Pear Analytics recently did a study on how people are using and consuming Twitter. The study took 2,000 random tweets from the public timeline in English and in the U.S. over a period of 2 weeks, from 11:00a to 5:00p (CST) and was posted by Ryan Kelly. While I applaud the effort and think they are on the right track on providing a super-value added study to the public and marketers, I wouldn’t call this a conclusive study. Ryan mentioned that they will update it regularly so that’s a good thing.
Here are the results of the study with the categories defined by Pear Analytics:
- Pointless babble 40.55%
- Conversational 37.55%
- Pass along value 8.70%
- Self promotion 5.85%
- Spam 3.75%
- News 3.60%
You can read about the details of the study yourself (link at end of this post.) Some of the most surprising results are the following:
- Self promotion and spam are not as prominent as many have complained about.
- News represents a very small amount of activities, despite recent media buzz.
So it looks like issues that affect many people (like the Iran election and spams) that receive huge news coverage also tend to pump up public impressions about Twitter and exaggerate their real impacts. The real numbers seem to show that these are not much of a problem; you just think they’re big problems because they’re constantly in your face or they annoy you a lot. With more refinement (such as extended time of day included in the study) we may see an increase in these numbers.
I look at this study as work in progress with better updates to be expected. Here are a few issues I see that should be resolved to improve the study value in the future:
- Pointless babble is not necessarily a negative thing as its name may suggest. This category needs more refinements as this big group represents many important pieces of information, both to consumers and marketers. For the consumers and individuals, it is exactly the social aspect of social networking, and people will continue to socialize the way they want to. All you can do accept it and understand it, not control or eliminate it. And this social spaces and activities are exactly where marketers need to be to understand consumer behaviors.
- The time periods of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm CST is too limited to really understand Twitter users in the U.S. It’s only 6 hours of each of the time zones. At a minimum I think the study should begin at 6:00 am to midnight for each time zone. As it is, it merely tracks only the lunch to early evening hours of east coast time (noon to 6:00 pm, entirely missing 12 hours of east coast tweets,) and includes only the mid morning to mid-afternoon hours of west coast time (9:00 am to 3:00 pm, again entirely missing 12 hours of west coast tweets in the morning, late afternoon and evenings.)
See the original Pear Analytics post on “Twitter Study Reveals Interesting Results About Usage.”
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