For brands or individuals on Twitter, getting a blizzard of retweets can be a coup--and a disappointment. There's nothing like the thrill of successfully engaging your fans, delighting them enough to share whatever you had to say or link. But you also know that only a portion of your audience saw your uber-shareable message. In that case, you might wonder: Can I tweet it again?

Tomasz Tunguz, a Redpoint Ventures partner and former product manager for Google's social media monetization team, had the same question. Tunguz, who focuses on consumer Internet, online marketing and digital media investments, decided to experiment with periodically re-upping some of his older tweets.

While his methods wouldn't hold up to peer review, the results should still intrigue anyone managing a social media account. For this experiment, Tunguz used his personal Twitter account, which has just over 10,000 followers. He chose 30 of his previously-used tweets to recirculate, using identical language each time, but varying the timing of attempts. "Sometimes it's a few days, otherwise it several months or even quarters," he explained over email.

Tunguz's results hint at two potentially useful discoveries. First, "each subsequent attempt gains about 75% of the previous number of retweets--a very encouraging metric," he wrote on his blog. This would indicate that the second or third tweets aren't likely to achieve the success of the original, but could still be worthwhile for driving attention.

What's really interesting is what Tunguz found by looking more closely. He noted that tweets with high initial retweet rates acted differently than those with low rates. "Recirculating a moderately successful post, one with about 2 initial retweets, results in about 2 more retweets. But recirculating a very successful post, one with on average 9 retweets, creates a cascade of another 4 retweets," he blogged. The numbers suggest that it's only useful to recirculate your most popular content.

While Tunguz is clear that his results may not be consistent for different publications or accounts, it seems like it might be a strategy for others to test out: Let unpopular tweets drift down the Twitter stream for good. But if there's something your audience really likes, recirculating it, even months later, may help draw noticeably more attention.

Have you tried tweet recirculation as part of your social media strategy? Has it been effective?

Published on: Oct 7, 2013