When we enter the social space, especially Twitter, establishing credibility can be even more important in growing a following and building engagement. Establishing credibility via other online mediums like a web site can come from visual design, depth of content or even position in the search results, this is not available on platforms like Twitter.
Recent research by Microsoft shows that as more people come across Tweets independently of their immediate social networks, via search engines or other 3rd party sources, they have less information to base credibility on.
The report states that, “In addition to reading tweets from users they followed, respondents consumed tweets by conducting searches on search.twitter.com (84%), clicking trending topics on the Twitter homepage (84%), searching for tweets using Bing’s and Google’s social search functionality (72%), or serendipitously encountering tweets mixed into the results of general Web searches (81%).”
Importance of Credibility
The topic of a Tweet determined the respondents concern over whether it was credible or not, with celebrity news and gossip style tweets of little concern. The credibility of movie and restaurant reviews were deemed slightly more important whilst news, political and consumer based tweets were of greatest concern in terms of credibility.
Key Factors Effecting Credibility of a Tweet
Microsoft established 31 elements of a tweet that determined credibility:
Elements associated with low credibility include use of non-standard grammar and punctuation, using the default Twitter profile image or using a cartoon for your profile image. Having an unbalanced follower to followed ratio, with more followed than followers gave Tweets lower credibility – one respondent commented, “if someone is following significantly more people than they have following them, I mistrust them.”
Information based around the author of a Tweet played a major role in accounting for positive credibility. Author influence measured by number of followers, retweets and mentions played a large role, as did topical expertise. This expertise judgement being driven by “Twitter homepage bio, history of on-topic tweeting, pages outside of Twitter, or having a location relevant to the topic of the tweet.”
Unsurprisingly, whether the respondent already followed the author, had heard of them, the author had an official Twitter account verification seal, a URL on their bio leading to a high quality site and a consistent history of valuable tweets played a role in establishing a positive credibility.
Take a Twitter Health Check
To maximise the chances of your Tweets being considered credible check your account against the following:
- Use correct grammar and punctuation
- Have a company logo, or better, your photo as a Twitter profile image
- Keep your follower to followed ratio positive
- Continually work on increasing your number of followers
- Keep Tweets on topic
- Complete your Twitter bio
- Link to a quality web site in your bio
- Ensure your Tweets are high quality e.g. don’t Tweet what you’re having for dinner
- Build relationships by engaging with your followers
You can access the full research here.