How to Explode Your Tweet Popularity with Research from HP Labs

Twitter sentiment and buzz surrounding movie releases have already proven to serve as an early indicator of box office popularity, but HP Labs is taking the business of Twitter indicators a step further. Rather than use social conversation as an indicator of future popularity, they’ve learned to forecast popularity before something is even published. What’s even more amazing is that they can predict popularity with 84% accuracy.

Common Elements of Tweets That Go Viral

1. The Importance of the News Source

HP Labs determined the source of the news was perhaps the most crucial predictor of tweet popularity. Tweets from Mashable, for example, create more buzz than tweets from your aunt Susan. There isn’t anything revelatory here, except that is shows the importance of building a network or size and trust. Create a tribe and your content will naturally spread further.

2. Subject Matter Matters

Tweets about technology and top news are more likely to go viral than information about industry (see graphic above). This is the nature of human interest, but social marketers can combat the tendency to overlook less popular subjects by attaching their work to current events and trending topics. Stay true to your brand voice and objectives when doing this, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun and connect the dots in a meaningful way.

3. Mention Brands and Celebrities

No surprise here. Tweets that mention big brands and celebrities often perform better than other tweets.

4. Emotions Don’t Matter

Although I trust HP Labs’ analysis of 40,000 tweets, I’m not sure I buy their conclusion that the tone of a tweet has no bearing on whether it goes viral. Outside of the marketing world this might be the case (tweets mourning celebrity deaths or communicating protests probably make up a bulk of the negative sentiment tweets that go viral), but in marketing it’s probably best to maintain a positive tone.

If you’re interested in reading HP Labs’ research in full, refer to the document below.

About the author: Entrepreneur with ten years of experience running a digital marketing agency out of New York City. I work with startups and brands such as Virgin Airlines, L2 Inc (Gartner), American Express, Fabletics, LOFT, and more. When I’m not helping companies increase their audience and revenues, I love to travel, sail, and read. I also moonlight as a bartender at a classic cocktail bar.