The results of a recent LinkedIn (LI) poll (n=482) offer strong evidence of people’s preferences for quality over quantity when it comes to Twitter. For 58% of the respondents, the “sweet spot” is 0-5 tweets a day, and a cumulative 79% said that ten per day should be the max. The quantitative results are enriched by dozens of comments that offer best practice insights via three universal themes.
Back in June I created a LI poll to see what people think is the optimum number of tweets from an organization (versus an individual). My original goal was to gather input to help us refine the approach to our own Twitter feed (@SMinOrgs) (see this post for an explanation), but it quickly became evident that the poll results could also be valuable to other organizations that use Twitter, not just as a newsfeed but in other ways as well.
By the time the poll closed in late July, we had almost 500 votes and dozens of comments on the poll itself, and dozens more comments on the various LI groups and other digital communities where we shared the question/poll. The results were enlightening and even a bit surprising.
This post shares the poll results and the themes that emerged from people’s comments. Although the poll is closed, I invite people to continue to share their insights by commenting here or on the poll itself. And, of course, I hope you’ll share the results via Twitter. : )
- Courtney Shelton Hunt
The Survey Says…
Click here or on the image above to view the poll results and read the comments. The consensus for fewer tweets is very strong, with 58% of the respondents indicating a “sweet spot” of 0-5 tweets a day, and a cumulative 79% saying that ten per day should be the max. A quick examination of potential demographic differences reveals the following:
- All age groups were fairly evenly represented, with relatively more respondents in the youngest (18-29) and oldest (45+) age brackets.
- The preference for fewer tweets was stronger among older respondents. Whereas the ratio between 1-5 and 6-10 was roughly 64:36 for respondents in the younger age brackets (18-36), it was 80:20 for respondents in the 37+ brackets.
- The overall group was fairly senior, with about two-thirds being managers or above.
- People who were not identified as managers or above appear to have a higher tolerance for more tweets.
- The respondents were well balanced between male and female.
- The male/female ratio across the difference responses was fairly even.
In addition to the comments on the Twitter poll, I consolidated the responses on the various LI groups and other digital communities where we shared the question/poll:
As the comments started coming in, it became apparent that the question was like a Rorschach test. The assumptions, projections, and preferences respondents shared revealed a great deal about them and their views of the Twitterverse, which in turn reinforced the fact that Twitter is many (often opposing) things to many people. Individual comments were influenced by factors such as:
- An assumption that the question was focused on for-profit enterprises
- A lack of awareness of how Twitter can be used in non-commercial ways, even by for-profit entities
- A lack of understanding of what a newsfeed approach to Twitter is
- Limited awareness of how a newsfeed approach can be deployed by non-media organizations
Even with these varying perspectives, strong themes emerged in the comments that complemented the quantitative results. These themes can be organized into three major categories. If you’ve been involved in social technologies for a while, you’ll recognize how universal these themes are, not just with respect to Twitter and other forms of social engagement, but as a general set of best practices.
Quality trumps Quantity
- If the quality of the content being shared is good, people will tolerate higher quantity.
- Inappropriate tweeting can quickly undermine overall perceptions of quality. This can include:
- Over-tweeting (i.e., tweeting too much)
- Excessive repeat tweeting (i.e., resharing the same content multiple times)
- Cluster tweeting (i.e., posting a bunch of tweets in a row without spacing them out)
- Irrelevant tweeting (i.e., sharing content that's not strongly connected to your organization)
- Self-oriented tweeting (i.e., marketing, advertising, sales, promotions and other “it’s all about us” tweets)
- One-directional tweeting (i.e., only talking “at” followers without responding or engaging with them)
- Curating content based on quality helps followers deal with information overload and increases your value to them.
- If you’re viewed as a noise-maker rather than a signal-provider, people will tune you out, which means even your best content will be missed.
- If you don’t have something substantive to share, don’t tweet.
- The quantity/quality balance for an individual organization depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Goals and objectives for engaging on Twitter
- Characteristics of the organization, industry, and key stakeholders
- Characteristics and preferences of followers
- Remember that there are many ways people can view your tweets, as listed below. Think about the impression you give off through all these views.
- Via their own activity stream
- Directly on your Twitter page
- By following specific hashtags
- Through Twitter searches
- As RTs (retweets) by others
- Time is important, in a number of ways:
- Knowing the time zones for most of your followers
- Tweeting during peak and off hours
- Tweeting at a consistent pace
- In certain situations, like live tweeting during an event or responding to a crisis, people’s tolerance and appetites for greater quantity increase.
Be Mindful in Your Approach
- There is no “one best way” or single number of tweets that all organizations should target. Each organization should define its Twitter engagement based on the context factors noted above.
- There is also no need to simply “guess” at what might work. Actions like the following can help define and refine specific best practices:
- Soliciting feedback from followers
- Using available tools to monitor and manage Twitter activity
- Reviewing metrics specific to your engagement
For a deeper dive into these themes – and to derive your own take-aways – I encourage you to read the comments on both the LI poll and the uploaded Word document. If you think I’ve missed something, please let me know.
- Twitter for Rookies: Simple Guidance for Getting Started
- 15 Twitter "Worst Practices" for Rookies (& Others) to Avoid
- 6 Tips to Avoid Making a Hash of Twitter Hashtags
- To Hash or Not to Hash? A Decision Making Guide
Coming Soon: A Case Study of how SMinOrgs uses Twitter
Just as we’ve recently done with Pinterest, we’re developing a case study that illustrates how we’ve developed our Twitter engagement over the past three years. Although we’re a small, start-up professional association, we believe the lessons learned from our experiences can be valuable to others. Check back and/or subscribe to the blog to be notified when the case study is published.