Forget about the tree falling in the forest and whether or not someone hears it.

What if you tweet and get no engagement, does your Twitter account matter? — no retweets; no favourites; no replies.

Do you know what it takes to get a retweet (RT)?

If you are using Twitter as part of a social media strategy for a business or an organization, you are hopefully creating some sort of buzz.

But for a lot of groups, Twitter is this ‘must-have platform’ that they tell the marketing department to do something with and hope that a bunch of tweets will make it seem like they know what they are doing. 

And it is a lot more critical on twitter than Facebook because a half-life of a tweet is shorter than a FB post — with some experts, like wisemetrics.com, putting it as short as four minutes. 

So if it’s not seen shortly after you let it fly, it’s not likely to get any response. Bit.ly has a tweet half-life at 2.8 hours, but the average person’s account does not have the same staying power as say Katy Perry, Barack Obama or some media giant. 

Three computer scientists from Cornell — Chenhao Tan, Lillian Lee and Bo Pang — have created an algorithm to predict what tweet will get more retweets.

In his blog, Tan writes: “Consider a person trying to spread an important message on a social network. He/she can spend hours trying to craft the message. Does it actually matter? While there has been extensive prior work looking into predicting popularity of social-media content, the effect of wording per se has rarely been studied since it is often confounded with the popularity of the author and the topic. 

The trio took similar tweets with the same link and analyzed them to see which ones got retweeted more. 

From that, they developed an algorithm that can help predict how well a tweet will do based on its wording.

The algorithm is far from perfect, but better than the average human in predicting which tweets will see more action.

They have also a programme that allows you to test a pair of tweets and gives advice on which could do better. It kept timing out on me but you can try it here: http://chenhaot.com/retweetedmore/

The New York Times even has a quiz you can take to see if you can predict which of two tweets will get retweeted more often. You can take it here: http://nyti.ms/1mKOj80

I managed 21 out of 25, which was better than average.

Here are five tips in helping you craft a better Twitter message:

1. Call to action. Ask people to do something whether, that is a sign a petition, watch a video or simply retweet your tweet. You can get people to help spread the word by using words that ask for the user to do something — that could be a simple cry of ‘please help’ to ‘please retweet’ — and yes, ‘please’ is still a magic word among adults.


2
. Use a photo. In laying out a newspaper page, it’s hammered into our heads to use photos because people are still visual — we haven’t changed from when we were children and like big picture books. People are more likely to read an article with a photo in than they are with a wall of text. Even though 140 characters isn’t a lot, people still want to see some sort of artwork with it.  


3
. Use hashtags. This again can be a ‘no duh’ moment, but you’ll attract more attention by using them. But #just #don’t #put #too #many #as #you #will #look #desperate. 


4
. Retweet others. It’s not all about you: Hey, they want retweets too. I have to admit I don’t do this enough myself, but a retweet is giving someone else a thumb’s up on their content. You still have to be sincere. If you’re out there retweeting others just to have them retweet you back you will be seen for what you are. 


5
. Use the right language. Words matter. We use UK English, but sometimes a British spelling of a word could hurt you gaining more engagement. Do you spell it Uighur or Uyghur? Brazil or Brasil? Both are correct, depending on which country you are in, but using the one that has greater worldwide appeal will help give your tweet a better chance.