Though recent media accounts suggest that some Twitter users have jumped on the microblogging bandwagon to make friends, find new-business leads or feed their egos by racking up high numbers of followers, a recent survey from MarketingProfs, LLC finds that a larger number of tweeters are doing it because they want to learn new things and get information quickly.
The study, which was conducted earlier this month among 425 Twitter users, set out to discover exactly why people use Twitter and how they feel about their participation and experiences with the site. It found that tweeters spend an average of 2 ? hours per day using Twitter.
Interestingly, there is does not appear to be one standout reason why people use Twitter, the research found. Rather, there are a variety of economic, learning and social motivations.
When tweeters were asked to rate the reasons why they participate, on a scale from 1 to 5 (with 1=strongly disagree and 5=strongly agree), MarketingProfs calculated the following averages for each of the responses:
- “I find it exciting to learn new things from people”: Average score 4.65
- “I value getting information in a timely manner”: Average score 4.58
- “I like to be connected to lots of people”: Average score 3.91
- “I want to generate new business”: Average score 3.70
- “I find it gratifying to have people follow me”: Average score 3.64
The findings show that the highest number of respondents are motivated by learning new things and getting information in a timely manner.
Mixed Feelings about Reciprocity
With regard to the extent to which respondents agree with two statements: “You should follow people who follow you” and “People you follow should follow you back,” the research found that tweeters are just about as likely to agree with both, though only a minority of users strongly agreed with either:
- The mean of responses for both questions was the same: 2.74 (on the same 1-5 scale).
- In the case of both questions, only about 16-17% of Twitter users have strong feelings – one way or the other (“strongly agree” or “strongly disagree”) – about the etiquette of following/reciprocity.
- The remainder of respondents are roughly equally divided among “neither agree or disagree,” “mildly agree,” and “mildly disagree” answer choices.
A Large Following Doesn’t Equate with Intelligence
The study also revealed that while a high number of followers does to some extent equate with more respect, it has less to do with the perception of intelligence. For example, Only 40% of people agreed with the statement:? “People who have a large number of followers are more respected than those who don’t” (response mean: 2.80 on 1-5 scale), indicating that a large number of followers does, to some extent, relate to respect:
However, when respondents were asked to note their level of agreement with the statement:? “People who have a large number of followers are smarter than those who don’t” (response mean 1.67),? a full 82% disagree. This indicates that a large Twitter following appears to have much less to do with the perception of intelligence:
Egos Not Bruised if Tweets Unanswered
Tweeters do not necessarily feel badly when nobody answers their tweets, the study found. When asked how strongly they agree with the statement “I feel bad when I tweet something and nobody responds,” the average response among Twitter users (2.41) implies people aren’t too troubled by a lack of response. Moreover, less than 2% say they strongly agree with the statement, and nearly 32% disagree. The remaining two-thirds are roughly equally divided among “mildly disagree,” “neither agree nor disagree,” and “mildly agree:”
“We undertook the study because our experiences with Twitter made us curious to learn about other people’s motivations for using the site, especially in terms of reciprocity in following others who follow you,” said Allen Weiss, founder and CEO of MarketingProfs.
MarketingProfs also said that the study uncovered a great deal of interesting data that may warrant further, future exploration. “There are a number of surprises in the Twitter survey that seem to run counter to the conversational spirit of Twitter,” said Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs. “It would be interesting to look more deeply into those issues.”
About the study: In early and mid-April of 2009, MarketingProfs surveyed 425 Twitter users by posting a few tweets and asking for participation. The sample consisted of a broad cross-section of users, mainly interested in marketing and social media. Two-thirds of them consider themselves early adopters of technology.