Twitter usage: fact me


Whenever I see research from WARC I always break out into song – in this instance Run DMC’s “Warc this way…“!

Ahem… anyway… here’s something that’s been on my mind.

I’ve often looked on Twitter as a different type of social network. In fact I wouldn’t actually call it a social network. To me it is relly just a tool. Yes it is where people hang out but it’s not really a destination is it? It’s more of a tool, a vehicle or vessel for the transfer of information that is stored elsewhere (heads and URLs).

Time Magazine had a really good stab at explaining what Twitter is for mass consumption here, and a recent post by John Batelle picked the choicest words from the article (written by Steven Johnson):

Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos — anything that lives behind a URL. Websites that once saw their traffic dominated by Google search queries are seeing a growing number of new visitors coming from “passed links” at social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is what the naysayers fail to understand: it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.

Put those three elements together — social networks, live searching and link-sharing — and you have a cocktail that poses what may amount to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching. At its heart, Google’s system is built around the slow, anonymous accumulation of authority: pages rise to the top of Google’s search results according to, in part, how many links point to them, which tends to favor older pages that have had time to build an audience. That’s a fantastic solution for finding high-quality needles in the immense, spam-plagued haystack that is the contemporary Web. But it’s not a particularly useful solution for finding out what people are saying right now, the in-the-moment conversation that industry pioneer John Battelle calls the “super fresh” Web.

This ain’t no revelation to me and is backed up by some good statistics this morning from WARC :

Usage patterns on Twitter, the microblogging website, are “very different from a typical online social network”, as the average member “very rarely” contributes, meaning 10% of people are responsible for 90% of all “tweets”, a study in theHarvard Business Review argues.

Read the whole article here: Twitter “different” from other social nets

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