I knew I shoulda gone to Harvard Business School. An article in the Harvard Business Review concludes exactly what I have been saying to anyone who will listen to me. Twitter resembles more of a one-way broadcast medium than a social network. That’s why it’s such a favorite with PR types, because it’s much more what old school PR looks like. The only difference is that the blasts are concise, and yes, you do have to get people to follow you. But the bottom line is you can send the message you choose without building much of a relationship.
And is it me, or are the almost hourly tweets that arrive throughout the day a la Gary Vanynerchuk kind of annoying? (I finally had to turn him off.)
In the words of the study’s authors, Bill Heil and Mikolaj Piskorski, the fact that 10% of Twitter users account for 90% of the tweets, " implies that Twitter resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.” Even more damning, “A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. 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.” The ratio of Twitter tweeters to Twitter "users" is even smaller than Wikipedia contributors to users. Hmmm, can that be right?
I still think Twitter is interesting – especially in concert with Monitter – a site where you can see what others are twittering on a given topic – or two or three or four. That might be a more potent marketing tool - one which involves listening not talking.
The study also discusses the gender differences in who follows whom, but I think the real story is that Twitter is often the kind of a one-way communication that was supposed to die with the advent of social media.