Booze, Twitter and what people really want out of a tweet

A friend of mine, recently promoted to an executive-level position, asked if I could help her with Twitter.

“I’ve been told I need to twit,” she said.

It’s extremely (if dangerously so) easy, I told her, and I offered up this gem: don’t drink and tweet.

Indeed, when Jeff Jarvis was in Ottawa last fall promoting his book Public Parts and advocating for publicness, he spoke of an incident where he did just that.

After a few glasses of wine, he was watching a TV report on the debt ceiling, and he tweeted this:

One of Jarvis’ followers suggest he use the hashtag ‘#fuckyouwashington’ and things took off – a week later more than 100,000 people were using the hash tag. (Jarvis has a hilarious account of the incident, and a data visualization of the flurry of #fuckyouwashington tweets)

But at his Ottawa talk, Jarvis said that while the flurry of the hash tag was interesting and exciting, he wasn’t sure twitter was the right place to go after a drink or two.

Recently, I may have had a few drinks (those who know me know it doesn’t take much) and started tweeting about a St. Jean Baptiste party on the lake, and the cheesy 90s music.

In the cold light (sober) of day, I recognize it was a bit much – though @gngreen called me on it at the time:

Really, let’s be honest, my followers probably couldn’t give a hooey about the drunken louts racing boats after a night of dancing.

Who gives a Tweet?

In a recent study ‘Who Gives A Tweet? Evaluating Microblog Content Value’, Paul André of Carnegie Mellon, Michael Bernstein of MIT, and Kurt Luther of Georgia Tech aimed to uncover what makes for a good message on Twitter. They presented their findings in February at the 2012 Computer Supported Cooperative Work conference.

This team had 1,443 online volunteers analyze 43,738 Tweets and give their thoughts on their worth.

The most valued Tweets were informative, funny and encouraged conversation. To their surprise, self-promotional messages also got a positive response.

But the worst thing someone could do on Twitter was to be “boring”.  Among the other bad practices identified by the researchers were repeating old news, being cryptic or using too many hashtags.

Informative leads the reasons for liking a tweet, while boring dominates the reasons for disliking.

In her reporting on the study, Megan Garber of the Atlantic noted that

“The Most Annoying Tweet Imaginable, in other words, would be overly long. It would contain stale information. It would #totally #overuse #hashtags. It would be excessively personal. It would be aggressively mundane. It would be whiny. “

She then constructed, “algorithmically, the Most Annoying Tweet Imaginable:”

(Don’t drink and Tweet image from ZiccoTees)

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