How to Gain Followers on Twitter, According to a New Study

By Cameron Scott 

twitter, twitter followers, social media, social networks, followers, likes, influence, social influenceWarren Buffett gained almost 100,000 followers on Twitter in just over an hour, but how can less famous users amass a Twitter following?

A statistical study from Georgia Tech challenges the notion that social media rewards those who talk too much about themselves. Instead, posting informational rather than self-expressive content contributed to the accumulation of followers, the study found.

That’s right, tweeting what you had for breakfast is likely to cost you followers over time.

Although Warren Buffett’s first tweet “Warren is in the house” could be seen as self-expressive, most of those choosing to follow him likely read the statement as an indication that Buffett’s views on investment, tax policy and politics will follow, if the study is correct.

Complaining or otherwise expressing negative sentiment inhibited follower growth, while expressing positive sentiment helped facilitate it.

“It matters what you say, and how you say it,”study authors Eric Gilbert and C.J. Hutto and Sarita Yardi wrote.

But while informational content beat out overly personal content, simply broadcasting the content was not the way to go, according to the study, which found “a very strong negative effect of broadcast communication techniques during the process of network formation.”

Hashtags may appear to be in excessive use on Twitter, but the study found that overuse turns would-be followers away. On average, users employ hashtags in about a quarter of their tweets, according to the study.

The study appears to be the first longitudinal look at follower counts on Twitter, accounting for some of its novel findings. Researchers tracked 507 Twitter users and their follower counts for 15 months.

Check out our post on how to follow and un-follow other Twitter users here.