A new research paper has shown that certain types of news tweets are more popular than others, and was able to predict popularity with 84 percent accuracy.
So what makes a news tweet popular? You might be surprised.
Researchers from UCLA and Hewlett-Packard’s HP Labs prepared a paper entitled “The Pulse of News in Social Media: Forecasting Popularity” which predicts the popularity of a news tweet before it’s tweeted.
They examined over 40,000 tweets send during a 9-day period in August 2011, and discovered that a number of factors are important in determining a tweet’s popularity, including:
- The source of the information
- References to well-known personalities and other entities
- The news topic
They also found that the tone of the tweet – including whether the language used was subjective or emotional – did not influence its popularity.
Tweets that come from or reference respected news sources like The New York Times are much more likely to take off on Twitter than those from unknown sources. Likewise, if the tweet references something that is universally known – such as Apple – it is usually more popular. And lastly, certain topics, like technology and health, seem to have a large, loyal following on Twitter and tweets pertaining to these topics often become more popular than other tweets.
The study’s findings are actually pretty interesting. They suggest that, when it comes to the news, social media users are more likely to share trusted sources rather than unfamiliar ones. Despite the perceived “level playing field” that Twitter offers – with @averagejoe having every opportunity to become as influential as @nyt – people gravitate towards sources they trust. This gives traditional news sources a stronger foothold (although sources like Mashable also see high popularity on Twitter).
The lack of differentiation between hyperbolic tweets and bland tweets is also worth noting. People didn’t seem interested in sharing tweets that WERE OMG TOTALLY 100% TRYING TO GRAB THEIR ATTENTION over those that simply stated the news matter-of-fact.
You can take a look at the study in its entirety here.
(Buzzometer image via Shutterstock)