What’s the first thing that a potential follower does when deciding whether or not to click that little bird-illustrated Follow button? Clearly, the account name and Twitter handle are important, as is the bio. There are many articles out there doling out tips on how to generate interest through a good name and bio, but these articles skip an important part of process of building twitter followers: the analysis of the Twitter feed composition.

Building Twitter followerse

Let’s think about the potential follower’s stream of thought when looking at a Twitter feed they’re considering following:

What they see: A stream full of retweets.
Typical reaction: This person has no originality! Let me just go follow the sources of these retweets.

What they see: A bunch of personal posts on top of a feed that’s supposed to belong to a brand.
Typical reaction: I wanted to hear about the brand, not the social media marketer’s lunch!

What they see: A stream comprised completely of interactions with other people.
Typical reaction: Well this is completely and utterly relevant to my interests…

What they see: Tweet after tweet of original content linking to other blogs and websites.
Typical reaction: God, do they have any friends to talk to on this site? Do they even pay attention to their own Twitter feed? Nice content though, I guess.

What they see: A mixture of original content, personal posts, conversations, and retweets.
Typical reaction: This person puts effort into creating a good stream for people to read. I think I’ll just click on this button over here…

The best tweet streams consist of a good mix of all the types of tweets: original tweets, retweets, “conversational” tweets, and even random and witty thoughts. Yet, not all types of tweets are made equal. Joint research by Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, and Georgia Tech reveal that the most well-received tweets are random and funny thoughts, self-promotion (especially in conjunction with job offers), questions to followers, and information sharing. On the flip side, the worst tweets are complaints, mundane life updates, conversation, and “presence maintenance” – tweets like “Good morning everyone!”

If you’re looking at building Twitter followers strategically, take the universities’ advice on your Twitter feed composition: make the majority of your tweets original information-sharing, engaging questions, and (witty, relevant) thoughts. Mix with a dash of conversation and retweets and you’ve got a Twitter stream that potential followers will want to follow.