The Life of a Tweet

Life of a Tweet

Tweets have rapidly become a mainstay in most forms of entertainment. From sports broadcasts showing athletes’ tweets to news channels like CNN implementing live tweets from viewers, Twitter has been infused into society to the point where even technological illiterates know what it is. The primary form of content on Twitter is tweets — 140 characters at most. But what is the life-span of these concise messages? Let’s travel with a tweet in real-time to find out:

Publication

The first step in a tweet’s journey comes from a Twitter user’s brain, onto their keyboard and into the Twitter-sphere. Once they click ‘Tweet’, the message is there for the world to see, along with any hashtags or links they choose to include.

Five to 30 Minutes Later

For the next 30 minutes or so, the tweet will be very visible to Twitter users who follow the account from which the tweet was submitted. Unless one is following thousands of accounts, most tweets on their home page will have been submitted less than 30 minutes ago. The tweet is still visible at this point, but views will drop significantly shortly.

One Hour Later

A tweet that is an hour old is one-fourth as likely to be viewed compared to when it was first published. An hour-old tweet likely requires users to scroll down on their home page, past other tweets that may be just as engaging. Twitter users who only follow 100 or so users will likely still see the tweet without scrolling down at this mark, but active Twitter users will no longer view it on their front page.

Six Hours Later

At this point, your tweet is almost invisible for active Twitter users. Casual users will still see the tweet on their front page, perhaps only having to scroll down once or twice, but additional user engagement (re-tweets or favorites) will be hard to come by. Even if you’re a car dealership that tweets about an incredible discount on mustang parts, it may be overlooked by many users if the other Twitter accounts they follow are active that day. Hopefully, a user accustomed to quickly scrolling through their Twitter feed will take notice of a particular word or phrase that catches their eye.

One Day Later

Your tweet is largely invisible on user home pages at this point. Most future engagement will be users visiting your Twitter page directly, or those searching for relevant keywords via Twitter’s search function. If the tweet was published on a weekend, when Twitter is less active, then there is still a chance for feed-based user engagement. But if it’s a weekday, forget about it unless scrolling down is one’s favorite pastime.

Two Days Later

Much like a day earlier, but with the amount of engagement even sparser, your tweet after two days is likely a forgotten relic. Users may find this tweet upon visiting your individual feed, just to check your frequency, but if you are tweeting actively throughout the day then even this scenario is unlikely. Twitter users generally do not like to scroll down their own feed, much less the feed of others. At this point, followers are looking forward to your next tweet; your old tweets are pretty much history.

The life of a tweet is an interesting one, with the amount of views or engagement one receives being relative to how fresh it is. The fresher a tweet, the more reactions it will get. The difference between a 30-minute-old tweet and one that is six-hours old is interestingly dramatic. Twitter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s prudent to recognize the typical lifespan of a tweet.  After all, Twitter is being used in various types of media and even in the classroom.

15 thoughts on “The Life of a Tweet

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  2. As a frequent twitter user it is good to know this information. I feel as if these measurements are pretty spot on because I usually won’t read all the tweets that were tweeted within and hour of not looking at twitter. I also feel as if most people favorite or retweet my tweets within the first hour and the tweet will die out.

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