Twitter’s World: Click … or Clique?

Twitter traffic:  dominateed by a tiny fraction of users.
Half of all tweets are generated by fewer than one-half of one percent of Twitter accounts.
What’s happening these days with Twitter? The micro-blogging service continues to light up the newswires every time there’s a civil disturbance in a foreign land, because of how easily and effectively it facilitates planning and interaction among the dissidents.

But what we’re also finding out is that Twitter is overwhelmingly dominated by just a small fraction of its users.

In fact, Cornell University and Yahoo recently published results of an evaluation of ~260 million tweets during 2009 and 2010, which found that ~50% of the tweets were generated by just 20,000 Twitter users.

That is right: Fewer than one half of one percent of Twitter’s user base accounts for fully half of all tweet activity.

Just who makes up this “rarified realm” of elite users? It turns out that they fall into four major groups:

 Media properties (e.g., CNN, New York Times)
 Celebrities (e.g., Ashton Kutcher … Lady Gaga)
 Business organizations (e.g., Starbucks)
 Blogs

Even more interestingly, these “elite” users aren’t interfacing with the rest of us “regular Twitter folk” as much as they are simply following each other: Celebs follow celebs … media companies follow other media companies … bloggers follow other blogs.

The Cornell/Yahoo research report, titled Who Says What to Whom on Twitter, can be found here.

But one wonders if the report should be retitled Much Ado About Nothing?

5 thoughts on “Twitter’s World: Click … or Clique?

  1. Yes, Twitter’s “breaking news” feed is definitely one of the “media properties” that make up the “Twitter elite.” How often do they post tweets … once every 10 seconds or so?

  2. I follow individuals who have interesting things to say — using a client that filters out re-tweets. (If I wanted to read the thing that’s being re-tweeted, I’d follow the source myself!)

    These include a freelance technology editor/writer from Phoenix, a British woman who races Indy cars, a retired Hall of Fame golfer, an opinionated TV pundit, the Poynter Institute, the IRS, a researcher known as the “Wrongologist,” a freelance writer from Baltimore… just individual people who have useful, interesting things to say.

    I use it for a very narrow purpose: broadcasting the results of bowling tournaments I compete in.

    What I don’t get — and it’s been going on ever since Twitter was born — is the incessant bashing, by people who probably don’t even use it. No, it is not just narcissistic people reporting what they had for breakfast — time to let go of that cliche and get some new column ideas.

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