A US research firm has confirmed what most of us probably already know – the majority of tweets on Twitter are simply "mindless babble".
Conducting a survey of 2 000 tweets in English in the US from 11:00am to 5:00pm on a half-hourly basis over a two-week period, San Antonio-based Pear Analytics categorised them into six "buckets" – news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and pass-along value.
Pointless babble, it emerges, was dominant with 40,55% of the total tweets captured, followed by converstional with 37,55% and pass-along value a distant third with 8,7%.
On his blog at Pear Analytics, owner and chief analyst Ryan Kelly says that an office debate had led to the survey.
"A while back we embarked on a study that evolved after a having a debate in the office as to how people are using and consuming Twitter," Kelly says. "Some felt it was their source of news and articles, others felt it was just a bunch of self-promotion with very few folks actually paying attention. But mostly, many people still perceive Twitter as just mindless babble of people telling you what they are doing minute-by-minute; as if you care they are eating a sandwich at the moment."
Kelly says that there were some other interesting results from the survey, including:
* 11:30am and Monday’s have the most frequent tweets with Pass-Along Value. "If you want something re-tweeted, try it at 11:30 in the morning, or try it on a Monday," Kelly says. "Maybe folks are feeling generous then."
* "Spam seemed pretty consistent all day, everyday, but luckily was second-to-last on frequency," he says.
* News seemed heavier at 2:00pm and on Tuesday’s. "Note that we did not collect any tweets during the Michael Jackson news, in order not to skew the results," Kelly adds.
* Conversational tweets were high between 2:00pm and 4:00pm throughout the study, and heaviest on Tuesdays. "Most people are busy on Monday catching up with work, so perhaps it takes until Tuesday to get into the swing of Twittering again," Kelly says.
In conclusion, Kelly says: "With the new face of Twitter, it will be interesting to see if they take a heavier role in news, or continue to be a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else. We will be conducting this same study every quarter to identify other trends in usage."