Jakob Nielsen’s advice on writing Twitter posts for a business

Good stuff.

When to Tweet
My last design decision was when to post the message to the Twitter timeline. My preferred tweeting time is 9:01 a.m. because it encompasses working hours from California to the U.K. and thus reaches a majority of our customers. (It’s best to post a minute after the hour so you’ll be listed on top of anybody who naively sets their software to release postings at exactly 9:00.)

In this case, however, German readers and others in continental Europe were particularly important, because we’re going to Berlin for the first time. Thus, I pulled the posting time forward to 7:51 a.m. Pacific time, which is 4:51 p.m. in Germany and will still reach Californians who check Twitter during breakfast.

One of the big downsides of stream-based communication compared to email newsletters is the highly ephemeral nature of the postings: Once they scroll off the first screen, they’re essentially 6 feet under.

A look at clickthrough statistics for links posted to Twitter vs. those circulated in email newsletters shows a drastically steeper decay function: lots of clicks the first few minutes, and then almost none. In contrast, email continues to generate clicks for days as people work their way through their inboxes.

Clickthrough decay: Twitter time passes 10 times faster than email time.

This makes it hard to reach an international customer base on Twitter, and makes it important to tweak the posting time relative to each topic’s main target. (It’s also one of the many reasons I continue to believe that email is a more powerful medium.)

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