How to Make Your Tweets More Persuasive

Tweet-thisResearchers at Cornell University have discovered language that makes tweets more likely to be retweeted. A computer analyzed messages, searching for keywords and combinations of words.

In their article, published in the June 2014 Proceedings of the Association for Computer Linguistics, the authors pose a basic communication question: "How does one make a message 'successful'?" The authors generated this list of recommendations for people wanting more bang for their tweets:

  • Ask people to share. Words like "please," "pls," "plz" and, of course, "retweet" were common in successful messages.
  • Be informative (often measured by length).
  • Use the language of the community, and be consistent with the language you usually use yourself, with which your followers are familiar. The researchers are also testing on Reddit, where users form distinct communities.
  • Imitate the style of newspaper headlines. (In their tests, the researchers used the New York Times as a model.)
  • Use words that appear often in other retweeted messages.
  • Use words that express positive or negative sentiment.
  • Refer to other people, not just yourself. Use third person pronouns.
  • Use generalizations. Statements that can be applied to a variety of situations are the most often repeated.
  • Make it easy to read. The researchers applied a formula used to measure the grade level of a text.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • Does any of this advice surprise you?
  • Do you find some recommendations more helpful than others?
  • What difficulty could you see in implementing these ideas in tweets?