Twitter has been my #1 traffic source here on Blogging Bookshelf. That little gray and green TweetMeme rectangle (the one directly to the left of these words) and I are BFFs (or best friends forever, if you’re not down with the kids’ jive these days).

Blogging Bookshelf is almost a month old now (it will be tomorrow), and I decided to go back and see which posts here have gotten the most retweets and why I think that is.

But wait, there’s more! I’m also going to examine one of the biggest blogs around that get tons of retweets and see if I can figure out why that is.

Let’s do it!

[Note that the answers to the question “What gets retweeted and what doesn’t?” are bold in this post.]

Blogging Bookshelf

As of my writing this, these are the top 4 most retweeted posts on the blog (with the number of retweets being the first number, and the number in brackets being the number of comments the post received):

To be honest, I’m kind of surprised that the hats infographic got that many retweets. I thought it was fun and kinda cool (and I definitely enjoyed making it!), but let’s be honest, it wasn’t the most useful, life-changing content ever, right? Note that it’s also the post with the most comments, so it backs up the high RT count by stating that people really did enjoy it.

So with that, I think we can make the first of our yet-to-be-determined number of assumptions on what gets retweeted and what doesn’t: infographics get retweeted. And this makes sense, right? I think that infographics are still novel and unique enough that people really do react well to them. I know I love seeing infographics on other blogs I visit.

There are two posts tied for second place, both having 21 retweets. This is surprising, as the droids post has more than twice the number of comments as the Blogger’s Block post. But I think a lot of the reason it (the droids post) got so many retweets was that it was the most recent post on my blog when I had an influx of visitors. Even so, I think I could have gotten more retweets on it if I had shortened the title of the post. When retweeted, here’s what it looked like:

As you can see, the title was too long and the word “Bloggers” was omitted. I knew this when I published the post, but I didn’t care. I liked the title too much :) But I think I could have gotten more retweets (and therefore more visits and comments) had I shortened the headline enough to make it all fit into a retweet. Then it would have appealed to more bloggers. Instead, it probably just appealed to Star Wars fans. Not that that’s a bad thing…

I published that Blogger’s Block post while I was getting significantly less traffic than I am now (hence the lower number of comments, only 22), yet it still got a relatively high number of RTs. I really do think part of it has to do with the fact that I said “Please RT” on the end. So here’s my next assumption, and it’s one that I’ve seen backed up by other bloggers before: If you say “Please RT,” it will indeed get retweeted more. But use this sparingly. You don’t want to be the boy who cried wolf, right? That is, you don’t want people to start ignore you because you scream out for help so much.

Ok, so let’s look at the last of my 4 posts in the list, the one about creating killer analogies. First off, I think one of the reasons it got more retweets (and it’s backed up by the Blogger’s Block post) is that it’s a free ebook. Everyone loves free ebooks, right? So, free ebooks get retweeted.

But with the analogy post, I think there’s a bit more to it than that. I think that post was just plain awesome, and it’s one of my favorites so far! Sure, it was long, but I think the information there was truly valuable and unique. So I’m going to go ahead and say that truly valuable/helpful information gets retweeted.

Here’s one more interesting note about a post on this blog before I move on to other blogs. You know the Newton’s 3 Laws of Blogging post? I got some overwhelmingly positive feedback about that post, probably the strongest I’ve yet gotten. As of now, it has 54 comments but only 13 retweets. Why the large discrepancy between comments and retweets? I don’t think the headline was something that a lot of people reacted positively to.

“Newton’s 3 Laws of Blogging?” Kinda BO-RING, right? I think that the ratio of readers to retweeters was average, but I don’t think the headline is one that screams “READ ME” when seen on Twitter. Alright! We’ve got another Twitter truism!: While a great post might get tweeted, it won’t get REtweeted very much if it has an uninteresting headline.

Ok, that’s it for examining the Blogging Bookshelf posts. If you’ve got any further insight, I’d love to hear from you!

Famous Bloggers

Wait, actually, let me talk about one more thing that’s related to Blogging Bookshelf. I just did a guest post over on Famous Bloggers called 7 Reasons Your Blog Sucks, and it’s gotten a massive amount of retweets. As of the time of writing this, it’s gotten 141 retweets, that’s by far the highest number of retweets for a post on the current front page of the blog (there are 15 posts on the front page). Most posts are in the 50 to 60 retweets range. Here’s a screenshot:

So why did that post get so many retweets? It wasn’t because I’m a well-known blogger (I’m not) or even that I’m well-known on Famous Bloggers (this was my first guest post for the site). It was retweeted because it is simple, it catches your attention, and is a little bit funny. It also piques your curiosity. Also, you see that headline and you think, “Oh man, I need to check that out! I need to know if my blog sucks!” So I also think it was retweeted so much because it plays on people’s fears (in this case, the “I need to know if my blog sucks!” fear).

Another example of a similar post right off the top of my head would be something like “3 Things You Need to Change on Your Blog Right Now or You’re Screwed.” Ok, that one’s a little long, but you get the idea.

Note that I also take advantage of peoples’ fears (wow, that sounds so sinister!) with my 101 Ways You’re Killing Your Blog ebook.

Retweet case study: Copyblogger

Ok, I’m already at about 1100 words here, so I’m going to go through this next bit as quickly as possible. If you don’t know Copyblogger, you should. In my opinion, it’s one of the great blogs. The writing is fantastic and the information is truly helpful (and they just redesigned the site, by the way, so check it out if you haven’t been recently). And the Copyblogger posts get retweeted a lot. The average post gets RT’d about 200-300 times. 400 retweets is more than average. I went through the first 10 pages or so of the Copyblogger archives to see which posts got significantly more retweets than that, and here are the results (again, with the number of retweets being the first number):

  • 1824 – 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity and Stifle Your Success
  • 1157 – Five Ways to Write Magnificent Copy
  • 941 – 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics
  • 793 – The Mad Men Guide to Changing the World with Words
  • 791 – Madonna’s 6 Secrets to Personal Branding Mastery

So what else can we learn from these highly-retweeted posts? Let’s look at the first one. It looks to me like another great case of very useful/applicable content mixed with playing on fears. And I think solving a need or problem is part of it, too. Can you believe nearly two thousand retweets?! Absolutely insane.

The second example from the above list is simple yet very useful. And the reader’s interest is piqued by the word magnificent.

Let’s talk about the third one for a bit: “50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics.” Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Makes you want to read it, doesn’t it? Massive list posts are often retweeted. This one got extra retweets because the subject matter is nearly universally applicable to bloggers.

The fourth and fifth ones in the list above have one thing in common: analogies! More specifically, pop culture analogies. Mad Men is a TV show and Madonna is, of course, a singer, or pop artist as they call them these days (now who’s not down with the kids’ jive…). Pop culture analogies are great because they are simultaneously something you’re familiar with (the analogy part) but also something you’re probably hearing a lot about already (the pop culture part). Combine those two things and you have a very powerful recipe for a viral retweet outbreak.

Of course, audience plays a key role in all of this. I don’t think an analogy about Madonna would go over super well on a blog about Bible study.

What gets retweeted over on YOUR blog?

I was going to do another case study of another blog, but I think I’ve made my points and covered most of the territory I wanted to cover.

But now I want to hear about the retweet experiences you’ve had on YOUR blog. What posts of yours have gotten tons of retweets? And why? Leave a comment and let us all know!

Stay tuned for another great post on Friday (I’ve decided to update this blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and then a truly awesome “What I’ve Learned from Blogging for a Month Here at Blogging Bookshelf” post and another FREE ebook next week! Yeeee hawww!