by Paul André, Michael Bernstein, and Kurt Luther
At last count, Twitter had half a billion registered users who together generate some 175 million tweets a day. New accounts are being added at a rate of 11 per second. Just how valuable are these proliferating 140-character messages?
To find out, three researchers set up a website and asked 1,443 users to rate the quality of 43,738 tweets. They then ranked a subset (4,220) in eight categories.* Their most striking finding: Only 36% of tweets were “worth reading”—a lower number than you might expect, since Twitter users choose whom to follow.
The researchers caution that their raters tended to be technology-centric and news-focused (many learned about the study from sites such as TechCrunch and CNN.com), and may not be representative of Twitter users in general. However, the ratings provide some useful tips for keeping your followers engaged: Be clear, not cryptic or insidery. Don’t overuse hashtags, and don’t retweet one-on-one conversations.
“The key is to be aware of one’s audience and how different people’s values may differ,” says Paul André, one of the researchers.
* Ranking order was actually determined by a statistical confidence test