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A while back we embarked on a study that evolved after a having a debate in the office as to how people are using and consuming Twitter. Some felt it was their source of news and articles, others felt it was just a bunch of self-promotion with very few folks actually paying attention. But mostly, many people still perceive Twitter as just mindless babble of people telling you what they are doing minute-by-minute; as if you care they are eating a sandwich at the moment.  (See our last post on Twitter: Is Anyone Paying Attention?).

So we took 2,000 tweets from the public timeline (in English and in the US) over a 2-week period from 11:00a to 5:00p (CST) and captured tweets in half-hour increments. Then we categorized them into 6 buckets:

News, Spam, Self-Promotion, Pointless Babble, Conversational and Pass-Along Value.



The results were interesting. As you may have guessed, Pointless Babble won with 40.55% of the total tweets captured; however, Conversational was a very close second at 37.55%, and Pass-Along Value was third (albeit a distant third) at 8.7% of the tweets captured.

Other Results

– 11:30a and Monday’s have the most frequent tweets with Pass-Along Value.  If you want something re-tweeted, try it at 11:30 in the morning, or try it on a Monday.  Maybe folks are feeling generous then.

– Spam seemed pretty consistent all day, everyday, but luckily was second-to-last on frequency.

– News seemed heavier at 2:00p and on Tuesday’s.  Note that we did not collect any tweets during the Michael Jackson news, in order not to skew the results.

– Conversational tweets were high between 2:00 and 4:00p throughout the study, and heaviest on Tuesdays.  Most people are busy on Monday catching up with work, so perhaps it takes until Tuesday to get into the swing of Twittering again.


With the new face of Twitter, it will be interesting to see if they take a heavier role in news, or continue to be a source for people to share their current activities that have little to do with everyone else.  We will be conducting this same study every quarter to identify other trends in usage.