So we all know Twitter is portrayed as a lifecasting app–a tool to let users share data on their day-to-day activities and feelings. New research has confirmed this unequivocally, but also reveals that 20% of Tweeps are “useful info” broadcasters.
The data comes from a study by social media researchers at Rutgers University, where random Tweets from 350 random Tweeps were analyzed for content. The analysis placed each Twitterer into a group of similar people–“information sharing” types or those concerned with “self-promotion” or “random thoughts.”
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that 80% of Twitter users surveyed fell into the “meformers” (me-informers) category, which means they broadcast mainly trivial information about themselves. It’s pretty much what Twitter was designed for anyway, and is exactly how status updates on rival social net Facebook are framed. There’s no shame in this though, according to the research team. Though some may think this behavior is “self-indulgent, these messages may play an important role in helping users maintain relationships with strong and weak ties,” say the authors of the study. In other words, much like befriending someone on Facebook, narcissistic Tweets are just another new social communication tool that lets people remain in touch as friends–on whatever level of friendliness you define. More women than men make this kind of Tweet (45% versus 37%) and when people Tweeted from a smartphone, 51% of messages were of the me-Tweet kind, versus 37% from desktop apps.
Interestingly 20% of Twitterers were categorized as “informers” by the study–people who are a useful source of information. They tend to embed links to news articles or other Web publications in their Tweets, and mention other Twitterers more often–via @username links.
The research will continue, with the team looking into the psychology behind these stats, and on whether the informer Tweeps keep their followers for longer periods of time. But it will already have deep implications for those who use Twitter for market research or product PR–despite Twitter’s non-advertising stance. These demographic stats will undoubtedly play into people’s plans to leverage Twitter for promotion: For example, it seems that although women tend to be the ones with the biggest purchasing power, targeted Twitter product ads are probably better off aimed at men–since this group is more likely to Re-Tweet the information.
[via The Wall Street Journal]