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The science of gaining Twitter followers

February 26, 2013

To attract more Twitter followers, post messages that are positive, informative and interactive, new research suggests.

“Expressing negative sentiments in tweets is the second most harmful factor to growing a Twitter audience,” Poynter quotes researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology as saying. Twitter users are often strangers, and the ties between them tenuous, so negative sentiment “may be unpleasant or uncomfortable for a potential new follower to see.”

Even worse than expressing negative feelings is sending too many “broadcast” tweets that are intended for no one in particular, say the results of the study that tracked more than 500 randomly selected Twitter users as they tweeted more than 500,000 times over the course of 15 months. Other ways to turn off potential followers include cramming too many “hashtags”— a pound sign followed by a word or phrase the user hopes will start a string of messages on the same theme — into your Twitter messages, and tweeting too much about yourself. Informational content attracts roughly 30 times as many followers as self-referential tweets, the researchers found.

Factors that might increase your number of Twitter followers include sending lots of tweets with positive sentiment, having many connections in common with potential new users and a high frequency of others “re-tweeting” your messages, providing a detailed profile that includes a link to a Web site where people can learn more about you, and following fewer people than the number who follow you. — Greg Beaubien


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