An Exploration of Retweets and Replies

When a tweet generates a reply (aka @) or a retweet (aka RT), it suggests the tweet creates enough interest with someone that it sparks a conversation or encourages someone to share it with their followers.

Given the power of the reply and the RT, we decided to explore how many tweets actually generate a reaction. We also wanted to collect more insight into the characteristics of these reactions. For example, over what period of time does a retweet happen?

To do this research, Sysomos examined 1.2 billion tweets posted in the past two months. The complete report can be found here.

We found that 29% of tweets produced a reaction – a reply or a retweet. Of this group of tweets, 19.3% were retweets and the rest replies. This means that of the 1.2 billion tweets we examined, 6%, (or 72 million) were retweets.

We found that 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour of the original tweet being published, while an additional 1.63% of retweets take place in the second hour, and 0.94% in the third hour.

This means that if a tweet is not retweeted in the first hour, it is not likely to be retweeted at all.

The graph below shows the fraction of tweets from the second hour onwards – the x-axis shows the time in hours since the original tweet, while the vertical axis shows the fraction of retweets within a particular hour.

The 92.4% of all retweets, which happen within the first hour, are not displayed in the chart. 1.63% of retweets happen in the second hour, and 0.94% take place in the third hour.

This is the latest in a series of special reports that Sysomos has published. The complete collection can be found here.