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Followerwonk Partners with Buffer To Optimize Tweet Scheduling

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Posted by @petebray

Today, we’re happy to announce a partnership between Followerwonk and Buffer to help you optimize your tweeting. We’re really excited to be teaming up with such a great product and company, and the combination of our apps really does advance the cause of our customers.

Before I dig into specifics of that relationship, I want to lay some groundwork to explain why we formed this partnership.

It all comes down to this little pearl:

Tweets are delicate

Tweets have a half-life of a mere 18 minutes. Poof! and their utility to reach new customers, drive traffic, and extend your reach is pretty much gone.

But it gets worse for our little tweets.

First, most of us have a heck of a job consistently coming up with good content to tweet day after day. It’s kinda like going to the gym: we start out strong, but most of us quickly fade to where we spend the entire time in the sauna.

Second, even if we do come up with lots of good content, we risk undermining our own performance.

I want to talk with you about ways to squeeze the most out of the content we do come up with. How can we maximally schedule our tweets to perform?

Cultivate your current audience

Given the gossamer-like nature of tweets, a simple first step is to schedule most of your tweets when your followers are most active.

This is where our relationship with Buffer helps.

First, go to Followerwonk and complete an Analysis of your followers. Once you’re finished, we’ll present a chart of their most active hours. (Mouse over each hour to view your local time.)

By itself, this insight is extraordinarily useful. There is significant variation from one person to the next in terms of when their followers are most active, and we can now take advantage of this data with the Buffer button integrated into Followerwonk.

When you click this new button, it will create a schedule on Buffer with as many times as you specify (you can specify from 1 to 99 times, currently). And when you do, you’ll find a new schedule on Buffer like this:

(Of course, if you don’t yet have a free account on Buffer, definitely grab one.)

We use a weighted, random distribution to divvy up the times you specify. This means that we don’t ignore off-hours; we just assign times to them less frequently. Fine-tune the schedule we create for you in Buffer.

Also, make sure you install the Buffer Chrome extension. Once you do, you’ll be presented with a Buffer alternative when you tweet on Twitter.

With this, you can take a moment before each tweet and consider: is this one of the top hours for my audience? If not, hit the Buffer button and rest assured the tweet will be queued up to go out at a more optimal time.

Aim for your future audience

Your tweets should not be solely determined by your current followers. A couple of reasons why:

  • You may have a lot of spam followers or who people who aren’t important to your business.
  • Since they are already followers, you’ve already “converted” them. Part of your goal on Twitter should be to find new potential converts.
  • There’s potentially a lot of “low hanging fruit” in other hours that you might not typically reach.

This is where the Followerwonk integration with Buffer really excites me! You can now create schedules based not just on the most active hours of your followers, but of any other person’s followers.

I’ll explain how to do this in a moment. But first, I want to address what is central to this approach: whether or not tweets can reach out beyond your current followers.

Yes, tweets can extend out of your network

I analyzed 4,757 active Twitter accounts pulled from a sub-set of Followerwonk users. (This isn’t a random sample, but it’s far easier for us to analyze these users, as we track all of their data internally.)

Here’s the breakdown of their activity:

Note the last one.

A huge number of users are retweeting content from those they don’t follow. That’s really revealing, as many folks assume that engagement is limited to your existing social network. But it’s not. And it’s this sort of boundary-breaking activity that’s golden.

I then took those approximately 5,000 users and crawled 610,779 of their tweets and retweets. Of those items, here’s the breakdown:

I love retweets. (In fact, we based an entire influence metric around them.) And here we see that they’re an important component of most users’ activities! They’re almost as important as @mentions, in fact.

Let’s zoom in further and look just at retweets.

Here, we see that roughly 27% of retweeted tweets are of users the retweeter doesn’t follow. That’s big! And it means that there’s serious penetration of content into new networks.

Without doing an actual survey, it’s impossible to say exactly how users get their content retweeted by non-followers. But I have a few ideas.

Notice that retweets of non-followers have a larger number of @mentions. This is useful! It suggests that, in part, this breakout strategy is due to @mentioning others (and the recipient retweeting them).

If we consider retweets as a proxy for readership, we see that tweets can and do frequently extend beyond one’s current followers. This ability for a tweet to transcend a social network is likely due to any number of factors, including the “discovery” tab on Twitter, retweets of third parties, search, @engagement or #hashtag components of the tweet, and so on.

I draw out this point to highlight that you shouldn’t feel restricted to just tweet when your followers are online. Certainly, that’s an important consideration for any basic Twitter strategy, but keep in mind that your tweeting during certain hours has assembled an audience whose activity probably closely matches your current schedule. Time to break that mold? 

The benefits of off-hour targeting

At any given time on Twitter, here’s what your potential audience probably looks like:

Here’s the thing: your current followers are likely a large percent of those “attentive and eager” readers who you’ve captured during your active hours. And while you certainly need to continue to cultivate that crowd, it’s perhaps less easy for you to find new prospects. You’ve already gotten a lot of the “low hanging fruit.”

But just think: there are active and eager fans in other hours, and they’ve probably never seen a single tweet from you. With the right content, you can probably do a terrific job at reaching them.

Let’s discuss how.

First, find a competitor or affinity brand on the other side of the world. Do an analysis and notice the active hours for her followers. Quite different than yours, eh?

Look at the full report to better understand the characteristics of their followers. The word clouds might reveal biographic details that might be of use. Look, too, at her most influential followers. These folks can help you spread your message.

Now think about content. Since few of your current followers are online during this user’s followers’ most active hours, you can think of a content strategy designed exclusively to this audience of far-flung prospects:

  • Tweet in a different language
  • Include responsible and constructive @mentions as in-roads into this audience
  • Use our comparison reports to find relationship overlaps between you and this competitor; DM or otherwise engage with shared followers who are in the off-hour timezone
  • Target content to the audience (for example, if you’re and SEO targeting France, you might focus on Francophone search engines)
Once you’ve tailored the content, queue them up in Buffer with a schedule based on the analysis of this far-off competitor.

Smart scheduling = lots of opportunities

Unlike Google+ and other social networks, you can’t separately target people on Twitter. Theoretically, all your tweets reach all your followers.

But, of course, they really don’t.

As I’ve highlighted above, you can use schedules as a basic means to separately target different swaths of your current and future audience. For most people, off-hour targeting affords a unique means to reach new territory.

But it’s not always of course: if you’re a local business, it probably won’t work well to be targeting folks in France! However, we think that there are a lot of other creative ways you can utilize analyses of competitors, suppliers, and local experts to fine-tune a scheduling and content strategy.

We’re extremely excited about our new relationship with Buffer. There are lots of ingenious ways to combine activity analysis like these and targeting scheduling.

We look forward to extending this partnership with great new things in the future!

(And so I don’t have to go all off-hours, why not follow me on Twitter right now?)

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