In the past three months, Hootsuite’s main Twitter handle (@hootsuite) has Tweeted a single piece of content 44 times. Soon our social media team will probably do it again, making an even 45. We’re not afraid to repeat our content, and we don’t think you should be either.
I would be the first to lament the fact that social media has become less social and more automated. But how people use social media, particularly Twitter, has changed. It has developed into a discovery channel where audiences come to find content. As a result, organizations with strong content marketing presences have altered how they operate within the unwritten rules of this ecosystem.
In the early days, repeating Tweets would have been a cardinal sin. There were unwritten rules that grew from the behaviours and assumptions of Twitter’s early community, and ‘no repeats’ was one of them—if your whole audience sees every Tweet you send, duplicated content will bore and annoy people. However, times have changed. At Hootsuite, we have adopted the practice of sending multiple Tweets to the same piece of content. And we are not alone in this approach.
Social Media thought leader Guy Kawasaki told the audience at LeWeb 2013: “You will piss some people off from this, I grant you that. But on social media, if you’re not pissing people off, you’re probably not using it hard enough.”
With more than 6.7 million followers on our main Twitter account, we will Tweet to the same piece of content up to four times in one day. If the content is performing well, we may drive to it 20 or more times over the course of a week. When you start to do the math, that sounds like an excessive number of Tweets to the same piece of content. But is it?
When you have a large audience, you need to make sure everyone can hear you. No doubt, our regular followers may see the same Tweet multiple times, but we feel that the risks don’t outweigh the rewards.
— Matthew Litwin (@mattlitwin) April 19, 2015
Risk and reward
Based on our statistics, each Tweet we send can reach a potential audience of 6.7 million followers. In actuality, only 70,000 people on average see any single Tweet we send. If you do the math, we would have to send a Tweet a minimum of 96 times before we could be sure all 6.7 million followers were to see it at least once.
This doesn’t mean that every piece of content we share with our community will be Tweeted out this often. In fact, it is our community that dictates which content we send out on a more frequent basis.
Our mission is to deliver content that supports and empowers social media practitioners. It is their actions that determine what is useful content and what has ‘jumped the shark’.
We have sent thousands of Tweets that our audience has deemed not interesting. As a result, we only Tweeted to these pieces of content a few times. Once our audience shows that it is no longer interested in a piece of content, we rotate it out of our content calendar.
What makes a successful Tweet?
We view the success of a Tweet based on a variety of factors: link clicks back to our blog; Twitter Engagement Rate; and Retweets or shares.
For us, performance is a measure of interest—even on the 150th Tweet of the same piece of outstanding content, we have found that users are still clicking the link to read the post and sharing it with friends.
Take for example this Tweet, which recorded the most link clicks for us out of any Tweet we sent in February, March or April:
— Hootsuite (@hootsuite) March 1, 2015
This particular Tweet was sent on February 28th – 73 days after the blog post was initially published. It had already been shared from @hootsuite 39 times prior, yet people were still interested in clicking on the link to read the blog post.
So does it make sense to keep providing our audience something that they want to read? We think so. And the data backs up our decision.
Variety, the spice of life
Clearly, posting the same exact Tweet with the same exact image over and over again isn’t necessarily the right approach to take, either. That’s why our team has developed some internal best practices when it comes to reposting content:
- Vary the copy in the Tweet to find the sweetspot for what works with your audience
- Make changes to the image attached to the Tweet until you find one that works
- Alter the hashtags associated with the Tweet to reach new audiences
- Mix up the time and day that you post so you are connecting with your global audience
We continue to circulate through these steps. If a Tweet continues to perform above our benchmarks, we continue to keep it in rotation in our content calendar. However, over time, the content in some Tweets may become dated or stale and at that point, we retire them from our content mix.
Rules are meant to be broken! Don’t be afraid to alter your mental model on how to approach Twitter. Ultimately, a social media manager’s job is to understand his or her audience. That means delivering the content that the audience wants when they want or need it. Listening to your audience is the art of understanding your data while balancing the qualitative feedback you receive. From there, you can create the recipe that works best for you or your brand.