Research by MIT, Penn and the University of Washington and the Penn discovered a predictable retweet rate of decay for retweets (or shares) of content on Twitter. The mathematical model developed by the academic group has been dubbed ‘Twouija‘ for it’s extreme accuracy in predicting retweet rates across Twitter profiles of any follower shape or size.

Using a log normal scale, Twouija found an exponential decay rate where 50% of all retweets happen within the first 10 minutes after the tweet has been published. Tauhid Zaman, assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, claims that the model works consistently across Twitter profiles – from millions of followers to the relatively unknown.

Zaman stated in a Mashable article, “It’s very remarkable. It’s like people at very different levels of popularity — the way people respond to them, like the fraction of retweets they get after a fixed amount of time, is very consistent.”

Retweets are extremely valuable and possibly the most important engagement metric (shares) in social media. Retweets help spread your brand message and grow your network. Therefore, time of publishing is more important than ever considering that your tweets will earn the most shares within a ten minute window after publishing.

Test & Measure

Like most optimization methods in digital marketing, experimentation is the only way to get real answers.

Start off by doing research on an app like Follower Wonk and see what time windows show the highest activity for your target audience. Search follower stats for competitors, industry organizations or other places where your target audience is hanging out. Overlap these follower stats to find the time frames that correlate – and start there.

Then experiment with different time frames. Space your experimental publishing times 10 minutes apart and gather the data. Control your experiment as much as possible by organizing your content types within the tested time frames. For example, don’t publish curated content and landing page CTA messages in the same experiment.

It will take hundreds of posts to gather enough data to start making some solid decisions, but this shouldn’t take more than a few months if you are messaging at a normal rate. Optimize your social media messaging to get more shares and increase the ROI of your social media marketing efforts.