Social media newcomers take heart: Nearly everything the experts know will be worthless in a few years.
The only constant in social media is change, which is why we’ve dissected our Twitter analytics for a second year to see what has changed or stayed the same. We analyzed all 4,917 tweets sent from our @PRDaily handle in 2018 and discovered these six social media tips:
1. The best times to tweet were outside of work hours.
We were surprised to learn what night owls our audience members were. While we knew the workday was a poor time to earn much social media attention for our audience, the hours between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. were surprisingly popular, as were the hours just after work. Time zone differences could explain the popularity of our tweets late at night (we are in the Central Standard Time), but even our West Coast audience would have been active around midnight for this trend to persist.
Note: When repeating this experiment, don’t forget to adjust the time zones. Exported tweets don’t necessarily observe the time zone you have set on your Twitter account.
2. Infographics are still powerful—but waning.
Tweets that started with “Infographic:” got an average of 19.1 clicks and 4.6 retweets, bettering the overall average of 14.5 and 3.3 retweets. This is a decline from last year, however, when posts about infographics roughly doubled the amount of clicks, likes and retweets.
3. Listicles’ numbers affect clicks.
What is the ideal number of items in your listicle? Is “4 pitching tips” as effective as “12 pitching tips” or “19 pitching tips”?
For listicles, 12 was the sweet spot (i.e. “12 reasons why…”), and the extreme highs and lows petered out quickly – except for the number 20, which was popular. Our audience wants enough meat for the listicle to be worthwhile, but not so much information that they’ll be overwhelmed.
4. Different goals deserve different tactics.
There is no uniform best practice, but rather a set of best practices that depend on your goals. Are you trying to increase impressions or drive traffic to your website? The answer may affect the best tactics for you.
As we observed last year, tweets containing a percentage increased retweets (average of 4.94 versus 3.28 for all tweets) and likes (8.20 versus 6.61 for all tweets), but not URL clicks. In 2018, average URL clicks actually decreased for tweets containing “%” or “percent” (10.00 for tweets with a statistic versus 14.53 for all tweets).
Social media managers should be careful about giving too much away in the tweet.
5. Our audience wants to know “how,” more than they want to know “why.”
Posts beginning with “how” received significantly more engagement than posts beginning with “why.” This is the result of slight advantages in the number of clicks, likes and retweets for posts beginning with “how.” Posts beginning with “why” actually garnered fewer engagements than an average post, while tweets beginning with “How” earned above-average engagement.
Our audience might want to learn how to make a video on a budget, but are less interested in why videos are important.
6. Length of your tweet matters less than what it says.
Given the hullabaloo over Twitter’s increase in maximum character length, we were surprised by how little tweet length actually mattered. Tweets around 100 characters in length got the most engagement, and some short and long tweets got overlooked, but the difference was minimal. Across other metrics, such as retweets and URL clicks, there was hardly any difference at all.
This accounts only for unique tweets with at least 10 of the same character length. (Note: most of our tweets have a link, which increases the character count, but the trend still holds).
Best of the best
Just for fun, here are a few of our superlatives of the year.
Most retweeted and most liked:
"We need to be on Snapchat."
It's okay if a social media platform isn't right for your content.#raganamazon
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) July 24, 2018
Most URL clicks:
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) March 27, 2018
Communicators, ask yourself: What will trigger something in your audience's brain to make them care? #RaganDisney
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) March 14, 2018
What lessons did you learn in your year on social media, Ragan/PR Daily readers?