The Short Lifespan of a Tweet: Retweets Only Happen Within the First Hour

For some, Twitter is a social network and for others it is just a broadcast medium. Judging from the latest data from social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos, for the majority of users, Twitter is indeed mostly a broadcast medium. After analyzing over 1.2 billion tweets, the Sysomos team found that only 29% of tweets actually produce a reaction – that is, a reply or a retweet. According to Sysomos, just 6% of all tweets are retweeted and these retweets have a very short lifespan. Virtually all retweets happen within the first hour after the original tweet.

If you are looking to get retweeted and nobody picks your tweet up within the first hour, chances are that nobody ever will. Only 1.63% of all retweets happen in the second hour and a minuscule 0.94% in the third hour. The same is true for @replies, too; 97% of all replies happen within the first hour.

Sysomos also looked at how these @reply threads play out on Twitter. A typical Twitter conversation is very short-lived. About 85% of those tweets that actually generate a reply only have one reply. Only 11% of these conversations have a second reply and very few Twitter conversation go deeper than that.

As this video shows, though, this doesn’t negate the fact that some messages obviously go viral and see far more retweets and @replies than the average tweet. In general, though, Sysomos’ data shows that tweets do tend to be rather short-lived.

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