Findings: Why You Don’t Need to Tweet to Get Traffic from Twitter

I used to promote my blog posts on Twitter, then when I left Twitter, noticed a significant loss in traffic. Yesterday, I did a blog post encouraging others to tweet then retweet my blog post, as you know, being on a Twitter hiatus gives a unique opportunity to try out some experiments.

By the numbers:
Here’s the stats from the experiment: In the last 24 hours, 199 folks tweeted these words “How Bloggers Should Inspire Retweets” within 24 hours.

Although not all of them used the snipurl I created, there were 2,000 clicks and unique clicks 1,280. This means that the average tweet that linked to the post generated 10 clicks, and about 6.4 unique clicks per person.

There were 145 new followers to my twitter account, the daily average is new daily followers 88. This is a lift in follower increase of 60% beyond the daily average.

Google Web Analytics showed that to be the top viewed page in last 24 hours, with 954 views, the graph below indicates that traffic returned to patterns before I took my Twitter hiatus.

30 Days Traffic on Web Strategy Blog
Above Graph: Last 30 days visitors according to Google Analytics to my blog, notice the dip when I started the hiatus on Jan 20th, also coupled by the holidays. On Dec 5th the twitter experiment started and brought visitors back up to normal levels.

30 Days Traffic on Web Strategy Blog
Above Graph: Twitter was the top referrer of traffic over the last 24 hours.

This means that:

  • My experiment on ‘energizing’ (word of mouth) was successful from blog to twitter, learn about my goals.
  • You don’t need to be on Twitter.com as an active user to gain traffic to your site.
  • Since my twitter account wasn’t involved, the number of Twitter followers doesn’t matter as much as we once thought.
  • If you have compelling content, and make it easy for people to share, they will, and then it will rapidly spread through the twitter WOM network.
  • While I do have a good sized blog readership, a marketer with advertising budget could easily generate eyeballs to a blog with less subscribers, and potentially get similar results.
  • If you read the comments, there were several vendors that are going to offer a tweet icon at the bottom of your blog post, or wordpress plugin, so expect to see more of these.
  • This experiment isn’t completely scientifically done, if this were for an official Forrester report, that I’d have several control groups, sample with a variety of different websites, blogs, and twitter accounts to find a pattern. The one conclusion is that I don’t need to tweet to get twitter traffic.

    Helpful? Copy, Paste, then Tweet it!

    Findings: Why You Don’t Need to Tweet to Get Traffic from Twitter http://snipurl.com/9k5xy

    • http://steveradick.com Steve Radick

      Jeremiah – appreciate the transparency on your blog analytics! I think this is an an interesting experiment – just goes to show that it’s about the content, not about the popularity. I’d be interested in seeing a follow-up to this – if there was some way you could do the same thing, but with a ummmm…let’s say, less than stellar blog posting. Are the people that re-tweeted your post just blindly doing so because it came from you, or did they actually find the content valuable?

      Regardless, thanks for taking the time to explore the things we all wonder about!

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Steve

      I’m going to suggest on all my blog posts that folks retweet my posts –at least for a few weeks, I’m sure the type of content certainly matters.

      Either way, we’ll let the numbers do the talkin.

    • http://twitter.com/cheeky_geeky Mark Drapeau

      Little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Many readers of your blog (like me) know you through Twitter initially.

      So, while you can inspire RT’s simply by blogging, I wonder if that is general, because people (perhaps like me) might feel “loyality” to you on Twitter; we are “conditioned” to RT your stuff a lot (partly b/c we dig you, partly b/c it’s often good).

      Also I like Steve’s proposed experiment, not that you should necessarily carry it out.

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      I agree Mark, you’re right, there’s no debate.

      That’s what I said in my section towards the end, to really make this work, we would need to try this from several accounts.

    • http://www.Creativetraction.com Duane Brown

      Great post and it’s an interesting idea. In the end I sent it because I wanted to be part of the experiment and see what would happen in the end. I help do research a Canadian ad agency, so I find this stuff always interesting.

      One thing that would be interesting to know is how many of those 199 people actually follow you on twitter… what was the pass through rate once your followers did the first tweet.

      P.S. If you every want a less popular blog to help try out in a larger test pool, I offer mines up.

    • http://www.cloudcontacts.com allen

      you do realize you created a special blog post and pushed/forced gently your readers to re-tweet a post.

      If you push people to retweet all of your posts, would scoble consider that spam considering he said something similar about twply?

      i assume more blogs will move to this model – same as pushing people to digg your stories, etc.

    • Matt

      Pretty cool, congrats on busting out a great new strategy. I know you said it was not very scientific, but I’d like to point out one thing about the post that might have made it stand out too.

      I find that “how to” and “why” in the beginning of posts capture my attention more. I look thru my feedreader at your posts and there are not many “how to”. This might have also bumped up the hits…
      Also, it is the first “how to get retweets” I’ve seen. All in all, it was just a good post and deserved to seen by many eyeballs

      Matt

    • Matt

      reading what Allen said above…

      not only are other bloggers going to use this strategy but vendors will probably try to make some services for it, sound like magpie to me.

      I can see the tweet spam now “retweet your post on 600,000 twitter accounts”

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Allen

      Yup, and this is certainly going to take off now. A few vendors have contacted me with technology to encourage this behavior.

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Duane, I’m’ not sure how many are followers, I guess I could manually look, but does it really matter? They tweeted it, so it means they are likely to do it again, followers or not.

      It really doesn’t matter if they are followers anyways, since I’m not using twitter.

      Matt, yup, it’s true.

    • http://www.cloudcontacts.com allen

      its all one big game.

    • http://rerevealed.com Lani Rosales

      Hey Jeremiah,

      You probably are aware (and I missed somewhere where you said it), but there is a plugin that allows you to have a “twit this” or have it sent to facebook (see the buttons at the end of every http://agentgenius.com post).

      But I get that what you’re REALLY saying is not necessarily to have buttons but to ASK for the sale, to close the deal and to actually encourage people to evangelize rather than cross your fingers and hope it magically happens on its own. Love it!

    • http://www.Creativetraction.com Duane Brown

      Hey Jeremiah,

      I think it does matter to a degree. How many are people who follow you vs people who saw the tweet from someone they follow, read it (tweet and post) and then decided to retweet it as well and had no idea who you were.

      The higher the pass through rate the better the content is in the end as well. Some clients could say they only tweeted your message, because, as we say in gaming, they are fanboys/girls of your work. The farther out a message goes beyond the initial circle the better it is I think. Just my view of it anyways.

    • http://curiouslypersistent.wordpress.com Simon Kendrick

      One of the reasons you were relatively successful in this is that you have built up a strong following over time with plenty of goodwill, and so readers are engaged enough to participate in your experiments. How many brands would be able to do that? Not many…

      But congratulations on an interesting experiment

    • http://twitter.com/deanna24 Deanna Belle

      Hey Jeremiah,

      Great experiment…

      I have always viewed retweeting as helping to “spread the word” – I retweet because I feel the information/article/blog deserves credibility, visibility and in a way it is a “Thank you” of sorts to the originator of the tweet. Along with others, I most likely found the tweet very useful and informative. Maybe others connected with it on a more personal level and wanted to help it become viral. Or maybe (as others have mentioned) they blindly retweeted because they

      A. trust the original Tweeter

      or

      B. trust the Retweeter who has asked everyone to retweet.

      When is it appropriate to ask your followers to retweet your content? Shouldn’t they willingly do it on their own? Or are there exceptions?

      Here is a recent example of the power of retweeting to help out a family during troubled times: http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2009/01/pleas-help-us-help-daniellas-family.html

      ~ Deanna

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    • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

      “The one conclusion is that I don’t need to tweet to get twitter traffic.”

      Yes, but your post was entirely built upon asking your readers to RT that post. So I don’t think we should be surprised that many did exactly that. Today isn’t the time to judge the effectiveness of this tactic, I think we need to look at how traffic trends over a period of time without you actively promoting your posts on Twitter, to get a truer sense of the impact.

      FWIW, my blog’s traffic is about a tenth of yours, and in the past I have noticed that Twitter sends me about 3% of my traffic if I am not active on Twitter. If I am actively engaging people on Twitter, I see Twitter send me about 12% of my traffic. I would suspect that you’ll see a similar decrease over time, if you continue your Twitter hiatus. Adding the ability to RT each post will help, but if you aren’t active in a community, that community tends to forget about you.

      BTW I am not on WordPress, but I believe that Social This already offers a plugin to tweet individual posts. Beth Harte uses it on her The Harte of Marketing blog.

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Mack

      I’m confused. The experiment included the blog post asking readers to tweet it IS the experiment, how do you suggest I de-couple that? That was the whole point.

      As you point out, even a blog with different traffic (more or less) should in theory see similar changes in traffic.

      Expect bloggers to plead to readers to share blog posts via twitter going forward.

    • http://barcelonaphotoblog.blogspot.com Carlos Lorenzo

      Great post. As Mack Collier above says, Social This (and also Share this) include a Twit this or similar, for people to forward your post to their followers. The point is when they click on that they have to write something and this would come as a tailored twit, just ready to retweet and out of the all in one mentioned apps. The way I see it this year Twitter is going to be inlined in our daily posting so what better than give our visitors easier ways to share what they like. Visitors don’t have to retweet if they don’t feel like it just because they are followers of yours on Twitter. This is would be similar to other buttons already accepted such as Digg, Stumbleupon, etc. I agree with Mack too that there must be Twitter activity too. It also depends on people’s content and influence. I just take pictures, they are sometimes retweetable but not always. A good list of tips on anything is of course quite useful for twitterers. Thanks for running this experiment and sharing it with us.

    • http://www.theviralgarden.com Mack Collier

      “I’m confused. The experiment included the blog post asking readers to tweet it IS the experiment, how do you suggest I de-couple that? That was the whole point.”

      Ok now I’m confused too, because your conclusion that you don’t need to be on Twitter to get traffic from Twitter seemed to be coming from your RTing experiment. I think that was a ‘one-shot’ deal, and I would be very surprised if you see the same level of traffic from Twitter without specifically asking people to RT the post, as you did in your ‘experiment’ post. A clear call to action was involved there, and you can’t consistently repeat that experiment, and expect the same results you saw.

      I do think that adding the ability to RT posts at the end of the post is a very smart move, and one I’ve been asking about for a while now. I hope you track your traffic from Twitter over time (assuming you maintain your Twitter hiatus), and share the results with us in say, a month. My guess is your percentage will fall significantly from the level you saw from your RTing post, but it would be interesting to learn by how much.

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Mark

      Got it, It will certainly fall off, the novelty will wear off. I’ve seen less tweets for the follow up post showing the findings.

      Confusion lifted.

    • http://stefanomaggi.blogspot.com Stefano Maggi

      I’m afraid that – if you apply the same rule to your followers – the experiment fails: the sum of all the followers influences impressions (eyeball). Are you sure that you wouldn’t get more visits by tweeting directly?

    • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

      Stefano

      The whole point of this experiment is to ignite “energizing” or word of mouth. So that’s me NOT tweeting.

      As I pointed out in the post, although I have decent traffic to this blog, marketers could equally get more traffic to their blog through advertising or other marketing efforts.

      The goal of this exercise is to demonstrate how to glean twitter traffic without tweeting myself.

    • http://adamsnider.com Adam Snider

      Mark is right (though, you acknowledge the problem in your post). Because you have been very active on Twitter, and because you are in a position of influence in the social media space, experimenting using your blog (many readers of which will have come to you via Twitter in the first place) isn’t necessarily going to provide accurate/typical results.

      I’d like to see the results of a test done with a number of different blogs/twitter accounts to see what might be a more “typical” result.

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    • http://sponsored-links.net Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

      I find your quasi-experiment interesting.

      What makes you think that sponsored links might generate traffic?

      See also http://twitter.com/nmw/status/1102650583

      :) nmw

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    • http://venndiagram8 Catherine Ventura

      There is an element of creating new habits involved here too. Older adopters instinctively retweet, newbies may be less inclined too. We are used to Digging, it’s a more automatic response by now. But many sharing links haven’t added Twitter yet. The New York Times, for instance, allows you to share to Linkedin, Digg, Facebook, Mixx, Yahoo!Buzz and Permalink but not Twitter.

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    • http://www.metatranspiration.wordpress.com Antonia Teixeira

      I think it was interesting experiment and appreciate you took the time to write about it. I have a small blog by comparison but in a unique niche – most of my traffic comes from direct google searches, the rest from twitter. My best viewing day ever on was on Aug 1, when I actively promoted a blog post on Twitter.

      I also agree with Lani Rosales, it goes back to simply closing at the end by asking not leaving it to chance.

    • http://www.coremetrics.com/solutions/web-analytics.php web analytics and smo

      Your experiments are really interesting. Keep sharing your results with us. Still learning about Twitter here.

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    • http://twitter.com/cheeky_geeky Mark Drapeau

      Little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Many readers of your blog (like me) know you through Twitter initially.

      So, while you can inspire RT's simply by blogging, I wonder if that is general, because people (perhaps like me) might feel “loyality” to you on Twitter; we are “conditioned” to RT your stuff a lot (partly b/c we dig you, partly b/c it's often good).

      Also I like Steve's proposed experiment, not that you should necessarily carry it out.

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