The Science of Success on Twitter

26th February, 2013 - 3 minutes read

If there’s one thing the Social Media Generation aka Digital Natives want, its to be popular. This doesn’t necessarily set them apart from any other generation that’s gone before them. We all want to be liked to some degree. What has changed, however, is the means by which popularity is measured. Actual friends who can be seen and spoken to on a daily basis play second fiddle to fans, followers and subscribers. So how can you succeed in terms of popularity online? Scientists from a US university think they have the answer (for Twitter at least).

A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have spent 15 months examining the content of tweets and the fate of these tweets by 500 non-celebrity tweeters. A whole host of terms that indicate emotions eg swear words and acronyms like ‘LOL’ were looked at and given a score on a scale of positivity. This allowed the team to work out the impact the use of certain terms has on number of followers, retweets etc.

What Did they Find?

The conclusion is that people who tweet positive things, write clearly and re-tweet good news snippets are most likely to gain and retain followers. Those who consistently tweeted about themselves and the minor, uninteresting details of their lives were the worst performers. As the lead researcher so clearly puts it; “My weak connections on Twitter care less about what I had for breakfast than they do about this neat bit of news I discovered.”

Previous research had suggested that the time and frequency of your tweets is key to gaining and keeping hold of followers, however this evidence strongly points towards the content of your tweets as the main factor.

A further factor that influences follwership is engagement. Those who engage with their followers by tweeting directly ‘at’ them replying to their tweets are most likely to keep their followers and gain new ones. Those who simply tweet to nobody in particular don’t grow as much or as quickly as those who are more engaged.

Its encouraging to know that Twitter users who use accurate grammar and correct spelling do better than those who don’t.

So, if you want to gain and retain lots of Twitter followers its simple; tweet positive things, nice news snippets and use good English. Tweeting directly at other users is also good practice, as are other engagement factors such as retweeting followers and favoriting their tweets. If you tweet only about yourself and negative things e.g. “I had such a rubbish day, hate life” then followers will soon lose interest in you and hit the un-follow button.

If you want to grow your social media presence Miromedia can help. We have a dedicated team of social media managers who can run campaigns, competitions and post update on your behalf. Contact us to find our more.