Harvard Studies Twitter

The folks who publish the Harvard Business Review have conducted a study of Twitter, surveying 300,000 Twitter users in May 2009 to see how people are using the service. And here are the top level findings:

  • "Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women." 
  • "An average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman. Similarly, an average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman. Finally, an average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman."
  • "Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days."
  • And finally, "the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets."

The numbers suggest that Twitter is not sticking that well. People sign up and then most leave. That's too bad. But it doesn't negate the fact that Twitter has been a very useful tool for Open Culture. As we've written here before, Twitter has put a human face on our audience and allowed us to get to know you much better. Meanwhile, we can't say the same about Facebook (although we're not knocking it.) What's your experience with Twitter?  (PS You can find us on Twitter @openculture).


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  • I’m guessing that most people who sign up are the recent “I saw it on Oprah/CNN” crowd. As an avid “twitterer”, I find it quiet useful in my work (I’m a journalist) and amongst my friends.

  • Frederick says:

    I’m also a journalist. Tried Twitter several months ago and found it distracting, disjointed and not at all useful. Tried again a month or so ago (having read the kudos online regarding its usefulness for journalists) and had the same reaction. I prefer RSS for news.

  • Chris Allen says:

    I may be missing the point with Twitter, but I am one of those who signed up and then left it alone really, since as far as I can tell, it is very similar to a ‘facebook status’ without any real reason to ever update it. I acknowledge that it may be more useful if a lot of your friends are on there (as is also the case with facebook), yet I still fail to really see the point. At least facebook has other points of interest (photographs, events etc) which twitter just doesn’t have. Also, Twitter seems to almost demand a high level of activity from people in order to be useful, whereas sites like facebook are admittedly more static yet provide more reason to log in at any given point.

    Just my off the cuff thoughts!

    Chris

  • Eleena says:

    Hi Dan,
    Six months ago I was a Twitter skeptic and now I’m a Twitter evangelist.

    For people who are already spending a huge amount of time online (either for work or for personal reasons) and want to connect with other people with similar interests, I think Twitter is great. It’s also an excellent way for companies to communicate and interact with their customers.

    But for anyone who doesn’t fit into either one of those categories, Twitter is probably not right for them. If you don’t have time to devote at least a couple hours a week to tweeting and interacting with other folks on Twitter, just stick to email.

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