Retweets: How to Get Your Message Retweeted

Written by Tom FronczakApril 7, 2011

In 2000, one person sending an online message to millions was spam. By 2010, it became an enjoyable occurrence on Twitter every day. While most of us may not have the online following that celebrities or famous Bronx snakes do, the same rules for getting reposted mostly apply to social groups of all sizes. Here are a few success patterns that you can emulate to have better odds at getting your messages Retweeted. 

The true power of Twitter lies in its ability to connect people through chains of friends. Anyone can follow 1,000 people in hopes they’ll follow back, but trying to get just 10 people that already follow you to Retweet your posts to their 100s of friends is far more beneficial. It's this enigmatic strategy that punishes brute force and rewards quality over quantity on Twitter.

HubSpot – a software tool for inbound marketing – is one of the top 300 ranked sites on the Internet in the United States. Using data from their 4,000+ business clients, late last year they released several ways that can help or hurt your chances at being Retweeted.

The least surprising thing revealed in their findings is that self-referential Tweets are the most unlikely posts to get reposted, with messages containing swear words also having terrible chances of getting Retweeted. Among the most likely topics to get Retweeted are money, religion, media, and posts about occupations. What surprised me the most is that simply asking for a Retweet with a “Please” is 11 times more likely to get reposted than any of your random Tweets. Don’t abuse it, but always keep that trick in your back pocket for your most important posts each year!

The two pieces of data that conflict a bit are the punctuation findings and the readability findings. While it suggests that using simple words and dumbing down messages isn’t affective, it also shows that using any punctuation other than a period or colon – and arguably a hyphen – is far less likely to be Retweeted. Things like exclamation points, commas, ellipsis, and even question marks aren’t affective, with semicolons almost guaranteeing no success. Keeping all of the above in mind, the 20 most Retweetable words or phrases on Twitter do happen to be pretty simple:

  1. You
  2. Twitter
  3. Please
  4. Retweet
  5. Post
  6. Blog
  7. Social
  8. Free
  9. Media
  10. Help
  11. Please Retweet
  12. Great
  13. Social Media
  14. 10
  15. Follow
  16. How To
  17. Top
  18. Blog Post
  19. Check Out
  20. New Blog Post

While I’d like to see more studies on the previous section, this next piece of information looks very conclusive:

I had always wondered if some of the URL shorteners seen above were just popular among my circle of friends or if the tendencies were widespread. Bit.ly is definitely my favorite and is used often by most people I know, but I didn’t expect Tumblr URLs to rank so low on the list.

While the chart above shows that some links can clearly be a bad idea, and that using the most known and trusted URL shorteners may be a wise decision, that’s not to say that links in general are dangerous. Using the same data from HubSpot clients – not malicious spam bots that are rampant on Twitter – posts with links made up roughly 20% of all Tweets, whereas posts with links accounted for about 60% of all Retweets.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the top 10 most Retweeted Tweets on Twitter last year. Unsurprisingly, they all come from celebrities or parodies of real people. However, at the 10th spot on that list is the father who had the TV show Bleep My Dad Says created after his now-famous Twitter account. That just goes to show that it’s possible for a random new account to eventually grow and peak alongside celebrities if they embrace the exponential powers of Retweeting.

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