Twitter used for ‘pointless babble’ shock

A recent study on what social networking platform Twitter is really used for has discovered that it’s not the marketer’s dream many think it to be. In truth, the research suggests, it’s really just used to spout senseless babble.

US-based marketing intelligence firm, Pear Analytics, carried out a two-week study of random tweets taken every 30 minutes over the working day, placing each tweet in one of six categories.

Out of the 2000 tweets sampled, it is perhaps no surprise that 40.55 per cent fell into the ‘pointless babble’ category, which Pear describes as the “I am eating a sandwich,” type of tweet.

Interestingly though, ‘conversational’ tweets, as in those that have some value, like instant messages, came a close second with 37.55 per cent of the total. Pear anticipates that these two top categories would likely keep trading places on a longer timeline, and eventually even out.

The third biggest category, ‘pass along value’, which includes content that is re-tweeted (RT) trails someway behind, with only 8.7 per cent of the total. ‘Self promotion’ – typical corporate or marketing tweets only accounted for 5.85 per cent, followed by spam tweets with 3.75 per cent. Surprisingly, Twitterers which use the service to post news [such as] only accounted for 3.6 per cent of total tweets.

The Pear study makes some interesting discoveries and the company makes reference to a recent data visualisation by tech blog Gizmodo, which considers what the Twitter community would look like if it was only 100 people strong. There would be about 20 dead accounts, and about 50 people who only tweeted every other week. Only five users would have the full complement of 100 followers and five ‘loudmouths’ would account for 75 per cent of all traffic.

What Pear is saying is, “let’s not get too excited.” Not yet anyway, as the research firm anticipates that Twitter’s usage patterns will change and evolve over time. Pear notes that that Twitter recently revamped its homepage, moving away from “What are you doing now?” to “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”. Does that mean that Twitter is trying to become a real time news source? Apparently that’s where all the action is.

After failing in it’s attempts to buy Twitter last year, social network giant Facebook recently snapped up FriendFeed for an undisclosed sum. FriendFeed is a small but innovative Californian startup that allows dynamic content and information sharing between users. It is probably best known for its real time search capabilities, which rival those of Twitter.

FriendFeed has some pedigree – its four founding members are all ex-Google employees that had a hand in the creation and development of GMail and Google Maps.


  1. Avatar Andrew 18/08/2009 @ 1:23 pm

    Why is this even news? I have read about this on several news site today. This has been known for a LONG time, and does not affect the enormous potential of “Twitter like communications”. Within the research community this is really really old news, but Twitter has been hyped out of proportion by tech media.

  2. Avatar abc 18/08/2009 @ 1:26 pm

    “it’s really just used to spout senseless babble.”

    ..Isn´t that what the consumer is about.

    “I am eating a sandwich,” That is good information for Starbucks or Subway et al…

  3. Avatar robo 19/08/2009 @ 5:18 am

    so Pear Analytics – what spying techniques you use to obtain that data? legal? or illegal? did the users you sampled know you read their babble ?

    • Avatar Sarah 21/08/2009 @ 9:26 pm

      If you had read the actual white paper, you’d see it came from the public timeline.
      Nothing illegal about it.
      Anything posted on Twitter is NOT private…

  4. Avatar Randle Stonier 19/08/2009 @ 3:19 pm

    Pear are tilting at PR opportunities and highlighting their lack of understanding of Twitter as a medium for micro networks of like minded users and followers to exchange knowledge and ideas. If you “friends” primarily produce inane babble, who picked them as a friend, Pear Analytics?

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