May 03, 2013, 12:24 PM —
Image credit: Flickr/XuRxO
Everyone knows there are three "brute force" methods for gaining Twitter followers:
1. Be a celebrity
2. Pay a company to build your followers (many of whom will be fake)
3. Be a celebrity who tweets topless photos of herself (AKA the Amanda Bynes strategy)
But not everyone is a celebrity, nor does everyone want to pay for bogus followers. Fewer still want to be naked on Twitter.
For those people the Georgia Institute of Technology has done some research to determine the best methods for gaining a robust Twitter following.
Eric Gilbert, assistant professor in Georgia Tech's School of Interactive Computing, along with Ph.D. student C.J. Hutto and Sarita Yardi (now an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's School of Information) studied a half-million tweets from 500 Twitter members over 15 months.
They identified 2,800 terms conveying positive and negative emotions, and gave each a number on a sliding scale of positivity. Then they observed whether the Twitter members who used any of the terms gained or lost followers.
According to Georgia Tech, "The team discovered that certain identifiable strategies in message content and interaction with other Twitter users, as well as the structure of one's Twitter network, have a predictable effect on the number of followers. For example, Twitter 'informers' (users who share informational content) consistently attract more followers than 'meformers' (users who share information about themselves)."
OK, I've teased you long enough. Here are the techniques that can help you gain Twitter followers, based on the Georgia Tech study:
Don't talk about yourself. Informational content attracts followers at a rate 30 times higher than content focused on the tweeter. The study found users talked about themselves in 41 percent of their tweets on average.
Be happy. Twitter is mainly based on weak social ties (most followers do not know each other offline), which makes it more important to stay away from negative posts such as death, unemployment and poor health.
Cool it on the hashtags. While hashtags are definitely useful tools for expressing emotional commentary or tying tweets to larger events or issues, they can be abused. Researchers found that the higher a Twitter users' "hashtag ratio," the less likely they were to attract new followers.
To sum up: Don't be a "meformer," don't bum out your followers, and ease up on your cursed hashtaggery. You're cluttering the Twitterverse.