Six Ways of Getting MORE Retweets!!! (No, not really. On bad advice, bots and Twitter)

LOL.  The crazy advice that you get on tweeting sometimes is flawed. Don’t believe everything you read out there, kittens.   I’ve pointed out before that you need to be aware of botnets.  Botnets work because your Twitter feed is run by merry elves–or perhaps space aliens is a better analogy– known as “algorithms.”  These elves or maybe, aliens are a complicated set of calculations that compose scores for each of your tweets and also of your account profile.

What they’re trying to do is weigh the value and worth of your account and your tweets to other people.  The elves/aliens have a  very peculiar view of what is valuable to people. They use all kinds of weird guesses, poker games, dance fight competitions and similar mad science mathematics to divine whether your tweets A, B, and C are worthy to go out to (1) ALL of your followers;  (2) SOME of your followers;  (3) to the search engine where someone is looking for tweets on topic A, or B, or C.

That’s right. ALL of your followers do not always (or even usually) get ALL of your tweets.  Twitter’s algorithms decide.  With over 350,000 tweets PER MINUTE going on at any time of the day,  if you got all the tweets from all the people YOU FOLLOW, your timeline would be zipping by you at a rate of dozens of tweets per minute.  (I recall the Olden Times, when 10,000 tweets an hour was a huge record. That was the terrorist attacks in Mumbai back in 2008. Now that’s just not even a good Tuesday on the Internet.)

Twitter’s elves-slash-aliens have to come up with an instant score for all the tweets that end up in your Timeline’s queue.  Some of those tweets never make it in.  So the trick is to get Twitter’s algorithms to recognize which ones are considered “more worthy.”  Because if few people are seeing your tweets, then you have fewer opportunities for retweets.

No one knows the secret sauce, the exact content of these algorithms as it is proprietary,  a trade secret, kept secret so that inconsiderate jack-asses can’t game the system. Oh, but they try.  And many business intelligence reports are created to figure out what is going on in the minds of those alien elves or elf aliens — to learn the secret! of secrets! How to get more retweets!

Now, I follow Jeff Bullas’s bot-driven account on Twitter (323K tweets is not human). Jeff Bullas is one of those marketing guru, bot-assisted doofs who flood my feed regularly with constant attempts to sell me more crap. Well, Jeff sometimes has interesting stuff to read.  And he’s not too much of an arrogant chucklehead vending blogging advice, and he does provide interesting content like this roundup, “Nine Ways to get more retweets on Twitter.”   I give credit where credit is due.  But some of his insights are (cough-bull****).

Let’s break down his Nine Ways. Some are common sense.  Some are a bit wrong-headed.  But then, it goes downhill fast. 

#1. Tweet on Sundays.  Sundays are something of a slow day on the Internet, it’s true. Unless, of course there’s some #takeaknee or other football related stuff, your tweets will have less competition on Sundays. That advice seems fine.

#2. Tweet between 10 and 11 pm.  I had to stop there and ask, 10 and 11pm IN WHAT TIME ZONE?  My followership spans from Australia to Britain.  Which time zone are we talking about here?   This kind of statistic is rather worthless, because remember, the elves decide all, but they decide based on the number of tweets they have to juggle in the first place.  Low volume times means your tweets are more likely to get into someone’s timeline to be seen at all.  Part of the reason I think I have lots of Brits who follow me is that I tend to tweet at low volume times IN BRITAIN.   So this piece of advice?  Not so good.

#3.  Use hashtags.  Five is a good number.  Yes, more hashtags means that your tweets are more likely to show up in SEARCHES.  Bot programs typically use ten, eleven or so hashtags to help force their way into the alien/elves brains and so pick up followers, ANY FOLLOWERS!  JESUS ANY FOLLOWERS AT ALL– and do you know what kind of followers those bots get?  Yep. They get bot followers. Bots that just jump on and cling in yucky masses of nonsense.

Do not use eleven hashtags. Use hashtags.  Three, four, okay, sure.  FIVE?  That’s what BOTS use.  Eleven is not going to get you real people followers.  And that’s what you want.  Real people.  So, no Jeff, not eleven. Sheesh.

#4. Positioning your link in the first 90% of your Tweet?  Um, Jeff? What are you smoking?   The report says that this makes the link .2% more likely to be retweeted but seriously?   I’m not sure if the elves care about this in their algorithms.  But who knows, maybe this is true.  Maybe the alien/elves want to know it’s an URL-based tweet quickly and so throws the tweet out there more often — and so that has an opportunity to be retweeted. Hmm. Worth a shot, I guess.

#5) Use pictures.   D’oh, I believe we all know that. 

#6) Implement Picture Previews. That’s not something people do. That’s the default setting on Twitter.  I’m beginning to wonder if Jeff uses Twitter. 

#7) Use RETWEET not RT.  Okay. Jeff isn’t really on Twitter.  When you hit the Retweet button, organically–that is, with your cursor on the bloody retweet symbol, RT USED to be added automatically to the tweet. It isn’t anymore.  See here, a retweet I just did:

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 10.32.09 PM

And here’s the result in Twitter:

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 10.33.02 PM

The old “RT” thing? It’s been gone for a couple of years, I think.  BOTS used to try to pretend they were retweeting, and they used the whole word RETWEET.  So um. Something seems very wrong with the data that Trackmaven used (or Jeff’s interpretation of it).  It’s possible that they got a truckload of old data to sift through and did not comb out the huge botnets from 2014-2015.  This piece of advice is useless and silly.

This brings us to his #8 recommendation.

#8 Use exclamation marks when tweeting.  What. The. Hell. 

Multiple exclamation marks are the mark of spammers and bot-herders.  Bots are grouped in bot-nets because they retweet ONE ANOTHER and thus build up the “score” for those little elf/aliens to puzzle over.   Bot-nets are designed to retweet one another, and they also FAKE retweet one another, using the entire WORD “RETWEET” — because they are not really on the Internet. They’re just doing what their bosses tell them to do.   So of COURSE, they have more retweets. They are FAKE RETWEETS.   And the Trackmaven Report apparently didn’t figure out the difference.  And it is confusing FAKE retweets with ACTUAL retweets.

This brings us to #9.

#9. Use UPPERCASE on Twitter.  

This is another usual trait of the bot-net spammer. It’s all about the click-bait, baby.   Ugh.  This is a very dated technique and it’s not going to make you seem like a credible source.  So, no, no, no. 

These are NOT nine good ways to get more retweets.  Put out quality content. Build a following of real people. Chat, do the blog-train thing, retweet and support others by reweets.   Use photos, create videos, THINK about your audience and what that want from you.

Hopefully, this post gave you a laugh. 🙂  A smile.  Remember you’re not Jeffy, and you don’t want to be Jeffy.  You’re authentic.  Have a glass of wine with me and Caroline and let’s go watch The Bachelor.   ~ Lola.


Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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