Friday, February 17, 2012

Twitter: How Has it Helped You?

I have to admit—I haven’t quite gotten the hang of microblogging. I’ve made some stabs at Twitter in the past, but generally lost interest when I felt like I didn’t have any particularly interesting 160-character thoughts to share that day. But as part of my New Years resolutions (yes, it’s February and I’m still talking about those), I’m trying to get better about social media—and making a stronger effort with Twitter is one way I’m doing that.

Anyway, I just read a really interesting article over at Freelance Switch about the types of content people like to see on Twitter. The info comes from a study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science entitled “Who Gives a Tweet: Evaluating Microblogging Content Value.” A team of researchers collected anonymous feedback from Twitter users about the types of posts they liked. I recommend going over to their site to read the whole thing.

A lot of what the study found was kind of self-evident: be funny. Be relevant. Don’t post one-word “maintenance” tweets. But there were several points that surprised me—and I thought were worth discussing in more detail.

People don’t seem to mind self-promotion. I always thought self-promotive tweets that linked back to your own blog or website were kind of a no-no. I thought you could do them, but you should do them sparingly and “earn” the right with more interesting and relevant content the rest of the time. According to the study, over 35% of users—one of the higher agreeing percentages—liked self-promotional tweets.

Conversations are kind of a no-no. I also always thought that Twitter was about interacting with others. You’re supposed to respond to other people’s tweets, interact with your audience, and start conversations. According to the results, however, about 35% of respondents didn’t like reading conversational tweets.

Mentions and hash-tags are annoying. I also thought these were an important part of Twitter interaction—and a good way to get attention from other Twitterers and make connections on the site. According to the survey, however, too much overengagement is a turn-off to readers.

So feel free to follow me on Twitter--where you’ll get all the self-promotion and lack of conversational tweeting you want. (Har.) And I’d love to hear from other freelancers—how do you get the most out of Twitter?


Ron's Copywriting Blog said...

This was actually a very true post. Even I noticed, conversations are very rare on Twitter. And that's the reason why there is so much noise in there.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Actually, I went on doing a lot of conversations with people--I thought it was supposed to be interactive. But I can see how readers would find it annoying.