Random thoughts, self-promotion and asking questions were viewed as three of the most effective and engaging Twitter tactics, according to a recent study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech.
More than 200 million tweets are posted each day on the social media site, yet it's possible the content you post isn't optimal to gain views, responses or retweets.
Researchers set up a website called Who Gives A Tweet? and asked 1,443 anonymous users to rate the quality of nearly 44,000 tweets from more than 21,000 Twitter users. What they found was that a "significant amount of content is considered not worth reading, for a variety of reasons."
Before we tackle what makes a good tweet, let's first discuss what content you should try to avoid. According to the CMU homepage, you shouldn't post (or repost) old news. In today's fluid news environment, this could mean posting an update about a story an hour too late. By this point, dozens of other news sites in your niche may have already covered the same story.
Also, when posting a news story, try to keep your opinions to yourself at first. Adding to the conversation before hitting "send" is viewed as a turn-off by Twitter users.
Other no-no's include using all 140 characters (the shorter the better), overuse of hashtags, @ mentions or abbreviations, foursquare location check-ins, not adding context to tweets, whining and discussing personal gossip.
Now that that's out of the way, let's focus on the things that worked. Researchers found that in all, a mere 36 percent of tweets were actually worth reading. The best types of tweets included a funny or exciting random thought, self promotion with useful links, information-sharing with context and witty or useful opinions or complaints.
Respondents felt that 39 percent of tweets were just "OK," while 25 percent were not worth reading at all.
"A well-received tweet is not all that common," said Michael Bernstein, doctoral student at MIT.
Paul Andre, a post-doctoral fellow in Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute, added that "The key is to be aware of one's audience and how different people's values may differ," as quoted by the Harvard Business Review.