A five-point guide to getting your tweets retweeted
(Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
What makes one tweet get passed on, and not another?
On Twitter, your followers can repeat your messages to their own followers. Getting such retweets is a way to increase your profile and network size, and it's arguably part of the reason why many users keep coming back: that little dopamine squirt you get when you discover somebody has liked your wittering can be addictive.
Retweeting is also one of the main ways that information spreads across the social network, so researchers, companies and governments want to know how it works. Previous research has shown that if your message is retweeted it will reach, on average, 1000 people, no matter how many followers you have.International Conference on Web Science 2011 in Koblenz, Germany.
In general, tweets containing URLs, usernames, and hashtags - usually used to denote topics - were more likely to be retweeted than those without such paraphernalia. But not in isolation - other factors matter. Naveed and colleagues identified five such rules to increase your chances of a retweet:
1) Watch your punctuation
Tweets with exclamation marks were unlikely to be retweeted. The opposite was true of question marks. The researchers speculate that in some cases this could be because tweets that pose questions are passed on to provide or find an answer.
2) Nice words trump nasty
Tweets containing strong positive words like "great" or "excellent" and negative terms such as "suck" or fail" were likely to be retweeted. But positive terms were slightly more so. The researchers suggest that this might be because people could be a bit more reluctant to retweet rude or harsh terms.
3) Use emoticons wisely
Conversely, including a positive emoticon, such as :-), is a sure way to lower your probability of a retweet. A negative one, such as :-( increases the chances.
4) Be relevant
The team identified more than 100 different topics that people tweeted about. Not surprisingly, those that addressed broader public interest were more likely to be retweeted than, for example, messages about how users felt that day, or messages directed specifically at another person (@replies). The most popular retweeted topics in the dataset concerned social networking, public holidays and the economy. The researchers reckon this suggests Twitter is better suited as a service for channelling news than for personal communication.
5) Bad news is good
The researchers studied the sentiments expressed in their dataset of tweets, by looking for words that are known to correspond to certain feelings. These were given a numerical value on various scales that range from, for example, pleasure to displeasure, or excitement to calmness. They found that tweets which were annoying or not pleasant tend to get retweeted often. Likewise for tweets that expressed exciting or intense sentiments. In other words, they say, bad news travels fast on Twitter.
NEW SCIENTIST! Five-point Retweet GUIDE
everybody gets a smile from the happiest guy in the room — Mrjyn (@mrjyn) April 10, 2016 Tweet Activity ...
Fukuchan Monkey in wig, mask, works Restaurant! https://t.co/8Pmf7rRVt4 via @YouTube for all servers, this monkey wins —...
Dixie becomes sexually experienced Director: Rick Bea...
erin and Radical Moose Lamb liked your Tweet ...
Our Favorite Band: Look at the back, two guys are still sitting in a car, and they have kinda long hairThe Perfect American DIY 7" Our Favorite Band! s/t 7" (Praxis, 1982 ) Here is another one I bought blind . I'm ...
Published on Jan 29, 2012 Elvis Jerry Lee Lewis ~ Graceland Invasion F or the first and only time, JERRY LEE LEWIS recount...
I reckon he’s some unattractive lost soul who speaks little or no English and is trying to save enough money from his splog to pay for a penis enlargementI reckon he’s some unattractive lost soul who speaks little or no English, and is trying to save enough money from his splog to pay fo...
Published on Sep 9, 2011 Jerry Lee Lewis Drunkest Whole Lotta Shakin' Comments • 447 1,...
chronologically i know you're young, but when you kissed me in the club you bit my tongue ...
can you help me with this dating profile? There is something very Gatsby about ME. I am CREPUSCULAR WITH NIGHT signals and FLOWER...