How Much is Too Much? Finding the Social Media Sweet Spot

How Much is Too Much? Finding the Social Media Sweet Spot

Introduction

One element of social media strategy, especially for corporate brands, is how often to post messages to your followers. Tweet too little, and you run the risk of disappearing in a user’s feed. Post too much, and you risk annoying your followers and of being unfollowed. Each company’s social team needs to find a happy medium for their market. Several services offer help with how often to post on social media. Some firms will queue tweets and post them throughout the day. Others study followers’ behavior and post at “optimal” times. All of these services still rely on the client to decide how often to post on a daily basis. Rather than guessing how many tweets per day are best, I decided to look at how often accounts or handles actually tweet. You want to tweet more frequently than the average user, but less than annoying tweeters —those who are taken as feed spam and unfollowed.

Methodology

I took a sample[1] of 6,355 user accounts from Twitter and collected all of their tweets for a year (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014). I divided the total number of tweets by the time interval between their oldest and newest posts, providing the average tweets per day for each account. I then analyzed the percentage of handles with a given tweet rate.

Results

Figure 1 shows the average number of tweets per day. The solid line is the raw percentage and dashed line is the cumulative distribution. What does this tell us? First, the distribution maximum is low. Thirty per cent of people post on average 0.15 tweets per day, or one tweet a week. That’s right: 30% of people tweet only about once a week!

rate

Figure 1: Percent of Twitter users and daily activity

What about the median user? To learn what the median tweet rate is —where half of the people are tweeting less and half the people are tweeting more— I had to find where the cumulative distribution is 50%. This happens at roughly one tweet/day. In a typical user’s Twitter feed, about half of the people they are following will tweet once per day or less, and about half of the people they are following will tweet more frequently.

As a brand, you are probably tweeting more often than that. But how much is too much? Ninety-five percent is often used as a measure of what is statistically normal. In any distribution there will be some outliers. As a convenient rule of thumb we take the most common 95% of the results and say “that is normal” and treat the remaining 5% as “statistical outliers”. I will assume that the 5% “statistical outliers” are accounts that are tweeting too much. That’s a group you don’t want to be in!

So where is the 95% line? Twenty tweets per day. Below 20 tweets/day and you are considered “normal”. More than 20 tweets per day and you are a “statistical outlier”. Intuitively most brands will want to tweet fewer than 20 times per day. Handles with 20 or more posts are most likely either news brands or spammers.

So there you have it. To rise above the noise you want do at least one tweet a day. However, if you approach 20 tweets on a daily basis, your tweets may start to dominate your user’s feed and you run the risk of being unfollowed.

Featured “Asylum required !” Image courtesy of Craig Sunter View CC License

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. K. White, J. Li, N. Japkowicz, “Samplig Online Social Networks Using Coupling From the Past,” 2012 IEEE 12th International Conference on Data Mining Workshop on Data Mining in Networks, pp. 266-272

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