Leave it to science to determine what really matters in growing your Twitter following.
A new study from researchers at Georgia Tech reveals the definitive 14 factors that impact your Twitter follower count.
C.J. Hutto, Eric Gilbert and Sarita Yardi tracked data from more than 500 active Twitter users as they tweeted more than 500,000 times over 15 months.
The Twitter users were randomly selected from the public Twitter.com timeline over a two-week period, then screened for requirements like English language, an active account at least 30 days old with at least 15 friends and 5 followers. Every three months, the researchers recorded each user’s follower growth, and analyzed what it was about their tweets and behavior that seemed to lead to an uptick.
Hutto told Poynter that “a quick investigation of a subset of the ~500 users that passed all filters every 3 months indicates these are mostly ‘everyday’ typical non-celebrity users… Very few (if any) are brand or institutional accounts.”
Overall, the study tracked and compared three factors — the content of tweets, the dynamics of social behavior and the structure of the follower network.
The researchers claim that their work is “the first longitudinal study of audience growth on Twitter to combine such a diverse set of theory inspired variables.”
We’ll leave that to you to determine, based on the major findings. Check out the team’s chart, below, for a peek at the 14 statistically significant factors with the biggest impact on follower growth:
The key takeaways, in order from most to least significant:
1. The Number 1 factor is network overlap. That is, when you see that your friends follow an account, you’re far more likely to follow it, too (and vice versa).
2. The more retweets your tweets get, the more followers you’ll attract.
3. Inform, don’t “me”-form (stop tweeting what you ate for lunch, in favor of tweeting about an interesting industry-related article).
4. Too many “broadcast” tweets not directed at anyone in particular could negatively impact your follower account (see above: “industry-related”).
5. Too much negative sentiment in your tweets could also discourage potential new followers.
6. Make sure your account has a detailed bio.
7. Include a URL in your profile.
8. The higher the “burstiness” of your tweets, or the peak rate of tweets-per-hour, the better in terms of attracting new followers.
9. Ideally, you have a high ratio of followers to following.
11. Refrain from cramming too many useless hashtags into your tweets.
12. The use of “long, fancy words” could deter new followers. Who has time to “New Tab-Dictionary.com” these days?
13. Your tendency to #followback those who follow you is good for your follower bottom mline.
14. Make sure your profile also lists your location – you’ll come up in more search results.
Anything you think is missing from the Top 14? Anything you’d remove?
(Image via Shutterstock)