When Twitter seemed to explode on the scene a year ago, I took a look, just to see what all the hype was about. After a few days, I thought to myself, "Either it's a wasteland of inane chatter, or maybe I just don't get it."
A few months later, after seeing several of my blogging friends spending less time blogging and more time on Twitter, I figured I ought to give it another try. Some bloggers who I follow and respect were all but calling Twitter the next best thing since sliced bread... or since, well, blogging.
I started following a bunch of people,including some journalists I know or would like to know. I installed Tweetdeck on my computers. I updated my Twitter profile. I was ready to go.
What happened? Even more inane chatter, except now from even more sources. Some of the journalists I decided to follow, hoping to perhaps get insight into stories they're working on or info they'd like to receive from a p.r. person, seemed to be writing more about what bar or restaurant they're at or what they had for dessert. And some of my blogger friends, who write with insight about marketing and social media issues, are tweeting about movies they saw or providing a running dialogue (or monologue) on what they're watching on TV. at the moment.
I'm not saying Twitter is bad or a waste. It doesn't do much for me, personally or businesswise...at least at the moment. I still check Twitter a couple of times a day. Tweets have pointed me to some interesting posts and articles. But I have to wade through so much chatter to find the good stuff. There's just not enough time. I complained about it to one friend, who simply told me to unfollow them if I didn't like the chatter.
A study ,mentioned in this week's Mediaweek, said 58% of Twitter account holders rarely or never send or receive tweets. Twenty percent do several times a month; 11 percent several times a week, seven percent every day or nearly every day, and only two percent are doing it several times a day. Those are the people with thousands of tweets logged and often thousands of followers. That two percent may be the ones jamming Tweetdom with so much clutter.
So I feel a bit redeemed when I read results of a study that found more than 40% of Twitter tweets are "babble." (Not my word. That's how it was reported online by BBC News.)
Market research firm Pear Analytics looked at the Twitter stream every 30 minutes for six hours a day over the course of a week. They took 2,000 messages at random and categorized them into six groups:
Messages having pass-along value
Pointless babble took first place, accounting for 40.5% of the messages analyzed. Conversational accounted for 37.5%. Those with pass-along value were 8.7%. Self-promotion and spam were 5.9 and 3.8 percent respectively.
Ryan Kelly, founder of Pear Analytics, was quoted saying, "It will be interesting to see if Twitter takes a heavier role in news, or (will it) continue to be a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else."
I hope it will change over time. More marketers are experimenting with Twitter, and I know there are some serious and helpful dialogues going on. It just seems, now at least, that they're few and far between.
In the meanwhile, I'll keep trying. And I'll probably keep complaining, too. So bear with me, you heavy tweeters.