Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 11:00 UK

Twitter tweets are 40% 'babble'

Screengrab of Twitter page, PA
Micro-blogging site Twitter has some high profile users

A short-term study of Twitter has found that 40% of the messages sent via it are "pointless babble."

Carried out by US market research firm Pear Analytics, the study aimed to produce a snapshot of what people do with the service.

Almost as prevalent as the babble were "conversational" tweets that used it as a surrogate instant messaging system.

The study found that only 8.7% of messages could be said to have "value" as they passed along news of interest.

Message stream

To get an idea of what Twitter was being used for, Pear Analytics dipped into the Tweet stream every 30 minutes between 11:00 and 17:00 on weekdays for a fortnight.

...a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else
Ryan Kelly, Pear Analytics

In total it grabbed 2,000 messages and then put each message it grabbed into one of six categories; news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational and those with pass-along value.

Conversational tweets were those that bounced back and forth between two users, and those dubbed "pointless babble" were of the "I'm eating a sandwich" type.

When Pear Analytics started its short-term study, it assumed that most of the tweets would be either spam or self-promotion. This belief, it said, was driven by the growing number of firms starting to use Twitter as a tool to drum up sales.

Instead, it found that 40.5% could be classified as pointless babble, 37.5% as conversational and 8.7% as having pass-along value. Self promotion and spam stood at 5.85% and 3.75% respectively.

"With the new face of Twitter, it will be interesting to see if they take a heavier role in news, or continue to be a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else," said Ryan Kelly, founder of Pear Analytics, writing about its analysis.

Pear Analytics intends to repeat its study every quarter to track trends in usage.



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