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You are what you tweet, researchers find

A new study from researchers at Imperial College in London, U.K., has found that Twitter accounts have a timing and rhythm that, when studied, can be partially predicted.

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Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

Are you as clockwork-predictable on social media as a bot?

The answer is yes. A new study from researchers at Imperial College in London, U.K., has found that Twitter accounts have a timing and rhythm that, when studied, can be partially predicted.

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The researchers analyzed more than 160,000 tweets and determined a system that, without looking at the content of the messages themselves, would allow them to predict with 83 per cent accuracy whether the account was operated by a person, by a corporation, or by a bot (those automatic accounts that send out spam or other messages but are not managed by humans). They found they could also predict when each type of account would send out new messages.

But there is a particularly interesting point in the study that marketers may want to pay attention to: while personal Twitter accounts tended to see more activity in the afternoons and evenings – a common-sense finding, given that most people will not want to be seen on social media during work hours – corporate accounts were found to be tweeting most regularly during business hours. That means there may be a disconnect between marketers' social media presence and the digital attentions of the people they want to speak to.

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