What is the Shelf Life of Your Social Media?

ohSgCM0The Internet is forever…or is it?

If you’re active in social media, you likely struggle with how often to tweet or post, especially when you have something to promote (like a book). How can we get our message across to the most number of people without pissing everyone off?

A first step in figuring out what works for your needs is to learn more about the shelf life of your posts on social media. You’ve posted it…now who will see it?


In any given minute, 277,000 tweets are sent on Twitter. That is a lot of competition.

So it may not surprise you to learn the life of your tweet is short. Some estimates place it at one hour, but some estimates have it as low as 18 minutes.


Facebook’s lifetime is also short. Check out this graph by Wisemetrics:


A breakdown of what you see here is…

  • 75% of the engagement on your posts happens in the first two hours.
  • after 2.5 hours, your post will have made 75% of its lifetime impressions.
  • after just under 2 hours, your post will have achieved 75% of its reach.


The third-largest social media site, LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Your reach depends on your number of connections, but it’s generally thought that posts here live around 24 hours.

It’s also tricky because the site’s focus is less promotional and more professional. Your promotional tweets may not be well received by your connections.


Pinterest may be the fourth biggest social media site but, because of its visual appeal and the way the site is used, Pinterest posts have a longer shelf life than the rest. It’s less a “news” site (like FB and Twitter) and used more for inspiration. It also doesn’t hurt that Pinterest’s design is an infinite scroll, so you can see older content more easily.


This report found that:

  • 40% of clicks happen within the first day.
  • 70% of clicks happen in the first two days.
  • Remaining 30% of clicks occur in the next 30 days.

People respond more often to visual content, which is why Pinterest and Instagram are taking off. It also explains why FB and Twitter posts with photos get better engagement (retweets, likes, shares, comments).

So More is Better, Right?

Not necessarily. Posting the same promotional messages on a strict timetable is a bad idea. (On Twitter, this is expressly against their Terms of Service.) You are not a spammer or an autobot, you’re a human being. People want to connect with YOU on social media, not your book. Yes, share news when you have it, but do so sparingly. Respectfully.

There are many theories out there for what percentages of your content should be personal, from others, and promotional in nature. Of all the ratio theories, what’s important is the promotional number is always the smallest. So whatever you decide, know that your personal and shared content should far outweigh the promotional.

If you do retweet or repost a promotional message, vary it slightly so it looks fresh. No one wants to see the same-old, same-old three or four times.

Nothing fancy. I added “In case you missed it” and tweaked the title.

In the end, I think this list of 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon says it all:


So what have you found works for you on social media?

Leave a comment


  1. Diana Quincy

     /  July 14, 2014

    Thanks for this insight Joanna! I find posts with a personal truth or humorous anecdote tend to draw the most interaction from followers/friends while straight promotion draws the least. Trying to find just the right social media balance can be exhausting but I also see it as a necessary part of my business day as an author.

    • That is a good point, DQ. And really, that’s what people mostly want to hear about. Even the big name authors do very little promotion. If they like YOU, they’ll like your work.

  2. Interesting, thanks for sharing this. Social media is something I struggle with, so it’s good to learn more about it 🙂

  3. Jenna Blue

     /  July 14, 2014

    Ack! It’s even worse than I thought. Seems such a crapshoot….but it’s gotta be done. I’m still searching for what will make me Enjoy it all little more…finding my way. Thanks for the insights and facts, Joanna. So helpful!

    • It is a crapshoot. I think you have to rely on word of mouth from others instead of your own word of mouth. 🙂

  4. Great post again Joanna! I’m still finding my way through social media and wonder if I will ever “figure it out.” But I do like the funny posts the best and tend the share them with friends.

  5. Wow! These shelf life truths are eye opening. I agree that being yourself on social media is the best way to connect. Quality not quantity, right? I often share things without explanation, never thinking about the potential downside. This was a great reminder to add a little something personal into each post. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  6. Joanne this is great!I have found that engaging the GH sisterhood helps drive traffic. But will it sell books – I hope so!

  7. Informative post, Joanna, I agree with Nan that engaging with the GH sisterhood, or with other people you’ve gotten to know makes it easier, and probably does drive traffic. As for reading other people’s posts, I’m much more likely to do so if it actually says something (especially if it’s funny) than if it’s just a promo tweet. On FB, I love it if there’s a picture that goes with the post.

  8. I love all these techie things. Don’t understand most of them, but I still love them 😉 Thanks for making it all just a little bit more understandable, Joanna.

  9. Joanna, another great post. What an eye-opener regarding the shelf life of posts and useful information about tweets and retweets. I learned something new! Best, Michele

  10. I’ll admit, I’m pressed for time with writing, and trying to add social media on top of that sometimes is overwhelming. I usually don’t have time and when I do, it’s often rushed. Thanks for the tips.

  11. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  July 19, 2014

    Very helpful info. I have found that puppies, celebrity posts and photos drive the most traffic.

    Your shelf life graphs are actually better than I thought. I find social media very stressful. I think if I had more time to read/watch news, whether it be world or entertainment, I would have something more to say on a regular basis in regards to social media, but often times my schedule is just keeping my head above water. I know I need to find more time to incorporate social media into the mix, but lately I just want to keep my writing time for writing. Once I start on social media, I fall down a worm hole, and there goes my writing time. Yes, I realize this isn’t helping to promote my “brand” but without product what brand is there to promote?

    Having said that…I do know what types of posts engage my readers and this is a great reminder to try to schedule something once a day. Thanks!

  12. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  July 23, 2014

    I definitely think the posts on facebook that engage me the most are the personal anecdotes from authors like Kristan Higgins and Eloisa James. My problem with Twitter, which I have had trouble embracing and you have just enumerated why, is that it moves so darn FAST! By the time I’ve replied to someone or retweeted, I have 30 more tweets in my feed. I guess I’m just too slow for it!

    I haven’t ventured over to Pinterest…I’m kind of scared!

    Thanks again for sharing your expertise. You rock!

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