These Are Twitter’s Biggest Secrets

In this interview with Time Magazine, Buffer’s Kevan Lee cites evidence to show that “There is science and psychology behind the way we all tweet.”

Psychology shows us how Twitter can be so addicting: We crave a great experience each time we pull the Twitter lever, and it keeps us coming back for more.Research and data reveal a bit into the way that we use Twitter. We follow based on our network, we retweet based on tried-and-true formulas, and we favorite for reaction or function.

Tips to get more followers:

  • Tweet positive!
  • Inform, don’t “meform”
  • Use social proof
  • Write well, avoid hashtag abuse
  • Mention someone in your text (@…) but remember to begin your tweet with anything BUT the @ sign or only mutual followers of @tweep and yourself will see it

Tips to get more shares:

  • Ask for it!
  • Inform and educate
  • Speak the same lingo as your followers (i.e. hashtag #growthhack = guaranteed faves and shares!)
  • Copy  headline
  • Avoid saying you, use third party
  • Sound less authoratative by using a instead of the
  • Don’t be verbose!


As this interview was done more than a year ago (though it’s the first time I’m seeing it), these tips are well circulated. In fact, you hear them so much that I am starting to disagree with some of them.

My insight is that one a Twitter tip becomes public knowledge, it ceases to be effective so you might as well do the opposite.  Case in point – ask for retweets.  I’ve never ever retweeted when I’ve been asked.  In fact it annoys me to death to see someone say “Please Retweet”.   (At a minimum, if they say “retweet if you agree” I’ll still be forgiving, but any DM that says please RT = auto unfollow on my part.


The most interesting thing about the article is the 25 question quiz to test if you can tell which tweet is more likely to be retweeted (try it, it’s fun!) and the fact that they give you the original research AND the data to play with (first time I’ve seen actual research papers on Twitter – vs what’s claimed in infographics or posts).


Follower Growth Stats
Follower Growth Stats



Correction: Appended, August 14, 2014.

When I choose someone new to follow, when I compose a new tweet, when I share and favorite an update, I seldom think about the why. My following sessions would probably seem haphazard to an outsider, and my favoriting technique comes and goes from one strategy to another.

Even so, the way I use Twitter is far less random than I thought. There is science and psychology behind the way we all tweet.

Researchers have discovered trends in the way that we perform every major action on Twitter—favoriting, updating, sharing, and following. And there’s even an interesting bit of psychology behind what makes Twitter so attractive in the first place. Here’s a look at the psychology of Twitter: what makes us follow, favorite, share and keep coming back for more.

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