Stay on target.
Stay on target.
Heinous haircut and irritatingly whiney voice aside, that philosophy worked for Luke Skywalker (although less so for Porkins – may he rest in peace). And, according to new research, staying on target on Twitter might be the key to success, certainly if you define that metric by how attractive you are to prospective followers.
In her paper, Twitter and the Development of an Audience: Those Who Stay on Topic Thrive, Yi-Chia Wang, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon Language Technologies Institute, studied how 480 active non-celebrity Twitter users fared on the micro-blogging network in their first year after signing up.
Wang discovered that, on average, these users posted 1,574 messages – a little over four per day – but it was those that focused on a single topic that reaped the most benefits, both in terms of audience size and the vibrance of that community. The slightest increase in the consistent use of common words – for example, U.S. conservatives frequently use words such as “Obama”, “Obamacare” and “socialism” when discussing health care – could lead to a net gain of as much as 111 extra followers.
Users that varied their choice of topic but stuck to one overall theme – for example, humour – also performed above-average in the survey.
“Diverse topics can potentially appeal to more people. A political blog may [cover] a wide range of potential topics – such as foreign policy, economy or the presidential election – so it may appeal to people who care about any of these topics,” said Wang. However, she feels that a narrow focus works better on Twitter because it allows users to “more easily identify themselves with the [Twitter account] and better anticipate what they can get.”
Bottom line? As I’ve said time and time again, it’s okay to crazy on Twitter. Just as long as you’re consistent about it.