Study reveals secrets of a successful tweet

Steve Johnson / San Jose Mercury News /


Published Jun 18, 2012 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Cramming your tweets with shouting capital letters, cutesy asides and hyperbolic claims won’t bring you lots of followers.

Instead, those 140-character gems you hurl into cyberspace can spark retweets by focusing on technology, including references to celebrities and citing credible information sources, according to a study by Hewlett-Packard.

That latter point is particularly important, according to Bernardo Huberman, an HP senior fellow and director of its social computing group, who co-authored the study presented this month at a European conference.

“What we are saying is that the source of the news is extremely important,” he said, noting that tweets citing established news media outlets or respected tech blogs carry far more weight than somebody relatively unknown just blowing off steam.

The study found that the emotional tone of the item was unimportant in determining how widely it would be distributed. Instead, the crucial factors were the source of the information, references to well-known personalities and the topic — with technology attracting the most interest.