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4 ways successful people are killin’ it on Twitter

By analyzing one million tweets, a new study reveals that there are four things successful Twitter users have in common.


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Dominating Twitter takes work, but you can do it!

The popular microblogging platform Twitter has 316 million users; a diverse group of people are active on the site, from the president (@POTUS) to local clergy to food truck owners to Kim Kardashian (one more place to post a selfie!) Celebrities, politicians, companies and even pastors are finding that Twitter has the potential to pull in a group of people, to help build a brand. The success of brand-building, of course, depends on engagement. It can take a lot of finesse to grab the attention of a distracted and over saturated internet audience in only 140 characters.

Buffer, a company designed to help social media users, was interested in this topic of Twitter engagement, so they looked at 1 million tweets and studied the data to determine the kind of tweet that resulted in maximum engagement. The team measured engagement by the number of re-tweets, mentions and likes that a tweet received, and determined that a few factors influence a tweet’s popularity: length, images, links,and hashtags.

1. The ideal length of a successful tweet

Although Twitter is hinting that they’ll remove the 140 character limit, the ideal length of a tweet is currently 120 to 140 characters – long enough to share an idea (or a joke!) but still, thanks to the character limit on Twitter, fairly brief.

2. Dominate by using images

No surprise here: the internet loves a good pic. Tweets with images receive more engagement than tweets without images. However, tweets with images fare better when they have fewer characters than other tweets: around 20-40 characters.

3. Secret: Nix the links

Twitter users apparently don’t want more to read or another site to look at; tweets without links are the most popular. It could be that users are looking to engage with a tweet that feels more conversational, or personal, rather than informational.

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4. Use those hashtags, amigos!

Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag. Hashtags have been wildly overused across all of social media–consider those Instagram posts we’ve all seen with 20+ hashtags attached–so some Twitter users shy away from them. Hashtags do, however, make content more viewable. Using a hashtag immediately expands the reach of the tweet beyond just those who follow your account, therefore increasing the likelihood of engagement.

The takeaway

Of course, a lot of other factors influence the amount of engagement a tweet gets. It doesn’t hurt to be famous, of course, but if that hasn’t happened (yet!) it’s not a bad idea, for brand-building purposes, to consider length, images, links and hashtags–and beyond that, consider curating or creating content that is timely, interesting or funny. Because within a 140 character limit, and in front of a distracted audience, it also doesn’t hurt to be fun.


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Written By

Amy Orazio received her MFA in Creative Writing at Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles. She lives in Portland now, where she is enjoying the cross section of finishing her poetry manuscript and writing for The American Genius.

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  1. Pingback: The technical side of doing Twitter videos (and why you must incorporate it in 2016) - The American Genius

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