Nine Ways to Improve Tweets

    Twitter users choose the microblogs they follow, but that doesn't mean they always like what they get. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology found that users say only a little more than a third of the tweets they receive are worthwhile.
    Other tweets are either so-so or, in one out of four cases, not worth reading at all.
    Twitter says more than 200 million tweets are sent each day, yet most users get little feedback about the messages they send besides occasional retweets by followers, or when followers opt to stop following them.
    "If we understood what is worth reading and why, we might design better tools for presenting and filtering content, as well as help people understand the expectations of other users," said Paul André, a post-doctoral fellow in Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute and lead author of the study.
    "A well-received tweet is not all that common," said Michael Bernstein, a co-author of the study and doctoral student at MIT. "A significant amount of content is considered not worth reading, for a variety of reasons." Despite the social nature of Twitter, tweets that were part of someone else's conversation, or updates around current mood or activity were the most strongly disliked.
    On the other hand, tweets that included questions to followers, information sharing and self-promotion (such as links to content the writer had created) were more often liked.
    This slideshow features nine lessons, identified by the study, for improving tweet content.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 1

    Nine tips to improve your tweets, as identified by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Georgia Tech.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 2

    Twitter emphasizes real-time information, so information rapidly gets stale. Followers quickly get bored of even relatively fresh links seen multiple times.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 3

    To keep people interested, add an opinion, a pertinent fact or otherwise add to the conversation before hitting "send" on a link or a retweet.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 4

    Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, but followers still appreciate conciseness. Using as few characters as possible also leaves room for longer, more satisfying comments on retweets.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 5

    Overuse of #hashtags, @mentions and abbreviations makes tweets hard to read. But some syntax is helpful; if posing a question, adding a hashtag helps everyone follow along.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 6

    The clichéd "sandwich" tweets about pedestrian, personal details were largely disliked. Reviewers reserved a special hatred for Foursquare location check-ins.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 7

    Tweets that are too short leave readers unable to understand their meaning. Simply linking to a blog or photo, without giving readers a reason to click on it, was described as "lame."

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 8

    Negative sentiments and complaints were disliked.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 9

    News or professional organizations that want readers to click on their links need to hook the reader, not give away all of the news in the tweet itself.

    Nine Ways to Improve Tweets - slide 10

    People often follow you to read professional insights and can be put off by personal gossip or everyday details.

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