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June 2009
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Twitter’s limitations shown by Harvard study

Eager to cut through the hype engulfing Twitter, some Tefal heads at Harvard Business School have done somerather clever  research into how the microblogging tool is actually used. First of all, despite what you may have heard, it turns out that Twitter is not the most important invention since fire and, surprisingly, will not bring about universal happiness and peace among all the peoples of the Earth.
The research found that most people using Twitter follow others. It also found that
  • The top 10% of users account for 90% of Tweets (as opposed to most social networks where the top 10% account for 30% of content)
  • 50% of users update their feeds less than once every 74 days
  • Most users make one Tweet and then leave (mind you , on average 60-80% of blogs are abandoned after one month and blogging remains a powerful phenomenon
Sounds pretty damning, doesn’t it? But it depends what you are expecting from Twitter. As a two-way mass communication tool it fails but, in marketing and content-distribution terms, Twitter is incredibly valuable. It’s huge: visitors to twitter.com grew 1,200% from Feb 2008 to Feb 2009 and Twitter has become the third largest social networking site in the US. Where Twitter excels is in narrowcasting relevant information to users who have expressed an interest in your content. It’s not a mass communication tool but a way of connecting to specific interest groups.  And targeted content is the Holy Grail of online communication.
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