Ok, I’ll admit it. I am desperate to get retweeted and the above headline is probably my most desperate attempt yet. Recently, Smart Data Collective released some research on the words that are most likely to be retweeted. As you can see by the following chart, my headline takes advantage of these words in a very nonsensical way. (At least I am being honest about it!)
So what does this research mean? Well it pretty much means that people are most likely to retweet actionable items and items that are in their own self-interest. Surprising? Not really. As Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web points out, these sort of headline words are the same types used by traditional media such as newspapers and magazines to sell copies. I guess in some ways social media is not so different than real media.
It was also interesting to find that the words that seem to generate the most retweets were predominantly positive. In today’s incredibly sarcastic and often pessimistic world, this serves as a good reminder that people don’t always want your jaded opinion on how bad something is – show them something better.
Of course, using these words by no means guarantees a retweet. As a relatively newcomer to active tweeting (lame I know), I am finding it nearly impossible to get retweets. Of course, a lot of this may have to do with the fact that no one is following me (currently only 85 followers, but I have found the more people I follow, the more that follow me – so follow me! @wesolowb). Thankfully I am not alone in not getting retweeted. A recent study by Sysomos found that 71% of tweets get no reaction – either a retweet or a reply, and of those few that get a reaction, 85% only get one reaction. And don’t expect your super insightful Tweet to get retweeted later in the day once people discover it – nearly 97% of all responses come within the first hour of posting.
This information certainly makes Twitter seem a lot less like a tool for conversation and more like a forum for shameless self-promotion. This does not mean I don’t see enormous value in Twitter. I have certainly gotten blog ideas through Twitter and connected with some interesting people. Definitely keep these two studies in mind when planning your social media strategy if you are including Twitter – and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get retweeted – you are not alone!