Published 29 May 2012
Social media is awash with people who will happily give you their ‘expert’ advice but, in a field that is full of self-proclaimed ‘gurus’, their advice is usually as scientific as the words of a fairground mystic.
Dan Zarrella was so sick of hearing from “snake-oil salespeople” that he analysed 50 million tweets and Facebook posts to find out the facts rather than the fiction.
From his findings, I’ve created the following top 10s:
Top 10 things to avoid
- Talking about yourself: the more you talk about yourself, the smaller your audience is
- Engaging in conversation for the sake of it: users with more than 1,000 followers “engage in the conversation” significantly less than those users with smaller audiences. Don’t ignore everyone, just remember that nobody cares how chatty you are if you’re not adding anything to the conversation
- Posting multiple tweets in a short time: the more links you post, the lower attention they get. So, pace your content to allow each post to breathe
- Posting stuff that everyone knows: people want to have a reputation of being a valuable person to interact with, so they won’t pass on common knowledge: it appears the phrase should be changed to “scarce knowledge is power”
- Dumbing down your writing style: using longer, more complex words mean you’re more likely to get retweeted: retweets have an average reading age of 6 months higher than random tweets
- Using old technology: using old-style URL shortners (e.g. tinyurl) are less retweetable than newer, shorter shorteners (e.g. bit.ly)
- Being scared to ask for what you want: direct call-to-actions (such as “Please retweet”) are very successful
- Posting negative emotions, sensations, swear words & self-reference: these are all amongst the least retweetable topics
- Being emotional: retweets containing logical/rational thoughts are successful; those containing emotion are much less successful
- Listening to advice: unless it has some science behind it, don’t listen to so-called “experts”.
Top 10 things to do
- Talk about others: people want to hear you talk about them: the most retweetable word is “you”
- Be original and educational: tweets containing new ideas are more likely to get retweeted. Tweeting about your latest blog is particularly successful, as are tweets offering guidance on how to do something
- Keep it simple: the more complex a story, the less it is posted to FB
- Use punctuation: retweets contain more punctuation than tweets
- Add links: tweets with links in them are 3 times more likely to be retweeted than tweets without links
- Talk about work, religion, money and media celebs: these are all amongst the most retweetable topic
- Be positive: as negativity increases, the number of people interested in reading your posts decreases
- Prime people: people are more receptive to ideas they’ve already been exposed to. So consider dropping “sneaky peaks” before posts
- Try different times to post your blog: it’s difficult to hear when everyone is talking at once, so try quiet times to post your blog (such as the weekend)
- Analyze your audience: try posting at different times to see what effect this has on vies, comments and links. Analytics are your friend and the only way to find what works for YOU!
Dan also found some interesting facts about the best time to post/tweet. I’ll post a summary of these another time but, if you can’t wait, go and pick up a copy of his book, Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness. It’s very short, but crammed with interesting facts; not, as Dan would call it, “unicorns-and-rainbows advice”.