A few months ago my friend Dr. Ben Hanna led an extensive statistical study to discover the optimal tweeting strategy by running matched tests of tweets over period of weeks. He uncovered some very interesting ideas that will help you get more out of every tweet!

Tweet quality versus tweet quantity – The study looked at the relevant importance of tweeting only when you had something really interesting to pass along (quality focus) versus a strategy of tweeting with frequency to make sure your content was always in front of your audience (quantity focus). The study showed tweet quality is MUCH more important than quantity.  Tweets that provided a higher average number of clicks per tweet with a track-able link correlated to higher follower growth.

I guess this finding verifies my hunch. People who tweet on a schedule just strike me as unapproachable and disconnected.  While the study definitely verified the “quality” strategy, you still have to be in the game – average tweets/day during their testing ranged from 2.9 to 11.0.

The first words are critical – At 140 characters, tweets are like headlines and people scan them quickly.  If you want to catch someone’s eye, think like an advertising copy writer and make sure that either the main topic keywords or a number/statistic are found in the first 3-5 words.

The results also recommended against using the standard retweet style (i.e. “RT @markwschaefer: …” to start the tweet), instead shift attribution to the end of the tweet (i.e. “… via @markwschaefer”) so people can concentrate on the first words.

Quality tweets live four days – If you measure the lifespan of a tweet by the number of days on which it receives at least one click, then tweets don’t live very long. On average, tweets with a clickable link received at least one click on four separate days with a range of one day (not a very popular tweet) to 23 days (very popular content).

Optimal time between tweets – In a study examining the number of clicks on business-related tweets, the optimal space between business tweets to attract the most clicks is either 31-60 minutes or 2-3 hours. Tightly packed tweets just don’t appear to attract as much attention as tweets with more space between them. The study really couldn’t explain the bi-modal distribution. The cause of the dip in click activity for tweets between 61 and 120 minutes is uncertain.

I found this research interesting and hope it will help you hit your tweet-spot on Twitter!  Any surprises?  What do you think makes a tweet work?