An experiment: Themed days on Twitter.

I read a lot. I write a lot. I share a lot of content on social media.

I'm always looking for content that challenges my beliefs or helps support something I am trying to accomplish. My varied interests can make my Twitter content stream seem a bit random to an outsider.

My typical Twitter topics include:

  • Marketing, advertising and digital trends, especially when it impacts how we work on a daily basis.
  • Designing for the fringe audience instead of the target audience.
  • Alzheimer’s and caregiving issues.
  • Cultural influences; in particular music, TV and our cultural identity.
  • Science + health + digital which equals awesome things like the quantified self and robot caregiving. 
  • Social media topics.
  • Links to my writing on this site, Medium, Cuberis, etc.

This week I tried theming the content I shared into daily collections to see if it would change the interactions I had on Twitter.

I ran my experiment on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday as they are my most popular weekend day and weekdays.

 Most popular days on  Twitter  in January. Graph courtesy of Twitonomy.

Most popular days on Twitter in January. Graph courtesy of Twitonomy.

Day one: Music, Saturday, January 18

What draws me to this topic: I love music and like any good fan, I enjoy listening to music, finding new bands and learning more about the bands I like. Music is great for evoking emotions and memories.

What did I tweet about: I linked to concert footage, music videos of well-known, obscure and up-and-coming musicians and articles about music-related things. 

I shared the following tweets:

  1. ▶ Dolly Parton singing Janis Joplin's Me & Bobby McGee (Live). They have the same birthday, you know. (see the post on Twitter)
  2. It's Dolly Parton's birthday on Sunday. The heartbreaking ▶ Me And Little Andy  "And this here is my puppy dog" (see the post on Twitter)
  3. This: Every episode of Marc Bolan’s 1977 TV series "Marc" is now on YouTube.  via @dangermindsblog (see the post on Twitter)
  4. The 90's! Pavement! "The Oral History Of Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" via @stereogum  #longread with videos (see the post on Twitter)
  5. Ahhh, the 1990's. ▶ Greensboro darlings The Raymond Brake ~ New Wave Dream (see the post on Twitter)
  6. Concert shots from house party Dick St in GSO. When we were all young are gorgeous. ▶ mercury birds - february, 1996 (see the post on Twitter)
  7. One of my favorite songs from 2013. ▶ Major Lazer - 'Get Free' feat. Amber (of Dirty Projectors) (see the post on Twitter)
  8. This song is addictive. ▶ Danny Brown - 25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring) (see the post on Twitter)

Interactions: I mostly use Twitter to expand my business network, so I chose the weekend to talk about music.

The most popular tweet was my first tweet of the day; a tweet about Dolly Parton and Janis Joplin. It had the most clicks and started a conversation with a former colleague who loves music as much as I do.  

I didn't always take the time to find the Twitter handles of the bands I posted about, but when I shared the Stereogum and Danger's Mind article I included their Twitter handle. 

Day two: Living two lives, Tuesday, January 21

What draws me to this topic: In one country or two, there are great lessons to be learned from those who are half in/half out. This includes people who have two cultural identities, people who live in two locations or people who have recently transplanted.

What did I tweet about: I linked to articles I've written on Medium and, articles written by others on Medium, on blogs, on business sites and in the media. 

I shared the following tweets:

  1. “What about you? Have you ever felt foreign in your own country?” —@ronaldkandelhar (see the post on Twitter)
  2. The theme of today: living two lives. In one country or two, there are great lessons to be learned from those who are half in half out. (see the post on Twitter)
  3. Co-mingled learning: publicista y/and Spanish (see the post on Twitter)
  4. A Double Oleh Life: Living in Two Countries at the Same Time (see the post on Twitter).
  5. 8 Tips For Living In Between Two Countries. Some of the basics you need to know w/ a globetrotting life (see the post on Twitter)
  6. Always on the road. How you can balance a career and married life between two states. (see the post on Twitter)
  7. “Having it both ways” @akiramorita examines how you can grow a family and a business while traveling the world. (see the post on Twitter
  8. “Clothesline Chin-Ups” and a philosophy for other adaptations required when moving around the world by @danpresources (see the post on Twitter)
  9. Quitting your stable job to invest in yourself through travel. “Wanderlust” by @omgaz (see the post on Twitter)
  10. Yo hablo español y/and I speak marketing. (see the post on Twitter)
  11. "Part Mexican, part American, 100 percent Tejano!" RT @nprnews: 'Hispanic' Or 'Latino'? Polls Say It Doesn't Matter (on Twitter with follow-up conversation)

Interactions: Two tweets were very popular: the "Wanderlust" Medium article and the NPR retweet about cultural identity.

People were quietly interested in the Wanderlust article; a lot of people clicked on the link and a couple of people favorited the tweet.

Conversely, the NPR retweet was seen by about 4,000 people, was favorited and started a conversation with someone who is quoted in the article (even though I did not know his Twitter name to include it in my tweet).

In general, posts from Medium had more interaction than  non-Medium posts (even though my URL shortener disguised the URL source).

Day three: Social media, Wednesday, January 22

What draws me to this topic: Social media impacts our business and personal lives. Lots of people are writing about social media so there are plenty of tips to be found. 

What did I tweet about: I shared a mixture of content I've written and content written by others.  I included several twitter handles of individuals and companies who published the content. 

I shared the following tweets:

  1. There are social media tips everywhere. Today I'm sharing some of my favorites. (see the post on Twitter)
  2. Content marketing and native advertising: what matters is what works (see the post on Twitter, here, too)
  3. Veritasium: Why Facebook's News Feed changes are bad for users. (see the post on Twitter)
  4. “10 brands having awesome social media conversations” by @SheriLehman (see the post on Twitter)
  5. I'm refocusing my LinkedIn recos and wondering if you'll recommend me for "Creating communities around an idea" (see the post on Twitter)
  6. Everyone is looking for content. BBC sees a photo tweeted by @joseapie for @Tri_State. Photo is now in BBC story: (see the post on Twitter)
  7. The Social Reality: You’re in Customer Service by @SheriLehman (see the post on Twitter)
  8. 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers (see the post on Twitter)
  9. Can Physicists Find Time Travelers on Facebook? via @TheAtlantic (see the post on Twitter)

Interactions: My Twitter friends were, across the board, more interested in social media content than the content I shared on my other themed days. 

I was pleased to see the content I authored was more popular than the other content I shared. My content was not immediately obvious to my Twitter friends; one tweet was written using "I," but the other tweet was not. Both articles were previously shared on Twitter (but with different tweets). 

What did I learn?

Did engagement increase?

I wasn't sure if engagement would increase. I work hard to post content my Twitter friends will like. As you can see by the chart below 22% of my tweets are favorited and 44% of my tweets get a reply. I feel pretty good about those numbers. 

 January statistics from Twitonomy. 

January statistics from Twitonomy. 

Here's a comparison of my average January tweet interactions to the interactions on the themed days: 

  • January overall: 44% of my tweets had replies. 22.2% of my tweets were favorited. 
  • Music day, Saturday: 40% of my tweets had replies. None of my tweets were favorited.
  • Living two lives day, Tuesday: 31% of my tweets had replies. 11.54% of my tweets were favorited.
  • Social media day, Wednesday: 47% of my tweets had replies. 33.3% of my tweets were favorited. 

My social media themed day was the only day that performed better than my January average. If I wanted to talk about social media, only, I could probably grow the reach of my account faster. But, social media is only one of my many interests so I won't be changing my ways anytime soon. 

None of the tweets I tweeted on Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday appeared in my list of most retweeted or most favorited tweets. 

 Most retweeted and favorited tweets in January via Twitonomy. 

Most retweeted and favorited tweets in January via Twitonomy. 

So when I look at my engagement over the past month, the tweets I sent on my themed days were not my most successful tweets.

I suspected no one would notice my themed days experiment and I don't think anyone did. Tweets announcing my themed days were favorited, but I suspect those tweets were favorited by bots that auto-favorite tweets with specific keywords.  

Conclusion: It may be fun to experiment with themed days from time to time, but the themed days didn't garner results that were significant enough to continue as a best practice. 

How did it impact my day?

I picked most of my tweets in advance and timed them out to be distributed through the day. It was a challenge to find related content that I could retweet, but I was always able to. I frequently saw tweets I was interested in, and would have retweeted under normal circumstances, but did not because they didn't fit in with the daily topic. 

The day I was sharing social media information,  I found out a friend's photo was used by the BBC for an article. He tweeted the photo and the BBC tweeted him to see if they could use it. Since the conversation started on Twitter I was able to post the article on my social media day. 

Conclusion: Themed days prevent me from sharing spontaneous tweets and the spontaneous conversations are one of my favorite parts of Twitter. 

Medium writers are more likely to engage in conversation on Twitter than other writers. 

Medium auto-populates the Twitter handle of the author in every tweet. Everyone who writes on Medium is also a Twitter user. But, I also believe this can be attributed to the mindset of a Medium writer; Medium is in beta and has existed for about a year. Therefore, Medium writers are fairly new, often amateur writers (i.e., not paid for writing that article), experimenting with what they are writing, how they are sharing content and how they are building an audience.  

Though Medium writers may be amateur writers, they are more in tune with social media etiquette and best practices. I suspect many of them (like me) are paid to write on on other sites and are using Medium to gain exposure. 

You should always include your Twitter handle in auto-filled text.

I always recommend this to my clients so they can easily keep track of relevant conversations. I will usually go out of my way to find a Twitter handle to include it in one of my tweets.

I include the handle because I WANT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION. It is social media, after all. My Twitter handle is not auto-populated from this site (and the share button is in a weird spot). My site is hosted through Squarespace and I cannot control those features. I've asked them to change it, so I can do a better job of keeping track of articles shared from my site (if you know of any workarounds, let me know!).  

In conclusion

It was a worthwhile experiment, but won't change my overall behavior. It validated suspicions I already had (about Medium writers and auto-filling Twitter handles) and was a fun diversion. 

Have you ever conducted a similar experiment?