In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 40,509 tweets will have been published.
Kind of a lot, right?
According to Twitter, the social network posts about 500 million new updates every single day – an average of about 5787 per second. Basically, things move fast in the ol’ Twittersphere, and that means the life of a tweet is short – and it isn’t always easy for YOUR voice to be heard.
Fortunately, your followers aren’t also following every single person on Twitter. (Unless they are. What do I know.) But while you may not be competing with 500 million other voices all the time, you’re still fighting an uphill battle when it comes to getting your updates seen.
Which brings me to the big question of the day: How long does a tweet really last? How many followers can you figure will actually see one of your tweets? Most of them? None of them? Let’s take a closer look at the statistics and see just how long the life of a tweet REALLY is – and what you can do to make them worth a whole heckuva lot more.
Say you have 1000 followers on Twitter. That’s a super respectable number, right? 1000 people logging on every day, checkin’ their feeds, seeing your latest links and promos and whatnot!
Except they aren’t. In fact, the majority of them aren’t. Only about 46% of Twitter users log on at least once per day. So of those 1000 followers you have, only about 460 or so even check the social network on a daily basis. (This is why nobody sees your tweets.)
Basically, we’re not off to an amazing start. But where do we go from here? Well, let’s estimate how long each of those 460 people is actually active on Twitter.
Statistics show that the average Twitter user is on the network for about 13 minutes. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s not very much time.” (Also, probably something like, “Uggggh.”) Fortunately, though, that 46% stat from before refers to people who check Twitter at least once per day – some people check it more frequently. Let’s factor them in, too!
About 29% of Twitter users check the network multiple times per day – we know that much. Thing is, we don’t know HOW many times, because that data just doesn’t really exist. So we’re gonna estimate a little.
If we’re still going off that example of a person with 1000 followers, then this statistic means 290 of their followers check Twitter multiple times a day, while 170 only check it once.
So, for the 290 people who check multiple times per day, we’ll guess that they check three times a grand total of about 39 minutes spread out across the day. The other 170 people each spend 13 minutes on Twitter per day, but we don’t know when.
So we pretty much know how much time your followers spend on Twitter on a daily basis – now let’s look at the likelihood that they’re going to see one of your tweets during that small window based on the life of a tweet.
How long does the average tweet last, anyway? While a tweet may never actually “expire,” after a certain period of everyone else tweeting, an update ends up getting pushed so far down in the timeline that it becomes less and less likely it’ll ever be seen again. Wanna know how long that takes?
Half-whatsit? It’s cool – chemistry class was a long time ago for some of us. When I say that the half-life for the average tweet is about 24 minutes, it means that within that period of time, it’s engaged about half as many people as it ever will.
The rest will trickle in slowly over time, but when it comes to immediate engagement, you’ve got less than half an hour to make your mark before you get buried under fresher content.
So, then, how do alllll these numbers end up coming together? And what does it mean for your Twitter marketing?
[Tweet “Basically, every time you tweet, you’re throwing a dart at a board. And you’re blindfolded. And the board keeps moving, and changing size.”]
The odds are kind of stacked against you to begin with, and the less you tweet, the worse they get. Too few of your followers are on Twitter at any given time, and the life of a tweet is too short.
So what are you supposed to DO about it?
The biggest mistake you can make is to stop using Twitter.
Waaaaaaay too many businesses start off strong and optimistic on Twitter, and after going however long without finding the engagement they’d hoped for, they give up.
That’s EXACTLY why I went all good-will-hunting with the statistics! To show you that it’s not your fault if Twitter marketing seems like a pain. It’s an uphill battle for everyone, is all.
It IS your fault, however, if you convince yourself that it’s futile and you give up. Because here’s the thing: Twitter is a loud and busy place (obviously), and while that means the life of a tweet is relatively short and you have to work harder to be heard, it also means that this network is LOADED with opportunity.
The solution? Tweet more. Tweet hardcore. Tweet like a MUTHA.
If you’re trying to get more followers and you’re only tweeting once or twice a day, you’re gonna stay stuck right where you are – heck, the followers you have might not even be SEEING your tweets! (That’s just playing the numbers, ya know?)
To increase your odds, you’ve gotta increase your volume. First of all, don’t pay attention to all those millions of studies about the best times to tweet – they’re not about you. Pay attention to your own analytics to figure out what times you should be focusing on.
Then, tweet often and at targeted times. Should you be tweeting every 24 minutes? HECK no! You’ll drive people insane – yourself especially. (For reference, I max out between six and ten per day, not counting @-replies and such.)
Essentially, you want to regularly publish tweets around the times when you get the most engagement, and you want to be as consistent as possible about it (because you just never know if it’s going to be an “on” day or an “off” day).
The trick is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time and automate your posts. You ever have one of those moments in a conversation when you feel like you need to say something REALLY clever, but you just draw a big ol’ blank? That’s what happens to a lot of people on social media – and then they just don’t post ANYTHING! Take the pressure off yourself – by writing updates in advance and automating when they get published, life is way, WAY easier than it would be trying to do it all in real time.
You know by now that the number of followers who are going to see any given tweet isn’t huge. No matter HOW high your follower count, it’s all proportional – a matter of percentages.
The bad news is that it means you have to tweet frequently to increase the odds of being seen by your followers.
The good news, though, is that it means you can post the same tweet more than once.
Imagine you’re at a party, okay? You’re talking to a group of people, and you tell them a story. Eventually, those people are going to wander off, and you’ll find yourself talking to a whole NEW group of people. You’re at the same party – it’s just that people come and they go! So why not tell the new group of people the same story?
Repeating your social media updates from time to time is how you respect your work and the time you spend on it. Why on Earth would you take the time to write and publish an update like a tweet only for it to be seen by just a few people? (My personal advice, though, is to not repeat yourself too quickly. Give yourself some time before using the same update again, so if it is seen by someone who saw it before, they won’t likely care or even remember.)
This is why I teach what I teach in Social Brilliant. It’s why I spent half a year building Edgar! This is just the way it works now, and if you embrace it, you’ll be lightyears ahead of the game.
Basically, here’s what we figured out:
So in order to make yourself heard without driving yourself crazy, you have to do a few things:
Simple, right? Sorry to get all super number-crunchy about it – the thing is, I know how frustrating it can be to feel like you aren’t getting any engagement, so it’s important to know why! If you don’t know the rules, you can’t win the game – hopefully now, though, it all makes just a teensy bit more sense.
Got any burning questions about anything I talked about? Analytics? Automation? Um, darts? Just hit me up in the comments below and we can talk it out!