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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Comments (4)
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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!


  • 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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