A report from Pear Research finds 40 percent of tweets on the popular social networking site Twitter fall into the category of "Pointless Babble."
In a report certain to shock few, media analytics firm Pear Research took
2,000 tweets from the public timeline (in English and in the United
States) over a two-week period, capturing
tweets in half-hour increments, and categorized them into six buckets. Not
surprisingly, "Pointless Babble" won, with 40.55 percent of the total
Placing a close second at 37.55 percent was "Conversational." "Pass-Along
Value" was third (albeit distant) at 8.7 percent of the tweets captured.
The study revealed a wealth of information on how Twitter users use the
service. Spam was found consistently all day, everyday, but was second to last
on frequency, while 11:30 a.m. and
Mondays had the most frequent tweets with Pass-Along Value. The study found that
news seemed heavier at 2:00 p.m. and
on Tuesdays and Conversational tweets were high between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.,
and heaviest on Tuesdays. The "Self-Promotion" category ranked fourth on the
list with 8.7 percent, while the "News" category, at 3.6 percent, ranked
slightly below "Spam" (3.75 percent).
The study also found correlations between the type of tweet and the day of
the week it tends to occur more frequently. For example, retweets happen most
on Tuesdays. The category with the largest gap between the highest
occurrence and the second highest occurrence was self-promotion, where the
highest occurrence was 8.5 percent of the tweets on Wednesdays, and the second highest
occurrence at 6.25 percent on Tuesdays.
"As Twitter continues to evolve, not only as a brand but from a user's
perspective, it is likely that the usage patterns will change," the report
said, noting Pear will continue to publish data quarterly in an attempt to
identify and assess new trends on the microblogging site. "We did not predict
that Conversational would be as high as it was, or that Self-Promotion was
going to be as low as it was."
An April report from Nielsen Online showed that
despite social networking site Twitter's meteoric rise in popularity, the site
is having trouble retaining its community of Twitterers. The data released by
Nielsen shows the social networking site is struggling with low retention
rates: More than 60 percent of Twitter users fail to return the following
For the small business community, social networking sites like Facebook,
MySpace and even Twitter hold potential opportunities for growth. In addition,
they provide an easily accessible, rapidly deployable channel to their
customer base. But as any small business owner can attest, keeping customers is
hard enough to do in the real world. Any small business thinking about
investing time and energy into a Twitter account or Facebook page (or a blog)
needs to have the dedication to provide constant, personalized information-not
to mention posting information that is worth reading.
Despite reports concerning Twitter's long-term viability or day-to-day
practicality, the site reaches an impressive audience. According to digital
audience measurement service Quantcast.com, Twitter reaches 27 million people
per month in the United States,
with 55 percent of users females and 43 percent between the ages of 18 and 34.
While 78 percent of users are Caucasian, African American users are 35 percent
above the overall Internet average.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.