Well, here's a surprise. It seems 40 per cent of messages on Twitter are "pointless babble". So says US market research house Pear Analytics of San Antonio, Texas. The company came to the conclusion after it randomly sampled 2,000 messages from Twitter's public stream and found 4 in 10 messages to be gibbering twaddle and self-regarding rubbish. Martyn Warwick reports.
Pear Analytics split the Twitter messages into six categories: news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and pass-along value. Under the terms of this classification system the company discovered that out of the 2,000 messages sample 811 (or 40.55 per cent) were simply "pointless babble" along the lines of "I am eating an apple" - or worse.
Pear Analytics defines Tweets that bounce back and forth between users or those sent in a deliberate attempt to get responses as "conversational messages". In the sample 751 were so classified - that's 37.55 per cent.
Those messages that are "re-Tweeted" or are ascribed additional "pass along value" accounted for 174 out of the 2,000 messages sampled - that's 8.7 per cent.
Staightforward spam messages account for 6.64 per cent of all Twitter messages.
Self -promotion comes next. Whilst almost all Twitter messages are self-regarding (of the "look at me, look at me, I am so cool" type) many commercial companies are using the service for their own ends - basically advertising themselves and self-promoting. Of the 2,000 Twitter messages sampled by Pear Analytics 117 (or 5.85 per cent) fell into that category.
And useful Twitter stuff? There isn't much.
In the sample, Tweets from news organisations and mainstream media publications accounted for just 72 out of 2,000 messages - equal to 3.3 per cent of content.
Pear Analytics says that henceforth it will run a Twitter survey every quarter to "identify trends" and delineate "message utility".
Actually this first survey gives us a pretty clear pictureof that. Twitter is supposed to be about reactive ephemera and Pear Analytic's research confirms that the service is doing exactly what it says on the label - disseminating guff.
Look at the figures. 40.55 per cent of Twitter messages are "pointless babble". 37.55 per cent are attempts to draw-in other users to the stream of pointless babble. 6.64 per cent is spam, 5.85 per cent is narcissistic self-promtion by individuals and companies. Thus, some 88 per cent of all tweets are rubbish in one form or another. Just 12 per cent (8.7 per cent with "pass along value" and 3.3 per cent having genuine news content) have any practical utility.
So, what does the survey show us? That most indulging in the Twitter habit are talking rubbish. That's their prerogative. After all much the same is true of Instant messaging, emails and phone calls. It's called "being human". Twitter reflects that.
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