Not All Tweets Are Created Equal: What Language Makes Tweets Matter Most?

There is no denying the growing power of Twitter. More than 200 million monthly active users send out 200 billion tweets per day, allowing tweeters to reach massive audiences in real time and for free.

And Twitter matters for businesses. Market research found that Twitter users who see tweets from a retailer are 1.2 times more likely to make an online purchase from that retailer’s website. A similar study found that “while 4% of average Internet users completed sign-up on a B2B tech site, Twitter users converted at more than double the rate (11%).” Making a mark on Twitter can help drive your audience to action.

With the average tweet containing less than 50 characters, how do you make sure your voice is heard among the 3 trillion words shared on Twitter every day? What will make your tweet stand out from the rest?

We decided to use our Quantified Communication technology tools in order to find common linguistic characteristics among influential tweeters.

We started by analyzing 200 tweets from the 10 most influential CEOs on Twitter as ranked by Klout, a website that uses social media analytics to measure social influence. These big-time business tweeters included Oprah Winfrey, Rupert Murdoch, and Richard Branson. We then benchmarked these tweets against a representative sample of “regular tweets” from a corpus of 10,000 tweets from 2012 in order to see how they compared.

What we found is that the most influential business twitter language contains:

  • 100% more words indicating confidence
  • 82% more words referencing achievements
  • 72% more words showing cause and effect between ideas
  • 69% fewer 1st person pronouns
  • 47% more words including others in the message
  • 43% more statistics
  • 25% more positive language

What this means is that in order to make your tweet stand out, do the following:

  1. Exude confidence.
  2. Use fewer 1st person pronouns.
  3. Use statistics to add to your message.
  4. Stay positive.
  5. Avoid using tentative language.

Here’s an example comparing a regular tweeter with a power tweeter.

A regular tweet from the 2012 Twitter corpus:

“I don’t know where I’ll be going in life, and that scares me, but the lessons that have come my way will show me #hopefully…”

The language used in this tweet is not confident. It uses first person pronouns, does not include anyone else in the message, and does not reference any achievements. This user could benefit from making the message more positive, speaking with confidence, and looking for a statistic to back up their claim that the lessons they’ve learned will help them in the future.

An influential tweet from Top 10 Twitter Influencer, Richard Branson:

In this example, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, speaks confidently about future achievements without using first person pronouns. He does not say “I think there will be a world…” or even “There might someday be a world…” He also references others in his message and puts a positive spin on an otherwise bleak situation.

Admittedly, these CEOs were influential before they started using Twitter, and their titles and achievements contribute greatly to their influence. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the differences found in their communications analytics when compared to a corpus of regular tweets indicates that they use language techniques that separate them from the crowd. The ability to be heard among the noise is an invaluable skill, and identifying the language of influence is a fundamental place to start.

Tweets from the Top