Justin Bieber has nearly 39 million followers on Twitter—eight million more than the president. But for those of us who aren't as #blessed as Bieber, researchers have come up with a few tips to racking up more followers—based on an analysis of over 500 active tweeters and their half million tweets, over a 15-month period. First, stop talking about yourself. Timely, informative tweets are 30 times more effective at snagging new followers than tweets about your pancakes. Sophisticated language also attracts followers, even within the short format. Since Twitter is a web of very weak social ties—often people you've never met—spare them the bad news about your commute. Negativity drives potential followers away. Being guilty of "hashtag abuse" is another no-no—limit the use of hashtags so that they maintain some value. The researchers presented their findings at the recent Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Paris. [C. J. Hutto, Sarita Yardi and Eric Gilbert, A Longitudinal Study of Follow Predictors on Twitter] Of course, one recent report claims that half of Bieber's followers are actually fakes, like spambots—and he gets most of his real followers simply for being famous. To increase your Twitter fan base, you have to actually be interesting. —Christopher Intagliata [The above text is a transcript of this podcast.] Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs. Visit ScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.
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