Social media is an awesome way for small businesses to connect with potential customers, but it's only effective if people are actually listening and sharing your content. A presence isn't enough—what you need is followers.
How do you get them?
There's about a million self-described gurus out there that will offer suggestions for a price, but if you're the type that's more convinced by concrete numbers and scientific analysis, than Big Think suggests another resource for you: a recent study that analyzed over half a million tweets, trying to find out what practices are correlated with high numbers of followers and which annoying practices will get you unfollowed.
The article lists four definite Twitter turn offs to avoid uncovered by the researchers, as well as an impressive baker's dozen of research-backed suggestions to improve your follower count. Some, such as "write tweets that get retweeted" aren't particularly shocking or actionable, but among the ideas are simple, practical things you can start doing today, including:
Spread information and share links: In this study "informational content" was described as tweets containing a URL, RT (retweet), MT (modified tweet), HT (heard through) and tweets containing "via"-- all indicators that information is being shared... the positive effect of informational content was thirty times the (negative) effect of tweets people wrote specifically about themselves.
Have a detailed profile: Users with a longer profile description gained more followers.
List a URL: Users with a link to a website ended up gaining more followers.
Go on tweeting sprees: Users with a high level of 'burstiness' gained more followers... I read this as implying that interesting people can't always fit everything they want to say into 140 characters and interesting people get followed more, again--just a hunch.
Be positive: Users who used positive language gained more followers.
Be eloquent: People who used longer (real) words gained more followers.
Give up your location: People who gained the most followers listed their location in their profile.
For many more dos and don'ts, as well as more information on the study and commentary on the findings, check out the complete article.
What's your top tip for getting more twitter followers?