How Twitter is changing - A new Study reveals new direction

Document Sample
How Twitter is changing - A new Study reveals new direction Powered By Docstoc
					How Twitter is Changing: A new study reveals
Twitter’s new direction
By Brian Solis, blogger at and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the highly
acclaimed book on social business Engage!

2010 will be forever commemorated as the year Twitter matured from a cool but undecided teenager
into a more confident and assertive young adult. While there’s still much room to mature and
develop, Twitter’s new direction is crystallizing. With a new look, Dick Costolo as the new CEO, and
an oversold newadvertising platform, Twitter is growing into something not yet fully identifiable, but
formidable nonetheless.

At a minimum, Twitter is an extension of each one of us. It feeds our senses and amplifies our voice.
We’re connecting to one another through shared experiences creating a hybrid social network and
information exchange tied by emotion and interest. While Twitter provides the technology foundation,
it is we who make Twitter so unique and consequential by simply being human and sharing what we
see, feel, and think – in Twitter time. It’s both a gift and a harbinger of enlightenment. As new media
philosopher, and good friend,Stowe Boyd once said, “It’s our dancing that makes the house rock, not
the planks and pipes. It is us that makes Twitter alive, not the code.”

Combining our senses with digital inner monologue is something that we must learn to use wisely .
While we may have freedom of Tweet, we are also witnessing that in some cases, common sense is
not so common after all.

As there are multiple sides to every story, in this case, Twitter, its users, and the sentiment in
between, let’s look at the opposite end of the stream for a moment. Twitter isn’t the only character in
this tale to have matured. You, me, and the other 150 million Twitter denizens also changed over the
last year. Social media monitoring service Sysomos released new data that highlights just how far
we have come between 2009 to 2010.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Let’s start with the population of Twitter. Twitter reportedly attracted more than 100 million users in
2010. While it’s not quite the size of Facebook, which currently serves as the digital residence of 550
million, its impact on media, culture and society is profound.

Social Biography

As Twitter is an extension of your digital identity, users are finding comfort in sharing more about
who they are. In 2010, 69 percent shared a bio which is more than double of those who did so in

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Bios are only one part of establishing a digital identity. Whereas with instant messaging services of
old, with Twitter, we are encouraged to share our name rather than an alias. The jump here is also
profound. 73 percent provide a detailed name or descriptor. Last year, only 33% were as revealing.
This is part of the transition from Twitter as a micromessaging or microblogging network to a more
personal extension of who we are.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Where in the world are we? On Twitter, 82 percent want you to know. In 2009 however, the number
of those who shared their location was only half the size.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
If Google “was” the resume of the individual in 2008 and 2009, perhaps Twitter, and also Facebook,
are presenting us with a more favorable opportunity to design our online persona. Now 45 percent,
up from 22 percent, share a URL in their Twitter profile.

As we can see, privacy is something that’s discussed on the “other” networks…not just Twitter.
Here, its natives live in public and do so willingly.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Who are These Tweeple Anyway?

We are what we say. How we describe ourselves says much more about the greater community as
well. Twitter’s citizens are expressive, combining emotion and fact as their verbal self portraits. Love.
Life. World. Friends. Family.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
In 2010, Twitter realized its greatest velocity of growth in its short four-year history. In just one year,
44% of its total population moved in to the micro utopia in the hopes of finding and sharing
something missing elsewhere online and IRL.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Who you follow says a lot about us. While many use the follow as a strategy to boost follow-backs,
following the right people is also where we can fine tune the signal versus noise in our social stream.
As we can see, only .05 percent of the total Twitterverse have more than 10,000 friends and only
2.05 percent connect to more than 1,000. The majority of Tweeps, 95.8 percent, maintain a network
of less than 500 friends.

On Twitter, one of the most popular discussions is popularity versus influence. No, influence is not
popularity and popularity is not influence. But that doesn’t mean that earning a vast network of
followers isn’t a remarkable achievement in and of itself. Only .06 percent of micro socialites on
Twitter boast more than 20,000 followers. Again, the trend continues across the network. Still only
2.12 percent have more than 1,000 followers. This leaves the greater population to connect
everyone else with 95.9 percent maintaining less than 500 followers. For those who pay attention to
influence however, influence is measured by the quality and resonance of a network, not its size.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
I always find it so fascinating when the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule,
continues to prove itself over and over again. In Twitter’s egosystem, Of all Twitter users, 22.5
percent post 90 percent of Tweets.

.18 percent have published more than 25,000 Tweets. 2.7 percent have Tweeted more than 5,000
times. Just over 80 percent have either a bit of stage fright or they’re still finding their voice, with only
sub 500 Tweets to their avatars to date. After almost four years on the service, I’ve published just
over 9,000.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
To this day, the friend to follower ratio continues to serve as an important benchmark. I think this is a
dying stat as it only encourages us to dilute our streams with updates that don’t improve our Twitter
experience. In 2011 and 2012, we will focus on ridding ourselves of the information overload that
buried us in email and social networks in the past, concentrating on substance over numbers.

According to Sysomos, the follower-friend ratio is even until users reach about 1,050 followers. After,
the numbers skew greater towards followers. The trend continues as followers outpace friends. For
example, someone with 5,000 followers usually averages 3,700 friends. As we approach 10,000
followers though, the ratio balances again. Sysomos found that someone with 10,000 followers will
most likely maintain an average of 9,600 friends.

Twitter continues to change how we discover, communicate, and share. Each time we do, we reveal
a bit more about who we are and what moves us. As we embrace the new year, Twitter’s numbers
will expand, but I believe the nature of the service and also how we use it will change significantly.

What do you think? Is this you?

UPDATE: To balance this post a bit, I ran traffic numbers for using Compete and I found
something worthy of sharing. It appears that visits to in the U.S. is receding. Between
July and October 2010, visits have gradually diminished from a high of roughly 29 million down to 26
million – close to the ~24 million closing out 2009. While many users access Twitter via third-party
apps, traffic to the dotcom is a good indicator for potential growth. I should point out however, that
globally, earned just over 100 million visitors in October, up 79 percent from 2009.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
studied and influenced the effects of emerging media in business, culture and the
convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of
FutureWorks, an award-winning business management and New Media consultancy in
San Francisco and has led change management and social programs for Fortune 500
companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. is ranked among
the top of world's leading business and marketing websites.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
Subscribe to the RSS Feed

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis