Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Study Reveals Three Keys to Attracting Twitter Followers

There's little point in writing news for the web, if no one reads what you write. There are many ways for online readers to find your work. Let's take a look at Twitter. For most of what you post, only a small percentage of your Twitter followers will click through to read an article that you link. This can be influenced by eye-catching titles, your reputation for delivering on the promise of your Tweet (with relevant, high quality content), and a host of other factors. Even so, it is likely to be a small number.

Why does Twitter matter then? For those that do take an interest in your article, it is an easy way for them to share the article with their friends and followers who may share a similar interest. It is a way of amplifying your reach beyond the people to whom you have direct access. In best case scenarios, your article can go viral and be shared tens of thousands of times (or more).

It all starts, of course, with those people who choose to follow you on Twitter. With a few caveats, the more followers you have, the more likely you are to reach people who are interested enough to click through and read your article.

There are many theories on the best way to attract followers, but unless you're a highly visible celebrity willing to have a public meltdown in cyberspace, Georgia Tech researchers have identified three key Tweeting behaviors that lead to increased numbers of followers.
  1. Don't worry, be happy.
  2. Don't fill your Twitter stream with information about yourself, give your followers information that makes a difference to their lives.
  3. Use fewer hashtags.
To expound upon that list a bit, the researchers found that users who more often posted with a positive message gained more followers than those who posted negativity. Hypothetically, then, a title like "Few will survive upcoming zombie apocalypse," a negative title, would attract fewer new followers than "You can be a zombie apocalypse survivor," a more positive spin on the same topic.

Second, although your family may want to keep up to date on your daily tribulations and successes, few strangers are that interested in you, unless you're one of the aforementioned self-destructing celebrities. Your followers will be less likely to share a Tweet that you've got luxury box tickets at Fenway Park for the Yankees- Red Sox game than, perhaps, a Tweet that provides useful information like "Fenway Park tickets, which seats offer the best value for your money?"

Finally, don't use too many hashtags. Use them to tie your tweets to larger events or breaking news stories, but don't crowd your posts with as many hashtags as you can fit in. For whatever reason, the Georgia Tech study showed that overuse of hashtags resulted in fewer new followers when compared to a more conservative usage.

Obviously, this is a brief overview of the findings of the Georgia Tech study on gaining Twitter followers. You can read the complete study and learn more details on building a Twitter following at this link.


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