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Quote of the Day

"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson



Twitter Study Examines Twitterers' Attitudes, Perceptions, Motivations

(May 4, 2009)
 

Why do people use Twitter? How do its users feel about common practices there? What are their beliefs about Twitter itself, and how do they view their experiences? In a recent survey on Twitter, we started to uncover some answers.

Here are a few highlights of a survey of 425 Twitter users, who spend an average of 2 hours per day on Twitter--and two-thirds of whom consider themselves early adopters of technology.

Motivations: Why Do People Use Twitter?
    I find it exciting to learn new things from people
    I value getting information in a timely manner
    I like to be connected to lots of people
    I want to generate new business
    I find it gratifying to have people follow me
    you should follow people who follow you
    people you follow should follow you back.
    People who have a large number of followers are more respected than those who don't
    People who have a large number of followers are smarter than those who don't
    I feel bad when I tweet something and nobody responds
People likely use Twitter for all sorts of reasons, and we were interested in knowing what those reasons are. We divided the possibilities into categories such as economic, learning, connection, etc. and asked questions accordingly.

The following are the response averages to those questions (on a 1-5 scale, with 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree):
    "I find it exciting to learn new things from people": 4.65
    "I value getting information in a timely manner": 4.58 "I like to be connected to lots of people": 3.91 "I want to generate new business": 3.70 "I find it gratifying to have people follow me": 3.64
Whereas Twitter may be used as just another lead-gen tool (new business), or purely for ego reasons (gratifying to have people following them) or social interaction, the findings suggest that what truly motivates Twitter users is learning new things and getting information in a timely manner.

Following and Being Followed

The survey asked to what extent respondents agreed with two statements: "you should follow people who follow you"; and "people you follow should follow you back."

The mean of responses for both questions was the same: 2.74(same 1-5 scale).

In the case of both questions, only about 16-17% of Twitter users have strong feelings--one way or the other ("strongly agree" or "strongly disagree")--about the etiquette of following.

The remainder are roughly equally divided among "neither agree or disagree," "mildly agree," and "mildly disagree."

What Does It Mean to Have Large Numbers of Followers?

One of the most-publicized aspects of Twitter is the number of followers a person has. Some people are near-obsessed with those numbers. So what does the survey sample reveal? Do they believe the follower number conveys something important? Or is it really just about notoriety and celebrity?

Most likely the latter, according to the survey. Respondents were asked to note their level of agreement with following two statements:

1. "People who have a large number of followers are more respected than those who don't" (response mean: 2.80 on same 1-5 scale).

Nearly 40% of the survey sample agreed with the statement--most of them "mildly agree" (34%). The remaining 60% are roughly equally divided among "neither agree nor disagree," "mildly disagree," and "strongly disagree."

2. "People who have a large number of followers are smarter than those who don't" (response mean 1.67 on same 1-5 scale).

Respondents' opinions were much more defined in this case, with nearly 82% expressing disagreement (57% "strongly") with the notion that those with larger numbers of followers are "smarter."

In short, Twitter users do see respect associated with higher follower numbers, but little association with intelligence.

Bruised Egos if Tweets Unanswered?

With the rapid pace of Twittering and the motivation to engage in the ongoing conversation, we thought perhaps people would have a strong emotional response to not being heard. That might occur, for example, when someone offers a comment or observation and nobody responds. It would like being at a large party (the analogy often used for a Twitter conversation) and essentially ending up talking to yourself.

Do people feel bad when that happens? Apparently not.

The survey asked how strongly the Twitter users agreed with the statement "I feel bad when I tweet something and nobody responds":

The average response (2.41) implies people aren't too troubled by a lack of response.

Less than 2% said they strongly agree with the statement, whereas those who strongly disagreed constituted a plurality (nearly 32%).

The remaining two-thirds were roughly equally divided among "mildly disagree," "neither agree nor disagree," and "mildly agree."

About the Study:
In early and mid-April, MarketingProfs surveyed 425 Twitter users by posting a few tweets and asking for participation. The sample consisted of a broad cross-section of users, mainly interested in marketing and social media. Two-thirds of them consider themselves early adopters of technology. For more MarketingProfs research, visit http://www.marketingprofs.com/marketing/research

About MarketingProfs:
MarketingProfs (http://www.marketingprofs.com/) is a trusted resource that offers useful, practical know-how and information to help businesses market their products and services. Entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and marketers in the world's largest corporations are among its 320,000 members. The MarketingProfs Web site offers access to newsletters, conferences, seminars, research, forums, and marketing tools that help practitioners navigate their way to success, no matter how choppy the marketing waters might be.

Colleen Gildea
colleen@interbiznet.com

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