Researchers Hutto, Yardi and Gilbert (which would be a great name for a band. . . or a law firm), followed 507 Twitter users who generated half a million Tweets over a 15 month period. They assigned attributes to the Tweets such as positive or negative and personal or news, factored in percentage of re-Tweets then looked at the follower growth on each account. What they ended up with was a statistical predictor for follower gain.
Right off the bat, the researchers found that six out of the eight variables they tested had some kind of effect on follower growth.
Positive vs Negative Tweets
The study found that negative posts had an adverse effect on follower gain. In the short term, it may strengthen ties with close friends on social networks (particularly on Facebook) but in the long term, it doesn’t encourage “the formation of new ties.” The researchers say this is because Twitter as a network is all about impersonal “weak social ties” as opposed to Facebook which is about personal connections.
In my experience, this is totally true. On Facebook, I follow family members and close friends but few of those people show up in my Twitter stream. There, I follow a large number of people I don’t know because I’m interested in the information they deliver (or because they amuse me. That works, too.)
Information vs Meformation
Which dovetails nicely into the second finding; informational content is 30 times more likely to attract followers than “me” content.
Tweeters who are topically focused also fare better than those who are all over the place. I fall somewhere in the middle. I generally Tweet about two or three topics that don’t go together such as social media marketing and TV. Check my feed and there’s a good chance that my most recent Tweet fits into one of those two categories. But you also could find an online shopping deal or a random odd fact and once or twice a week, you’ll find a personal note (usually a grumble).
The study also shows that people are attracted to Twitter accounts that are well written. So spelling counts. Real spelling, not thx and gr8.
Finally, fill out your profile. People want to follow accounts that are trustworthy and authentic so its important that your profile properly reflects who you are and what you do.
You can read the entire paper for free by clicking right here.