5 ways Twitter changed how we communicate: 1: Made a fast flow of information faster. 2:Removed the celebrity filter 3: Created “thought leaders” 4: Strengthened the “second screen” 5: (Over)simplified the conversation via CNN.com.
This leaves me wondering who the “we” they refer to really is. As we celebrate Twitter’s 5th birthday, and I approach my fourth year on the service, it’s time to start asking the hard questions. And the hard questions start with a closer look at some numbers.
Twitter is trotting out the 200 million user number today. That’s a big number. And I believe it’s a real number. But here are a few more numbers about who tweets from the Pew Research Center that we should be considering as well.
- 72% of Twitter users in our sample say that they post updates related to their personal life, activities or interests. A total of one-in-five Twitter users (19%) say they post personal updates once a day or more.
- 55% of these Twitter users share links to news stories. But only one in ten (12%) do this at least once a day.
- 53% of these Twitter users use Twitter to retweet material posted by others, with 18% doing so on a daily basis.
- 28% use Twitter to share videos with others. Fewer than one-in-ten Twitter users (8%) do this once a day or more.
- 24% use the service to tweet their location, with 7% of users doing so on a daily basis.
The vast, vast majority of users, upwards of 80% are not posting anything to Twitter on a daily basis. What’s more is that they’re not lurking either. Only 50% of Twitter users look at other peoples information on a consistent basis. 21% NEVER check for information posted by other people. That’s a lot of monologue going on. Is this how Twitter has changed how we communicate?
Those numbers help solidify the value of listening as strategy, especially listening to help. Consider this, “The majority of Twitter users, the 59% with less than 100 followers, rarely ask questions because they only receive answers about 8% of the time,” says Joe Fahrner, Co-Founder and CEO of inboxQ. “Given that most Twitter users don’t get answers most of the time, there is a massive opportunity for those who are listening to engage and unexpectedly delight potential customers who otherwise would not receive responses to their questions. There is no better engagement opportunity for your business on Twitter than if an individual expresses a need or issue for which your product, service or general knowledge is the solution.”
The numbers collected by the folks at inboxQ are damning. “What we’ve learned is that there is a direct correlation between the number of followers that a Twitter user has and how likely they are to ask questions or receive answers,” adds Farhner. “The top 6% of Twitter users (those with more than 1000 followers) ask a disproportionately large number of questions because they get answers more than half the time.”
Has Twitter really changed the how we communicate? Not in regards to listening. Most of us aren’t good listeners offline and it appears we’re bringing our bad habits online.