How Many Tweets Does it Really Take to be Effective?

Although I wasn’t in Portland for the recent Wine Blogger’s Conference, it was fun to follow the #WBC13 hashtag over the weekend.  During the conference, Ashley Teplin (@AshleyTeplin) reacted to a presenter’s comment by tweeting:

“21 tweets per day to be effective!” wowza.

I responded to the tweet with:

Yep. That’s why a scheduling tool can be your best friend!

My thought at the time of posting was that, using a scheduling tool to discover and schedule posts, it’s actually pretty easy to get to 21+ tweets a day without even thinking about the number. Based on a tweet back to me from Matt Sargent (@mcsarge) and reading a separate response to Ashley from Luscious_Lushes (@Luscious_Lushes), I realized that this was a case where the 140 character limit wasn’t enough to fill in all the gaps.

The spot-on point from both Matt and Luscious Lushes was that quality trumps quantity. That machine-like rapid-fire posting without adding value or significant engagement will cost you followers.

So, should you tweet at least 21 times a day or should you be more concerned with quality than quantity?  The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I’ve seen authorities and research that claim that it takes a minimum of anywhere from 10 to more than 30 tweets per day to be effective. In reality, the number itself isn’t really important, but the theory behind these numbers is meaningful.

First, Twitter is an immediate channel. Compared to other social media channels, posts on Twitter have an amazingly short half-life. That means, with only rare exceptions, the brilliant composition you tweet at noon is past its prime in about 30 minutes and almost invisible after 3:00 pm. So, from a branding and discovery standpoint, just a couple of tweets a day will be as effective as cooling a swimming pool in the Texas summer with a just a couple of ice cubes. The actual number may be in debate, but, to optimize your effectiveness, you have to have enough posts to keep a visible profile throughout the day.

Add to that dynamic the fact that different members of your target audience are on Twitter at different times during the day. That makes it important that you not only have enough tweets for coverage throughout the day, but also spread them out. Posting 10 tweets in a ten-minutes span will give you great exposure to the very small group of users who are on Twitter at that very moment, but will miss the much larger audience on Twitter at different times of the day. Use of a scheduling tool is incredibly valuable in allowing you to enter a number of tweets at one time when you have a few minutes, but then spreading the actual posting of them throughout the day.

Finally, it is absolutely true that value is far more important that volume. So, the long-winded answer to the question of how many tweets a day will it take to be effective is: Don’t worry about the number.  If you are genuinely interacting and engaging with others who have interesting perspectives and if you are adding to those interactions original tweets of interest that provide value to your audience, you should have more than enough posts to cover your branding and discovery objectives for the day while still being interesting and engaging, without worrying about hitting an artificial number.

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