No surprise here–most of Twitter is “pointless babble”

August 17, 2009

Even while Twitter among professional communicators such as those in government is all the talk and concern, I believe that it is already on its way down after a meteoric rise in attention and focus. I predicted, to the surprise of some, that it would die, but that the function of instant updating would become ubiquitous. But why would Twitter die just when so many are finding it useful for critical communication? Because so many are finding it even more useful for disgusting, pointless, banal and completely non-critical communication. This BBC report shows exactly why. Quoting a Pear Analysis study it shows that only 8.7% of the content on Twitter has any “pass-along” value. Most of it (40%) is pointless babble–essentially meaningless conversations between individuals or small groups. Hey, don’t blame Twitter. that’s exactly what it was intended for. Remember, the whole point of Twitter was to answer the question: What are you doing now? No wonder people use it to talk about the coffee drink they are enjoying or other significant events in their lives.

As some conversations with government communicators suggested, Twitter has become very important to them as “listening posts.” An almost inconceivably powerful way to listen in on conversations about your agency or company. But that has its own problems as we will explore here soon. The point here is that Twitter is being buried alive in its own success, but that the functions it provides of listening, communicating and conversing are increasingly important today–even as they find new channels to make these things possible.

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