Last year MIT produced some research on how to secure more retweets. Georgia Institute of Technology have followed this up with 7 habits that the best Twitter users apparently have (as measured by increases in follower count).
This comes after research that saw them study 507 Twitter users over a 15 month period that saw them generate over 500,000 tweets. It’s quite possibly the first study that has look explicitely at what causes a Twitter account to grow its followers.
7 habits of effective Twitter users
- Don’t be negative – People are generally attracted to people that post positive tweets. Negative or sarcastic tweets tend to put people off. The study found that consistently negative tweets was a key predictor of low follower growth. Try and post at least 2 positive tweets to each negative one.
- Inform people, don’t self-promote – This is particularly important. Previous research has suggested that just 20% of Twitter users are informers, with the remainder posting mainly about themselves. Being informative was one of the strongest predictors of gaining new followers in this study: this included passing on links and retweeting. In fact being an informer rather than a meformer was associated with 30 times more growth in followers!
- Encourage retweets – Those MIT tips I mentioned earlier fit in here. The research showed that generating social proof is really important when growing your following. Generating more retweets = more followers. Kinda obvious, but one to keep remembering.
- Focus on a topic – It’s easy with Twitter to take a scattergun approach and tweet about all sorts. The research is clear that having a clear focus helps you to grow your followers faster. Why? Well, it may be a signal-to-noise-type thing. If you stay on-topic, your interests are clearer and it’s easier to make the choice to follow you.
- Write good quality content – This doesn’t just mean the subject of your tweet, but also the way you construct it. So no going overboard with hashtagging every word! The study showed that complex words can work, if they fit the context of your audience.
- Be energetic – This is an interesting one. It’s tended to be said that posting a lot of tweets in a relatively short timeframe is bad form, but the research found that this kind of behaviour correlated with a growth in followers.
- Mix up broadcasts with direct tweets – This is another interesting one. For the most followed accounts, content was split quite evenly between tweets sent to everyone, and tweets sent to specific people. The ratio was 45% broadcast/55% targeted. So the general rule is to talk to individual people more often than to everyone.
Now of course, some of these tips may (hopefully) be common sense to many of you, but they do provide some nice guidance on how to be a good Twitter citizen.
Do you have any tips that have worked for you?