Monday, October 5, 2009

Twitter - It's All About Me?

Twitter - It's All About Me?

Two Rutgers University Professors, Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase, set out to examines user behavior on social media websites such as Twitter and what they found is, well, probably not all that shocking. After looking at over 3,000 tweets from more than 350 Twitter users, it turns out, about 80 percent are what the professors now call "meformers," or people use who post updates on their everyday activities, feelings, thoughts, emotions and social lives. The other 20 percent, the "informers," are more about sharing information such as news articles and interacting with their followers. As a matter of fact, informers usually had more friends and followers than meformers. The median number for informers was 131 friends and 112 followers whereas meformers had a median of 61 friends and 43 followers.

While carefully documenting the details of their research, the professors determined that there are nine different types of Tweets: information sharing, self promotion, opinions and complaints, statements and random thoughts, me now, question to followers, presence maintenance, self-referential anecdotes, and anecdotes about others. A majority of tweets - about 41 percent - can be classified as "me now" tweets with random thoughts, and opinions and complaints coming in as the second most tweeted items.

The research doesn't portray Twitter users very positively, but most previous research done on the social medium has had the same findings, if not worse. Some studies have gone on to call Twitter users "narcissists" or claim that nearly half of all tweets are "pointless babble."

So what else did the study find? Informers usually mention other users more often by making @replies. About 25 percent of tweets come from users' mobile phones. Of those posted from phones, over half (51 percent) tend to be "me now" messages. Females were also more likely to post the "me now" messages; 45 percent of female users posted them whereas 37 percent of men did.

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