Last month, a team from Cornell University put up a website that can analyze two versions of a tweet to predict which is more likely to be retweeted. To create the tool, the team analyzed tens (hundreds?) of thousands of tweets to determine the linguistic patterns that yield the best results.
A few things that help retweetability: Asking people to retweet... using the "language of the community"... imitating the style of newspaper headlines... using words that express positive or negative sentiment... using generalities... and writing at the lowest-possible reading level.
I thought I would give the tool a test drive by trying to figure out ways to make famous quotes more retweetable -- Lord knows they can't stand on their own in this day and age. Here are my results.
Neil Armstrong on the moon
Original: That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
Improved:That's one small step for human beings, one giant leap for mankind.
This was pretty easy. Gender equality is hot; semicolons are wack. My version is 51 percent more retweetable.
Albert Einstein on insanity
Original: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Improved: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Please RT this time!!!
Instead of posting tweet after tweet and just hoping for retweets, channel a mix of Einstein and TLC and don't be too proud to beg. My rewritten version is a whopping 89 percent more likely to go viral.
Teddy Roosevelt on belief
Original: "Believe you can and you’re halfway there." -Theodore Roosevelt
Improved:"Believe u can & your halfway there." -Franklin Roosevelt
I wanted to use the "language of the community" so I replaced "you" with "u" and "you're" with "your." I also attributed the quote to a slightly more famous, but similarly named, president to help its marketability.
That fishing quote
Original: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Improved:Give a man a fish & u feed him 4 a day; teach a man 2 fish & u feed him 4 a lifetime!!!
This is an amalgamation of my previous knowledge. I turned words into letters, numbers, and symbols, and added some super sexy exclamation points.
Wait, what's that one from?
Original: "With great power comes great responsibility." -Voltaire
Improved:"With great power comes great responsibility." -Spider-Man
Attributing the quote to Spider-Man (or even Uncle Ben) makes it 53 percent more retweetable.
Original: That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Improved:That which does not kill us makes us stronger. ⛔ 🔫 ➡ 💪
Feed the hoi polloi their sweet, crunchy emojis!
The ultimate quote
Original: Dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.
I didn't even try to improve the most tweetable quote in history, lest the intersection of platitudinousness and virality melt down the server in a crossing-the-streams stew of utter Twitter singularity.
This post was originally published on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Web & Tech.