Yesterday afternoon I casually checked my blog to see how my latest blog post was doing in terms of number of comments, retweets, and shares. The number of comments was normal, but then I saw that the post had been retweeted 85 times. This was definitely higher than normal. And as I’m writing this now, the post has been retweeted 150 times. What the heck?? Why and how on earth did that post get so many retweets??

Usually my posts get anywhere from 35-60 retweets. I think that up until now, my most-retweeted post had been retweeted 70ish times. These are numbers that I’m definitely pleased with, so I was more than thrilled when I saw 85 retweets!

I thought that maybe it was a TweetMeme button glitch, so I checked my blog analytics. Sure enough, this is what I saw:

Twitter Traffic Spike


So like I said, as of now, it’s been RTd 150 times and those tweets have over a million impressions (more on that later). How did this happen? Well, I wanted to find the answer to that question, too, and here’s I went about finding the answer:

First off Googled “retweet statistics” or something like that. I wanted to see if I could find a tool or an app that should show me when exactly the tipping point came. I was thinking that I could paste the URL of my post and then I’d get a timeline of the number of retweets by hour. I wanted to see when the big influx in RTs started.

I couldn’t find anything like that in the five minutes that my attention span allowed me to look, but I DID run across a tool called TweetReach. TweetReach shows you the total number of times a URL has been tweeted. While the TweetMeme button on my blog showed that the post had been retweeted 85 times, TweetReach showed that it had been retweeted something like 117 times. Woo hoo! Even better, right?

The free TweetReach tool had some limitations, so I paid $20 for a full PDF report on the URL and those retweets. I really wanted to see how this happened, and the $20 report also showed charts and graphs showing the number of impressions that blog post of mine had on Twitter.

[Note: If you just want to see the total number of times a URL has been retweeted and don’t want the charts and graphs and stuff, check out BackTweets. Type in the URL of your recent blog post and then scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the total number of results.]

Click on the image below to take a look at the PDF report. It’s pretty cool (and worth paying $20 once. Maybe there’s a free tool that lists all same info, but I didn’t want to take the time to find it)!

Click to view the report I was sent.

The report told me some pretty interesting things. Here’s what I learned:

  • 557,900 people saw that post retweeted on Twitter. Or probably more accurately, 557,900 potentially saw that in their Twitter stream if they were looking at it at the time the retweet was done. (… Does that make sense?). It other words, it was tweeted to 557,900 people.
  • That post saw 1,031,775 impressions on Twitter (It took me a little while to realize what the difference between these two numbers was. I think that some people saw the tweet multiple times, which explains why there are more impressions than people reached…? If you’ve got a better idea of what exactly these numbers mean, let me know).
  • As of this instant, the post has been retweeted 150 times while the TweetMeme button on my blog currently shows 105 times. Big discrepancy.
  • One Twitter user who retweeted the post led to 508,962 impressions, or nearly half (49.3%) of the total impressions. Turns out that user was @TweetSmarter, who tweets about Twitter tips and has 254,485 followers as of the time of this writing.
  • I looked at the URL of that initial tweet by @TweetSmarter and searched the PDF document to count the number of times that URL was retweeted by others, and saw that it was retweeted 44 times. So 45 of the 150 total retweets (42.8%) were the direct result of one Twitter power user (but see the next bullet point) . The rough estimate, then, of the number of RTs I would have gotten without that power Twitterer RTing my blog post would be 105, which is still more than usual. So I looked at the data more and saw that there were a few other Twitter users that RT’d the post, and then their tweets in return got retweeted a handful of times. But it was nothing like the @TweetSmarter tweet. In other words, even without the tweet by @TweetSmarter, that post would be my most retweeted blog post. I think part of the reason is that it was about Twitter (more on that below).
  • I actually think the real number of indirect RTs that come from that @TweetSmarter post is more than 45. That 45 is just the number of people that retweeted that original @TweetSmarter post. It doesn’t include, for example, people who saw that tweet in their Twitter stream, clicked on the URL, read and liked the blog post, and then RT’d the post from the posts’ TweetMeme button.

Lessons learned

Out of all of those million impressions, I saw a spike in traffic that was about 4 times my normal amount. That’s a surprisingly low number. I’m psyched about the influx of traffic, of course, but it just goes to show how ineffective (for lack of a better word) Twitter can be. Out of all the half million people that saw that tweet, only a very small percentage actually clicked through.

The post caused more RTs and traffic then usual, but guess what? It didn’t cause more comments than usual. I’m a little surprised by that.

The real shocking statistic is that it got me 2 or 3 more newsletter subscribers than what I’d see on a normal day. That really surprised me. I would have thought that I’d get a lot more. I think the reason for this is that not everyone who came to read that post really cared to read a blog about blogging. It also made me rethink my newsletter subscription options. I used to have Popup Domination installed on this site, but I removed it (mainly because I heard that people seeing couldn’t close the popup on their netbooks and smart phones because it was too big). I can’t help but wonder if I could have captured a couple more people if I still had it installed…

There’s more that I’ll be trying out in the future to increase my email list signup conversions, but that will have to wait for a future blog post.

I’ve noticed in the past that posts about Twitter get lots of retweets, and this last blog post of mine just reinforced that. In fact, I wrote about Twitter about a month after I started this blog (in mid-November 2010) and that quickly became my most retweeted post. It’ll be interesting to see if this blog post (the one you’re reading now) gets a bunch of RTs, too, since it’s also about Twitter. Maybe I just got lucky a couple times?

With this blog post, I’m going to @mention @TweetSmarter (the Twitter power user that got the retweet ball rolling) and tell them I mentioned them in this blog post. Maybe I can get them to RT this blog post, too :) I’m guessing, though, that it even if that does happen, it won’t get quite as much traction because it appeals to a narrower audience. Whereas my last post appealed to everyone who uses Twitter, this post that you’re reading now will appeal mostly to bloggers who use Twitter. Not everyone who tweets is a blogger.

I just finished reading The Tipping Point (GREAT read!), and one of the main things I learned is that for something to “tip” (or give that initial push so something can go viral, in other words), it takes one well-connected person (or a small group of these connectors). In my case, my connector was @TweetSmarter.

Want something to go viral? Make friends with connectors (oh, and read The Tipping Point. Make sure you buy it through these affiliate links so that I make scads of money in Amazon affiliate commissions).

If you don’t learn anything else from this post, let this be your takeaway: When you check your stats, don’t just look at the numbers and call it quits. Analyze those numbers and see what you can learn from them. This might not only give you something to write about if you blog about something internet marketing-related (he he), but it will also give you an idea of how you can increase your stats even more in the future.

Final words

Well, it was an interesting journey! I hope I didn’t lose you in the hot mess of percentages, fractions, and random large numbers. But though I’m $20 poorer (worth it), I’m much wiser. Hopefully you are, too. And now I want to hear from you!

  • What did you learn from this post?
  • What posts of yours have gotten the most retweets, and why do you think that is?
  • What are some Twitter tools and apps that YOU use to check your Twitter stats and metrics?