Have you ever wondered why some tweets are valued more than others? (Think of the people you’ve followed, or “unfollowed,” in recent months and why.) Well, the wait is over. A new study, “Who Gives a Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value,” provides some answers.
Three researchers from Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Georgia Tech created a website that encouraged Twitter users to give feedback to accounts they followed in exchange for feedback from their own followers and other users. The result was 43,738 tweet ratings from 1,443 users.
What they learned was that the three most-liked categories were:
- questions to followers;
- information sharing; and
- self-promotion (sharing links that you created).
On the flip side, the most disliked categories were:
- presence maintenance (“hello twitter”);
- conversations; and
- “me now” (a person’s current status).
The team drilled a bit deeper and learned there were several reasons why some tweets were not valued. Among them: repeating old news and using too many # and @ signs.
“Ratings revealed that our users primarily valued Twitter as an information medium,” the authors wrote.
That makes a lot of sense. My colleague Stewart Mader, director of social and online tools at CFA Institute, is a proponent of Twitter for financial advisers. “It’s more real-time than LinkedIn, more professionally oriented than Facebook, and more public than both,” he said. “All good things for building awareness and reputation.”
He says to think of content sharing — for example tweeting an interesting article — as “a conversation starter, reputation builder, and awareness generator.” (To see how Mader uses his account, follow him at @slmader.)
With this in mind, here are some helpful pointers for successful tweeting courtesy of “Be Better at Twitter: The Definitive, Data-Driven Guide,” an article from the Atlantic based on the study mentioned above:
• Old news is no news: Twitter emphasizes real-time information, so information rapidly gets stale. Followers quickly get bored of even relatively fresh links seen multiple times.
• Contribute to the story: To keep people interested, add an opinion, a pertinent fact, or otherwise add to the conversation before hitting “send” on a retweet.
• Keep it short: Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, but followers still appreciate conciseness. Using as few characters as possible also leaves room for longer, more satisfying comments on retweets.
• Limit Twitter-specific syntax: Overuse of #hashtags, @mentions, and abbreviations makes tweets hard to read. But some syntax is helpful; if posing a question, adding a hashtag helps everyone follow along.
• Keep it to yourself: The clichéd “sandwich” tweets about pedestrian, personal details were largely disliked. Reviewers reserved a special hatred for Foursquare location check-ins.
• Provide context. Tweets that are too short leave readers unable to understand their meaning. Simply linking to a blog or photo, without giving readers a reason to click on it, was described as “lame.”
• Don’t whine: Negative sentiments and complaints were disliked.
• Be a tease: News or professional organizations that want readers to click on their links need to hook the reader, not give away all of the news in the tweet itself.
For more on how financial advisers are using social media to get an edge, read “Social Graces” from CFA Magazine. And to better understand some of the risks and challenges that social media pose for your wealthy clients and their families, I recommend the white paper “Family Security & Social Media: Protecting Your Family from Security Gaps in Social Media.”
You can also read the February issue of CFA Institute’s Private Wealth Management Newsletter, which focused on social media.
For resources and tips on social media, check out: