the other hand, if all brands started constantly using hashtags then the impact would inevitably begin to wane. This is underlined by the fact that tweets that use more than two hastags show a 17% drop in engagement.

7. Ask for retweets

Asking for retweets can seem needy, but tweets that specifically ask followers to retweet or ‘RT’ receive 12 times higher engagement rates than those that don’t include this call to action.

The type of call to action also has an impact – spelling out ‘retweet’ will get 23 times more retweets than average, while ‘RT’ get ten times more.

Obviously you don’t want to overuse this tactic, but it is an easy way to boost engagement with your most important content.