Sunday, June 2, 2013

Predicting Retweets

Retweet image
What if you could determine how many retweets you'd have before you even sent the tweet? It probably would change the way you compose your tweet and use Twitter for promotion.

Up until now, most marketers depended upon data that suggests either the best time of day, or the best hashtags to use (or a combination of both) to get a feel for what their tweet might do in the wild. That might all change, as an MIT professor has now created a computer model that predicts the number of retweets in its entire lifetime after only a couple of minutes of retweet activity.

“A lot of people felt that Twitter usage was totally random and unpredictable, that it was all just noise,” stated Sloan School of Management assistant professor Tauhid Zaman in an article in the LA Times. “But it turns out that there is a systematic, repeatable behavior that you can model.” Who knew?

You can actually see the model in action on his website Twouija: the Retweet Oracle, which is a twist on the old physical Ouija board. The site shows a number of tweets from celebrities and shows, as well as  how well they match his predictions.

While on the surface this might seem like a boon to anyone who does promotion via Twitter, I don't think the model by itself adds much in terms of promotion, since you have to actually release the tweet first before it can predict what it will do. By correlating that data over time though, it might provide some better clues as to the parameters that make a tweet more "retweetable." 

That said, I can tell you that without any of the fancy computer models or predictions. Just write something worth retweeting. 

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