Allow me to inebriate some sober numbers … When we talk about Facebook and Twitter, cars and bikes, business and the arts, we are always self-referential. We think a certain way, we use something in a certain way, we believe this may occur in a certain way … and we forget that the world doesn’t always think like us. It’s a cliché, but everybody is different and just because we see something one way or use something in a particular manner, it doesn’t necessarily follow that every one else will.
I was thinking about this when I read the post, 10 Sobering Twitter Statistics. Some people see Twitter as a marketing tool, some as a tool for news, some as way to enhance their real estate business (yes, another marketing view but perhaps also organizational). And there are some who use it for non-commercial reasons and some who just use it for silliness. The tool itself has no inherent purpose beyond what each of us brings to it. For many, there is no purpose.
I was also thinking about statistics and surveys and all the data we collect. Often, maybe more often than not, the information they best provide concerns how much more we need to learn. They highlight what we don’t know. And they are usually interpreted from a particular point of view, at least at street level.
I saw a tweet, followed by a retweet, for that posting titled, 10 Sobering Twitter Statistics. Use of the word “sobering” suggests there is something not very good in these numbers. But I thought, what if there were? What if there were other ways of seeing these? So I’ve put together an alternative — 10 other ways of seeing sobering Twitter stats:
- 94% of Twitter users have under 100 followers (which may suggest quality has more meaning than quantity)
- 90% of tweeting is done by 10% of Twitter users (Which is very much like the real world: 90% don’t call radio stations, 90% don’t write letters to the editor, most don’t speak out at town halls, etc. Also, some people don’t speak because they are listening.)
- 60% of new Twitter users fail to return the following month (But since we don’t know who they were we have no idea whether they would have brought anything of value to the Twitter streams nor do we know why they didn’t return.)
- 50% of Twitter accounts are inactive (Haven’t tweeted in the past week) (See the previous item)
- 40% of tweets are “pointless babble” (As opposed to … TV? Blogs? The street? Boardrooms? Sounds like it reflects the real world.)
- 35% of Twitter users have 10 or fewer followers (Personally, though I have loads of acquaintances, that is about how many really close friends I have. Maybe I’m tweeting for reasons other than to pitch something?)
- 21% of Twitter accounts are empty placeholders (And what would the percentage of domain names as placeholders be? Have these accounts been abandoned? Are they in place to reserve for a future presence as a company stream, a person’s stream, a campaign stream or to prevent others from getting a name that might have an impact on theirs? Do we have any idea? For all we know it could be one obsessive compulsive guy trying over and over to open one account that is “just right.”)
- 11% of Twitter users interact with brands on Twitter (The world, unfortunately, will always have a certain percentage of really stupid people. As I’ve written before, we don’t follow brands. We follow people. If you find a brand with a lot of followers I would hazard a guess that they aren’t interacting with it but with each other.)
- 9% of Twitter users don’t follow anyone at all (Maybe they have lives beyond the Internet? Maybe they have no interest – just took the name because its theirs and they didn’t want someone else to have it? Maybe they haven’t found anyone worth following? Maybe they don’t know how?)
- 3% of followers click on links tweeted (Does this include retweets? More to the point, how many links do we come across in a day – on web pages, in emails, on Facebook and so on? How many of those do we click? Is 3% about average? High? Low?)
And that’s it. Accurate assessments? Probably not. But you never know! But it’s worthwhile questioning the assumptions we bring to topics like these.