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You are here: Home / World Wide Web / What Makes a Tweet Interesting?
Researchers Look at Which Tweets Interest Users
Researchers Look at Which Tweets Interest Users
By Barry Levine / NewsFactor Network Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
Twitter is one of the most frequently mentioned social networks for businesses adopting social marketing. But how can you tell if a tweet is boring or not? A group of researchers is trying to set some guidelines, having found that users actively dislike, or are neutral about, most tweets.

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology, created a Web site called Who Gives a Tweet? at Users registering with the site are asked to rate tweets of friends and strangers, and to have theirs similarly rated.

Only About One-Third Enjoyed

Although more than 200 million tweets are sent by Twitter each day, few users get any feedback about whether their followers enjoy their mini-observations, or even if they continue to read them.

The researchers point out that a better understanding of what makes for an interesting tweet could lead to better content filters and other tools, such as automatically showing location check-ins on maps. It could also lead to more effective marketing and political use of Twitter.

One graduate student involved in the research, Kurt Luther at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that the Who Gives a Tweet? site allows "a more nuanced type of feedback than is currently available," with insight on how updates are seen by different groups.

Over nearly three weeks in December, 1,443 users visited the site, and provided analysis of 43,738 tweets from more than 2,000 user accounts. The comments indicate that slightly more than a third of the tweets, or 36 percent, were enjoyed, while 25 percent were disliked. The feeling toward 39 percent was neutral.

Tweeting Guidelines

Generally speaking, the researchers found, the least-liked tweets are those that relay snippets of other people's conversations, or that give an update on current moods or activities. The best liked were ones that asked questions, shared information or linked to content by the tweeter.

For users and marketers who want to improve the appeal of their tweets, the researchers provide some working guidelines.

Old news is no news, they say, adding that real-time information is more valued than repeats. Users would best contribute to a story or conversation by adding an opinion or fact that advances the line of thought. Short messages are considered better than longer ones. On the other hand, some tweets can be so short as to be meaningless or less interesting, such as simply linking to some other content without a contextual message.

An overuse of Twitter-ese, such as #hashtags, makes a tweet hard to read. Personal tweets about lunch choices and location check-ins are considered boring, and constant negativity is disliked. Links to other content, such as from news or professional organizations, would best have some intriguing tease that entices the user to click.

The full findings will be presented later this month at a Seattle conference of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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