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Study Shows Secrets Of Successful Tweet

by San Jose Mercury News  June 18, 2012

Cramming your tweets with shouting capital letters, cutesy asides and hyperbolic claims won’t bring you lots of followers.

Instead, those 140-character gems you hurl into cyberspace can spark retweets by focusing on technology, including references to celebrities and citing credible information sources, according to a study by Hewlett-Packard.

That latter point is particularly important, said Bernardo Huberman, an HP senior fellow and director of its social computing group, who co-authored the study presented this month at a European conference. “What we are saying is that the source of the news is extremely important,” he said, noting that tweets citing established news media outlets or respected tech blogs carry far more weight than somebody relatively unknown.

By looking at more than 40,000 news articles and how they were retweeted over a nine-day period in August, the study developed an algorithm that the authors said was 84 percent accurate in predicting how popular tweets will be. The factors in determining how widely the item would be distributed were the source of the information, references to well-known personalities and the topic, with technology attracting the most interest, followed by health and a category dubbed “fun stuff.”