Twitter (News - Alert) commentary tends to skew negative. And negative tweeting, according to research, is a surefire turnoff for potential followers.
The Pew Research Center just wrapped up a yearlong analysis of Twitter commentary in relation to political events and policy decisions.
In some instances, the venerable think tank found that Twitter skewed more liberal than the average American. The characteristic of Twitter conversation that stood out most, though, was its negativity.
The study examined the 2012 presidential election and found that the Twitterverse largely favored President Obama. For example, 77 percent of Twitter cheered Obama’s re-election while only 52 percent of the electorate had the same reaction.
Twitter also had a much more liberal take on a federal court victory for same-sex marriage in California. Forty-six percent of tweets were favorable, and only 8 percent were unfavorable.
Among the American public, however, 33 percent of people expressed a positive opinion of the ruling, and 44 percent said that they were disappointed or angry.
These liberal-skewing statistics don’t necessarily mean that the Twitterverse cuts Obama any slack. The Twitter response to both the president’s second inaugural speech and to the 2012 State of the Union address were much more negative than positive, even though the American public generally thought well of both speeches.
At least concerning politics, people tend to go negative on Twitter. Unfortunately, when it comes to tweeting, being a downer is a terrible way to build an audience. According to researchers from the University of Michigan and the Georgia Institute of Technology (News - Alert), people or businesses that send out negative tweets were likely to have more difficulty growing their Twitter audiences.
Overall, people on Twitter want informational content, and they find personal or “meformer” tweeters off-putting. Ironically, most people who tweet talk about themselves—41 percent—as opposed to only 24 percent who provide informational content.
Getting a negative reaction on Twitter doesn’t mean everything. The Pew (News - Alert) researchers noted that while Twitter reaction may give some insight into one segment of the population, it rarely reflects the reaction of the population as a whole.
To grow your audience, stick with what Jeff Sonderman of the Poynter Institute wrote. “If you don’t have anything nice to tweet, don’t tweet at all.”
Edited by Braden Becker