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Want to win Twitter friends? Keep it short, cheery and informative, says study

On Twitter, chirpiness wins friends.
On Twitter, chirpiness wins friends.Twitter

Twitter audiences need to be tended to carefully, like a garden with young plants (but hopefully less dirt). There’s all kinds of anecdotal advice about how to be a better tweeter, but now a new study says that the twittizens who grow the most audiences tend to share short, clear, informative tweets.

If most of your followers don’t know you, personal tweets aren’t the best way to go, C.J Hutto, one of the researchers of the group from Georgia Tech, told NBC News. "The ties between people on Twitter are weaker than between people in real life, or on Facebook," he explained.

People are mostly looking for information, the team observed. "Rather than talking about what you had to eat for breakfast or lunch you can talk about an interesting news article that you read," Hutto said.

Hutto and his colleagues scrutinized half a million tweets that 507 people had sent over more than a year. They recorded the length, clarity, and general tone of the tweet. They counted how often the tweeters used hashtags, linked to a website, or used a phrase like "RT" or "HT." They then matched all those numbers against friends and follower counts measured at various times during the course of those 15 months.

What else did they find? Using @-mentions and replies helps build a dedicated following, rather than just a stream of tweets addressed to no one. "Imagine an old professor standing in a lecture hall and broadcasting his lecture, versus direct communication," Hutto explained. "When you're talking to one person it helps you grow your audience."

Also: Bad news or negativity of any kind doesn't do so well. That includes swearing, even a frowning face emoticon. And, clarity is a big bonus. Using full sentences rather than abbreviations as you might on text messages goes a long way in convincing a potential new follow that you are a real person. “Twitter users apparently seek out well-written content over poorly written content when deciding whether to follow another user,” the team writes. If you stick to a topic, that helps too — something other researchers have also found.

If you tweet often, perhaps you knew most of this already. But if you're looking to get your numbers up, consider this as free advice.

Via: New Scientist