I’ve warmed to Twitter over the past few weeks, mostly because I downloaded TweetDeck. This handy app allows me to parse through my feeds a more efficiently, and minimizes my frustration at Twitter’s ability to flood you with ephemera. But I still think people are way, way too excited about the utility of this social medium.
I’ve posted before on research that shows Twitter is male-dominated, and features a small number of users who account for the vast majority of Tweets. And now, here’s a handy info-graphic that underscores this point nicely:
In other words, 20 per cent of accounts are inactive, half of the accounts are seldom used, and only five per cent of users have more than 100 followers. But more problematic is the fact that five per cent of users now account for 75 per cent of the tweets. So, in some crucial respects, Twitter is less of a community and more of a channel for individuals who are already “popular” offline, or users who have been successful in using Twitter to create a one-way network.
This is not to say Twitter is not useful, or that this imbalance won’t correct itself over time. However, we should be wary of techno-evangelists who call Twitter a “game-changer” or hypothesize that it will change journalism. Let’s not forget- the most vocal proponents of Twitter are also it’s most active users, a perspective that distorts their assessment of the network’s social performance. When you break it down, only about 10 per cent of Twitter (probably less, since I’m likely double-counting across categories) represents anything close to an engaged community. That’s only 500,000 people. Not insignificant, but certainly not the sea-change people make it out to be.