Want to be popular on Twitter? There are plenty of people who claim they can help, but their tips rarely work and many of them are scammers. Now scientists have joined in, boiling down half a million tweets to a few simple rules for gaining a following.
C.J. Hutto (@cjhutto on Twitter) and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta examined the content and retweeting fate of tweets sent by 500 non-celebrities over a 15-month period. They looked for 2800 terms that convey positive and negative emotions, including slang and swear words, a set of emoticons and common acronyms, like LOL.
By giving each term a score on a sliding scale of positivity they were able to assess whether Twitter users who used each term gained or lost followers. The keys to success, they found, were to tweet positive messages, write clearly and retweet interesting titbits of news.