Report: 71 Percent of Tweets Do Not Get a Single Reply or Retweet

Whether you use Twitter to spread your own messages or read the words of others, it’s always nice to know that someone is noticing your Twitter activity. However, a new study by marketwire company Sysomos, Inc. has revealed that 71 percent of tweets do not inspire a single reply or retweet. The study used 1.2 billion tweets — proof of just how many tweets there are out there — to find out this and some other interesting facts about Twitter responses.

The study posed its research as a reflection of how interesting tweets are, saying that when a message garners a reply (@) or a retweet (RT), “it suggests the tweet has resonated enough with someone that it sparks a conversation or encourages someone to share it with their followers.”

But even though a lot of Twitter users retweet and reply exclusively, choosing not to post any original content, the statistics show that only 6 percent of all tweets out there are retweets. And only 23 percent of tweets get a reply. So the next time you respond to a friend’s tweet, you’re boosting them into a pretty elite group of Twitter users.

The study also took a look at how time affects the number of retweets and replies. Essentially, the more time that passes after you post a tweet, the less likely it is to get any kind of response. 92 percent of all retweets happen in a tweet’s first hour. Two days after you post your tweet, the chance of it getting retweeted is less than a tenth of a percent. The same is true for replies: About 97 percent of all @ replies happen in the first hour, and 48 hours later that percentage drops to .09.

Of course, this information about timing is probably a direct result of the way Twitter home pages are set up, with the most recent tweets at the top. I would imagine that if everyone sorted the people they follow into lists, more tweets would get responses later in the game, since the absolute freshest tweet of them all wouldn’t be at the top of any individual list you look at. And of course the more people you follow, the more likely you are to only retweet and reply to the most recent tweets, since messages from a span of just a few minutes can fill up your home screen.

Finally, Sysomos analyzed the “depth” of tweets and was able to proclaim that only 1.53 percent of conversations on Twitter are three levels deep. For a tweet to reach the third level, it would have to inspire a reply, and then a reply to that reply, and then a reply to the reply to the reply. The study suggested that this information “shows that only a small number of users actually have the ability to engage on Twitter in a significant way.” But that’s a value statement some people might want to challenge. Is something significant only if it has the depth of several posted responses? I would argue that the more silent readers on Twitter aren’t insignificant. A specifically meaningful tweet might reach several people who would never respond to it, but feel enlightened, touched, or amused in some way because of those 140 characters.

What do you think?