Excellent article which summarises what is known about Twitter use. It certainly confirms my limited experience – limited because I make little use of it. All my postings are tweeted and that is about it for me. There are now 190 million Twitter users around the world producing 65 million tweets each day. 19% of US internet users now say they use Twitter or a similar service to share updates about themselves—double the figure from the previous year.
Some of the findings which stood out for me:
Most tweets are babble
While not academic research, some insight into what people are talking about on Twitter comes from an analytics company who categorised 2,000 tweets collected over one week. They fell into six categories (similar percentages were found by Java et al., 2007):
1. Pointless babble: 41%
2. Conversational: 38%
3. Pass-along value: 9%
4. Self-promotion: 6%
5. Spam: 4%
6. News: 4%
20 per cent are ‘informers’, 80 per cent are ‘meformers’
* Informers: 20% shared information and replied to other users
* Meformers: 80% mostly sent out information about themselves.
Informers tended to have larger social networks, perhaps because they passed on more interesting things and weren’t talking about themselves all the time. This split hints at the different ways that people use Twitter. It also suggests that the conversational aspects of Twitter may have been overstated. If 80% of users don’t reply to others then it’s not that social.
Trends are one-time and short-lived
Tweets on a particular topic rarely last longer than a week and usually no more than a few days. Most topics only trend once, then die, usually never to return. 85% of these trends are news-related.
10% of Twitter users contribute 90% of the tweets
The mood of the nation
Twitter has also been used to measure the mood of the nation. Alan Mislove and colleagues collected 300 million tweets from the US, analysed their emotional content, and produced a ‘mood of the nation‘ video. It shows how the emotional content of people’s tweets changes over the day (red is negative and green positive).
So – as I of course classify myself as an Informer I will now tweet this to my embarrassingly few followers!