Study reveals the secrets of a good tweet
By David Mielach Saturday, February 04, 2012
A lot can be said in 140 characters but, according to new research, a quarter of people arenít paying attention to most of it.
At least that is what researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Georgia Institute of Technology found in a study that examined whether people liked or disliked the 200m tweets that are sent each day.
Researchers say a quarter of tweets are rated as not worth reading.
"If we understood what is worth reading and why, we might design better tools for presenting and filtering content, as well as help people understand the expectations of other users," said Paul Andrť, lead author of the study.
To investigate those expectations, the researchers set up the ĎWho Gives a Tweet?í a website which encouraged users to rate their like or dislike of other peopleís tweets. In 19 days from late 2010 to early 2011, 1,443 visitors rated 43,738 tweets from 21,014 Twitter users they followed. The results showed that people liked 36% of tweets from people they followed compared with 25% they didnít. An additional 39% responded that they neither liked nor disliked the tweets.
"Social media technologies such as Twitter pose questions regarding privacy, etiquette and tensions between sharing and self-presentation, as well as content," said Mr Andrť. "Continued exploration of these areas is needed for us to improve the online experience."
* Old news is no news: Avoid putting old news on Twitter.
* Contribute to the story: Rather than re-tweeting other stories, users are advised to add an opinion or highlight an interesting fact.
* Keep it short: It will give others space to comment.
* Limit Twitter-specific syntax: While hash tags and mentions may be unique tools for Twitter, donít overdo these symbols, as they make tweets hard to read.
* Keep it to yourself: Tweets with personal details were frequently disliked.
* Provide context: Researchers reported that tweets simply linking to a blog or picture, without any reason behind it, were described as "lame".
* Donít whine: Negative tweets were also disliked.
* Be a tease: Donít give everything away in a tweet, it will entice people to click on the link, since they are not getting the full story.
* For public figures: "People often follow you to read professional insights and can be put off by personal gossip or everyday details," the researchers said
"A well-received tweet is not all that common," said researcher Michael Bernstein. "A significant amount of content is considered not worth reading, for a variety of reasons."