Tell Me Again How Twitter Is a Premier Source of Breaking News?

Published on August 17, 2009
by John Paczkowski

pearanalytics_twitterAccording to a recent study by Nielsen Online, Twitter’s audience-retention rate is currently about 40 percent. Which means that about 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users end up abandoning the service after a month. Why is Twitter struggling with low retention rates? Perhaps because so many tweets are utter nonsense.

Research outfit Pear Analytics randomly sampled 2,000 tweets from the public timeline over a two-week period and categorized them as News, Spam, Self Promotion, Conversational, Pass-Along Value and Pointless Babble (click on image to enlarge).

Unsurprisingly, the largest portion, 40.55 percent, fell under Pointless Babble, which Pear Analytics loosely defines as those “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets. Conversational ranked second with 37.55 percent, and Pass-Along Value a distant third with 8.7 percent of the tweets captured. Oddly, Self Promotion and Spam ranked fairly low, with 5.85 percent and 3.75 percent of total tweets captured, respectively. Still, both were higher than News, which ranked at the very bottom, with 3.6 percent.

“We thought that both Spam and Self Promotion percentages would be much higher,” Pear noted in its study. “Also, we thought the News category would have more weight than dead last, since this seems to be contrary to Twitter’s new position of being the premier source of news and events.”

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