June 8, 2009
What was intended as a social net has, in practice, become a hangout for SPAMers. In your "regular" life, how many people do you know? With how many do you come in contact frequently? When I started selling insurance we were asked to make a list of people from which to cull a select group of potential "candidates." We were supposed to list 100 people. It was quite difficut to fill that list. How many people can you reasonably follow on Twitter?
Let's do the math.
Suppose you follow 100 people and each one posts just one Twit a day. Suppose further that you need 15 seconds to deal with a Twit on your list. Checking out these 100 Twits would take about 25 minutes a day. This is not counting any original Twitting you might do. I can see Twitting for an hour a day if it is for fun or profit. But, does it scale?
Seconds per post
To follow 1000 active people will take over 4 hours a day. Considering that an 8 hour work day only has about 6 productive hours, You better have a great income from Twittering! Following 10,000 people takes over 40 hours a day, an impossibility unless you have clones or robots assisting you.
I have included two real people in the table: Chris Anderson and Guy Kawasaki. Chris follows just 313 people which, according to my calculation, is feasible in one hour and 20 minutes. Guy would have to dedicate over 500 hours a day to follow his herd of 125,000 Twits! How does Guy do it? Maybe he has some TwitApp to do it for him or an army of clones.
Twitter statistic say that 200,000 active users post 3 million Twits a day, that would be 15 Twits per day per user, not the single one I used in my table.
Bill Heil and Mikolaj Piskorski report:
Specifically, the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. This implies that Twitter's [pattern of contributions] resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.
I have been on Twitter for just two days. Without doing any active recruiting, 20 people have decided to follow me and just two are what might be called reciprocals, people I started to follow who reciprocated. The others included one porn girl and about ten trying to sell social media wares and services, not what I'm looking for. I hope they are not offended if I call it SPAM.
If I'm to use Twitter as a news filter, I'm going to have to be very selective in whom I follow. No sense in opening the doors to unwanted SPAM.
End Of Speculation: The Real Twitter Usage Numbers
New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets