‘Keep tweets short to boost engagement’

Brands should ensure their tweets are short, contain links and do not overuse hashtags if they want to boost engagement on Twitter, according to a study.

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Tweets that contain fewer than 100 characters receive 17% higher engagement rates than longer tweets, according to Buddy Media’s “Strategies for Effective Tweeting” report. This is because leaving extra space allows followers to insert their own comments when they share brand’s content with friends, it explains.

The study, which analysed user engagement on more than 320 Twitter handles for the world’s largest brands, also found that tweets containing links receive 86% higher retweet rates than those without. Tweets with links – particularly links to images – drive not only click-through rates but help to amplify brand messages to people beyond just that account’s followers.

Simply asking followers to retweet or “RT” can also achieve 12% higher retweet rates, but fewer than 1% of brands are implementing this strategy.

Tweets with hashtags tend to receive twice the level of engagement than those without, but Buddy Media warns that Twitter users can be put off when too many hashtags are employed. Tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement rates than those with three or more.

Brands that tweet during natural “busy hours”, between 8am and 7pm, tend to receive 30% higher engagement rates than tweets that fall between 8pm and 7am. This differs from Buddy Media’s previous analysis into Facebook wall posts, which found that brands posting during non-busy hours achieve higher engagement.

Twitter engagement rates are 17% higher on a Saturday and Sunday, compared to weekdays, suggesting brands may need to reorganise their social media scheduling to ensure maximum visibility.

The report says: “As with any social network, it is not enough to simply publish content and hope for the best. Instead you need to know when to tweet, what to tweet and how often to tweet.”

Earlier this month Twitter held its first marketer conference to showcase success stories from brands including Cadbury, American Express and Absolute Radio who have effectively used the site to boost engagement with their brands.

Some marketers have previously criticised the platform’s paid-for ad suite, saying there is not enough evidence it leads to business results.

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