What’s in a tweet?  Prior to this exercise I was not on twitter nor did I have any idea if it possessed any real value.  Twitter conjured up images of trendy twenty-somethings speaking in babble.  So as with all other unknowns, I begin my procedure.

Step 1:  (as always) look to Wikipedia.

My assumption that twitter is babble may not be completely wrong, at least according to Wikipedia.  Pointless babble, which ironically they actually used the word ‘babble’ constitutes 40.1% of the content of tweets.

220px-Content_of_Tweets.svg

News (3.6%)

Spam (3.8%)

Self-promotion (5.9%)

Pointless babble (40.1%)

Conversational (37.6%)

Pass-along value (8.7%)

Step 2:  Poll your Face Book friends to see who uses it and why.

I had seventeen responses that day of which eleven not only do not utilized it but the majority of those have no idea how to even access it.  A few stated they held an account but they never used it for dissemination or consumption of information.   Three respondents used if for their business associations and three utilized it for news.   Of those that utilized it for news two cited it as being quick and convenient to check while the third scrutinized it’s authority, perspective and depth.  I found no one claiming it was there ‘go-to’ source for news.

Step 3:  Start a twitter account

Step 4:  Figure out who uses twitter

An article by the  Huffington Post puts twitter users into 10 different categories.  Over half of twitter users are more like twitter stalkers or twitter lampreys.  They use twitter in one direction only, consumption but not production.  Eggs, which are a quarter of the population tweet once, maybe twice but then no more.  Lurkers typically haven’t posted in the last month, but have consumed.

Step 5:  Become a Lurker

OK, step 1 is now confirmed, there is a lot of babble on twitter.  If one searches twitter using a hashtag (#) and a legitimate topic, twitter will through you a few sources.  If you utilize hashtag with any phrase that you may hear in a college dorm room or high school locker room and you could be reading for hours!   Some of what I read makes me feel like I stumbled into a diary.  This leads me to explore the types of inappropriate or bothersome tweeters.  An article from       BuzzFeed lists the 16 worst types of people on twitter.  I am most definitely #2 – People who don’t understand how to use hashtags.  I will forewarn readers that are not familiar with BuzzFeed, it is not always PC.

I did not find many of my friends on twitter but according to the Social Net Working Fact Sheet  by the Pew Research Center, although the 40-somethings hold their own in social networking statistics, it appears to be a staple for the younger generations.  Although news does not represent the largest piece of the pie for our twitter consumption, the study of what we consume is in itself news.  DMR monitors the who, what, when, where and how of twitter closely, updating its publication of 150+ Amazing Twitter Statistics on the regular basis.

-Kristine Kuhl

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