There’s no shortage of articles on how to be a rockstar on Twitter. You can’t through your RSS feeds in the morning without stumbling over some piece of advice on how to get more followers and traffic, but it’s rare that we get some real valid academic research to support our Twitter habits. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by a few smart guys who wrote a wonderful academic paper entitled Who Gives A Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value provides just that sort of worthwhile information.
The authors asked respondents to rate the types of tweets as:
- Worth Reading
- Not Worth Reading
- Just OK
The results are, well, a bit underwhelming across the board. The graph below tells the story.
The overall findings from the study are best summed up by the authors here:
While microblog readers have a wide variety of reactions to the content they see, studies have tended to focus on extremes such as retweeting and unfollowing. To understand the broad continuum of reactions in-between, which are typically not shared publicly, we designed a website that collected the first large corpus of follower ratings on Twitter updates. Using our dataset of over 43,000 voluntary ratings, we find that nearly 36% of the rated tweets are worth reading, 25% are not, and 39% are middling. These results suggest that users tolerate a large amount of less-desired content in their feeds. We find that users value information sharing and random thoughts above me-oriented or presence updates.
What Tweets Are Worth Reading?
The authors came away with the four best types of tweets that most respondents in the audience considered worth reading.
- Random thought – something interesting and compelling, a useful observation
- Self-promotion – bet you thought this wasn’t a good thing to do on Twitter – turns out that people are looking for this sort of thing…done in good taste of course!
- Questions to followers – a great dialogue starter, especially if it’s a genuine thought-provoking question
- Information sharing – curators rejoice! people do like curated and shared information
Now might be a good time to check your Twitter feed to see how you stack up!