Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Twitter – not a social, but a broadcasting network

A group of Korean researchers studied Twitter and concluded that it's not a social network, as it resembles more the broadcasting model. This has obvious implication for your marketing efforts.

failwhale catching twitter birds If you noticed that most twitizens follow just a bunch of famous names they recognize and seldom are they interested in interactions with others, well, now there’s a study you can quote. ReadWrite provides an excellent summary:

After analyzing over 41 million user profiles and 1.47 billion follower/following relationships, the researchers concluded that only 22% of all connections on Twitter are reciprocal. On Flickr, this number is closer to 68% and on Yahoo 360 it's 84%. The large majority (78%) of connections between users on Twitter are one-way relationships.

What's even more interesting than the small number of user pairs is that 68% of all Twitter users aren't followed by a single person they are following. As the researchers rightly note, this makes Twitter more like a broadcast medium than a social network.

Given that Twitter was set up for these kinds of non-reciprocal follower/following relationships, it doesn't come as a surprise that many users would use Twitter to follow breaking news channels and celebrities. The fact that almost 80% of these relationships are one-way relationships, however, does come as a surprise and hints at how Twitter's mainstream users use the service more as a news medium than as a social network.

So if you’re trying to build a community on twitter, you can easily see why that’s hard and discouraging. To the rescue comes Chris Brogan, a marketing guru who tells us that he himself is not much of an innovator, but that’s not bringing him down. Neither should it bring YOU down, insofar as you have a vision you are following.

In other words, if you’re feeling down & lost, ritualize. Just don’t get bogged down in grammar and keep trying to see the forest, not the trees. Here’s how Seth Godin (another marketing God/uru) puts it:

Four people tell you that there was a typo on the third slide in your presentation. A generous and useful editor (hard to call them a consultant), though, points out that you shouldn't be doing presentations at all, and your time would be better spent meeting in small groups with your best clients.

Then again, not too many forests left with all this deforestation going on..

Sources / More info: photo-flickr, rw-study, study @ Korea's Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Haewoon Kwak @ slideshare, seth-grammar, brogan-pep-talk, adage

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