New Twitter Data: Optimal Link Placement for Clicks

If you like social media data and science like this, my latest book “Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness” is now only $1.99 in Kindle Edition (which will work on any computer or device). Buy it now!

One of the questions that I’ve been asked the most in the years I’ve been doing Twitter data analysis is where in a Tweet is the best position (beginning, middle or end) to include a link to get the most clicks. I had always assumed the end was the best, so I never thought much about the question.

But about a month ago, I decided to actually look at the data about it and test my assumption. Over the course of the next few weeks I gathered 200,000, random, Tweets. I used the API to calculate a click through rate (clicks on a link divided by number of followers of tweeter). And then I analyzed the relationship of the link’s position inside the Tweet and it’s CTR. I figured the best way to visualize this would be through a heat map.

The entire heat map symbolizes a Tweet, with areas to the left in the beginning of the Tweet and areas to the right at the end. Dark red bars represent a position with a high CTR and light-red or white bars show a position with a very low CTR.

It turns out that the best area for clicks is about 25% of the way through the Tweet. Do these findings match your experience? Will you be experimenting with this placement?

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Infographic: How to Get ReTweeted in Vegas

Over the past few days, we moved to Las Vegas. Yes that’s right, I actually live here now.

Among many things, one of the parts of the city I admire the most is the wealth and depth of marketing knowledge and science. So to do my part and try to add to it, I did a little analysis of Vegas-based ReTweeting activity.

I studied more than 400,000 random Tweets that contained the word “vegas” and among them, found more than 60,000 ReTweets. On that data set, I did the analysis of ReTweet activity by hour and the most (and least) ReTweetable words. You’ll notice that activity tends to be much later in the day that in other parts of the country, people are waking and staying up later here. And looking at the most/least ReTweetable words, you’ll see that the words at the the top of the list are future and present heavy and talk about shows, parties and birthdays. While words at the bottom of the list are “salesy” words and include a lot about leaving Vegas and going home.

I also analyzed the official Twitter accounts of the 24 major hotel casinos on the strip and nearby and ranked them by “ReTweets-per-Tweet” based on their last 200 updates.

I’ll be doing more Las Vegas centric social media research in the coming weeks, so let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like to see me look at.

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Buy Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness Today

My book is up for sale now! You can buy either the Kindle version or the hardcover. There are also bulk 5 and 52 copy packs. Either way, go grab a copy now.

The book is based on the years of research I conducted into contagious ideas and how to engineer them. It grew out of my flagship presentation: “The Science of Social Media” which I just delivered as a Guinness World Record setting largest webinar ever.

It’s a quick read and has lots of graphs and real data to help you combat the unicorns and rainbows of bad social media marketing myth.

So go check it out and let me know what you think!

And, if you like any of my work, or my wife Alison’s work, vote for our SXSW panel too!

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Introducing a New Tool: WhoReTweetedMe

In preperation for my upcoming webinar, The Science of Social Media (register now!), I’ve developed a new tool:

Simply enter the URL of a recent (between 1 day and 2 weeks old) blog post, click the button and wait a moment. You’ll see a report containing the timeline of Tweets to that URL, statistics about potential reach and average follower count of retweeters as well as a list of the 20 most influential users to tweet the link.

There’s also a bookmarklet you can drag to your bookmarks bar. Navigate to the page you want to analyze and click on the bookmark to see the report.

The tool is still very beta, so don’t be surprised if you see some errors, but I think it’s valuable enough to release now.

Let me know what you think.

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[Infographic] 5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get More ReTweets

For more data, statistics and social media science, don’t forget to register for my Science of Social Media webinar.

Over the years, I’ve done a ton of research on Retweets. I’ve found 5 specific points that are the most powerful ways to get more ReTweets, so I rolled them up into one simple infographic. If you’re curious where this data came from, check out the two links above.

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Viral Math: R-Naught and Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness

For more mythbusting and social media science, don’t forget to register for my Science of Social Media webinar.

Over the past few years I’ve developed two models of contagious content: R0 (pronounced: R Naught) and Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness. Because of the way these two systems work, I put a lot of emphasis on reach building activities (getting lots of followers, likes and views) and metrics (number of followers and likes). Based on the reaction I’ve seen to some of my recent work challenging the hegemony of “engaging in the conversation,” I’ve come to understand that I may not have fully explained why number of followers is such a key metric.

Before an individual can share a piece of your content, three things have to happen. First, they have to be exposed to it (following you on Twitter or a fan of your page on Facebook). Second, they have to actually become aware of that content (I follow something like 8,000 people on Twitter and don’t see anywhere near everything they Tweet). Third, and finally, they must be motivated by something in that content to share it. Together, these three elements make up my hierarchy of contagiousness.

The conversion rate at each part of the hierarchy can be expressed as a percentage, the number of people who will complete that part of the process. And the three rates taken together represent R0. Here, R0 stands for reproduction rate, a concept taken from the study of infectious diseases called epidemiology. It is the number of new cases of an infection that a single infection will cause. If I have a cold and I give that cold to two people and each of them give it to two more people, the R0 of that cold is two (or 200%). The R0 of most biological pathogens is above one, but I’ve never found an idea with a sustained R0 above one. Given a large enough population and a long enough time, the R0 of every idea falls below one and the idea stops spreading.

Below is a simple graphic explaining my viral math with my hierarchy of contagiousness, the accompanying formula and some example numbers alongside.

If you have 10,000 followers on Twitter and you Tweet to all of them, you are exposing 100% of them to your content. (The exposure rate is 100% for most platforms, but for some, like email, you can segment your audience and only send to a small percentage). Let us assume 1% of them actually read your Tweet (an educated guess at an awareness rate based on observed click through, ReTweet and reply rates). That means your Tweet has the chance to motivate 100 people to ReTweet it. Assuming it succeeds with 1% of those users (another educated guess), your content will get one ReTweet.

Obviously, these percentages are made up and vary wildly, but try plugging a few of your recent pieces of content in and do the math backwards to estimate your R0. If you have 20,000 followers and a Tweet of yours got 16 ReTweets, you have a 0.08% R0. You can then assume that for every 1,250 new followers you ad, you would have gotten one more ReTweet.

As marketers, we can optimize at each step of this process, by building reach (number of followers) for “exposure,” using tactics like contra-competitive timing and personalization for the “awareness” step, and learning about viral triggers for the last “motivation” stage. Awareness and motivation tend to be the trickiest to optimize for, but they’re certainly worth it. However, the easiest is reach. Get more followers or likes, and you’ll get more shares (and in turn, more followers and likes).

I’ve found that some users are more influential than others, and this is generally means they themselves have a larger reach. But there aren’t very many things you can do as a marketer to attract a huge number of highly followed influencers to your content beyond the same tactics that you would use to attract a huge number of “normal” users. And I’ve also found that some users (like lebolukewarm in this example) can have influence larger than their reach would suggest, but it’s impossible to target these one-off, contextually influential users. You can only increase your sheer follower numbers and thereby increase the likelihood that you have users like lebolukewarm following you.

The number of followers (or Facebook likes, or blog subscribers) you have is the best measure of your social media reach. It’s elegant and easy to compare to your competitors. There are other, more complex (and expensive) ways to measure reach, but they aren’t much more useful than follower count. Your goal with reach metrics is not to measure every single possible edge case, but rather to measure most of your reach and monitor trends in it. The question you need to answer is simple, are you building your reach, or losing it?

And don’t get fooled by fake, hypothetical straw men arguments. If someone tells you that they’d rather have 100 “highly engaged” followers than 10,000 less “engaged” followers, ignore them. In reality, if you have 10,000 followers you’ll have a decent number of “engaged” listeners. (Unless you’re doing something really shady to get those followers.) In the vast majority of real cases, someone with 10,000 followers has more reach and influence than someone with 100.

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New Data: Tweet Lots of Links to Get Followers

For more mythbusting and social media science, don’t forget to register for my Science of Social Media webinar.

My effort to analytically study the unicorns-and-rainbows myth of “engaging in the conversation” started by looking at the relationship between the number of followers a user has and the percentage of their Tweets that are “@” replies. I found that highly followed users are less conversational than those with few followers.

This time, I looked at the relationship between follower count and the percentage of a user’s tweets that contain links and are not replies. Using a sample of random, recently active Twitter accounts, I found a strong correlation. As the amount of links a user tweets increases the number of followers they have also increases. And users with more than 1,000 followers tend to tweet many more links than users with fewer than 1,000 followers.

The data is starting to mount to suggest that “engaging in the conversation” is a waste of time from a marketing and reach-building perspective, especially when compared to sharing content.

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Introducing @DanZarrella’s Readability Analyzer Plugin for WordPress

Readability is a measurement of how complex a piece of content is. It can be measured as a grade level, the school grade level required to be able to understand the text.

I’ve done a bunch of research in the past into how readability effects sharing, and I’ve found that especially on Facebook, simple language is shared more than complex language.

To help you write highly-readable blog posts, I put together a little plugin that sits in the side bar of your WordPress blog’s post writing page and allows you to analyze the reading grade level of your content with one, quick click.

It’s still very beta, so it may break. But it’s pretty simple code, and doesn’t change anything on your site or store anything, so there isn’t much danger it will mess your blog up.

If you want to download it to test it out, simply subscribe to my blog (either by RSS or by email below). In RSS, you’ll see a link at the end of each post (including this one) that you can click to download the plugin. And if you’ve signed up by email, you’ll get a link to download it once you’ve confirmed your subscription. If you’re already subscribed, look in the sidebar of an email you’ve received from my blog to find the download link.

To install it, simply unzip it, upload the directory to your “wp-content/plugins” directory and activate it in your plugins section. Then when you’re writing a post you’ll see the analyzer.

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New Data: 33% of Facebook Posting is Mobile

For more mythbusting and social media science, don’t forget to register for my Science of Social Media webinar.

Some stats have been published, by researchers and the company themselves, about mobile usage of Facebook. But to content creators, one of the most important uses of the social network is when users create posts, sometimes posting original content, often sharing articles and media found elsewhere on the web. I was unable to find much data about how much of this activity occurs via mobile devices, so I decided to research my own.

I used a random sample set of more than 70,000 Facebook public posts (those from users with open privacy settings). The data includes status updates, videos, links and photos. 32.69% of those posts were created from mobile devices. The mobile Facebook website, lead mobile usage with more than 18% of posts created through it. Below you can see a breakdown of the mobile applications used.

The official apps for the big three phones: iPhone, Android and Blackberry, were the next most commonly used mobile clients. After them were a slew of less common clients including 3rd party apps for iPad and iPhone as well as Samsung, HP, Windows and Sidekick phone clients. Which together constituted less than 1% of the total postings, and are combined into the “other” slice in the graph above.

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My Unfair Advantage

One of my favorite pieces of social media advice is: “stop talking about yourself” but today I’m going to break that rule. Saturday is my six month wedding anniversary to my lovely wife Alison.

I love what I do. Lots of us in the space do. When I started working in online marketing 9 years ago I thought I lived the job. I would do it all day at work, and into the wee hours of the night at home. Since meeting my wife however I’ve discovered that I have an unfair advantage.

The unfair advantage is that between my coworkers and my wife, I’ve found myself surrounded with the most amazing talent in my industry. She even has a better Twitter username than I do. Our wedding vows mentioned Twitter and Facebook. Even when I’m not sitting at a screen I’m getting better at what I do because of her.

She’s the most brilliant social marketer I know (myself included). She’s also an amazing writer, a skill I’ve spent much time trying to learn. Believe me, if you’ve read something good I’ve written, chances are that her eyes and hands made it that way. Our book is a great example of this. She’s my most honest critic and the best partner I can imagine.

And while I’m a data junky in my element with huge databases, she’s much better with actual humans, being actually social. It’s the perfect compliment. I obsess over Twitter, she obsesses over Facebook. I love giving presentations with PowerPoint, she’s killer at Q&A.

The best advice I can give a social marketer is to find people like this. Find someone who knows what you’re talking about when you’re thinking about the intricacies of retweets and likes. We’re all still learning how this field works. And while you can get better in isolation, you’ll never be as good as you can be until you’re constantly challenged and supported by people better than you.

Oh, and happy anniversary darling.

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