In the mass hysteria and super-charged pace of today’s society, it’s unrealistic to believe everyone will read every single one of your tweets. Instead Twitter users can expect to reach their followers in passing. Even then, a recent research study reported that Twitter users think just 36 percent of the 140 character updates that slide through their stream are even worth reading. How do you push your tweets into that worthwhile minority? Science can answer that too.
Researchers Paul André of Carnegie Mellon, Michael Bernstein of MIT and Kurt Luther of Georgia Tech analyzed 43,738 tweets from 1,443 users to discover the exact components that make a worthwhile tweet. As it turns out, the most valuable tweets are informative, funny, and/or conversational. Surprisingly, self-promotional messages also elicited a positive response from Twitter users.
By comparison, the biggest tweet killer is boringness. As it turns out, “boring” was the top cited reason for not valuing a tweet. Other bad practices on the platform include cryptic language, inundating a tweet with hashtags, and the repeating of old news. Users also despise what the researchers call “me now” tweets, aka tweets talking about things like what you are eating for breakfast. Presence maintenance tweets like “Hellllo twitter” or Foursquare location updates are also 1.5 to 2.5 times more despised than the average tweet.
With all that said, here are a few research based pointers to keep your Twitter stream up to snuff in the social media marketplace.
- Be funny or informative, but remember overall response rates show it’s very difficult to be both at the same time.
- Add context to your tweets so anyone can understand what you’re talking about. This is especially important in messages you choose to retweet.
- Share links you’ve created (e.g. blog posts, websites, etc) as users find them useful. Be sure to provide context around the tweet though, so people understand what they’re getting into. Like an irresistible headline, good tweets lure their readers to click on the accompanying links.
- Write like a human. Hashtags, @mentions, and other Twitter conventions are useful
- Ask your followers questions, as this category of tweet was rated 2.83 times more compelling than the average update. This gives them an opportunity to interact and share their knowledge.
- Share information. Many users believe Twitter is a platform for information sharing, and so they expect the people they follow to share what they know. Create compelling, informative content and you’ll win followers for life.