Twitter mostly 'pointless babble' says study

LONDON - Nearly half of all tweets are "pointless babble", or the "I am eating a sandwich now" messages, according to a new study looking into how people use Twitter.

Market research firm Pear Analytics set out to answer some questions about Twitter -- particularly, should marketers try to "figure out" how to converse with potential customers, or is Twitter meant to be a place to share comments and photos with friends, rather than a place to promote brands.

Tweets were studied for two weeks and categorized into six areas: news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and pass-along value.

More than 40% of tweets were found to be pointless babble, followed closely by conversational tweets at 37%.

Pass-along value, or re-tweets, accounted for 8.7% of the total, a distant third.

Self-promotion tweets, typical corporate tweets about products, services, or "Twitter only" promos were fourth on the list at 5.85%. Spam and news, rounded out the bottom at about 3% each.

The study said: "The results were interesting, and not in the order that we anticipated. For instance, we thought that both spam and self-promotion percentages would be much higher.

"What's also interesting is that pass-along value ranks 3rd in usage, albeit a far distance from the number one or two usage categories.

"Also, we thought the news category would have more weight than dead last, since this seems to be contrary to Twitter's new position of being the premier source of news and events.

"Self-promotion was also less than expected at 5.85% of all tweets. This may be enlightening to some folk, as there appears to be a flurry of companies and businesses joining Twitter to promote products and services."

The study also found that 11:30am and Mondays have the most frequent tweets with pass-along value. 

Spam is consistent all day, everyday, but was second-to-last on frequency.

News is heavier at 2pm and on Tuesdays.

Conversational tweets were high between 2pm and 4pm throughout the study, and heaviest on Tuesdays.

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