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Published on January 25th, 2012 | by Derek Overbey

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Has Communication on Twitter Gone to the Birds?

I don’t want this to be one of those nostalgic posts that remember the “good old days” on one of the more popular social networks. No, I just want to share some very unscientific findings that made me scratch my head.

See, I’ve been on Twitter for almost four years now. Not as long as some of the more pronounced early adopters, but long enough to see the changes in the social network for better or worse. Like I said earlier, this is not a post to bash on what Twitter is today, but just to bring to light what those changes are and get input from other users to see if they’re observing some of the same things.

So, to set the stage, let me tell you a little about the Twitter environment I reside in. As of this publishing, I have tweeted 25,406 times, I have 5,652 followers and I follow 607 people. And the makeup of those 607 people equate to some of the most socially savvy people in the Twitterverse.

To obtain a sample for this post, I categorized 100 tweets in my stream starting at 1:12 pm on January 23, 2012. I broke them into fairly distinct categories, but you will see that a few could have been combined (i.e., Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.). I chose to leave them as separate categories, though. The tweets broke out as follows:

Type of Tweet                                                                                                  # Tweets

Links (a tweet with a clickable link)      53
Conversation (tweets with people actually conversing)      15
Status Updates      13
Retweets      11
Foursquare Updates      4
Spotify Updates      1
Pinterest Updates      1
YouTube Links      1
Instagram Updates      1

So what are my observations from the findings? Well at least in my world, conversation has taken a back seat to sharing other pieces of content in a big way. Not to say this is a bad thing. After all, I’d be the first to admit that I source a large percentage of my content consumption via Twitter. I do, however, miss those multi-person conversations that would be moving so fast it would be hard to keep up. They were entertaining and provided different points of view on a multitude of subject matter in one easy to digest package.

But enough about my Twitter experience circa 2012, I’d love to hear your observation of today’s foremost micro blogging network! Let me know your thoughts.

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About the Author

Derek Overbey

Derek Overbey is the Senior Social Media Manager at VerticalResponse.



8 Responses to Has Communication on Twitter Gone to the Birds?

  1. Yes, I have noticed the same. Now I am more of a twitter lurker than a tweeter. Used to ‘chat’ much more than I do now.

  2. Alix Pridgen says:

    I’ve only been on Twitter for a couple of years have less than 100 followers. As a pastor I thought it would be a great way to engage people in conversation, but what I’ve found is that almost all of my followers are people I don’t know who want to sell something. The ones I follow tend to be reporters I like, or other people who are distributing up-to-the-moment information of some sort. (From a very basic user, obviously.)

  3. ines says:

    I do notice a lot of people using twitter as a place to goof off though – I have many new local users that don’t use it for business at all and have full blown conversations.
    Maybe we should be looking at our purpose for being there as well.

  4. Maria Elena says:

    I agree with you, Derek. I have been using Twitter for years and based on my observation, there are lesser conversations (interactions) as compared in the past years.

  5. Respres says:

    Derek, I might suggest that it may be the kinds of people you’re following. The “socially savvy” people you refer to include a whole bunch of people who’ve been on Twitter for a long time and are also in the social marketing space. They probably have more followers than the average Twitter user. They are “go to” people for information, opinions, etc. I know this is certainly true for me. I may do a similar study and increase the sample size, though my results may look very similar to yours… we follow a similar crowd.

  6. Ines and Jay, thanks for the feedback. I guess it’s good to know I’m not alone in my observations of Twitter.
    I wonder if this is why people that join today are finding it harder and harder to see the value in Twitter from an engagement stance. It might be just the sheer number of users or the fact (as my data might suggest) Twitter has changed from an engagement platform to a broadcast vehicle.

  7. ines says:

    Derek, I don’t think I’m your common user since I go on and off Twitter often. I do respond to “@’s” as quickly as possible but I do agree with you that the conversation has taken a back seat. I don’t know if it’s due to the increase in numbers and because it’s harder to manage the conversations, or just for lack of interest. But now I’m curious to look at my tweets and see how they have evolved.

  8. PhxREguy says:

    Your data supports my gut feel… Twitter has become more of a “sharing space” versus a “conversation space”. At least more so than it was “back in the day”.
    I’m torn on whether this is good, bad, or indifferent. I *love* Twitter as a real-time news source, and think it’s still a great place to engage and get to know people. But there is little question in my mind that engagement and “meeting place” is much more difficult to come by than it used to be…

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